Defending the UW-Madison against the barbarians at the gate

pieter_bruegel_the_elder_28156829_the_blind_leading_the_blind

This post has been hacked by a UW-System prof (retired) who is holding the fort against the barbarians at the gate, quivering with righteous indignation.

By Gary L. Kriewald

“Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”
— 1894 report of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents

Let the disinterment of the dead white men proceed!

This correspondent, a retired professor of English, had ventured onto the UW-Madison campus to weigh in on proposals to rename the Porter Butts Gallery and the Fredric March Theatre in the Memorial Student Union.

I knew a proper respect for history and fair play would be assaulted by the grievance mongering of the freshly “woke” and their insufferable identity politics. But the fervency of their intolerance always amazes.

“First, we should all acknowledge that this building sits on ground sacred to the Ho-Chunk nation, symbolizing the destruction of native cultures by white supremacists,” the young prophet proclaimed, quivering with righteous indignation. 

The moral implications of his indictment were seismic in scale. No longer would changing out the nameplates on two rooms suffice. The stakes had been raised. The entire campus of the state’s flagship university was now in peril. Images of ISIS dynamiting the Baalshamin temple in Palmyra flashed before me. 

Exhumed and expelled

UW administrators launched last week’s post-mortem show trials after a smattering of minority students objected to Messieurs Butts and March because, when those luminaries walked this campus way back in the 1920s, they belonged to a student organization called the Ku Klux Klan. THE WHAT?!!

fredricmarchsevendaysinmay

Fredric March in Seven Days In May

As damning as it sounds today, the facts paint a much more nuanced picture. From the available evidence, the student organization seems to have been a male-only drinking society (a kind of proto-fraternity). It had no affiliation with the national terrorist organization of the same name. Shortly after he joined, Butts changed the name to the Tamus Society to distance the group from the national KKK. 

Butts went on to serve as Director of Memorial Union for 40 years, during which time he greatly expanded its influence on campus life and implemented policies that made the Union a showplace of multi-culturalism. No evidence has ever been discovered of his advocating racist ideas or policies; in fact, as editor of the Daily Cardinal student newspaper, he published articles denouncing the national KKK. Racine’s own Fredric March went on to have a stellar career as a Tony-award winning Broadway actor and two-time Oscar winner, for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Best Years of Our Lives. Throughout his career, March advocated on behalf of people of color in the entertainment industry. 

Race studies major at work

Which cut no ice with today’s social justice warriors. Give the college students credit, their facility with the latest social studies jargon was graduate level. Terms like “black and brown bodies,” “white patriarchy,” “institutional racism” buzzed around the hearing room like flies. Who says students of African-American Studies, Gender Studies, etc. won’t use their course work?

One student condemned the proceedings in which she was taking part as “an act of violence,” claiming that it placed an undue burden on minorities (she herself was white) by making them defend themselves against positions that were clearly motivated by racism. 

By the end of the forum I had surrendered what few illusions I still harbored of the University as a marketplace of ideas or a defender of its proud tradition of “sifting and winnowing” as a means of discovering the truth.

I came to UW-Madison as a freshman in 1965 from a small town in northern Wisconsin where the cultural amenities were few and far between. One day, I stumbled on the art gallery in Memorial Union; though not yet named for Porter Butts, it was part of his effort to make the arts an integral part of the campus community. The exhibit on display was a collection of prints by the great Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch, creator of the iconic image, The Scream. This was my first exposure to great art, and it was a life-changing experience.

Calling Stu Levitan

It will not surprise you that my position to retain Butts’ and March’s names was in the minority. The only people who agreed with me were Porter Butts’ daughter and grand-daughter, who had to listen for over an hour as the legacy of their relative was subjected to sanctimonious denunciations, calumnies, half-truths, and outright lies. Most speakers shamelessly conflated the campus organization with the national KKK even though the two shared nothing but an admittedly unfortunate name. The few who grudgingly acknowledged the distinction argued that the name itself was so toxic that any association with it was enough to condemn the two men.

I had begun my remarks by asking if anyone in the room cared to defend the proposition that one youthful indiscretion was enough to negate a lifetime of positive achievements and decades of devotion to the University. By the end of the meeting, no one had taken up my offer. 

No doubt at some time in the future, they will be forgiven for their own youthful indiscretions.


Gary L. Kriewald was born and raised in Merrill WI and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught literature and writing in colleges and universities in California, Texas, Illinois, and most recently UW-Platteville. Recently retired, he lives on the near eastside of Madison.


