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Public statues: Up or down? But does the historical importance of the individuals represented matter?

Uploaded: Jun 30, 2020
The removal of public statues throughout our country, by supporters of Black Lives Matter and many others, is a growing concern, because what started as a very valid cause now seems to be turning into arbitrary removals of statues of individuals – blanket indictments of people on a single standard without knowing about all their other contributions to society.

It’s become a purity test, in a sense – if certain statues don’t meet your/my criteria for racial equality and representing a person Americans should honor today, then those statues must be torn down. Right now.

This “purity test” comes in many forms – whether it’s names of buildings or the tearing down of statues or removing men from jobs because of sexual improprieties -- the condemnation continues.

It first emerged for me in Palo Alto in 2017 when a parent, Lars Johnsson, and his son, were upset because of the names of two junior highs schools in town, one of which his son was attending. Jordan, named after David Starr Jordan, a prominent scholar who was the first president of Stanford University, while Terman Middle School was named after Lewis Terman, a Stanford psychologist who created a prominent IQ test, among many other scientific contributions. Both men were participants in the eugenics movement in the 20th century, that believed in the superiority of particular races over others, which advocated, among other things, sterilization of certain races to produce a smarter society.

The unanimous decision of the school board in 2017 to get rid of the names of these two men disturbed me, because as despiteful and dreadful as I think the eugenics movement was, the anger directed toward anyone who was a eugenicist totally discarded any other contributions of these two renowned men.

Back in early 20th century, both socialism and communism became intellectual fads, which some of the intelligentsia mentally played around with for a while, with socialism fading in and out of relevance over the years. Interest in eugenics also caused a stir for a while, primarily involving bright young men, but eugenics faded away at the outset of World War II.

A similar vilification of individuals happened with the recent “Me Too” movement who were responsible for the firing of so many men in our society accused of sexual misconduct. One unwanted sexual overture and out a man must go. The women were adamant sexual overtures must be punished and those guilty must be fired. Another purity test. The most unfortunate attack for me was against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), whose female accuser charged him of alleged misconduct 11 years earlier.

Now we are having a similar set of purity actions resulting in statues being town down by crowds of people – sometimes only looking to see how racist an individual was. We are imposing today’s beliefs on views and lifestyles people had years ago, and those views are not meeting our purity test.

Let me say at the outset that the statues of people like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis absolutely should be removed, because they worked hard to divide our country. And other confederate generals’ statues should also be taken away from public view, perhaps put in rear museum rooms. They are not American heroes. And statues of people like Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini have no place in our country.

Christopher Columbus has been attacked because of what he did to the native Indian population when he came to America. Although Columbus never set foot on what is the continental U.S. today, his crews and later arrivals took over. Columbus statues have been torn down or removed, even in San Jose, and now some people are clamoring to rename the city of Columbus, Ohio.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are being criticized because they were slaveholders, as were most Southerner in those early days. So now, some say, their statues also must go. Yet both men helped establlsh America as a democracy, while they organized a government based on freedom and equality and democratic principles that have carried us through two-and-a-half centuries.

A statue of President Teddy Roosevelt has come down from the outside of the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, because it shows him on a horse with a black man and a Native American walking at his side. The sculptor said they represented the men who were guiding him along the way, but protesters say no, it showed Teddy and white superiority. Yet Roosevelt was an avowed racist and busted trusts.

There is a statue of Lincoln with a black man on his knee in front of the president. Critics say that only shows white superiority and must go. The sculptor said the black man is on one knee and ready to stand up, because Lincoln freed the slaves and the figures represent rising to equality.

A statue in Madison, WI. of Hans Christian Heg, an ardent abolitionist was pulled down, although he fought to make the U.S. a united union. Not sure why Heg is gone.

It’s perceptions we are having a problem with. Two people can have totally different thoughts about what a statue represents, which is fine, but before removals occur, we should and must look historically at the individuals and why they were important. We should not erase our nation’s history because our views have changed from those of earlier Americans.
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Comments

 +   6 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 11:41 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

Hi Diana,


Good piece but there is a serious error. You identify Fred Terman as a eugenicist. This is completely untrue.

Louis M. Terman was a Stanford psychologist who was something of a eugenicist. His son, Frederick Emmons Terman, was a provost at Stanford and had nothing to do with eugenics.

Here are some details on the history.

1. Louis was something of a eugenicist. He altered his theories during the 1930s but not very publicly. However, he told many people that eugenics was bad science and dangerous near the end of his career. The district put his name on the school. Louis died in the mid-50s.

