James W. McGlothlin, chairman and chief executive officer of the United Co. of Bristol, Va., and a former member of the College of William & Mary’s Board of Visitors and a longtime donor, withheld his pledge of $12 million to the college. He made his decision because of the actions of Gene Nichol, the college president, who ordered the removal of the cross from Wren Chapel. The cross had been displayed on the chapel altar since around 1940. Mr. Nichol’s justification was that he wanted to make the chapel welcoming to non-Christians.
That’s a lie. Mr. Nichol was a chapter president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for North Florida, and an ACLU board member in North Carolina and Colorado. The ACLU has maintained an attack on religious symbols for decades, but usually through the courts. Mr. Nichol’s actions simply spared them a costly court battle to remove the religious symbol from the Wren Chapel.
Mr. Nichol’s actions caused a storm of controversy he probably didn’t anticipate. Caving in to the pressure, on March 6, he agreed to return the cross to Wren Chapel. The ACLU has enjoyed phenomenal success in attacking our religious values. Unless they are stopped, I guarantee they won’t be satisfied until they get some judge to order removal of crosses from the graves at Arlington and other military cemeteries.
The College of William & Mary’s Wren Chapel cross issue is simply the tip of a much larger problem. For decades, college administrators and professors have sanctioned or participated in an attack on traditional American values. They’ve denied campus access to military recruiters, promoted socialism and attacked capitalism, and instituted race and sex quotas in admissions and in the awarding of scholarships. They’ve used their positions of trust to indoctrinate students with anti-Americanism. Despite this attack, taxpayers and private donors have been extremely generous, pouring billions upon billions of dollars into institutions that often hold a generalized contempt for their values.
Mr. McGlothlin is to be congratulated for his courage in taking a stand against this liberal attack on American values. Other wealthy donors ought to emulate Mr. McGlothlin’s courage by withholding donations to colleges that foster or sanction attacks on traditional American values and decency. While it’s a bit more difficult, since their money is taken from them, taxpayers ought to rebel as well by pressuring their legislators.
Many college benefactors fondly recall their experiences at their alma maters some 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Often, what they remember bears little or no resemblance to what goes on at campuses today. With relatively little effort, benefactors can become more informed simply by visits to the college’s Web site to discover whether there are activities offensive to their values. If there’s an office of diversity, it strongly suggests the college is practicing some form of race or sex discrimination.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) provides information about colleges that have “politically correct” speech codes that suppress debate. The Young America’s Foundation (YAF) publishes information about inane courses at some of our colleges, such as University of California, Los Angeles’ “Queer Musicology” or Johns Hopkins’ “Mail Order Brides.”
Some colleges have brazenly violated donor intent. Princeton University has been taken to court by the Robertson family for misusing $207 million of a gift estimated at $700 million in today’s prices. Because they violated donor intent, Boston College, USC, UCLA, Harvard and Yale have been forced to return multimillion-dollar gifts.
It’s high time that donors large and small summon some of Mr. McGlothlin’s courage and hold colleges accountable to standards of decency and honesty.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University and a nationally syndicated columnist.