The Arch of Titus looms over Rome as a commemoration to the life of Titus, celebrating the looting and destruction both of Jerusalem and of the Jewish Second Temple; however, none today call for the demolition of the hate-inspired arch.
Our world has birthed many fantastic things, most of which were created by people whose hands were not clean. The radical attempt to sanitize the past because of present revelations is what will doom us. Ed Meek’s name, the name “Ole Miss” and the now-former mascot of this great university are all our Arch of Titus. They’re the things we curse but must clutch to remember the gifts they gave to the present.
It is truly a tragedy when we cannot view the present or past with nuance — at a university of all places. Education is paramount here, yet no comparative lenses are used. Meek ignorantly and without care posted an inappropriate message with photographs on Facebook. His actions were rude, insensitive and, most of all, repulsive to a university trying to heal from a scarred past. That doesn’t warrant a removal of the spectacular work he, or anyone in a similar situation, has done.
The childish idea of turning our present into something brilliantly heroic, void of any controversy, is a naive one. At our university, we cannot be the heralds of the fallacious “safe space” culture. If we continue down that road, we teach our students that they should hide at school from anything that could make them stronger, better people. We refuse them the right to become educated.
Consider yourself in the place of a modern Italian. Jewish travelers and locals see the Arch of Titus constantly. It would be an empathic and moral decision to remove the arch, yet none attempt it. The significance of the arch, both as a tool for education and as a remembrance of what good was built by those of the past, protects it, just as other symbols should be protected at our university; no matter if it’s a name, or a construction.
Meek is a philanthropic, generous man as well as a proud Ole Miss alumnus. He has donated millions to the university and is an entrepreneur that inspired many to speak up for his character. We must cherish the few people in this world like Meek who wish to be the cause of a positive change.
Thank you, Ed Meek.
Josh Baker is a junior economics and mathematics major from Houston, Texas.