Letter to Duke University

President Price:

I’m writing because your public letter about purging Confederate monuments from your campus said you welcomed our “thoughts about how Duke can best address the troubling events of the past few months,”—namely the regional hysteria and violence by groups who hate the Southern people and want to pull down all their historic monuments. Some of your words used academic jargon that, in my opinion, will lead to more conflict and violence.

The people behind this purification do not want to “learn” about our history; they want to rid us of it. And a “more inclusive future” at Duke will simply add fuel to the racial fire, especially if you present a “careful and unvarnished understanding” of our history. We already have a selective and whitewashed—It’s-all-about-slavery—version of the Confederate States of America secession period. That’s why we have the problem now. Unfortunately, the multiculturalism-inspired “hate groups” largely reside on university campuses.

Although I’m not an alumus of Duke I’ve always had respect for your once great university—founded by good Christian people who taught classic higher education and right from wrong. They expected the student body to act and present themselves with civility. My alma mater, Syracuse University, was also founded by Methodists. In the 1950s we were expected to be serious and civil while at the university. The administration and faculty demanded it or we were thrown out.

I was dismayed to learn that thuggish vandals had literally defaced the revered statute of Robert E. Lee in your sacred Chapel. Worse, your cowardly actions in response were unforgivable. Instead of guarding the Chapel and vigorously pursuing the vandals for prosecution, it was reported that you secretly removed the Lee statue late at night and hid it somewhere—after you “saw the emotional reactions across the nation to criticism of Confederate statues.”

It’s not surprising that feelings override conscious effort on your campus. That seems to define “education” in these times.

The only consolation to this feckless behavior is that the image of a great American hero and Southern gentleman is no longer exposed to the desecration, hatred and violence of the kind of people inhabiting your campus.

It’s sad that you choose to appease vandals and allow criminal activity; as though you have no power to provide “safety and security” on your campus—a bad excuse for abdication of responsibility, and a bad example to your student body.

Your vice president for public affairs seemed to indicate that the Duke administration operates in response to coercion, rather than standing for what’s right based on historic American values. He implied that Duke leaders are reluctant to enter the debate about “history and memory…that is raging now across the country.”

Are you aware that we are not in debate; we’re in a cultural war declared by modern Marxists? They irrationally attack those of us who defend our history and culture from which no discussion is allowed.

You can create commissions, seek advice, put exhibits in your library, organize campus conversations, “explore” Duke’s history, teach about “injustice,” and gaze at your “core values,” but, ultimately you have only two choices:

Placate the destructive enemies of America on the Left and let them control you, or have the courage to reject them and follow the principles upon which this country and Duke University were founded.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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