It was sad to read that Bowdoin College, in its efforts to conform to the latest left-wing political correctness fad, feels it has to remove a plaque honoring its graduates who served in the Confederate military more than 150 years ago. What a blow to the legacy of one of its most famous faculty, Joshua Chamberlain.

Chamberlain was selected by General Ulysses Grant to play a leading role in accepting the surrender of Confederate troops at Appomattox both because he had been severely wounded in battle and, more importantly, because Grant could count on him to show proper respect to the Confederate soldiers. I have no doubt he would also approve having the plaque in question publicly displayed at Bowdoin College, the alma mater of the men named on it, whom he respected.

Like much other politically correct foolishness, the idea that you can eliminate racism by eliminating recognition of anyone connected to the Confederacy is an overly simplistic, ineffective solution to a much more complex issue and ignores historical facts. Many Confederates were opposed to slavery. On the other hand, many unionists in Maryland owned slaves. There were plenty of Union soldiers who believed black people were inferior by nature.

Likewise in the modern age, racism is not just a Southern issue. States that were not in the Confederacy have had their share of racial tensions as well. How many readers are old enough to remember the riots in Watts and Detroit? Racism is a sin in men’s hearts. Eliminating vestiges of the Civil War will not eliminate the evil still living inside modern men.

Roger Sproul


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