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Allen ’62 on Log Mural

From the Record:

To the Editor:

President Falk has committed a serious error by censoring a painting in the Log and convening a tribunal to judge the moral value of art objects on the campus. The committee members will be serving on the College’s edition of the old House Un-American Activities Committee. Around the United States, terrified college presidents are running for their lives to stay ahead of intellectual lynch mobs. The Falk effort is an attempt at preemptive escape from the fire of the new righteous.

Paintings and sculpture will always displease, alienate or offend someone. There is no object of art that can’t be attacked for whatever reason. The right to criticize objects exists for all. Also, the right of groups to have representation through the placement of art on the campus is reasonable.

All of that vastly differs from the act of boarding up a painting and appointing a committee to destroy the past. That practice when done by communists, fascists or the Taliban leads to endless destruction and thought suppression, and, ultimately, backfires.

My suggestion is that President Falk disband his committee on moral appropriateness and focus on broader representation of groups who feel underrepresented. Raise some money for new artworks and be done with running from the mob.

Herbert A. Allen ’62

The College would love to “raise some money” from Herb Allen, one of the most generous alums of the last 50 years. John Malcolm ’87, call your office!

If you were Malcolm, how would you start a conversation with Allen about this topic, given that you lack the power to make the committee go away?

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#1 Comment By anon On March 15, 2016 @ 11:57 am

this article is like a month old….

Nothing new here Dave.

Which historical monuments are currently under consideration for censorship? Is this process so secret that there is no disclosure? If so, why?

There is a committee at Williams right now working to decide what should be moved, replaced, covered, name changed etc.

What are they considering? The soldier monument? Certainly Mission Park and Haystack are under consideration, as well as other murals in the log.

The American Flag flying at Paresky?

Ephblog has lost its luster. Once upon a time we would have had an article that was up to date and discussed what was happening…

Any word on something current that involves this process?

#2 Comment By Jim On March 15, 2016 @ 3:10 pm

Can someone explain what the heck is offensive about that painting? Neither I nor any of my friends to whom I showed it could figure out what the issue is. Perhaps we are suffering from white privilege. The tableau looks a little bit like the various paintings of William Penn meeting with the Indians. Is picturing white people with Indians now considered racist?

#3 Comment By anon On March 15, 2016 @ 3:27 pm

There is a red street cone placed on top of the haystack monument right now. no one cares to remove it…

You know that the mission movement has to be a target for the committee on historical representation. Has to be… Haystack has got to be under consideration, as does the name “mission park.”

No Jim, no one can explain that. You are simply supposed to “know it is bad.”

Which seems odd, especially since Chief Hendrick and Williams died together as allies in the same battle- and the historical dress depicted appears to be accurate.

I have no idea why it is offensive…

“The Bloody Morning Scout”, 8 September 1755:

“Williams’ column marched straight into the trap and were engulfed in a blaze of enemy musketry. In an engagement known as “The Bloody Morning Scout”, Williams and Hendrick were killed along with many of their troops. At this point, the French regulars, brought forward by Dieskau, poured volleys into the beleaguered colonial troops.

Most of the New Englanders fled toward Johnson’s camp, while about 100 of their comrades under Whiting and Lt. Col. Seth Pomeroy and most of the surviving Mohawks covered their withdrawal with a fighting retreat. The British rearguard were able to inflict substantial casualties on their overconfident pursuers. Pomeroy noted that his men “killed great numbers of them; they were seen to drop like pigeons One of those killed in this phase of the battle was Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, the highly respected commander of Dieskau’s Canadian and Indian forces. His fall caused great dismay, particularly to the French Indians.”

#4 Comment By anon On March 15, 2016 @ 3:30 pm

… but more to your point Jim- not one person has explained that decision using historical accuracy and representation as “the mechanism” for censorship.

The mural appears to be historically accurate from every depiction of what occurred. Which has to make one wonder what exactly is the criteria being used?

#5 Comment By haystack On March 16, 2016 @ 8:40 am

Is it true that there is a traffic cone on the Haystack Monument? Very disappointing…

#6 Comment By anon On March 16, 2016 @ 5:54 pm

Yes, it is true. Placed on top of it. I guess no one cares to take it off.

#7 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On March 16, 2016 @ 7:59 pm

Can’t someone just drive by there and get rid of that traffic cone? The Haystack Monument is an important symbol for folks in Christian missionary work. I would consider this a form of “hate speech” if this is being done on purpose, or left up on purpose, by Williams College.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haystack_Prayer_Meeting

#8 Comment By anon On March 16, 2016 @ 8:56 pm

The cone is an interesting form of expression. It is not vandalism and it does not hurt anything to make such a statement using a removable object.

What strikes me as odd is the school’s choice to consider covering such monuments permanently, moving them, or destroying them- that is a form of vandalism, and takes this form of expression away forever.

So no John, I do not think the cone is “hate speech.” But it is interesting to think that the school is considering the banishment of such artifacts. Which is censorship.

I understand the desire to label everything as hate, I just disagree with such assumptions.