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Disarmament (updated)

Update, August 22, 2017:

Yale to move stone carving that will remain available for viewing and study

The university released the following statement on August 22 about moving a historical piece of stonework and making it available for study and viewing:

Yale University is moving a decorative piece of stonework from the main entrance of its Center for Teaching and Learning. The decorative piece will be made available for study and viewing, and written material will accompany it and place it in historical context.
 
A carving, created during the construction of the building in 1929, depicts a Puritan settler holding a musket pointed toward the head of a Native American. During renovation of the building to accommodate the Center for Teaching and Learning, the project team in consultation with Yale's Committee on Art in Public Spaces determined that leaving the depiction in place would have the unintended effect of giving it a place of honor that it does not deserve. The university consulted faculty and other scholarly experts, who concluded that the image depicts a scene of warfare and colonial violence toward local Native American inhabitants.
 
The decision to move this carving, contextualize it, and make it available for study is consistent with principles articulated by the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming (CEPR) and adopted by the Yale Corporation in December 2016.  The university has an obligation not to hide from or destroy reminders of unpleasant history; at the same time, the university chooses the symbols and depictions that stand in places of honor. The prominence of this carving changed when its location became a main entrance to the Center for Teaching and Learning.
When the carving was originally discussed in the spring of 2016, the CEPR had not yet been formed and articulated principles. A team in charge of planning for the construction project decided to cover the depiction of the musket with removable stonework. Covering over the problematic aspect of this carving is not consistent with the principles subsequently adopted by the university in the CEPR report; and therefore, when the carving is relocated, the covering stonework will be removed.
 
In explaining the decision to move the decorative corbel and restore the covered part of it, President Peter Salovey said, “We cannot make alterations to works of art on our campus. Such alteration represents an erasure of history, which is entirely inappropriate at a university. We are obligated to allow students and others to view such images, even when they are offensive, and to study and learn from them. In carrying out this obligation, we also have a responsibility to provide information that helps all viewers understand the meaning of the image.  We do so in a setting that clearly communicates that the content of the image is not being honored or even taken lightly but, rather, is deserving of thoughtful consideration and reflection.”
 

Original post, August 9, 2017, 8:39 a.m.:

If you were especially observant during your years on campus, you may have noticed a stone carving by the York Street entrance to Sterling Memorial Library that depict a hostile encounter: a Puritan pointing a musket at a Native American (top). When the library decided to reopen the long-disused entrance as the front door of the new Center for Teaching and Learning, says head librarian Susan Gibbons, she and the university’s Committee on Art in Public Spaces decided the carving’s “presence at a major entrance to Sterling was not appropriate.” The Puritan’s musket was covered over with a layer of stone (bottom) that Gibbons says can be removed in the future without damaging the original carving.—Mark Alden Branch ’86

 

Filed under Sterling Memorial Library

45 comments

  • Hmm
    Hmm, 11:16am August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    When will the bow that the Native American is pointing at the Puritan be covered as well?

  • Ricardo Montalbon
    Ricardo Montalbon, 1:36pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Or maybe both the indian and pilgrim/puritan/whatever are simply holding weapons, which was pretty normal at the time, and are not actually aiming at each other. Also supported by the fact both figures are looking outward and not at each other.

    Boy, used to be librarians were mucho respected as the holders of the keys of all knowledge. Now? Not so much.

  • Chris Bray
    Chris Bray, 1:56pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    The future is easy to know -- it's the past that keeps changing. Historical image: rectified!

  • Michael W. Perry, medical writer
    Michael W. Perry, medical writer, 2:50pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Note what is actually portrayed. Neither is pointing a weapon at the other. Both are looking away and in the same direction. The most plausible explanation is that they're hunting together.

  • Kevin Mulcahy
    Kevin Mulcahy, 2:50pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Who needs ISIS blowing up Palmyra when you have Yale librarians defacing structures?

  • Christopher Ekstrom
    Christopher Ekstrom , 3:12pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    SMU was just taught a lesson that in TEXAS there are NO SAFE SPACES! Yale is undergoing a Stalinist revival. #PCU

  • John Fembup
    John Fembup, 3:14pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Yes. Because the portrayal of Puritans dropping a large rock on Native Americans is so much more in keeping with our times.

  • Earnest Prole
    Earnest Prole, 3:45pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Taliban.

  • John Galt
    John Galt, 3:47pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Curious when the book burnings will start? I'm hoping to have time to buy marshmallows.

  • Ankylus
    Ankylus, 4:16pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    What about the Indian's bow. That's an "appropriate" weapon? And btw, my son is being recruited for his academics by the Ivy League right now. Nobody in the Ivy League makes the cut of his list of colleges because of this kind of nonsense. They clearly are preoccupied by things other than academic excellence.

