Letter to the Editor: On handling our history

March 16, 2016 by Nicholas H. Wright

To the Editor:

I visited the Log last week to see what the fuss about a historical mural was all about. Unfortunately, the offending mural is covered in plywood and College banners so no one can see it and judge for themselves. Wouldn’t it have been better to seize a teachable moment and have guided viewings of the panel while we wait to hear the opinion of the new committee?

Fortunately, the Log has other murals to look at, especially near the bar. There, Ephraim Williams runs with a football, pursued by Lord Jeff and Rev. Wesley, all surrounded by groups of young men wrestling, boxing and firing a cannon. Is violence more acceptable near a bar?

Will the offending mural be chiseled away like Diego Rivera’s installation at Rockefeller Center in 1934 – too many hammers and sickles for the Rockefellers – or like the reverse swastika on the west wall of the renovated Weston Hall? Is anyone aware that the reverse swastika has been a symbol of prosperity and good fortune in South Asian culture for at least 1000 years? Another teaching moment lost?

And what is to become of the Haystack Monument? For at least a century the College produced many graduates dedicated to the spreading of Christianity to the heathen, not exactly a widely accepted activity today. In our cultural embarrassment, should the monument be removed?

It is hard to make sense of this type of ferment in a liberal arts college, particularly one like this College, which celebrates learning on another kind of log.

Nicholas H. Wright ’57

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

hc March 17, 2016 at 1:43 pm

The mural that was covered is historically accurate. It depicted Chief Hendrick and Williams together before “The Bloody Morning Scout”, on 8 September 1755. The dress depicted matches that of the time.

Chief Hendrick and Williams died together as allies in that battle…

There has been no explanation as to why this mural depicting an important moment of college and town history was covered.

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hc March 17, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Mr Wright,

and as far as education goes… who the heck knows how to explain it?

Most people have no clue who Williams was or that he was allied with the Mohawk Chief during his death- and now I suppose, we’ll make sure that most people never do know.

Education, a wonderful thing? Perhaps ignorance is bliss?

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