Posted on June 20, 2020

Cutting Off Donations to My Alma Mater

Thomas Lifson, American Thinker, June 19, 2020

Henry Wickham, Kenyon College class of 1972, has agreed to share with readers a letter he wrote to our mutual alma mater, which we both have watched get captured by the left. We both decided to stop donating to the college after being appalled upon receiving a recent fundraising appeal that contained the following disclaimer:

We know that fundraising for Kenyon likely isn’t your primary focus right now, in the midst of this necessary national reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality.

For those who are unfamiliar with Kenyon, it used to be a rigorous classical liberal arts college, blessed with one on the most beautiful campuses in the world, and at the time we attended it, dedicated to teaching the foundations of the liberal arts and sciences.

Here is how Henry responded. I think that this situation describes many schools, especially but not limited to the more highly selective and higher prestige campuses.

There is no one who is more grateful to Kenyon for my education and the opportunities that it has provided to me. I have supported the College in many ways for many years.

However, sadly, we have reached the point where the obsession with race, class, gender, and gender-bending at Kenyon has reached toxic levels, as it has at so many other educational institutions. While Kenyon has admittedly not sunk to the level of Oberlin College, recent occurrences there and the resulting litigation are simply the most obvious examples of the prevailing ethos.

These obsessions and policies they engender strike me as a return to a primitive sort of tribalism that we have spent a couple of hundred years trying to eradicate. They have become the very essence of what now passes for “social justice,” which itself is a perversion of the very concept of justice being tied to an individual’s behavior rather than racial or ethnic origin. Collective grievances now trump any sense of fair play or gratitude. First the grievances, then the accusations, then the inevitable demands.

I simply don’t see any societal benefit in classifying people by their race or ethnicity, ranking their grievances by how many ideologically approved boxes they can check, then having these groups at each other’s throats in some sort of perverse competition among complaints–the essence of fashionable “intersectionality.”

I can support neither these practices nor their underlying rationale, despite the pleasant- sounding euphemism that justifies them. At the risk of being branded a racist or a micro-aggressor, I actually believe that character is more important than race and ethnic origin, and that race and ethnic origin are or should be irrelevant. I would certainly be reluctant to admit this on any campus where the fascistic “cancel culture” prevails.

It is with great regret that I have chosen to direct my charitable giving to institutions that I find healthy and more beneficial, such as Prager University, Hillsdale College, F.I.R.E. or The National Association of Scholars.