     

        

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About David Blaska

Madison WI
This entry was posted in Free speech, identity politics, Progressives and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Defending the UW-Madison against the barbarians at the gate

  1. Eric Z says:

    Well said Mr.Kriewald. Thank you for a well versed educational post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done Mr. Kriewald, well done!

    What we are seeing is SALEM WITCH TRIAL SCHOOL OF THOUGHT.

    Why is it that people openly laugh at me when I say the general population of people in United States, especially the younger generations, have been dumbed down by the media, education system, and society in general. Right now being ignorant and saying stupid shit is rewarded by likes, shares and retweets. Our society inspires idiocy and trains people to be stupid; Pavlov trained dogs.

    Social justice warriors are mentally unhealthy, they’re blithering idiots, it’s a disease called STUPIDITY!

    Like

    • Gary L. Kriewald says:

      Though it was dispiriting to hear college students parroting all that PC blather, I blame their professors and administrators–the professors for brainwashing them with such nonsense and administrators for turning a blind eye to the degradation of academic standards, indeed enabling it by allowing bogus “disciplines” like African American Studies, Gender Studies, etc. to proliferate. It’s an open secret in the academic world that instructors in these fields are not held to the same standards of scholarship that apply to traditional departments (English, history, biology, etc.). Their real purpose is to promote identity politics while training students to become SJWs. And their salaries are paid by you, the taxpayers.

      Like

      • Gary L. Kriewald wrote, “It’s an open secret in the academic world that instructors in these fields are not held to the same standards of scholarship that apply to traditional departments (English, history, biology, etc.). Their real purpose is to promote identity politics while training students to become SJWs.”

        I caught the smell of that about 28 years ago at UW Madison, I imagine it’s a terribly foul stench across the whole campus by now.

        Like

  3. Patrick M O'Loughlin says:

    Wow, the next thing you know, they’ll be going after Woodrow Wilson, Richard Ely and Charles Van Hise for being fervent Eugenicists. Nah, I’m just kidding.

    Like

    • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

      @Patrick M O’Loughlin;

      I brought up that very subject yesterday, only to have my fact-based suggestion shouted down by Mensan Brain Trustee @richard lesiak (always wrong, but never in doubt) as, and I quote, “nonsense,” not just once, but twice.

      Eugenics to Ely, Van Hise, Commons, Ross, et al, was WAY the F**K more than a passing fancy or youthful indiscretion. But U.W. snowFLAKE Lefties have yet to be put on that trail by their handlers.

      @Gary L. Kriewald;

      Excellent summation, tour d’ force!

      The Gotch

      Like

      • richard lesiak says:

        nonsense; but thanks for the shout-out.

        Like

        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          @richard lesiak;

          You’re thanking me for kickin’ yer over-sized @$$?

          My oh my oh my my my, are youse ever a glutton for punishment!

          The Gotch

          Like

      • richard lesiak says:

        ping

        Like

        • As usual, multiple comments from richard lesiak and still not a word about the actual blog content.

          It appears that richard lesiak is just doing his normal trolling to try to inspire someone to ring his rhetorical bell, as if it’s not still ringing in his ears from the last time the sledge hammer rang it.

          Richard,
          I challenge you to say something about the content of Gary L. Kriewald’s piece. Pick one of his points and write something about it.

          Like

        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          @ZoltarSpeaks!;

          “I challenge you to say something about the content”

          His…um…skill set won’t allow. I actually think ping is the new where are the babies?

          The scary part? A nadir of staggering imbecility has not yet been reached.

          Even scarier? You’ll see multiple efforts to plumb those dark dank depths right here, going forward.

          The Gotch

          Liked by 1 person

      • richard lesiak says:

        I commend Gary for getting involved and trying to relate what happened at this meeting. What’s missing is the end result. What happened? Are the names being changed or not? If so to what? Was the whole thing tabled to later date? Will there be a follow up post telling us how this issue was resolved? I know that simply by asking these questions I will be set upon with calls of being a stupid lefty, and all the cute little insults that people like gotch are so proud of dreaming up. And, if your being honest about this, how many of you heard about this before Gary’s article? Are you really concerned or have you found an issue to beat on until another distraction comes along like the blog that follows this one. Sadly; by Monday morning you’ll be saying who the hell is Porter Butts.

        Like

        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          @richard lesiak;

          ”I know that simply by asking these questions I will be set upon with calls of being a stupid lefty”

          THAT immutable truth has been known since time immemorial, is indelibly etched in contemporary patois, & will be historically noted, thus, enduring for the ages.

          Those with synaptic connectivity and that can read with comprehension have known this has been going on for a while.

          https://madison.com/opinion/letters/uw-is-staining-legacy-of-alumni—-gary/article_228574ba-59d7-560c-9ce4-1157db35bd7b.html

          “What happened?”