  • Na Do
    Na Do, 4:31pm August 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    If only the head librarian used her own periodical of the library's own newspaper to gather the context or even looked at the entrance. The Yale University Library Gazette
    Vol. 5, No. 2 (OCTOBER 1930), pp. 22-23 The two shields on the left abutment: Lamp of Knowledge, Torch of Learning. Two shields on the right abutment: Open Book, Speculum. The corbels in the arch of the door: Student and Tutor and an Indian and a Puritan. What message does this entryway seem to convey when taken as a whole?

  • Amac
    Amac, 10:15am August 11 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Cultural appropriation of the Nazis. Check your privilege, Yale.

  • Winston Smith
    Winston Smith, 2:46pm August 11 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    into the memory hole it goes!

  • CCooper
    CCooper, 5:51pm August 11 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Now it looks like the Puritan is trying to hide from an armed and dangerous Native American. Was that the intent?

  • Dov Neidish
    Dov Neidish, 7:53pm August 11 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    I didn't get my doctorate from an "Ivy", so maybe I just don't understand how this is different from the Taliban & similar groups destroying ancient artifacts. Maybe Susan Gibbons can explain?

  • J.J. Kitts
    J.J. Kitts, 12:40pm August 12 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Why is that nasty Puritan trying to hit that poor Indian with a big rock? What's going on here?

  • Synnful
    Synnful, 9:05am August 13 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Are you kidding me?

    The US was founded because its citizens were armed and able to fight back against a government they considered tyrannical. What is with the firearm gate? Police have guns, FBI agents guns, military guns. All the people YOU would need in an emergency have guns. Why not have your own so you can rely on yourself?

    Unreal. It's been a looong time since I was in college and I'm embarrassed for everyone of you students who allow themselves to be indoctrinated by this crap. Think for yourselves, it's why you're there in the first place.

  • Sassafras
    Sassafras , 2:50am August 14 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    And this is why no one wants to attend Yale any more....

  • Neo
    Neo, 10:00am August 14 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Can someone please tell me the difference between this and the destruction of the Buddhist carvings in Afghanistan by the Taliban?

  • Steven E Skwara
    Steven E Skwara, 10:12am August 14 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Why the half measure? Go all in and take the whole thing down with a sledgehammer. Someone could remove that tumor rock some day and be triggered by the musket carving.

  • YLS Grad
    YLS Grad, 3:46am August 15 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Guns sure are scary, and Yale sure is funny. Didn't Susan Gibbons realize that her decision would make her and Yale a laughingstock. And what about the artist whose work has been censored? Isn't that person entitled to be heard?

  • Anthony
    Anthony, 10:22am August 17 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Oceania's Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts applauds the committee's work.

  • Yale '66
    Yale '66, 12:29pm August 17 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Gibbons should be ashamed of herself, and Yale should be ashamed of another mindless bow to political correctness.

  • ConcernedCitizen
    ConcernedCitizen, 1:58pm August 17 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Nice! Very 1984-ish style. Lets alter the documented past so that no one knows we ever made mistakes.

  • Henry
    Henry, 6:45pm August 17 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Couldn’t Yale find any retired Soviet airbrush artists who would have done this for free, for nostalgia's sake?

  • Hugh
    Hugh, 11:37pm August 17 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    "...and the OLD ALUM wept, at the decline and fall of a once great University."

  • Richard
    Richard, 7:16am August 18 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Maybe Yale should change the name of the university since it is named after a slave trader and one who often captured and tortured Indians. Does not take much to learn about Elihu Yale. Then you can challenge the Harvard alum to pressure administration to change the name of that school as well since John Harvard was a slave owner and even had slaves working on the Harvard campus as early as 1639. Come one....be brave and take a real stand.

  • GoebbelsLives!
    GoebbelsLives!, 8:09pm August 18 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Every record has been destroyed or falsified,
    every book has been rewritten, every picture has been
    repainted, every statue and street and building has been
    renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is
    continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has
    stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which
    the Party is always right. Orwell, 1984

  • William David March
    William David March, 7:25pm August 20 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Recently Yale accepted the spokesman for the Taliban to study in a special program, to demonstrate their tolerance of groups who hate the West.

    What a shock it would be if Yale were to show in some small way its tolerance for the West that created and sustains Yale.

  • Michael Lawrence
    Michael Lawrence, 2:08pm August 22 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    The cultural revolution of America has begun. The history - good and bad is slowly being wiped out because of political correctness.

  • carolyn Manning
    carolyn Manning, 2:25pm August 22 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Instead of editing/changing the carving, why not put up a sign explaining the significance? It would be a way to teach people about what occurred in our history instead of totally erasing it.

  • sam
    sam, 2:49pm August 22 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Yale should change its name.

    Elihu Yale...check him out.

  • Sandi Caldrone
    Sandi Caldrone, 3:44pm August 22 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Really? How is this different than the Taliban destroying sacred artifacts? Because this isn't sacred and it wasn't destroyed. Choosing what images people see when entering a library is simply not on par with book burning, nor is it a sure step towards erasing all history. This is about changing a decorative element on a building without actually removing or destroying anything. Let's try to maintain some perspective.

