Why Paterno's Statue Must Stand

Penn State can't forget how it deified Joe Paterno: Ta-Nehisi Coates
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2012 12:05 PM CDT
Why Paterno's Statue Must Stand
This is the statue of former Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno that stands outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Friday, July 13, 2012.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The people of Happy Valley revered Joe Paterno, and the brand of scholarly athleticism he preached—so much so that they rioted when he was fired. "It is a truth of history that good people do sometimes do heinous things, but that makes it no easier for the human mind to accept," writes Ta-Nehisi Coates in the New York Times. But in the wake of the Freeh Report, everyone now accepts, and they want Paterno's statue removed. But Coates thinks it needs to stay.

Bobby Bowden recently argued that it should go, because he wouldn't want Sandusky "brought up every time I walked out on the field." But that's the point, Coates says: "Sandusky's crimes should never be forgotten." Nor should Happy Valley's. "Memorial statues are not simply comments on their subjects, but comments on their makers," he argues. "The problem here is not that Paterno shamed Happy Valley, but that Happy Valley, through its broad blindness, has shamed itself." Click for Coates' full column. (More Joe Paterno stories.)

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