2. His son Fred was a very important person in the history of Stanford and Palo Also. He has been called the Father of Silicon Valley, with a lot of justification. Together with President Wallace Sterling, Fred Terman created the Stanford we know today as a world-class institution, and started Silicon Valley. I have a copy of his biography if anyone wants to look at it.

3. When Terman School was reopened in about 2000 after being the JCC for a number of years, the district reviewed Louis' status as a eugenicist. The board decided to leave Louis' name on the building but to add Fred Terman's name. The district was fully aware of Louis' association with eugenics at this time (around 2000), and fully aware that Fred was not a eugenicist.

4. When community members came forward in recent years, the claim was made that a student had "discovered" the eugenics connections of Louis Terman and David Starr Jordan. This discovery is hardly original since it was well-known in the community and all over the standard histories and Wikipedia articles.

5. The PAUSD board decided to rename two schools and to drop both Louis and Fred from Terman School. They did this even as they acknowledged that Fred Terman was never a eugenicist and was also a distinguished citizen, but they said it was his name that they didn't want.

6. Some members of the community argued that Fred's name should be removed using the argument that "the sins of the fathers should be visited on the sons". This argument is a primitive form of eugenics.


I am repeating this at some length because I think it is very important not to implicate innocent people in bad things that they didn't do. When we start to tear down statues and say bad things about people, it is important to respect the true history of these individuals and not allow false accusations to creep into the new narrative.



 +   5 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

RSmith Jr.

Thank you. You are absolutely right, it was Lewis Terman, not his son Fred, that developed the Stanford Binet IQ test and the school was named after him.

My deep apologies for my error. I have changed the text.

Appreciatively, Dina


 +   12 people like this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 12:11 pm

The question is...where do we draw the line as PC mentalities are beginning to border on the ludicrous.

Perhaps it is best to eliminate ALL statues and monuments as these symbols of past history are both a waste of time/energy to create and take up unecessary space.

Everything has now become subject to PC scrutiny including Confederate statues, former slaveowners, Spanish explorers, Aunt Jemima/Uncle Ben'trademarks, various sports team monickers, the words 'master' and 'slave' etc.

Where does it all end? Tributes to FDR should also be removed due to his WW2 executive order forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps.

L'Oreal and Unilever are removing the term 'whitening' from their cosmetic products and the terms 'blacklisted' & 'whitelisted' are now on the cutting block.

'Master' is another term being 'blacklisted' as the term Master Sommelier has now been removed by it's professional trade association. RE agents are being disuaded in using 'master bedroom' to describe residential properties and it wouldn't surprise anyone if 'Master' is eventually removed from various
trades as well...no more 'master' electrician, woodworker etc.

Slave is another term under attack...slave cylinders and electrical circuits may soon have new names if the PC advocates have their way.

Perhaps it's best to remove all of these words from the English vocabulary and have them designated as obsenities.

The statues and military base names are only the tip of the iceberg.












 +   5 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

It's all too much:
Thank you! You add a whole new dimension to what I wrote. PC is overpowering our lives.
Diana


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by rsmithjr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 12:32 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

Hi Diana,

Thanks for fixing your mistake. It was instructive because it illustrates how easy it is to perpetuate something false and unfair when we are dealing with historical personages.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 12:38 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

I don't generalize to say that all "PC" kinds of activities are wrong. It depends.

An example:

Many of the renamings have been handled well and are fully justified. For example: Yale University conducted a careful and thoughtful review of the name of one of its colleges, Calhoun. John C. Calhoun's history is terrible and Yale was right to rename the college. It is now named after Admiral Grace Hopper, a computer science pioneer and someone I have always admired.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 1:11 pm

This is something worth discussing in a calm and rational manner without name calling or retribution to those offering an opinion.

You are right about the name changing of schools and at the time many of us were not happy with the idea of changing the names and additionally if they were changed why change them to other individuals who may at some future date may prove to be unworthy of the honor. The same arguments made about altering history, hiding what was a common cultural norm and learning from past mistakes was made at the time and where should it end? Well we know that it hasn't ended, but has become a great deal worse. We still do not know where it will end but nobody seems exempt.

The one difference of course is the unruly behavior in which it is being done. At least with the school name changes, it was done in the correct manner. However, pulling down a statue which if nothing else was done at a monetary cost to the community and provided income for the artist, is not a wise way to move forward. A mob pulling down a statue and perhaps dumping it to be trampled on and destroyed is at least an insult to the artist if not those who perhaps contributed money to its commission. Our ideals have changed, but at least we should prove that we have better ideals by doing it in a lawful and principled fashion. Removing a statue and placing it where it can be displayed to show and teach how attitudes have changed in a museum or similar setting is how we can learn from history as opposed to repeating it. At present we are in danger of repeating history because we are destroying the very reminders of what tangible evidence we have.

