by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jenna Robinson’s latest Martin Center column focuses on one college campus’s experience with “social justice” revisionism.
In the fall of 2018, the trustees of Washington and Lee University voted to paper over parts of the university’s history.
On the recommendations of Washington and Lee’s “Commission on Institutional History and Community,” the board voted to close off the Recumbent Statue of Robert E. Lee in the university chapel that bears his name and to remove the name of John Robinson from an important campus building.
A group of alumni were concerned by those decisions and started to dig deeper. They discovered that those weren’t the only attempts to de-emphasize their school’s history. Over the preceding year, the school ended prayer at public ceremonies, temporarily removed a stop in the interior of Lee Chapel from campus tours for prospective students, and even briefly banned a children’s book on Lee’s horse, Traveller.
From those concerns, The Generals Redoubt was born. The mission of this group of alumni, friends, parents, and students is “the preservation of the history, values, and traditions of Washington and Lee University.” The group’s July 2019 newsletter explains that “A redoubt is a military term designating a temporary defensive position from which offensive operations can be launched. We thought the term aptly described what our group was trying to do.”
In particular, they want to make sure that the men who established and sustained the university are not erased from its history: George Washington, John Robinson, and Robert E. Lee.