Some of what you say I address in other posts, and so I won't repeat stuff, and my time here is short. I did want to speak to one point you've made, as you have shown some interest in the context in which certain aspects of the black experience have occurred.
You mention that the professor in question here is "angry." A number of people would say, darn it, everybody should be angry about racism, not just him, and why aren't you joining the club? One of the frustrations of black life is this feeling that, despite the pain and trauma of prejudice, we are practically required to keep quiet and suffer in silence. Otherwise, we face what is an almost inevitable backlash that will reverse the progress we've made. But sometimes we can't all abide by this proscription.
This subject of black anger, and of masking black anger, has been a theme in African American culture and historical studies. It's not modern politics, as we say on this forum; famously, the poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar wrote in 1895:
We wear the mask
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
The imperative to control black emotion while in the presence of whites dates back to slavery days. In his 2002 book The Insolent Slave, historian William E. Wiethoff talks about the legislative, social, moral, and commercial means that enslavers used to prevent slaves' insolence, or expressions thereof. These punitive measures were taken despite the commonly peddled notion that enslaved people were happy and content. Slaves learned to perform contentment for whites out of fear of punishment; appearing happy was a survival mechanism. And these performances persisted after slavery ended in various social settings.
The subject of wearing the mask is a "thing," that is, a part of the community's discourse. Meanwhile, the stereotypes of the "angry black man" and "angry black woman" have become entrenched in American society, and are well known to those who study African American history and culture or American Social history in general. All of which raises the question, exactly how do black people come to grips with this particular reality?
It was Martin Luther King, Jr who said “Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.” It has long been recognized - again, it's not modern politics, this goes back centuries - by leaders, activists, and others in the African American community that expressing anger can, at the least, be counter-productive to promoting black progress; and at the worst, can lead to a host of bad outcomes, such as social banishment, lost jobs, imprisonment, lost property, and even death. Historically, black critiques of racism have been "muted" to one extent to another. Perhaps as a counter-culture response, some of the harshest black critics of racism have been relegated to outlier or radical status, even as some people say in hushed tones that they're happy somebody had the spine to speak truth to power.
It is poignant to note that Martin Luther King Jr, despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to nonviolent protest, was demonized in a way that make's this forum's critique of Prof Hasbrouk seem tame. Indeed, he was demonized to the point that his church was bombed, leading to the death of four children. The people who bombed the church no doubt interpreted his message of racial equality as being hateful of white people.
It is a certainty that the professor in question is aware of all of the above. This is stuff that black people talk about, because it is a part of our lives. A privilege of being white is to never have to spend psychic energy or physical time or attention on such things. I don't want to imply that African descent people talk about this every single moment of every single day, that would be ridiculous; but we do talk about it, and I am sure he has. It is with all of the above that the professor's criticisms were made.
Now: so often I hear people say, he must hate his school, and they might even think he hates white people. Nothing could be more wrong or irrelevant: it can be true both that he loves and school and white people in general, but detests vestiges of racism, whether at this school or otherwise; and that he loves his school so much, he's not going to sugarcoat his critique of it. To me, the idea that his writing is done out of hate of his school borders on being laughable, but this is no joke, obviously. As I see it, people don't get it. Maybe they don't want to get it, it makes it that much easier to criticize him with passion.
I t's worth noting that, in his school bio, it states among other things that "Professor Hasbrouck is the recipient of Ethan Allen Faculty Fellowship for scholarly excellence and John W. Elrod Law Alumni Fellowship for teaching excellence. He is the first professor in the law school's history to have received both awards in the same year." This is a guy who clearly has worked hard on his scholarship and his teaching, earning the respect of his peers and his students in the process. Those are not the type of accolades you would see from somebody who hated their school.
I would agree that the professor's critique of the situation concerns the naming of the school is an aggressive, no holds barred, unsparing, and even brutal assessment. He had to know it would inspire derision and anger from its critics. To use a colloquial expression, he had to know it would bring out the haters. And he did it anyway.
One guess for that is, he came to see that people weren't going to get it no matter what he said, so there was no reason to do anything else but apply brutal honesty. To paraphrase Joplin, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose... the essay has an air of pessimism to me. But that's a guess. In the end, I cannot speak for the professor, or explain the motivations for his writings. My goal is to explain the context in which his words exist. I expect he will be no less hated for what I say. But I am reminded of the saying, heavy is the head that wears the crown. I suspect that, sometimes the mask is too heavy to wear as well.
I appreciate the context. I would only say at this point that recognizing Hasbrouck's anger from reading his column is not the same as saying he has no right to express it, even though I believe he's wrong and being unreasonable. Disagreeing with him is not disrespecting him or being a "hater", and my question about how bad the situation would be if the board of trustees had the same attitude as Hasbrouck still stands. This "all or nothing" approach that Hasbrouck is taking, and his refusal to see that there are reasons other than "white supremacy" for having Lee's name on the University is problematic, and his broad stereotyping of everyone who wanted the name to remain is extremely offensive.
What we have here are two very different world views of the issue, and while I see the Washington and Lee board attempting to make some changes and take views like Hasbrouck's into account, I see no such similar willingness to take the other side's views into account by Hasbrouck.
I agree with you and Viper, there's only so far we can go in discussing this issue here. Thanks for a thoughtful post.