Obviously we cannot pretend that slavery didn't happen. In fact, we should be learning about the how and why it happened. It didn't start with Africans being sold to Americans, it started a long time beforehand. It did not start with black people being sold to white people, but with brothers being sold to brothers, with families selling their own children to pay for debts, or with widows selling themselves to pay for food and shelter for their own children. Slavery is not a pleasant topic and just because we think of the freedoms of slaves in our own country it doesn't mean that it has been wiped out.

Modern slavery is very different, but it is equally real. We call it human trafficking now and it is happening all around us. Quite possibly the people involved look the same as us, and those being trafficked also like the same as us. Pretending that practice is not going on is just as worrying as it is being denied and forgotten.

Perhaps the best way to honor the changes in modern attitudes is not to remove statues or rename buildings, but instead to put the same amount of effort into changing what is happening today to those whose lives are being destroyed through human trafficking. Perhaps if the same effort were being made to prevent modern slavery as is being put into removing the visible monuments to past slavery, we would be doing the future a better service.

History is full of bad events and no nation is exempt. The past had different morals and ethics and judging the past with our modern enlightened viewpoints is too easy. Life has changed and we believe it has changed for the better so we have to prove it, not by destruction but by recording the changes. We have no idea what present day morals and ethics may look like to our great grandchildren. Perhaps we should be thinking of giving those great grandchildren something to be proud of as well as destroying the reminders of what went before.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 1:30 pm

All too much - you put it very well and I think I had started my comment, was interrupted and posted before I had a chance to read your comment.

The term "master" has changed in meaning very much. In fact if we look at the term masterpiece, we think of it as being the very best piece of work an artist produces. In fact the history is different.

Going back to medieval days, the master craftsmen in the feudal system were those who belonged to their trade guild. A master blacksmith or carpenter would be able to bring in trainee apprenticeships to train them in their trade while providing them with room and board. Once the apprenticeship was complete these young blacksmiths or carpenters could get employment as journeymen or daily paid employees. Because they were paid they were able to provide for themselves and live away from the job. As the years went by the journeymen were hopefully able to save enough money to be able to start their own shop or business in that craft. To do so, they would have to be made members of the trade guild and the manner in which that was done was to prove that they had mastered their craft. They would make a masterpiece or their work, a piece that showed their craftmanship and ability to produce quality work. This masterpiece would have been taken to the guild which would judge it as being up to their standards. This would enable the individual to be called a master of their trade and able to start their own business.

We still use the meaning of the word when we say that someone playing piano has mastered a tricky piece of music, or a child has mastered the bicycle, or being able to touch type a computer keyboard.

As a noun, we may be able to replace it. As a verb, it is still a useful piece of vocabulary.

As being PC, it is getting too woke to discuss.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by sandragifford, a resident of North Whisman,
on Jun 30, 2020 at 4:40 pm

sandragifford is a registered user.

Web Link

This a link to an opinion by Timothy Dolan titled: "Even the Bible is Full of Flawed Characters
Excerpt:Years ago I was dedicating a new parish to St. Peter. A woman wrote to protest: “Why would you name a Church after such a coward, a sinner who denied even knowing the Lord when Jesus needed him most, at the hour of His arrest and crucifixion?"

Knowing her and what parish she was from, I wrote back, “But you're a proud parishioner at St. Mary Magdalene Church. She was sure not a paragon of virtue for a chunk of her life. Yet, by God's grace, she became a radiant, inspirational saint. If we can't name churches after sinners, the only titles we'd have left would be Jesus and His Mother!"

Isn't the same true of America's historical personalities? All of them had flaws, yet all of them still contributed a lot of good to our nation's progress.

Defacing, tearing down and hiding statues and portraits is today's version of Puritan book-burning. Our children need to know their country's past, its normative figures and their virtues and vices. That's how we learn and pass on our story. Is there any more effective way to comprehend America's history of racism than reading “Huckleberry Finn" or one of Flannery O'Connor's short stories, works of literature now ominously on the chopping block?

My own mom kept a photo of her parents hanging on the wall of our house. Her dad, my grandfather, was an abusive drunk who abandoned his family. I'm glad we got to know of him, the good and the bad.

The same is true of the church I love and am honored to serve. Yes, there are scandalous parts of our history, and countless episodes when popes, bishops, priests and others"including some who are now saints"didn't act as they should have.

God forbid we'd go through a cultural revolution as China did five decades ago. Beware those who want to purify memories and present a tidy"and inaccurate"history. And who's to say which statues, portraits, books and dedications are spared? Remember when some objected to raising the status of the Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to a national holiday, citing his self-admitted flaws?

