In the category of wokeness-run amok, southwest Virginia’s Emory & Henry College is reconsidering its Wasp mascot out of concern it is not inclusive enough.
The stinging insect seems acceptable as far as mascots go.
After all, a Marvel cartoon character is based on the wasp, as is a Navy amphibious assault ship.
However, in a recent email obtained by Young America’s Foundation, Emory & Henry President John Wells raised the possibility of the college getting rid of the mascot it’s had for nearly 100 years.
Wells began the correspondence by noting that the school, founded in 1836, is named for Bishop John Emory and Virginia’s first governor, Patrick Henry, both of whom were slaveholders.
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He wrote that in light of this fact, and that the institution also benefited from slave labor, “Conversations must examine how Emory & Henry’s past has contributed to current and ongoing systemic oppression.”
“For example, discussion should be renewed regarding College’s mascot, the wasp, and the impact of this mascot on inclusion and diversity on our campus,” Wells said.
A subsequent email YAF obtained from Emory & Henry alumni director Monica Hoel explained the issue at hand.
Is this college president reading too much into the Wasps mascot?
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“The little wasp itself isn’t offensive, but the acronym WASP stands for White Anglo Saxon Protestant,” Hoel wrote. “It stands to make us seem exclusive of those not in that category.”
Emory & Henry’s sports site, GoWasps.com, explains that the history of the wasp mascot dates back to 1921, when the school’s football team traveled to Knoxville to play the University of Tennessee.
“Knoxville newspaper writers tagged Emory & Henry as the Wasps as its defense looked like Wasps swarming on defense and covering the ball, wearing their blue-gold striped socks, blue-gold striped jerseys with stripes on the chest and sleeves,” the website says.
The name stuck, so there’s nothing WASP-y about it.
Very humbled and blessed to receive an offer from Emery and Henry. Go wasps! pic.twitter.com/fnaGYIujm0
— Derek whitaker (@dereksaccoccie) January 22, 2020
It would seem the college’s bigger problem, if it wants to be truly “woke,” is not with its mascot but with its name referencing Patrick Henry.
You know, the guy who gave the famous speech as Virginia debated whether to take up arms against Mother England: “Give me liberty or give me death!”
The Founders, especially the ones who owned slaves, are out of vogue right now with the socially conscious crowd, despite that generation taking the first steps to end slavery.
As a brief historical review, slavery was introduced in the British colony of Virginia in 1619, over 150 years before the founding of the United States.
So slavery was not the country’s “original sin,” as many might like to think.
Further, contrary to what’s being taught in The New York Times’ 1619 Project curriculum in 3,500 classrooms across 50 states, a primary cause of the Revolutionary War was not the colonists’ desire to protect slavery.
The Declaration of Independence, which lists dozens of grievances the colonies had against the king and Parliament, makes just a passing reference to slavery by pointing to England’s efforts to “excite domestic insurrections.”
Also working against The Times’ narrative, almost all the states north of the Mason-Dixon Line had voted to abolish slavery by the end of the war in 1783.
By 1804, all the Northern states had passed legislation ending slavery.
No other governments in the world were taking similar action at that time. In other words, Americans led the way in the abolition movement.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the drafters of the declaration, became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society after the Revolutionary War.
While it is true that Virginians Thomas Jefferson — the primary drafter of the declaration — and George Washington were both slaveholders, they came out in opposition to the institution and took action against it.
Henry lamented the existence of slavery in Virginia, calling it an “abominable practice” in a 1773 letter to Robert Pleasants, a quaker minister and head of the Virginia Abolition Society.
Henry said he was astonished it could exist in such an enlightened age, as I chronicle in my book “We Hold These Truths.”
“Equally amazing is that such an evil should exist in Virginia at a time when the Rights of professing a Religion the most humane, mild, meek, gentle and generous; adopting a Principle as repugnant to humanity as it is inconsistent with the Bible and destructive of Liberty,” he wrote.
Henry regretted his own lack of moral courage in failing to take a stand on the issue, but he could foresee and hoped for a day when slavery would end.
“I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable Evil,” he wrote.
“Every thing we can do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants together with our Slaves, a pity for their unhappy Lot, and an abhorrence of Slavery.”
So things are not always as cut-and-dry as they seem regarding the Founders and the topic of slavery.
While it is true that most of them were WASPs, they also laid the foundation that would allow people of all nations, creeds and religions to thrive in America.
Emory & Henry College, lighten up: There is nothing wrong with your mascot.
People understand that a wasp is an insect and not some thinly veiled code signifying racial prejudice.
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