Restricted Washington and Lee University

Andersonh1

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Anderson,

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.

- Alan

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.
 

Florida Rebel

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Joined
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Brandon Hasbrouck's decision to work at Washington and Lee and THEN decide to bite the hand that feeds him defies all logic and common sense. I have absolutely no positive regard for him and ANY reason he thinks we want to hear for his ridiculous behavior. Why did he apply to be at Washington and Lee in the first place? So he could yell and scream and be disruptive? To President Will Dudley, PLEASE tell him to go away.
 

ForeverFree

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District of Columbia
Brandon Hasbrouck's decision to work at Washington and Lee and THEN decide to bite the hand that feeds him defies all logic and common sense. I have absolutely no positive regard for him and ANY reason he thinks we want to hear for his ridiculous behavior. Why did he apply to be at Washington and Lee in the first place? So he could yell and scream and be disruptive? To President Will Dudley, PLEASE tell him to go away.

The professor is a dual stakehlder at W&L: he is an alumnus and a teacher. If anyone has a right and responsibility to opine on matters at alma mater and his workplace, I would think it would be him.

But let's do a thought experiment: suppose he wasn't an alumni and a teacher. Suppose that he had no stakeholder ties, no knowledge of what the school community knows and says about the issues, suppose he was an absolute outsider looking in on school business... are you saying that now it would be OK for him to weigh in on this issue? Are you saying that a teacher and alumus has no right to speak his mind about his own school, but outsiders like us have all the right to do so? Are you saying that as a teacher and an alumnus, he is under a gag order, and can't openly speak his mind without facing loss of his job?

I ask this keeping in mind that, in your comments, you never actually critique what the professor said, just the fact that he said it. I am asking, what denies him the privilge of speaking, but gives it to us?

- Alan
 
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The professor is a dual stakehlder at W&L: he is an alumnus and a teacher. If anyone has a right and responsibility to opine on matters at alma mater and his workplace, I would think it would be him.

But let's do a thought experiment: suppose he wasn't an alumni and a teacher. Suppose that he had no stakeholder ties, no knowledge of what the school community knows and says about the issues, suppose he was an absolute outsider looking in on school business... are you saying that now it would be OK for him to weigh in on this issue? Are you saying that a teacher and alumus has no right to speak his mind about his own school, but outsiders like us have all the right to do so? Are you saying that as a teacher and an alumnus, he is under a gag order, and can't openly speak his mind without facing loss of his job?

I ask this keeping in mind that, in your comments, you never actually critique what the professor said, just the fact that he said it. I am asking, what denies him the privilge of speaking, but gives it to us?

- Alan
He certainly has a "right" to be racist, and express those views. It's another thing entirely if people should give him credibility or if an employer, other alumini, or the public think he represents the mainstream......they also have as equal right to express their views if they don't think so.

If a white professor was suggesting other races votes should count half as much, I imagine the backlash would be immediate and overwhelming that it's nonsense, likely resulting in termination, it should be for him as well. Racism is racism, switching the race you favor or disfavor makes it no less so. Reverse racism is just as racist as the original racism.

He likewise has a "right" to interpret why the college is named Washington and Lee, just as the board of trustees does. His personal interpretation was in the minority, it hardly makes the majority racist, it just makes him wrong in how the majority perceives it.......and again the majority has a right to express his interpretation is wrong.
 
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PapaReb

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Arkansas CSA occupied
“I ask this keeping in mind that, in your comments, you never actually critique what the professor said, just the fact that he said it. I am asking, what denies him the privilge of speaking, but gives it to us? “

I don’t think anyone is denying his right to speak, just find it rather disingenuous of him to choose to accept a paycheck from an institution that he obviously finds abhorrent.
 

Florida Rebel

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Alan, I respectfully and completely disagree with you. If you know WHAT a school stands for and WHO it was named after and yet you hate them so much, what the heck are you doing working THERE or going there as a student? WHY did you apply for a teaching position at a school you despise so much? There's only ONE reason in my eyes and that is to get inside the school, sew as much discord as you can with the faculty and students, to try and FORCE a change from the inside and hopefully start a revolution. That seemed to be his goal, yet at the same time he happily took a nice paycheck from them. Life is short..... Actually it's too short! Why all the effort to destroy something? In my opinion, as soon as it became clear to school president, Will Dudley and all the trustees, what Brandon Hasbrouck was trying to do, he should have been fired on the spot.
 

DanSBHawk

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Location
Wisconsin
Lee's tenure at the school was devoted to education, & reconciliation. His life was much more than his 4 years in the Confederate military. He was President of Washington College longer than he served the Confederacy.
This is an interesting perspective because it mirrors what critics of "southern heritage" have said.

Is southern heritage only about those 4 years? If it's not, why are virtually all the southern heritage symbols and heroes from those 4 years? Why so much emphasis on the confederate flag and that failed rebellion?

As far as Lee's life being more than those 4 years, the same could be said for every confederate veteran. And yet they find their graves defined by those 4 years, with the heritage groups installing confederate flags. How many of those veterans grew to regret the war as a tragic mistake, and would've preferred the American flag on their grave?