If literature that depicts prejudice, or words or scenes that are today rightly abhorred, is to be banned, I don't know if even the Bible can survive. If we only honor perfect, saintly people of the past, I guess I'm left with only the cross. And some people would ban that.

As a historian by training, I want to remember the good and the bad, and recall with gratitude how even people who have an undeniable dark side can let light prevail and leave the world better. I want to keep bringing classes of schoolchildren to view such monuments, and to explain to them how even such giants in our history had crimes, unjust acts and plain poor judgment mixed in with the good we honor.

Cardinal Dolan is archbishop of New York.

Images: Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly
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 +   2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 1, 2020 at 12:58 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Diana,
The argument you raise is worth discussing in the current national context. I don't want to get into the macro-discussion about statue destruction. But I have two observations about our local tussle over renaming. One is that Fred Terman is memorialized in the name of Terman Drive, next to Ellen Fletcher Middle School, which is not district property. We no longer have a school named in honor of an individual, Lewis Terman, who purveyed harmful practices and attitudes towards people he and other eugenicists like his patron, David Starr Jordan, considered "unfit." But we do still have a street named by the city in honor of his son Fred, respected dean of engineering and provost at Stanford. Fred Terman only loses out when their names and attributes are confused. That is unfortunate, but the hazard comes from the conflation of the two Termans when the school reopened after a long closure. On the positive side, every time that confusion occurs generates an opportunity to explain why the school's name was changed.

The other is that Stanford next year will take up petitions from students and from the Psychology Department to change the name of Jordan Hall using the same process used for Junipero Serra, the Spanish priest credited with establishing the California missions system that destroyed the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples, including the local Muwekma.

I look forward to hearing Stanford voices, largely silent about Jordan, Terman and Cubberley's roles during PAUSD's long debate about Stanford and Palo Alto's engagement with the eugenics movement. I don't think they and others in academia have taken seriously Jordan's far-reaching and ongoing impact on American society. Bring on the historians!.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 1, 2020 at 9:21 am

@Ms. Diamond
On a lighter note & slightly off-topic (yet relevant to your earlier blogs on municipal fiscal management)...

With the growing PC disavowal of Christopher Columbus as an exploratory hero, shouldn't various cities (including the highly 'enlightened' City of Palo Alto) remove Columbus Day as a paid city holiday?

This measure would provide for
an additional (albeit it questionable) day of work-related productivity on the part of city employees (including the highly paid administrative positions) and reduce a sizeable holiday-related payroll expenditure during a time when municipal budgetary constraints are most needed.

Tearing down a Christopher Columbus statue doesn't bother me in the least but since there are no statues of him in Palo Alto, the city could highlight its empathy towards sensitive social issues by removing a paid holiday 'perk' that the majority of tax-paying Palo Alto residents employed in the private sector do not ordinarily receive.

A step in the right direction?







 +   2 people like this
Posted by Observer, a resident of Mayfield,
on Jul 1, 2020 at 10:59 am

I question the assumption in Diamond's original article that, once a statue has been erected or a public building named, that should be considered permanent and unchangeable with only rare exceptions for specific types of misdeeds. How the powers that be in one generation evaluated the relative positive and negative contributions of an individual is not necessarily the way that subsequent generations view the balance, and in many instances, the passage of time, with subsequent events and new understanding causes a very legitimate re-evaluation of the harm that individual did -- especially as new voices (e.g., women, racial/ethnic minorities) are brought into the decision process. When a legitimate case can currently be made that the harm was such that the person does not deserve a monument/honor and/or that harm is still being done to many by ignoring the past misdeeds and maintaining the monument/name, it seems very reasonable to me to remove/change them -- preferably by an orderly process, not by vandalism.

I also abhor the term "PC". This term was coined specifically to discount and trivialize the legitimacy of someone's or some group's concerns or pain -- as though the person using the term was entitled not to be pushed to pay attention to the matter or change their behavior in any way. Both sides in such discussions can be unreasonable, but let's try to deal with the issues and avoid such put-down terms such as "PC".


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Diana Diamond, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jul 1, 2020 at 11:14 am

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

It's ll Too Much:

Your idea of eliminating celebration of Colmbus Day in PA and no longer making it a paid holiday for city employees is an interesting one, and should be discussed.

But beware! There are already about five or six new holidays being discussed --- Kids Day, Juneteenth,, Honoring people killed at their jobs, a Black Lives Matter Day, etc. We have something like 12 holidays we celebrate -- most of which are turned into three-day weekends. Do we really want four or five more? I think not -- and if some are proposed we really all should dvet the idea, lest we become a nation of holidays first, work second.

