Political correctness has claimed its most recent victim at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. University president Andrew K. Benton has announced that, in response to student demands, the school plans to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus from campus. The statue of the Italian explorer will relocate to Pepperdine’s campus in Florence, Italy.
In a campus-wide letter to students, Benton explained Pepperdine’s decision to transfer the statue: “Today, for many, including those within our campus community, stories of conquest and the art associated therewith are painful reminders of loss and human tragedy.” He continues to discuss the intentions of the representatives of the Columbus 500 Congress who donated the statue to the school in 1992. He describes them as “good men and women” who were “not trying to offend.”
How could they know that, twenty years later, everything would offend? One sunny 2016 Columbus Day in Malibu illuminated about two-dozen Pepperdine students crowding around the Columbus statue and chanting, “Take it down!” The protest group—Waves Against Columbus—later wrote a letter claiming the statue is “a celebration of genocide and racial oppression.” Waves Against Columbus also views the statue as “a prioritization of nominally esteemed university donors above the cultural acceptance and personal experience of marginalized students.”
There are “marginalized” students, as well as professors, on campuses such as that of Pepperdine University. However, these are not the students that groups like Waves Against Columbus would have you believe.
In June 2015 at Duke University, student columnist Jonathan Zhao was savagely smeared by student-run “Social Justice” groups after one of his columns called out the black community for “being its own worst enemy at times.” In November 2016, Dr. Daniel Bonevac, professor of philosophy at University of Texas, found he could no longer teach his Contemporary Moral Ethics course due to students’ fear of ethical discussion. On February 1, 2017, Berkeley student Kiara Robles was pepper-sprayed in the face by student protestors. She was while delivering an interview explaining her eagerness to attend libertarian speaker Milo Yiannopoulos’s visit to campus. (The fierceness of the Berkeley riots forced Yiannopoulos to cancel the event.)
Clearly, these students and professors are not enjoying any kind of favorable “prioritization.” In fact, if any group in today’s university system is “marginalized,” it is the endangered group of students and professors who jettison political correctness in favor of moral integrity and freedom of speech. They are the ones that have the most to lose—and to fear—from their university. And as Pepperdine’s Columbus statue floats to Italy, freedom of speech sinks in an ocean of political correctness.