Monday, March 05, 2012

An Honest Celebration

An anecdote which I was once told and am having difficulty verifying, but the sentiment is right:

When they were working the final exhibitions on the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin, one of the project leaders was laying out the final walk-through for the former President when they began discussing the section on Vietnam.  The original plan called for a very small section and Johnson did not agree.  He said that Vietnam was one of the single most important part of his presidency and to shove it off into some corner somewhere would be lying to the American people.  He then said "They screamed at me about how we fought the war, I'm damn well not letting them scream at me about how I exhibited it."  To this day, the LBJ museum has a large, extensive, and balanced take on the entire Vietnam era, respectful of all of the American points of view of the conflict

With all due respect to Mr. Rose, and I do mean all due respect, you can't rehang the banners at Crisler, no matter how much you may want to do so.

The reason is simple: No matter what one may think of the NCAA investigation and sanctions, they are sanctions, Michigan made the list of things they wanted to do based on the best advice they could get from lawyers paid large amount of money to provide wise counsel on this matter and agreed that this would be one of the sanctions and it's because the banner represents a celebration.  It represents an accomplishment, but that accomplishment is tainted within the rules and regulations of an organization of which Michigan is a member institution.  You can't rehang the banners in Crisler proper.

That said, the banners should be in Crisler.  Allow me to explain.  They serve no meaningful purpose being stored away in the stacks at the Bentley like some basketball Ark of the Covenant.  They should be displayed in the new Crisler Center somewhere, attention drawn to the awkward placement of them outside the arena along with an honest, detailed, and complete telling of what happened during the Fab Five era.  It does not serve us to avert our eyes to the ugly parts of history any more than it does to celebrate a lamentable part of the past.  The best choice one can make going forward is to split the difference, acknowledge that the past happened, that mistakes, errors, poor decisions, what have you, did occur, and that you learned from them.  Let the past become an object lesson to future generations to say "We're never going to let this happen again because this is not who we want to be."  Not the Fab Five, mind you, but the NCAA violations part of the Fab Five.

Let's be honest about the past.  Let's be honest about who we are.  Let us tell all feasible sides of the story to tell and allow the individual to make the decision as to what they take away.  We can't simply pretend that because the banners aren't there doesn't mean that the games didn't happen, but it doesn't mean we need to celebrate the circumstances under which they occurred.

Besides, we have a new day, a new banner, a new era, and new honor to be won.

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