Diana


 +   2 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 1, 2020 at 12:52 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Speaking ColumbusWhy should we have monuments, and a holliday for a man who upon observing the indigenous people of the New World said that it would be very easy to enslave them because they were so peacefu? Why should we allow monuments for Confederacy traitors against whom we went to war? Would we ever allow monuments that honor and commemorate Third Reich and Imperial Japan WW2 generals?

Why do we allow Nazi flags in American Nazis rallies? We had gone to war against Nazi Germany, the regime that produced Nazism. We never signed a peace treaty with the Nazis, we accepted their unconditional surrender.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by George, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jul 1, 2020 at 3:16 pm

The best option for monuments is to simply change the nameplates. Leave them standing. In our 'everything is subject to disruption' age and internet (where history is whatever the most recent post thinks it is) the mob wins (as we are seeing). History happened in it's own time and in the frames of reference at the time - it can inform, we can judge it, but we cannot and should not erase it. These are dangerous times. History, tradition, culture, and respect are falling - quickly with few to defend them. It's not better ideas - just chaos and disorder and above all destruction. How utterly selfish and mean to destroy these valued statues. This whole racism obsession is junk - anarchists, idiots, and corporate extortionists have hijacked race relations for their own purposes contributing nothing and leaving a mess in our streets.
LEAVE THE STATUES ALONE


 +   6 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 1, 2020 at 4:23 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Only those who weren't the victims of racism can pontificate that racism obsession is junk. Try to tell Jewish survivors of Auschwitz that their obsession with nazism is junk.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 1, 2020 at 7:45 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

My comment on Diana Diamond's blog Web Link

> Observer: "I also abhor the term "PC". This term was coined specifically to discount and trivialize the legitimacy of someone's or some group's concerns or pain -- as though the person using the term was entitled not to be pushed to pay attention to the matter or change their behavior in any way. Both sides in such discussions can be unreasonable, but let's try to deal with the issues and avoid such put-down terms such as "PC"."

Not true. It was being used in the 1930s (possibly the late 1920s) by US Socialists in response to bullying by the US Communist Party (CPUSA) to toe the line coming out of Moscow. It was also very common in the 1970s in the university where I was a graduate student in response to bullying by various leftist groups. For example, you could get screamed at for using the dispreferred choice of "African-American", "Black", "Person of color" depending on who you were talking to (and subject to periodic change).

The deliberate use of "politically correct" terminology to bully into silence those who disagree has been in widespread use for at least 90 years (by Marxists and others).

What you have described is someone trying to re-frame an issue using terminology and having that misrepresentation resisted. This is common in discussions and especially debates.
However, you have gone far, far beyond that. You regard someone not being allowed to get away with using specific sequences of words to their advantage as being ignore/suppressed/...
That they believe that they can't make the argument for their cause with normal descriptive words indicates that they don't have a legitimate argument.
"Observer": you are arguing for the bullies.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 8:09 am

Further to Doug Moran's historical comment on legacy of the catch phrase "politically correct" ("PC"):

I recall also, in the [middle?] 1970s, media publicity of a proposal by a leftist regional faction within the UK's Labour Party governments of the time, advocating to censor local news stories failing the advocates' criteria of being "politically correct." This was a serious, non-ironic, non-facetious usage of the phrase by people seeking to bully and even officially suppress views incompatible with their party line. The episode helped spread public awareness of the phrase in the US, and for some years subsequently,"PC" could be seen in a similarly deadpan, earnest usage to characterize what its users considered right thinking or allowable viewpoints. (Thus a bit of contemporary fiction published in the UC-Berkeley "Daily Californian" newspaper in the early 1980s included a politically committed character who "took the phrase 'politically correct' seriously.")

Later and still-current ironic or facetious use of "PC" to distance its writer from implied censorship or dogma is a *reaction* to the earlier history of the phrase's sincere use for such purposes.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 9:15 am

> "The deliberate use of "politically correct" terminology to bully into silence those who disagree has been in widespread use for at least 90 years (by Marxists and others)."

>> "This was a serious, non-ironic, non-facetious usage of the phrase by people seeking to bully and even officially suppress views incompatible with their party line."

^ Now that the historical perspectives of the term PC have been established, perhaps it's best to reserve this acronym for discussions pertaining to political science rather than perceived affronts that have nothing to do with adherence to various 'party lines'.

Just replace PC with 'offensive to some' and move on rather than trivializing it's original intent and definition.



 +   2 people like this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 9:15 am

> "The deliberate use of "politically correct" terminology to bully into silence those who disagree has been in widespread use for at least 90 years (by Marxists and others)."

