In my previous post, I expressed a bit of puzzlement about why former governor Jim Douglas chose the New York Sun as the place to express his sudden disdain for Middlebury College. Well, now I know why: Because any Vermont publication would have asked embarrassing questions.
Douglas, for those just tuning in, is upset over the college’s decision to take former governor John Mead’s name off a chapel building because Mead was a fervent and influential proponent of eugenics. In his essay, Douglas said he was staying away from his 50th class reunion because of the anesthetic-free Meadectomy.
I’ll miss seeing my classmates and reminiscing about our college days. My regret would be greater, however, if I were to pretend that I was happy to be there, in the shadow of Mead Chapel, the scene of the College’s expunction of the Governor’s legacy.
Time to call bullshit.
Douglas may have skipped his class reunion, but he gave no indication that he would give up the “Executive in Residence” title he’s enjoyed at Middlebury since 2011, or that he would cease his part-time teaching role. Apparently he’s not too upset about being “in the shadow of Mead Chapel” to completely absent himself from campus.
Also, for Pete’s sake, the guy lives in Middlebury! He must see the spire of the Mead Chapel every single day. I don’t know how he stands it.
This isn’t a recent revelation for Sunny Jim, either. He expressed his deep displeasure back in September, when the college decided to de-Mead the Chapel. His remarks were reported in nauseating detail by the Middlebury Campus. He complained that the decision had been made in haste and in secret, and the Mead plaque removed “under cover of darkness.” He complained that the college was ignoring all the positive aspects of Mead’s career:
I really believe that someone’s legacy should be determined by the entirety of his or her life, not by comments that are later unfortunate.
About that “comments that are later unfortunate.” As I wrote previously, Mead wasn’t just some random commenter on whatever the 1912 version of Twitter might have been. He was the first public figure in Vermont to advocate for a robust eugenics policy. He drove the conversation. He was far from the only person with those views, but he was in a position of power and he used it. Enthusiastically.
Douglas blew the dog whistles about “wokeness and political correctness,” and argued that instead of removing Mead’s name, Middlebury should use his presence to spark discussion about his legacy. Which is exactly the reasoning used by those who want to retain a racist high school nickname or keep Confederate statues in their public places of honor.
He did all that eight months ago. Still, he kept his college-bestowed title and cushy teaching post. He waited all that time, and somehow limited his response to staying away from a class reunion.
He bottled his resentment in September and let it ferment over the fall, winter and spring, before gently removing the cap and letting the trapped gases escape in the form of an attention-grabbing essay in a forum that wouldn’t challenge the facts on the ground, but would give him his 15 minutes of fame with the anti-wokeness crowd.
Hey, Jim. If you’re really that upset over the alleged perfidy of your alma mater, you’ve got some more work to do.
But in truth, you’re not that upset. You’re hamming it up for the cheap seats.