By Scott Tibbs, January 7, 2005
Vanderbilt University is embroiled in a controversy over whether or not they can remove the word Confederate from Confederate Memorial Hall. The school renamed the building when it was renovated as a part of its diversity efforts.
The name should stay. First, it is simplistic to say that the word Confederate is racially divisive. There were many reasons for the Civil War that had nothing to do with slavery. The South had major problems with Northern policy on fiscal matters, especially on taxation.
Abraham Lincoln said that if he could keep the Union together while not giving freedom to a single slave, he would have done so, and Jefferson Davis (the President of the Confederate States of America) recognized that slavery was a dying institution. Slavery flourished in the North for many years, and Northern interests profited from slavery in the South. If the word Confederate is racially divisive, then United States is just as divisive.
Second, there is the simple matter of honor. Vanderbilt made an agreement to name the building in response to a large donation from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They should not break this agreement because the word Confederate is not considered to be politically correct. It would be unfortunate if Vanderbilt broke a decades-old agreement on a technicality for political reasons.
Finally, renaming the building is another attempt to erase Southern history and should be rejected on those grounds. People in the South are proud of their heritage, despite the Yankee spin over the last 140 years that the South left the Union to preserve slavery. Not everything in American history, North or South, is pretty. But it is wrong to erase history and forget the honorable Americans who fought on both sides of the war just because it is not politically correct.