If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he’d probably be “de-platformed” and “demonetized” for trying to reach the New World — or even talking about it. Since he’s not around to be banned from Facebook or Twitter, and hasn’t got a website or a YouTube channel to crush, covering him up with a shroud will have to do. Can you think of any Western male figure who more represents the Patient Zero of toxic masculinity than Christopher Columbus?
The Admiral of the Ocean Sea is apparently too afflicting for the students at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana to see without “triggering” them into a woke cataleptic state. Or so says the school — at the behest of a handful of students. The tyranny of the snowflake minority wins again.
A 134-year-old mural painted by Italian artist Luigi Gregori depicting Columbus’ discovery of the New World is to be redacted from sight to placate the sensibilities of the perpetually affronted. Born in Bologna in 1819, Gregori worked at the Vatican and served as artist-in-residence and professor at the University of Notre Dame.
Two years ago, the Notre Dame student newspaper, the Observer, published a letter headlined “The Mural Has Got to Go.” It was signed by 340 students, and decried the mural’s “highly problematic vision of Western Triumphalism and an overly romantic notion of American expansionism.”
The mural’s depiction of Columbus as a “beneficent explorer and friend of the native people hides from view the darker side of this story,” wrote University President John I. Jenkins in a letter made public a few days ago. Instead, no story will be told, with censorship preferred over discourse. He continues to stand by his ridiculous decision.
The explorer from Genoa is bad. Very bad. So bad, he can’t be discussed — or even viewed. Only removed, lest we ruffle the truly heroic students who must make the harrowing trek past the painting on their way to a feminist studies’ class.
At least the mural, which is artistically significant in its own right as well as being part of the history of Notre Dame, won’t be destroyed on the bonfire in the manner of politically incorrect books. Though that is almost certainly coming, too.
Instead, the painting will be kept out of sight until such time as it becomes tenable to destroy it. Perhaps it will be removed in the middle of the night like so many college campuses are now doing.
Meanwhile, statues of Lenin — an actual mass murderer, and on purpose — are being erected in America. But never mind. In his case, “art outlives politics.” Yes, really.
And, of course, Lenin is a subject of respectful study at the very same Notre Dame in the comparative politics department. The man who enslaved a continent and was directly responsible for the creation of the worst totalitarian regime the world has yet seen — isn’t being redacted. Does Jenkins find Lenin “problematic?”
Is the history of Soviet Communism “overly romanticized” in class? Or is it merely a matter of having to break some eggs to make those omelettes? What about Marxist Triumphalism?
Another interesting aspect of this story is that it wasn’t actually the students of Notre Dame who demanded the Columbus mural be redacted. It was a handful of students, their ranks fluffed up by university employees and alumni, who agitated for the enshrouding of Columbus. They created the impression of general aggrievement where little existed. Notre Dame has a total student enrollment of about 8,500, so you can do the math. What percent of that 8,500 is 340 — or less, if we subtract the alumni and employees who signed on? Apparently, the minority rules — if the majority has been browbeaten into a state of terror and submission. Outrage over Columbus has been weaponized into a political censorship tool.
Probably, this is an unfair characterization of Notre Dame’s student body. But it is a fair characterization of Jenkins, and of American college administrations generally. Even when not culturally authoritarian themselves, they seem to be desperately afraid of offending cultural authoritarians in their midst, and abjectly eager to placate them. Whatever the cost, and no matter how petty, pretend, or manufactured the injustice.
Jenkins — who is a Catholic priest — might pause to ponder what else might be considered “problematic” by the woke student body.
Catholicism, for instance.
It is Christian, to begin with — and so it can be argued (and will be argued) “excludes” those of other faiths. This will be “problematic” for a Catholic university, which Notre Dame still is, at least nominally.
The 2017 Observer letter makes it clear that the list of things to be redacted encompasses a great deal more than poor old Columbus. In addition to its denunciation of the Genoese explorer, it also reviles “Catholic militarism.” Clearly the Jesuits — a militaristic order — will have to go. And Catholic scholars such as St. Augustine of Hippo and Desiderius Erasmus. And those gothic buildings — the very structure of patriarchy; oppression embodied in stone and stained glass. All in good time.
For now, the murals will be “covered by woven material consistent with the decor of the space,” says Father Jenkins. He adds that “it will be possible to display the murals on occasion.” How generous. But maybe only on Columbus Day — until that is gone, too.
Perhaps those “occasions” will be when Notre Dame’s Catholic majority pushes back. Perhaps it will one day decide its had enough of its history, faith, and school being vilified and redacted to appease the perpetually discontented, who won’t be placated until Notre Dame ceases to be what it is.
Christopher Columbus is quoted saying: “Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.” Unfortunately, the New World Columbus helped shape has become a victim factory run by children outraged by Western Civilization.