>> "This was a serious, non-ironic, non-facetious usage of the phrase by people seeking to bully and even officially suppress views incompatible with their party line."

^ Now that the historical perspectives of the term PC have been established, perhaps it's best to reserve this acronym for discussions pertaining to political science rather than perceived affronts that have nothing to do with adherence to various 'party lines'.

Just replace PC with 'offensive to some' and move on rather than trivializing it's original intent and definition.



 +   5 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 9:44 am

Here we go again. Being PC is not the same as offensive to some. It can in fact make the conversation farcical.

As an example. I couple of years ago I was involved in a conversation with several people where one of the people had just returned from Paris. This person commented that he hadn't expected to come across so many African Americans speaking french or speaking English with a French accent. The others nodded and a couple of comments made as follow up. I then pointed out that these people were black French people and their accents and ability to speak were the same as any other French person. Well that sent the conversation into another realm altogether. From why are their African American people in France, French slavery, and what is the correct term for French African Americans. Not one of the people in the group wanted to use the word black to describe them. These people were black, not Americans, and since French is the language spoken in France, the name they are given locally is in French, not English. The idea that they could use black French people without causing offense was beyond the ability of one if not more of the group.

Finding the correct word or term to use can be regional and at times it can be downright impossible. The phrase "native Americans" does not go down well in Canada, there they are called a variety of terms which may confuse residents of the US and even when searching Google for the correct term for Canada, it is hard to find one. Similarly in Australia, the aboriginal term for the indigenous people can be equally confusing.

And this is just one example of one all encompassing word that makes being PC very difficult. If we do not want to cause offense, it can mean a difficult search to find a term that can be used particularly when talking to a variety of people from various regions. A slip up could possibly just be embarrassing, but in the culture that now exists, it is quite possible to lose a desirable contract for your employer, or even cause you to be held back from promotions or even to lose your job.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 10:16 am

@Resident
You brought up a very good point by way of example.

An overbearance on presumed PC sensitivities and sensibilities can indeed make certain presumed 'intelligent' people appear very ignorant and/or unenlightened...almost laughable.

Perhaps it is time for the creation of yet another (and potentially tiresome) acronym...IC as in Intellectually Correct and it's polar opposite Intellectually Incorrect (or II for short).

If you've ever attended a number of art showings, there are always a plethora of self-dellusioned art patrons blathering about, parroting the script from Cate Blanchett's 'Manefesto'...talk about bags of wind (aka pseudo intellectuals). The irony is that in their efforts to appear enlightened, many have actually succeeded in alienating themselves from the art itself!

Getting back to the topic of
the rebranding of perceived non-PC trademarks, it was brought to my attention that the 'Eskimo Pie' will also be renamed.

Any anthropologically-correct'
(i.e. AP) suggestions?












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Posted by W. Reller, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 12:44 pm

W. Reller is a registered user.

Leland Stanford Jr University may be in trouble.

Leland Sr was no paragon!


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Posted by Novelera, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 12:48 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

I was not happy about toppling a statue of Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but Grant was the General who won the war.

From an msn article:
Reacting to the news, several social media users condemned the toppling of Grant, who was believed to have owned a slave before the start of the Civil War, noting the former president helped to end slavery by leading the Union Army of the North.
Grant had a complicated relationship with slavery, according to an article by Sean Kane, an interpretation and programs specialist at The American Civil War Museum.
Back in 1848, Grant married into a slave-owning family condemned by his abolitionist father. Grant was said to have owned a 35-year-old slave named William Jones, whom he purchased from his father-in-law, but gave Jones freedom in 1859.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 1:09 pm

> "Leland Stanford Jr University may be in trouble.

Leland Sr was no paragon!"

^ No kidding...though the university was named after his son, given the time frame along with various social and familial perspectives of the time perhaps the fruit wouldn't have fallen far from the tree (ref: the POTUS45 clan).

Maybe the university should be renamed after an obscure and 'imported' railroad worker or one of the native Ohlones who toiled for peanuts tending Leland Sr.'s farm and vast land holdings in the Palo Alto locale.

Chances are the Stanford alumni association would vehemently protest against a university name change as many are proud of it's heritage & the great California legacy behind it.


