Re: President Eisgruber’s June 27 announcement on renaming Wilson College:
I was very dismayed to see that Princeton has decided to rename the School of Public and International Affairs and the Wilson School. In my opinion, this is just to capitulate to the forces of “political correctness” currently running rampant in our nation, which dictate that those in authority are de facto guilty for the sins of the past and obligated in the present to rectify these supposed “sins” by bowing to the demands of an over-sensitive, aggrieved, shrill (and intolerant!) set of those offended. There is no way any action in the present can change or atone for the “sins” of the past; in my view, it is much more useful to face directly problems of the present and seek to rectify them for the sake of the future.
I am also of the opinion that many of these intolerant, strident and “victimized” individuals are nothing but coddled and overly-sensitive individuals, products of a parenting culture which believes that children should never have to confront anything which interferes with their “right” to always be protected from anything which disturbs them. Hence the disgraceful rash of “safe spaces” on our college campuses, which stifle free inquiry and discourse in the name of kowtowing to a supposed “right” on the part of these students not to have to confront anything which makes them in any way uncomfortable.
But, as a college president, President Eisgruber should be especially aware that it is precisely through confronting ideas with which we may disagree, indeed, which may make us uncomfortable, that any intellectual growth can occur.
So I would urge those in the Princeton community concerned with these issues to take a strong stand against such regressive forces on our campus, as several brave college chancellors and presidents (for example, at the University of Chicago) have already done, in the name of preserving our long and proud tradition of free inquiry and honest and open debate by upholding our God-given right to confront those with whom we disagree and whose opinions we may not even like. I see no other way to preserve these precious rights, enshrined both in our Constitution and in the very founding of our nation, into the future.