Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Harvard University Band – "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard" (2009)

Gaudeamus igitur
Veritas non sequitur?
Illegitimum non carborundum
Ipso facto!

I recently received the following e-mail from Harvard Law School:

Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow has announced the creation of a committee to research if the school should continue to use its current shield.

Isaac Royall, Jr.
The shield is the coat of arms of the family of Isaac Royall, whose bequest endowed the first professorship of law at Harvard.  Royall was the son of an Antiguan slaveholder known to have treated his slaves with extreme cruelty, including burning 77 people to death.  In 1936, the Harvard Corporation and Radcliff Trustees adopted seals for 27 Harvard academic units, naming the Royall crest, with its three sheaths of wheat, as the Law School shield.

Because of its ties to slave labor, the shield has come under fire.  In October, a group of law school students formed an organization called “Royall Must Fall” to demand that the law school discontinue using the Royall family crest as its symbol.  

Harvard Law School shield
“As Harvard Law School prepares to observe its bicentennial in 2017, it is important that we mark not only our accomplishments but also the difficult aspects of our history,” said Minow.  “I have asked distinguished historians of our faculty to lead a process for soliciting the views and perspectives of all within our community – students, alumni, faculty, and staff – on whether the Royall crest should be discarded from our shield.”

One of my daughters gave me a Harvard Law School tie a few years ago.  As you can see, that tie features the HLS shield:

I think it’s a safe bet that the committee will replace the current shield with a new one. Once that happens, I might as well throw my tie away.  In the highfalutin social circles I move in, wearing it would be the equivalent of wearing a Confederate-flag tie.

[NOTE: No one really knows where the word highfalutin came from.  (That’s the preferred spelling, but there are many alternatives, including high-falutin, high-falutin’, highfaluting, hifalutin, highfalutin’, and hifalutin’.)  Some people believe highfalutin is a whimsical variant of high-fluting, but that begs the question of what the hell high-fluting means.]  

Langdell Hall at Harvard Law School
If you were expecting me to start ranting about political correctness here, you're going to be disappointed.  My only question about the "Royall Must Fall" protest is whether it is worth the time and effort that the law school administration, faculty, and students are devoting to it.  Aren't there are more important issues in the world for HLS to worry about?

This sort of thing is taking place at a number of colleges and universities.  For example, student protesters recently invaded the office of Princeton University’s president, demanding that the school take the name of Woodrow Wilson off Princeton buildings.

Wilson at Princeton (1902)
Wilson – who was the president of Princeton before becoming President of the United States – was “virulently racist” even by the standards of the era when he lived, according to the protesters:

Wilson discouraged the admission of black students to Princeton, opposed black suffrage, was an ardent KKK apologist, and resegregated federal offices that had previously been integrated — costing many black families their jobs.

And the president of the University of Maryland recommended this week that that school's football stadium be renamed.

Byrd Stadium at the University of Maryland
Byrd Stadium honors Harry Clifton "Curley" Byrd, who was Maryland's president from 1936 until 1954.  During his tenure, the university's budget, facilities, and enrollment expanded significantly thanks in large to his excellent relationships with members of the state legislature and the Maryland congressional delegation.

Byrd believed in the "separate but equal" doctrine, which held that racial segregation in schools and universities was legal as long as the quality of education provided to each race was equal.  But whether or not Byrd supported segregated schools, that was the law in Maryland until the Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which held that segregated schools were inherently unequal.

Harry "Curley" Byrd
So at the same time the current president of the university scrubs Byrd's name from the football stadium, shouldn't he also expunge the names of any Maryland governors or legislators from Byrd's era who failed to take action to desegregate the state's schools?

(Ironically, schools in Maryland – a former slave state which is now one of the most liberal states in the country – are becoming less and less integrated as the years pass.  As of 2013, some 54% of the state's black public school students attended "intensely segregated" schools – defined as schools with over 90% black students.  That number is up significantly since 1989, and is more than triple the number in Virginia, which resisted school desegregation for years.) 

“Ten Thousand Men of Harvard" is by far the best of the Harvard fight songs, but you have to wonder when Harvard feminists will wake up and demand that it be revised or discarded.

That song was written by a certain “A. Putnam,” who was a member of the class of 1918, when Harvard was an all-male institution.  (You can’t just say “class of ’18” when you’re talking about Harvard, because it could mean the class of 1718, the class of 1818, the class of 1918, or the class of 2018, whose members matriculated in the fall of 2014.)

Now that Harvard is a coed school, one might think that “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” would have been given a gender-neutral name . . . like “Ten Thousand Persons of Harvard” or “Ten Thousand Men and/or Women of Harvard.”  (Another possibility would be “Ten Thousands Insufferable Snobs of Harvard.”)

Like other Harvard fight songs, this one is focused on Harvard’s chief rival, Yale – especially the final verse, which quoted below.  (The chief benefactor of Yale was Elihu Yale, which is why Yale is sometimes referred to as “Old Eli.”)

Ten thousand men of Harvard want victory today
For they know that o'er old Eli, fair Harvard holds sway
So then we'll conquer old Eli's men
And when the game ends, we'll sing again
Ten thousand men of Harvard gained victory today!

By the way, Harvard won this season's matchup with Yale, 38-19.  That makes it nine victories in a row for the Crimson, and 14 wins in the last 15 games.  (You’ll suck on it and you’ll like it, old Eli’s men!)

Harvard tacklers engulf a Yale running back
The first verse of “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” – which is quoted in part at the beginning of this post – purports to be in Latin, but isn’t really.  Only at Harvard would you write a joke in mock Latin and expect your audience to get it.  

Here’s the Harvard University Band performing “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” on its 90th anniversary:

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