  • Pat
    Pat, 2:07pm August 23 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    It's history, it happened, get over it. People conquering people is going to keep happening and there is nothing that can be done about it. As a retired librarian, I object to all this sanitizing history. Grow up students, it's a tough world out there.

  • skywalkerchick
    skywalkerchick, 11:13am August 24 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    It looks like he's giving the Native American the finger now, but it's being censored for TV.

  • Candybills
    Candybills, 12:14am August 26 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Truly chilling times - and we (librarians) have always believed the enemy was without - not within.

    33 years - Orwell didn't miss it by that much after all.

  • Shelama
    Shelama, 2:47am August 31 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    It rather looks like the musket has a distorted, curved barrel to meet the size and shape constraints of the stone block and its intended, decorative architectural purpose. Which is clearly NOT to be highly realistic, representative art. That the flared muzzle of that curved barrel ends up facing the head of Native American Indian seems rather like an artifact of a distortion forced by that rather obvious consideration. It's doubtful the Puritans were aggressing against Native Americans with shoot-around-the-tree curved barrels. Both the Puritan and the Native have a focused, fixed gaze outward at some common object. The future, perhaps? Yale idiots are working overtime to help make George Will respectable again. Salovey should have been smart enough to not be taken in by this crap. What a joke.

  • Diogenes
    Diogenes, 11:47am August 31 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    As someone who detests Trump, I'm equally dismayed when liberals overplay their hand. This has become a source of well-deserved worldwide ridicule. As a Yalie, if the Yale Corporation really feels that badly, then give the land back to whatever Native American tribe had title to your land. Oh no, really? I guess not!

    You cannot make up for the past by rewriting or cementing over history. Just accept it.

    Cheap, ineffectual posturing and virtue signaling is exactly that. Better to spend your precious limited time and endowment resources on preparing students for what will be an extremely challenging future.

  • Steve Singleton
    Steve Singleton, 12:20pm August 31 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Hey, maybe they were hunting deer together? OH wait, maybe that would aggrandize those who participated in the despicable act of harming Bambi with an "evil gun".

  • Dan Oren
    Dan Oren, 10:31pm August 31 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    There are other interpretations, some noted above. The Puritan and the Native American are not looking with hostility at each other and are not pointing their weapons at each other. They do have what Kingman Brewster called a "grim pre-professional" look, however. Perhaps they are preparing for a joint Thanksgiving feast by firing their weapons of choice at a target across the street from their position? In Puritan times, the target might well have been a wild turkey (of which plenty are still to be found in the New Haven suburbs).
    That area of Yale, completed in the midst of the Great Depression, is full of "grotesques". See, for example, . They are especially notable on the Sterling Law Building right across Wall Street from Sterling Memorial Library. These caricatures were surely carved with the benign intent of inspiring a smile on the faces of those who saw them.

  • Christoph Henning
    Christoph Henning, 10:34pm August 31 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    They used to sell postcards of this very image at the Yale Coop years ago. It depicts murder. The Indian has no arrows and looks resigned. The Puritan has the finger on the trigger ready to kill. A difficult situation to address for a new main entrance. The stone is part of the structure - not an easy task to take it out. To cover the gun with a soft and removable lime mortar is under such circumstances perfectly fine. It follows historic preservation principles, even protects the sculpture from possible vandalism and allows a discussion within the Yale community.

  • RC Silk
    RC Silk, 2:28pm September 01 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Go ahead -- flag me as inappropriate -- as long as it is not under the flag of the Islamic State which prohibits the depiction of art. Only the insanity of Islam can turn liberals against liberals as they seek to suppress our Constitutional 1st Amendment Freedom of Expression against ourselves. #GloballyBanIslamNow!!!

    The incident portrayed in the photo represents the spreading (#ShariaCreep) of Sharia Law, softening up and fattening the sheep before the slaughter. When people (*especially* people in learning environments) fail to learn how to process conflict, they also fail to learn how to process self-defense and intellectual exploration. #GloballyBanIslamNow!

    The telltale hallmark of Sharia Law in these art-defamation movements is self-evident whenever a LIBERAL stands up for the SUPPRESSION of freedom of expression (art!) -- Only the Insanity of Islam can turn a liberal against his or her own kind. Sad. :'(

  • Douglas Campbell
    Douglas Campbell, 9:22pm September 01 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Spoiler: I'm not a Yale Alumnus. That said, I had great respect for Yale until I read this. The school now appears to be merely a training ground for the kind of political correctness that completely rewrites history to eradicate anything good or bad which does not please those who own the dictionary of political correctness.

    Are Y'all Woke Enough Yet?

  • Ja Fo
    Ja Fo, 11:37am September 02 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Watch how outraged these same faculty members are when they are removed because a student decided they were offensive or offended them. But I have tenure...nope, just the like the statues, you MUST GO

  • Ja Rule
    Ja Rule, 11:12am December 14 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    A shame that Yale wishes to hide this stone that honors the Stockbridge Indians. Almost as thought Yale didn't like Native Americans...

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