A common tragic reality of our time is that positions of power and responsibility typically go to the mediocre conformists who successfully climb the greasy pole of life, one finger cautiously raised in the air at every level of ascent. In a better world, the president of the University of Texas would be a gentleman of sound principles and liberal education, capable of feeling a sense of loyalty to his state and region’s history, courageous enough to withstand the divisive demands of rabblerousers and demagogues, and dignified enough to dismiss the unseemly impulses of fashion.
William C. Powers, the current president of the University of Texas, is not such a man.
he plans to form an advisory committee to study whether something should be done about numerous campus statues honoring the Confederacy.
The statues have in recent history become a topic of debate among students, professors and administrators.
They include four bronze figures on the South Mall honoring Confederate leaders such as Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, and Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Powers said he plans to appoint a committee of advisers early next year, probably including faculty and students.
“The whole range of options is on the table,” Powers said.
And when the wheel turns, and the most vulgar political fashion requires a different outrage, like Germany’s 1930s removal of books by Jewish authors from university libraries, the likes of President Powers will be again appointing committees made up of the most ideologically-infected and trendy students and faculty to decide the university’s course of action. And the decision will always be in favor of the bonfire.