          Others should be your research monkeys because your (sic) too lazy to affect due diligence yourself?

          Guess again!

          The Gotch

          Like

        • David Blaska says:

          No decision, as per usual with government entities. Was a hearing/listening session.

          Like

        • Batman says:

          phony richie wrote:
          “I know that simply by asking these questions I will be set upon with calls of being a stupid lefty, and all the cute little insults that people like gotch are so proud of dreaming up.”

          You know darn well you are set upon for incessant trolling that degrades this board. For example when Paula Fitz commented that she felt moderates were leaving the democratic party because it is moving too far left you said: maybe that feeling is just gas.
          Very mature richie.
          Paula is only an occasional contributor here and always with substantive comments but was immediately subjected to the trolling baby richie treatment.

          Go find another blogsite to pollute with your inflammatory garbage otherwise present a genuine position and argue in good faith. Why is this so difficult for you.

          Like

        • Gary L. Kriewald says:

          Excellent questions & thanks for asking. The purpose of the forums was to get “community input.” The final decision on whether to change the names will be made at the end of fall semester (this December). Though UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank has the final word, the Union board, composed of students, will be making the actual recommendation. Having seen first hand how spineless college administrators generally are, I predict she will follow their recommendation. And if the lopsided opinions expressed at the forum are any indication, the recommendation will be to erase the names of Butts and March. Hope this helps to clarify the issue.

          It should be apparent that this issue and the debate over removing the monument from Confederate Rest are one and the same. Sitting in judgment on the dead, erasing the history you find distasteful, engaging in tiresome virtue signalling instead of looking at the facts of the case and reaching rational conclusions, branding your opponents racists are the favorite tactics of the PC/SJW crowd. Until you’ve been on the receiving end of those tactics, it’s hard to imagine just how fanatical these people are.

          Like

        • Gary L. Kriewald says:

          Excellent questions and thanks for asking. The final decision on whether to crop the names of Butts and March will be made at the end of fall semester (December). Though Chancellor Blank has the final say, the actual recommendation will come form the Union board, which is composed of students. And if the lopsided opinions expressed at the forum are any indication, their recommendation will be to drop the names. Having seen first-hand how spineless college administrators generally are, I’m expecting her to accept their recommendation. Hope this clarifies things.

          Though it may strike some as an academic tempest in a teapot, this issue is identical to the debate over removing the memorial at Confederate Rest. How long are we going to sand idly by while the PC/SJW crowd slanders the legacies of decent men, erases the history they find distasteful, ignores the facts and reaches conclusions no rational person would, and brands their opponents racists?

          Like

        • richard lesiak wrote, “I commend Gary for getting involved and trying to relate what happened at this meeting. What’s missing is the end result. What happened? Are the names being changed or not? If so to what? Was the whole thing tabled to later date? Will there be a follow up post telling us how this issue was resolved?”

          Good questions Richard, I knew you had it in you somewhere; however, you really really should have ended your comment there.

          Like

      • Patrick M O'Loughlin says:

        @The Gotch

        Well, it’s Richard after all, so whatever he says can be ignored without consequence or concern. And ignoring him will drive him even more crazy than he already is.

        Like

    • Gary L. Kriewald says:

      I’d advise UW-Madison administrators to start compiling a very long list of alternate names for the building on campus. If the PC/SJW crowd gets their way on renaming the venues in Memorial Union, their next target will certainly be all the buildings named after old, dead, white males (Brittingham, Chadbourne, Bascom, etc.). Even if there’s no record of their advocating racism, the very fact that they were privileged white males is enough to justify erasing their memories.

      Like

  4. Batman says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience.

    Like

    • richard lesiak says:

      your welcome

      Like

      • Batman says:

        I was referencing GLK as you well know troll boy richie.
        Should you ever make a contribution to the world, Batman will consider a critique.

        Do you realize that most of your posts are literally the equivalent of dirty pollution.
        Thought you Leftys were anti-pollution.
        What is it about being a dirty polluter gets you off?

        Like

        • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

          @Batman;

          ”Should you ever make a contribution to the world”

          Ha; youse’ll get the same odds for The Gotch reacquiring a 32 # waist, or Bruce Wayne’s butler Albert getting married…

          Anywho, possible worthy contribution for @richard lesiak? UNPLUG/CUT THE CORD; a gesture a grateful nation/this blog would applaud with pomp-n-circumstance!