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Posted by HopAlong, a resident of another community,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 1:32 pm

rssmithjr makes many good points. It is important to also know about the man for whom Yale university was named. According to Wikipedia, "Some sources suggest that he permitted a law that at least ten slaves should be carried on every ship bound for Europe. In his capacity as judge he also on several occasions sentenced so-called "black criminals" to whipping and enslavement." One of the sources listed is "Elihu Yale Was a Slave Trader". Digital Histories at Yale. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Janet Dafoe, a resident of Professorville,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 3:23 pm

This powerful opinion piece in the NYT by Caroline Randall Williams is very moving and makes it clear why monuments to confederate soldiers must be removed. Web Link


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Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 2, 2020 at 6:01 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Very good article in the Wall Street Journal by a Harvard professor about misunderstanding the Lincoln freeing the slaves statue that is also under attack.
I tried to go to the city last week to shoot with the camera the Avery Brundage bust but the security would not let me even through the window get that close to the Asian Art Museum.
InCredible monument to 1968 Carlos and Smith by Rigo 92 which is my pet name for him. At San Jose state and I remember the day they went from being a college to university or wind speed city became something about crystal meth and not athletics.
I know Lars and Kobe and their family but with due respect more than a year prior Michael wing wrote an op Ed for the campanile on the same topic. Crickets.
Stanford has marking the tomb or the road to mythical beasts and it says that although people call them the griffins they are actually lions with wings


 +   3 people like this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:14 am

From today's USA Today/MSN reportage...

"Consider Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian seafarer who gave his name to America. Some historians contend that Vespucci exaggerated his claims, partnered in his enterprise with a man made rich from the slave trade, and stole the limelight from his contemporary, Christopher Columbus " whose own statues have been the targeted due to his murderous treatment of Indigenous people."

^ A time to consider renaming America as well?

Since history is generally written by the conquerers, the losing side rarely has a voice in the depiction of events.

This is true in major sports as well as few folks care (or even remember) who LOST the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup and/or NBA playoffs.

So in many ways, Confederate icons are irrelevant today along with former conquerers eventually displaced by newer ones.

Old world civilization and archeological sites should also come under scrutiny if PC fanatics have their way and remain true to their principles.

In many ways...nearly EVERYTHING is objectional to someone depending on their perspective(s) and/or personal tastes.







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Posted by Diana Diamond, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:49 am

Diana Diamond is a registered user.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 3, 2020 at 1:32 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Confederate icons cause racists to fantasize about an imaginary glorious past and dream about it become a reality some day. Confederate monuments and icons hurt black people as much as Nazi icons hurt Jewish holocaust survivors and their descendants. Monuments of explorers like Columbus glorify a terrible person who treated his sailors with great cruelty, and when observing the New World indigenous people for the first time, told his subordinates that the natives seem so peaceful and welcoming that it would be easy to enslave them. Columbus was a despicable person and we should have no monuments glorifying him any more than we should have monuments of Henrich Himler and his likes.

Racism and inhumanity are never irrelevant to their victims. Only someone who never suffered from racism can casually claim otherwise.


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Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 3, 2020 at 5:12 pm

maguro_01 is a registered user.

Most of the statues of assorted Confederate Colonels, Generals, or politicians were erected in the former Confederate territories in the 20th century to help preserve and legitimize the "Lost Cause". The statues are fake news and fake history for ongoing generations. Do school texts in the core South still call the Civil War the "War of Northern Aggression"?

One motivation for BLM, etc, is the perception that the second Reconstruction is slipping backwards under present day Republican governments including their courts. The first Reconstruction was aborted by politics and corruption. Can that be the fate of the second from the 1960's? We see that to keep a base the Right is playing effectively to the Confederate Culture Area.

Yet this is 2020. It's all very well to act locally and so on, but not to forget that the stakes include whether the United States is a viable single country. Really.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by PC parent, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Jul 4, 2020 at 1:57 am

PC parent is a registered user.

Diana,
I present some old and wise food for thought by the name-sake of Adli Stevenson Elementary School in the Mountain View Whisman School District:

“We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present."
? Adlai E. Stevenson II

“Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."
? Adlai E. Stevenson II

“The first principle of a free society is an untrammeled flow of words in an open forum."
? Adlai E. Stevenson II

“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."
? Adlai E. Stevenson II

“I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of ignorance."
? Adlai E. Stevenson II

“All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions."
? Adlai E. Stevenson II

“It is often easier to fight for one's principles than it is to live up to them."
? Adlai E. Stevenson II

I think Adli Stevenson would have been deeply appalled by the current "Cancel Culture".

For those too young to know of Adli Stevenson, he basically wrote the entire core of the Liberal Democratic platform that Democrats have been using since the 1950's. JFK basically stole Stevenson's entire agenda as his own. Stevenson could have won the presidency in 1960, it was his for the asking, but he chose not to ask.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by PC parent, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Jul 4, 2020 at 2:21 am

PC parent is a registered user.

@Observer, a resident of Mayfield,

"I question the assumption in Diamond's original article that, once a statue has been erected or a public building named, that should be considered permanent and unchangeable"

You mean because history should be rewritten to make people feel better about themselves?

