Has the University of Texas found a good way to get rid of bad faculty members?
The foolish woke challenge to the University of Texas fight song — "The Eyes of Texas" — is heating up again, with faculty members making threats. They're factually wrong, and U.T. needs to call their bluff.
When I first got to U.T., I was charmed by "The Eyes of Texas." First, it was sung to the tune of "I've been working on the railroad," so it had a nice familiarity. It was sung at football games, with its vaguely menacing promise to the other team that "The eyes of Texas are upon you ... You cannot get away. Do not think you can escape them ... The eyes of Texas are upon you, 'til Gabriel blows his horn." It was a good fight song.
But what I thought was best about the song was the "Hook 'em, Horns" hand symbol people made while singing it, to signify the Texas Longhorns logo. This consists of using your thumb to hold your middle and ring fingers against your palm, leaving only your pointer and pinky waving in the air:
I'd been a European history major as an undergrad and knew that this was the same hand symbol used in the Middle Ages to insult a cuckold — that is, a man whose wife had cheated on him. None of my classmates cared about my historic erudition. They took the song at face value, as a rousing musical taunt to the opposing football team. And that's exactly the right way to have taken it.
If the lyrics said something awful about killing a group of people (as every Palestinian song does about the Jews), it would be reasonable to jettison the song. Likewise, if the song's lyrics were unobjectionable, but it was 1946, and everyone assembled knew that it was Hitler's favorite song, that too would be a get reason to stop singing it. Continuing to use it at that point would be an intentional statement about Hitler. For over 100 years, though, every person singing the song thought it was just a fun fight song.
Recently, though, woke scholars went digging and, based upon scant and misinterpreted evidence, concluded that the song was deliberately racist when written in 1902 and had retained that meaning for decades afterward. The University of Texas, however, recently released a detailed report challenging that "scholarship." Almost everything it asserted was wrong.
For example, the report says there's no reliable authority that the words "The eyes of Texas are upon you" echoed a statement that Confederate General Robert E. Lee might have said — namely, "the eyes of the South are upon you." Not only is it not clear that Lee made that statement, but the only authority for a connection between the song and Robert E. Lee turns out to have been a 1938 account by an engineering dean whose memory was shaky at best.
Likewise, the lyrics were not some hidden threat to Black people. Instead, the song was about students knowing that the state's elders were watching them and expecting great things from them.
The song was indeed performed once, in 1903, at a campus "Minstrel show," and the performers may have been wearing blackface. Nobody ever heard about the show again until woke scholars went looking for it. And that's it. That's the connection between the song and racism.
To its credit, the University of Texas refused to let this mostly inaccurate and often irrelevant history force it to remove the song from the Texas canon. The administration members charged with making the decision understood, just as my friends did when I talked about the cuckold symbol, that the song's history did not affect its present use.
However, that finding hasn't stopped the woke faculty. In addition to students rioting as usual (they seem to think it's the 1960s all over again), 180 faculty members have refused to attend graduation if the song's not banned. I think that's marvelous. Things like this are an occasion to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Serious academics understand the difference between past and present, and between actual knowledge and strained readings of history. They'll be at the graduation.
Leftists, who view history and education as tools for indoctrinating students into Marxism, by absenting themselves from the ceremony, will prove they have no business being at a university. U.T. should do everything in its power to fire them.
Unless university administrators want today's struggle sessions to end up with Maoist bloodshed, they need to put a stop to this madness. That means having every college and university across America present a united front: all woke demands will be denied, and faculty and students who continue with those demands will be escorted off campus.
As for me, a lot of wonderful memories came flooding back when I listened to the song in the video above. I never did learn the Cal fight song (does Cal have a fight song?), but I sure knew "The Eyes of Texas," cuckold sign and all!
Image: Hook 'em, Horns. YouTube screen grab.
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