In the small town where I live, citizens got together and pooled a large number of small donations in order to put up a bronze statue of a local accordion player who founded a popular festival that still continues over 10 years after his death. The Festival, and the man we honored for starting it, both epitomize an eclectic, fun-loving, warm and humorous nature that, in many ways, defines the character of our town.
This is just one small, personal, example of how a decision to honor someone can speak volumes about what you stand for as a community or an organization. There are many others I could chronicle, but that is not my intention here.
The profound importance of choosing someone worthy of honor is a reason that I’m fascinated, and a little shocked, by the decision of Southern Methodist University to host the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Apparently, progress on the library is moving quickly, with the aid of some high profile Bush
This is an institution of higher learning, with a stated commitment to “freedom of inquiry,” choosing to honor a President who not only doesn’t believe in science, but promotes policies detrimental to scientific knowledge and scientific research.
This is an institution touting a “focus on leadership,” choosing to honor a President who knowingly lied to start a war that has resulted in thousands of needless deaths of both American troops and Iraqi citizens, and who actively labeled those who questioned his policies as unpatriotic.
This is an institution with an open policy on “human rights,” choosing to honor a President who has deliberately eroded civil rights for Americans, and sanctioned the systematic abuse of others, in violation of some of the founding principles of our nation, and of international laws.
I didn’t really know much about SMU before – only that they were located somewhere near Dallas, TX, that their sports teams compete in the Conference USA, and that their mascot is a Mustang.
Now that I see who they are choosing to honor, I think I know how I will think of them in the future:
Image of accordion player from Michael Amsler of the North Bay Bohemian (formerly The Independent.)
Image of SMU Tee from my demented imagination (and perhaps soon to the Left-Over On-Line Store near you, or not.)