In an article about removing James Clark McReynolds’ name from a Centre College building, the late Supreme Court justice appears to have been an interesting character, to say the least — so much hate and disrespect for blacks and Jews, but so much love for orphans.
Could all of us be capable of such swings in our lives? If so, it puts us in a real predicament: Whose names will we put on future buildings, highways and battleships? After all, we are all just one investigation, even if it takes a hundred years, away from going from hero to deplorable.
There’s a more interesting decision to be made here. Will Centre’s administration and students show us how much they represent honor and justice? They can accomplish this by making a donation of $730,000, the current value of the McReynolds donation the college accepted after his death in 1946, to the Children’s Home of Washington.
After all, that’s where McReynolds’ donation probably would have gone had Centre rejected it.
I assume they want to apply to their own lives those words we so cavalierly demand of others: duty, honor, truth, justice and character — words so easy to utter, but so hard for all of us to live by.
Centre should show us just how deep its principles are.