The confederate years reign supreme in southern heritage, and are primary in Lee's life, because that is what southerners have emphasized.
 

dlofting

First Sergeant
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Location
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Alan, I respectfully and completely disagree with you. If you know WHAT a school stands for and WHO it was named after and yet you hate them so much, what the heck are you doing working THERE or going there as a student? WHY did you apply for a teaching position at a school you despise so much? There's only ONE reason in my eyes and that is to get inside the school, sew as much discord as you can with the faculty and students, to try and FORCE a change from the inside and hopefully start a revolution. That seemed to be his goal, yet at the same time he happily took a nice paycheck from them. Life is short..... Actually it's too short! Why all the effort to destroy something? In my opinion, as soon as it became clear to school president, Will Dudley and all the trustees, what Brandon Hasbrouck was trying to do, he should have been fired on the spot.
I have no way to prove that this is right or wrong, but maybe Professor Hasbrouck loves W&L, enjoys the work environment, gets on well with the faculty and generally likes the student body....at least those who take his classes. He just disagrees vehemently with the Board. I can think of times in my own career when the job, co-workers, immediate supervisors and the work environment were all great, but I didn't like the direction the BOD was going. I could still work there, do a good job and get paid. Did I speak out ? No, but then I wasn't quite as brave as Professor Hasbrouck.
 

Piedone

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This is an interesting perspective because it mirrors what critics of "southern heritage" have said.

Is southern heritage only about those 4 years? If it's not, why are virtually all the southern heritage symbols and heroes from those 4 years? Why so much emphasis on the confederate flag and that failed rebellion?

As far as Lee's life being more than those 4 years, the same could be said for every confederate veteran. And yet they find their graves defined by those 4 years, with the heritage groups installing confederate flags. How many of those veterans grew to regret the war as a tragic mistake, and would've preferred the American flag on their grave?

The confederate years reign supreme in southern heritage, and are primary in Lee's life, because that is what southerners have emphasized.
Well of course - as they only in those 4 years tried to define a thoroughly alternative southern way (whatever that resembled and without commenting on it‘s defining elements).

I suppose that the mythology of those 4 years was used afterwards to support a certain southern exceptionalism (just like Robert the Bruce was used by the Scots and eg the gaelic mythology by the Irish).

Maybe it was not so much a question of the contents (what the CS actually fought for or stood for) but a question of regional identity (with this „region“ being definitely bigger than the European continent...) and identification - and the need to feel some deeply felt bonds to one‘s ancestors?

(Albeit there may exist some people that share sympathies towards the CS exactly because they see their own racial prejudices at home there?)
 

Viper21

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This is an interesting perspective because it mirrors what critics of "southern heritage" have said.

Is southern heritage only about those 4 years? If it's not, why are virtually all the southern heritage symbols and heroes from those 4 years? Why so much emphasis on the confederate flag and that failed rebellion?

As far as Lee's life being more than those 4 years, the same could be said for every confederate veteran. And yet they find their graves defined by those 4 years, with the heritage groups installing confederate flags. How many of those veterans grew to regret the war as a tragic mistake, and would've preferred the American flag on their grave?

The confederate years reign supreme in southern heritage, and are primary in Lee's life, because that is what southerners have emphasized.
"it is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony."

Lee arrived in Lexington in mid-September 1865 and went to work immediately. Over the next five years, Washington College grew physically and financially: the faculty increased in size from four to twenty, enrollment grew from fifty to nearly 400 students, and financial contributions poured in from both southern and northern sources. Lee's personal involvement with many of his students reflected his desire to create a new generation of Americans. In response to the bitterness of a Confederate widow, Lee wrote, "Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans."


https://virginiahistory.org/learn/robert-e-lee-after-war

During his five years at Washington College, he proved to be a creative educator whose curricular innovations transformed the classical college into a modern university. He incorporated the local law school; instituted undergraduate courses in business and journalism; introduced modern languages and applied mathematics; and expanded offerings in the natural sciences.

When Lee died on Oct. 12, 1870, the college had regained its financial footing and enrollment had grown to more than 400 students. Upon his death, the faculty requested that the trustees rename the college in Lee’s honor. The trustees agreed, changing the name to Washington and Lee University.


https://www.wlu.edu/the-w-l-story/university-history/

Lee died on campus (12 Oct 1870), & has been buried there ever since. His 5 year tenure, followed by his sons 26 yr tenure as President, were paramount in the school becoming what it is today. The suggestion that it's inappropriate for the University to bear the Lee name is....disingenuous in my opinion.

There isn't a single person in the schools history more significant to the schools success, other than George Washington for his financial contribution. Hence, the name is perfect. I hope it remains named as is, forever.
 

Florida Rebel

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My feelings exactly! For anyone to smear the memory and legacy of one of the greatest Americans in our history angers me like nothing else. It was bad enough to see the "cancel culture" successfully close down the Confederate Museum in Richmond and bring down the wonderful statues on Monument Ave and other locations, but for "some greatly misguided people" who want to change the name of the one of the finest universities in America, (a school that Lee and his son are truly responsible for) all because "they" were offended by "who" and "what" they think he fought for in the four years of the War between the States, was and is, one of the most offensive acts I can ever think of.
 
