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  • snitzoid

Middlebury screws the pooch. Yep I went there. Eckkk!

Believe it or not, the school was an amazing place when I attended. Not the woke "expletive deleted" place that promotes group think...sorry I need to quit being so negative.

By the way, I'd love to take a few classes from Jim Douglas. Sounds like an awesome thought-provoking guy.

Middlebury’s Scapegoat for Eugenics

The Vermont college cancels former Gov. John Mead for sins the school itself committed.

By Tunku Varadarajan

July 28, 2023 4:41 pm ET

James Douglas at the Middlebury Chapel.

Middlebury, Vt.

“You had to learn about ‘degenerates and defectives’ if you wanted to graduate from Middlebury,” says James Douglas, class of 1972. He is referring to a sociology course that was obligatory for seniors in the early 20th century. The course focused on eugenics, which was a mainstream, pseudoscientific obsession in the U.S. at the time. Proponents included Teddy Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, W.E.B. Du Bois and Helen Keller. When Vermont passed a law in 1931 permitting sterilization of citizens for “human betterment,” a majority of U.S. states had already done so.

A former Republican governor of Vermont, Mr. Douglas is now a professor at his alma mater, where he teaches political science and wages righteous war on cancel culture. He’s the lead plaintiff in a suit that seeks to reverse a decision made by the school’s trustees to rename the campus chapel. A Vermont Superior Court judge heard oral arguments on July 21.

The Mead Memorial Chapel—as it’s no longer called—was built with a benefaction from John Mead, Vermont governor from 1910-12. Mead, class of 1864, was a medical doctor and businessman whose policy positions would be regarded as progressive today: He took a dim view of the use of child labor and supported women’s suffrage. He interrupted his studies to enlist in the Civil War, fighting at Gettysburg. His ancestors were among the first Europeans in Vermont. By the terms of his gift, the Mead name on the chapel was intended to honor the family in perpetuity. It wasn’t, as Middlebury now asserts, intended as a memorial solely to John Mead.

Yet, on Sept. 27, 2021, the college took down the Mead name from the chapel, “with no forewarning, no public debate.” This, says Mr. Douglas, was a “furtive” action “in breach of contract.”

Mr. Douglas alleges the college used the Vermont Legislature’s formal apology for the state’s record of eugenics “as a pretext to defame Mead.” In a retirement speech in 1912, Mead had supported the denial of marriage licenses to syphilitics, rapists and “habitual” alcoholics. He also advocated vasectomies for those with hereditary diseases. His language was conventional for the time, mild in comparison with the eugenic norm. Vermont didn’t pass its sterilization law until 19 years later, when Mead was dead. The state archivist’s testimony in 2021—which laid the foundation for Vermont’s apology—doesn’t mention Mead.

It is “immoral,” says Mr. Douglas, “that the college should ascribe the state’s policy to Mead, especially when Middlebury was itself a tenacious bastion of eugenics.” Eugenics was on the college curriculum until as late as 1946, even after the Holocaust had come to light.

Mr. Douglas refuses to set foot in the chapel until the Mead family’s name is restored, and has sued Middlebury—on behalf of the family—for a return to a dignified status quo ante. He’s prepared to accept the placement of a plaque at the chapel that “explains eugenics, including Mead’s speech.” But the plaque must also describe how steeped Middlebury was in the sin of which it accuses Mead. “The ‘Middlebury’ name is tainted,” he says. “I won’t ask for it to be taken down. Just put ‘Mead’ back up where it belongs.”

Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and at NYU Law School’s Classical Liberal Institute.

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