Classes have only been in session a few weeks and already we’re back to demands to change campuses because decades-old buildings or statues now represent oppression.
Today’s example comes from California State University-Long Beach, where students have complained that the Prospector Pete statue must go because he represents the Gold Rush, a time now, apparently, associated more with attacks against Native Americans than searching for gold.
“As our diversity grew and more voices were heard, we came to know that the 1849 California gold rush was a time in history when the indigenous peoples of California endured subjugation, violence and threats of genocide,” President Jane Close Conoley said in a statement to the university. “Today, the spirit of inclusivity is reflected in our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community. Today’s Beach is not connected to that era.”
The campus was founded in 1949, and the statue was a reference to the founding president Pete Peterson’s claim of “struck the gold of education” in creating the school. No matter, today’s students only see the “prospector” reference and have too much time on their hands, so now Pete the statue is a symbol of racism.
Student government passed a resolution in March that retired the statute — which will be soon moved to an isolated part of campus — and disassociated the school from the gold rush.
“Multiple scholars have cited the California Prospectors, also known as the 49ers, as culpable in violent and genocidal acts against the indigenous people of California,” the resolution stated. “Prospectors in California perpetuated colonization, white supremacy, racism and exclusion ideals not only against indigenous American communities, but also women, people of color and non-Protestant communities.”
I wonder how long it will take social justice activists to demand the villain from “Toy Story 2,” Stinky Pete — clearly a prospector — be removed from the children’s classic for similar reasons. Maybe the students should throw away their gold jewelry to protest the era. Maybe they should leave California, since the state’s beginnings are so closely tied to the gold rush era.
Except, that would mean they infiltrate other, better states with this nonsense.