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mo
Well of course - as they only in those 4 years tried to define a thoroughly alternative southern way (whatever that resembled and without commenting on it‘s defining elements).

I suppose that the mythology of those 4 years was used afterwards to support a certain southern exceptionalism (just like Robert the Bruce was used by the Scots and eg the gaelic mythology by the Irish).

Maybe it was not so much a question of the contents (what the CS actually fought for or stood for) but a question of regional identity (with this „region“ being definitely bigger than the European continent...) and identification - and the need to feel some deeply felt bonds to one‘s ancestors?

(Albeit there may exist some people that share sympathies towards the CS exactly because they see their own racial prejudices at home there?)
Personally think it was actually more a northern construct and narrative.

From what I have seen the immediate postwar period say 1865-1930 (while CW veterans were still alive) don't read alot accounts of northern incompetence or inferior fighting capability, which would account for why the larger of two otherwise equal forces performs badly......so a narrative of the southern martial superiority in leadership and fighting ability was rather convenient excuse for poor performance and a honest or critical look at the Union side. Rather the same when one wins when they held all the advantages and frankly should have won....to make it seem more admirable or noteworthy requires making the opponent seem more capable and admirable as well.......

Though who hyped southern fighting leadership and spirit to cover their own poor performance has little to do with Lees tenure as a college president, or honoring that service.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Personally think it was actually more a northern construct and narrative.

From what I have seen the immediate postwar period say 1865-1930 (while CW veterans were still alive) don't read alot accounts of northern incompetence or inferior fighting capability, which would account for why the larger of two otherwise equal forces performs badly......so a narrative of the southern martial superiority in leadership and fighting ability was rather convenient excuse for poor performance and a honest or critical look at the Union side.

Though who hyped southern fighting leadership and spirit to cover their own poor performance has little to do with Lees tenure as a college president, or honoring that service.
There was definitely one part of the country that was obsessed about the war, and couldn't seem to let it go. And it endlessly tried to spin an alternative narrative. But it wasn't the "north." Northerners have never dwelled on the war like Southerners. When families in the north talk about heritage or family history, it can be based on any time period and any family-related events. No one is raised in the north to focus primarily on the Civil War.

As far as Lee as college president, there are probably many examples of influential and notable college presidents that do not have the college named after them. It's not an obligatory thing, and the college doesn't owe that to Lee.
 
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Joined
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mo
There was definitely one part of the country that was obsessed about the war, and couldn't seem to let it go. And it endlessly tried to spin an alternative narrative. But it wasn't the "north." Northerners have never dwelled on the war like Southerners. When families in the north talk about heritage or family history, it can be based on any time period and any family-related events. No one is raised in the north to focus primarily on the Civil War.

As far as Lee as college president, there are probably many examples of influential and notable college presidents that do not have the college named after them. It's not an obligatory thing, and the college doesn't owe that to Lee.
Actually if that was true, there wouldn't have been northern memorials, yet there are, erected in the same places, erected in the same time periods and for the same reasons southern ones were.

And it's up to the college to decide what it owes, to who, and who should be memorialized. Which W&L did and continues to do. Would think your letting the locals decide on memorials, would include letting a college board of trustees decide its own memorial policies? Which they obviously have done, and it will remain W&L.
 

DanSBHawk

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Actually if that was true, there wouldn't have been northern memorials, yet there are, erected in the same places, erected in the same time periods and for the same reasons southern ones were.

And it's up to the college to decide what it owes, to who, and who should be memorialized. Which W&L did and continues to do. Would think your letting the locals decide on memorials, would include letting a college board of trustees decide its own memorial policies? Which they obviously have done, and it will remain W&L.
The north put up memorials, like they have for other wars. But there is no northern obsession for that war alone. No more than any other war. If you to asked about "northern heritage groups," people would wonder what you're talking about.

And yes, I agree that it's absolutely up to the locals to decide on naming institutions and on public commemoration. For that reason, the professor's opinion should be taken into account.
 
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mo
I don't see why anyone would, unless they had a poor understanding of history, as northern civil war heritage and veteran groups were certainly as prevalent as in the south, are you unfamiliar with GAR, MOLLUS, or Sons of Union Veterans for example.....they did erect monuments and memorials. Nor is there a southern obsession for that war alone, as have seen ARW, WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam, all wars memorials in the south, and of course Texas Revolution ones in Texas.

And his opinion was taken into account, and he lost. That's often what happens when one is wrong on an issue.
 
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DanSBHawk

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Wisconsin
And his opinion was taken into account, and he lost. That's often what happens when one is wrong on an issue.
The professor is neither right nor wrong. He simply has his own opinion. Here is a group that is advocating for the W&L name change. It's not just one professor.

"The Board of Trustees has decided wrongly in our opinion. We feel that this is just kicking the can down the road. The name will have to change sooner than they think, or the University will wither. We’ve shown the numbers below, and we will continue to provide the necessary data to hold their feet to the fire. We will continue to publish the data as we continue to delve and analyze. We can also continue to press them on our other requests, where we chalked up significant victories—Lee excised rom the University Chapel, for example."​
 
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