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Hypocrisy at Brown

Hypocrisy at Brown

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was recently booed off the stage opening a scheduled speech at Brown University. He actually had to leave the building.

That’s the definition of free speech at Brown: You can talk if you agree with us, but if you don’t, well we’re totalitarian at that point.

This is a university on a hill in Providence that looks down, literally and figuratively, on a city that, like all urban centers, needs all the help it can get. But Brown has had a standoffish posture emblematic of how some elites regard poor cousins who must be seen on certain holidays.

Speaking of holidays, Brown took its inevitably higher road than the rest of us by refusing to acknowledge Columbus Day, since by their contemporary standards good for the ages, Columbus was an oppressor. YET, Brown’s existence is largely a result of the slave trade, which profited the Brown Family handsomely, after whom the university is named because of generous gifts. (Brown was not its original name.) Despite faculty/student studies on the creation of discussions into the slave trade and other superficial gestures, the university isn’t about to change its name. Let the Washington Redskins wrestle with the indignities to native Americans, but after all, the Brown Family gave a lot of money.

I suspect that if anyone raised the issue, they’d be shouted off the campus, because that’s how Brown sees the world: Our way or the highway.

© Alan Weiss 2013

For more information on Brown and slavery, here’s one source:

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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