          The Gotch

          Like

  5. Tom Paine says:

    >>>>> “First, we should all acknowledge that this building sits on ground sacred to the Ho-Chunk nation, symbolizing the destruction of native cultures by white supremacists,” the young prophet proclaimed, quivering with righteous indignation. <<<<<

    Quiet affirmation of this "white guilt" historical and cultural non-sense by the audience foreordained the conclusion. No need for further discussion.

    “Sacred’ ground”? What exactly does that mean, then and now? There are no texts that define “sacred.” The word is a permanent wildcard that means Indians can always apply the “religion card” as the vehicle of moral superiority. Without objective definition, the construct is meaningless, but powerful as the race card that people of color use for political dominance. If mining or farming “sacred” earth violates native norms, then why have tribes across the nation embraced without reservation almost every manifestation of “Euro-scientific” life since AD 1000?

    ‘Sacred ground’? We ask, “Is it a violation of ‘sacred’ principles to build electric transmission lines, power plants, gas & oil pipelines, highways, concrete/steel bridges, sewage treatment facilities, or municipal land fills?”

    • What elements of the dominate Euro-scientific culture and economy violate sacred principles?
    • To honor and preserve “sacred” native values, how many tribes have rejected indoor plumbing, nuclear medicine, optometry, gun powder, electric trolling motors, aluminum boats/canoes, steel knives, and clothes washers?
    • Why are there so few native craftsmen who have mastered the skill of polishing clam shells so smoothly they are outstanding substitutes for lenses made by “white supremacists”?

    Euro-scientific culture does not force natives to use autos, trucks, TV’s, banks, cosmetics, insulated windows, and computers in violation of ‘sacred’ values. In fact, how and why would so many native tribes over the decades freely adopt products of “white supremacists”?

    ====== >>>>>>>>>> ———— <<<<<<<<<<< ======

    “…. the destruction of native cultures by white supremacists”

    What constrains native tribes from reincarnating most elements of native cultures? What prevents them from living in tents, wigwams or caves? What prevents tribal governments from passing local laws that make the ownership or use of hot water heaters, central air conditioning, well pumps, septic systems, concrete blocks, cement, refrigerators, smart phones, snowmobiles, ATV’s, and rubber tires, ILLEGAL?

    What native tribe, in the US or around the world, has rejected the culture and economics of Europe since the Enlightenment? Surely, it is not ‘white supremacy’ that prevents the tribal owners of Foxwoods Casino from using their financial gains to re-establish native life as it was before the arrival of Europeans.

    Application of the cultural race card? Enough already. Considered reflection should cause us to reject the fashionable iteration of “Nativist” anti-intellectualism that Hofstadter warned us about.

    …. the destruction of native cultures by white supremacists” —-

    As though natives should have been forced to retain all elements of their language and culture. Tribes should abolish schools. Knowledge of science or math (Euro-scientific constructs) should be prevented, lest native children actually consider their futures in terms OTHER THAN their racial and tribal identities. Many would argue the Chinese should never have abandoned foot binding after more than 400 years. By analogy, native tribes should never succumbed to the cultural hegemony of foreigners.

    True Progressives really want to return to the 9th Century. Nah….just kidding.

    Like

  6. Cornelius Gotchberg says:

    ”(Is) one youthful indiscretion was enough to negate a lifetime of positive achievements and decades of devotion”

    Howse about someone older than youthful and something more far-reaching than indiscreet?

    Suggest the Lyin’ King Of The Senate Teddy ”Chappaquiddick” Kennedy and Bill “Former-Serial-Sexual-Predator-In-Chief” Clinton to name just a few and watch their widdle empty heads spin on a swivel and assume a 1000 yard stare.

    The Gotch

    Like

  7. richard lesiak says:

    My thanks to Gary Kriewald For explaining what to expect as more meetings are called. “Excellent questions and thanks for asking”. Well; thank you for a civil response. I’m not used to that around here. Thanks to Dave also for posting it was a “hearing and listening session.” I’m not a fan of re-writing history. Good luck in your efforts on this issue. It’s also nice to see another person on here who uses his real name. Cheers!

    Like

    • richard lesiak wrote, “Well; thank you for a civil response. I’m not used to that around here.”

      Trolling has its consequences Richard. Change your rhetoric and I bet the replies you get will also change. If you want change in your life, the change must begin in you.

      Like

    • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

      @richard lesiak;

      ”Well; thank you for a civil response. I’m not used to that around here.”

      That miiiiiiiiiiiiiight just be because civil responses haven’t been earned.

      A fact-based Universe (one governed by Karma/Yin-Yang, et al) supplies proper outputs AFTER they are earned with proper inputs.

      Pretty simple to anyone that can fog a mirror.

      The Gotch

      Like

    • Gary L. Kriewald says:

      Common ground has been reached. Hooray!

      Like

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