Ann Coulter’s call to ‘cancel Yale’ for being named after slave owner finds approval with left-wingers

While the #CancelYale trend started as a far-right idea, soon others joined in. Many who weren’t aware of the history behind Yale’s name, found it surprising to know Elihu Yale was a slave owner

                            Ann Coulter’s call to ‘cancel Yale’ for being named after slave owner finds approval with left-wingers
Yale University (Getty Images) / Ann Coulter (Wikimedia Commons)

On Saturday, June 20, Twitter was rife with cries to “Cancel Yale”. Unlike the series of “Is Over Party” trends Twitter has seen in the past three months or so, the #CancelYale trend (with more than 36,000 tweets in it at the time of writing) seems to have more substance than K-pop fancams. 

Where did this begin?

It all started with far-right pundit and columnist Ann Coulter. On Wednesday, June 17, Coulter wrote a column on her website (that has since been republished by others, including the far-right news website Breitbart), titled in all caps, ‘Yale has to go!’.

Coulter’s column was a critique of the spate of defacement of Confederate monuments and statues in the wake of a nationwide Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd. Coulter wrote in her column, “This column will address the GOP’s moronitude [sic] in response to the attacks on Confederate monuments. Works of art are being destroyed by Maoist vandals who have no idea what they’re doing.”

She castigated the Republican Party for not putting an end to this trend, saying, “If you refuse to fight, Republicans, don’t you at least want to have some fun?” The column mainly makes an argument against immigrants. “Recent immigrants, by which I mean people who arrived after 1865,” she wrote, “think the country started with them. They find it hilarious to destroy anything that happened before they got here.”

The only time Coulter mentions Yale in her column is, “How about a bill withholding all federal funds from Yale University until it changes its name? The school’s namesake, Elihu Yale, was not only a slave owner, but a slave trader."

Following this, Coulter has continuously tweeted about this one particular idea: changing the name of Yale University. Others finally seem to have picked up on the thought.

Jesse Kelly, a conservative commentator and talk radio host from Houston, began tweeting about #CancelYale on Saturday. He wrote, “Yale University was named for Elihu Yale. Not just a man who had slaves. An actual slave trader. I call on @Yale to change its name immediately and strip the name of Yale from every building, piece of paper, and merchandise. Otherwise, they hate black people.”

Kelly Further wrote, “I take no pleasure in it, but if we’re tearing down the Confederacy, we’re gonna have to tear down a place named after a slave trader. @Yale must change its name immediately and issue a public apology. Or disband the university altogether. #CancelYale.”

While the trend started as a far-right idea, soon others joined in. For many, who weren’t aware of the history behind Yale’s name, it was a surprising revelation. CBS journalist Faith Salie wrote, “Finally at peace with the fact that Yale turned me down.”

A Twitter user pointed out, “Remember when a white @Yale student called the cops TWICE on two black students? #CancelYale.” The user was referring to a 2018 incident when an African-American Yale University graduate student, Lolade Siyonbola, was interrogated by campus police officers after a white student found her sleeping in a common room of their dorm and called police.

Democrat Katie Hill, the former U.S. Representative for California's 25th congressional district, wrote on Twitter, “Though #CancelYale is coming from right-wing trolls, I’d be fine with canceling the people who say ‘I went to Yale’ every other sentence.”

Many pointed out that this convergence of the left and the right as proof of the “horseshoe theory” that postulates the far-left and the far-right, rather than being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, closely resemble one another, analogous to the way that the opposite ends of a horseshoe are close together.

Journalist Cathy Young, too noted, “Wow, the #CancelYale tag is a fascinating convergence of right-wing trolling (Ann Coulter and Co. pointing out that Yale is named after a slave trader and should scrub its name) and leftists who agree.”

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