February 21, 2019

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘The Elephant in the Room: A Legacy of Discrimination’

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To the editor:

Reading DeMassa and Delgado’s Feb. 18 column, I find myself perplexed, unnerved and disappointed by the authors’ deranged characterization of last week’s trustee debacle as “representative of larger prejudice at Cornell.”

To be sure, Paul Blanchard’s verbiage was tasteless. Perhaps even insensitive. But symptomatic of prejudice? Hardly.

The only prejudice evident in DeMassa and Delgado’s column is their own bias against undertaking even the slightest amount of historical research. And indeed, if anyone has acted insensitively, it is them, having ridiculed an 88-year-old member of the Cornell community for what was at worst a faux pas.

One need only conduct a quick internet search to understand that for Blanchard’s generation, the term “negro” was not only acceptable, but politically correct. It was not until the mid-1960s, over a decade after Blanchard received his diploma, that the term fell out of favor. Moreover, it would serve DeMassa and Delgado to recall that Blanchard used the word amidst expressing his admiration for Black hall of famer Satchel Paige, a fact which has been virtually disregarded in the embarrassingly melodramatic and flagrantly fact-free vitriol which has enveloped Blanchard over the past week.

DeMassa, Delgado and everybody else who has responded to Blanchard’s speech with ahistorical hysteria owe him not more self-indulgent squabbling about “larger prejudice at Cornell,” but instead, an apology.

Griffin Smuts ’21