The carving, according to Yale Alumni Magazine, depicts “a hostile encounter: a Puritan pointing a musket at a Native American.” Actually, the Native American and the Puritan are looking not hostilely at each other but into the distance. Still, one can’t be too careful, so the musket has been covered with stone. This is unilateral disarmament: The Native American’s weapon, a bow, has not been covered up. Perhaps Yale thinks that armed white men are more “triggering” (this academic-speak means “upsetting to the emotionally brittle”) than armed people of color. National Review Online’s Kyle Smith drolly worries that Yale University might be perpetuating harmful stereotypes.
If such campus folderols merely added to what Samuel Johnson called “the public stock of harmless pleasure,” Americans could welcome a new academic year the way they once welcomed new burlesque acts. Unfortunately, the descent of institutions of learning into ludicrousness is symptomatic of larger social distempers that Frank Furedi has diagnosed abroad as well as in America.