Revisionist historians know nothing about history, they only know which way the wind is blowing today and will happily re-re-re-write history as the wind continually changes directions.

"I also abhor the term "PC"."

Your "feelings" about a term makes it mandatory to erase the term from our dictionaries, right?

"This term was coined specifically to discount and trivialize the legitimacy of someone's or some group's concerns or pain"

Utterly false.
Politically Correct is one of those terms that was invented at least 100 years ago that, unlike today's terms, actually means what it says. I recall this term from my father and grandfather (who disagreed about almost everything) back in the 1960's.

One day in 1977 my college electronics professor took a deep breath and said he was about to teach us all about a standard type of electronics circuit. He said that the technical terms involved in this circuit were not politically correct terms, but they were accurately descriptive terms that have always been (and still are) part of the electronics industry.

He then went on to teach us about the... Master/Slave Flip-Flop circuitry which is a critical core type of circuit in virtually every electronics device on the planet.

Even then colleges were already spreading the virtue-signalling of being Politically Correct and the evils of being Politically Incorrect (with Bill Maher).

"but let's try to deal with the issues and avoid such put-down terms such as "PC". "

Just as with the electronics industry term (M/S flip-flop), PC is not a put-down, it's simply accurately descriptive of a concept.

If you take it as an insult, maybe you should examine yourself to see why.


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Posted by Lay Matt, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Jul 4, 2020 at 8:55 am

post removed


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Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:25 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I'm fine with the other side using the PC label as long as the label they deserve to be referred as:Politically, factually and historically INCORRECT, PFHI, is used on them.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 4, 2020 at 6:59 pm

I am opposed to removal of all monuments and statues including Confederate ones.
They've been up all these years, suddenly its a problem? Just because the mob said so? I don't like how Progressive Groupthink always has this air of inevitability to it and gets to change how people think, overnight. But what bothers me more is watching "celebrities", corporate CEOs, and many politicians bend the knee and fall in lockstep with a destructive ideology. It's a radical shift from the way of thinking that built America and it's the first time in history we're seeing it.
I laugh when I hear someone say "racist statue". It's a work of art. We have to accept the USA for everything it is, good and bad. There's a lack of appreciation. Other countries don't even try. If we destroy the symbols of this country it creates a void which lets something far less idealistic take over. Be careful what you wish for.
So the entire statue-destroying movement is based on subjectivity and selective interpretation of symbolism -- which is too much for the BLM parrots to comprehend. The mob is mindless and its members act based on peer pressure.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 4, 2020 at 8:13 pm

All things considered, perhaps controversial statues and monuments should be removed ONLY after approval by the local citizenry and by professionals.

An angry crowd pulling down a cumbersome statue with a rope poses certain safety hazards especially if it were to accidentally fall on someone.

Out of town protestors should not be involved in the statue/monument removal process nor should they have an active role in the matter. It is a decision best left for the locals to decide.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by DIana Diamond, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 5, 2020 at 1:19 pm

DIana Diamond is a registered user.

Resident --
Thank you for a fresh outlook on this issue. You make many good points.
Diana


 +  Like this comment
Posted by midtown2, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 6, 2020 at 5:36 pm

At the name-changing ceremony for Greene, Kobe said, "We're better than that." Now he must be wondering, now that he has said that he can't breathe in Palo Alto schools. Does the school's name matter if you can't breathe in the school? Does Kobe now think that "we" have made so much progress since Jordan's day? It seems he doesn't and we haven't. Unlike many, I think there are signs that, just as the U.S. has given up on the virus, it has given up on racism. We may have to realize that those people in the past did what they did to get through life, just as we are. All the time we're living off the labor of people who are forced to put themselves at risk and being terribly poorly paid. They're not owned, but, really...


 +   3 people like this
Posted by It's All Too Much, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:27 am

>"
Revisionist historians know nothing about history, they only know which way the wind is blowing today and will happily re-re-re-write history as the wind continually changes directions"

^ History is generally written by the victor's to expound upon the virtues of their 'cause'.

Revisionist history oftentimes takes the opposite viewpoint(s) and/or seeks to dilute certain 'glories' that the winners are expounding.

Since history is not a science and a subjective accounting of incidents, both sides have a tendency to distort what actually occurred via embellishments and conjecture.

One such revisionist viewpoint is that there were absolutely ZERO African-American soldiers fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

While many slaves accompanied their masters into battle as servants, others served as cooks
and provided camp labor.

Towards the end of the war, Lee sought to recruit black Confederate soldiers with the promise of freedom and thousands enlisted. There are even Union accounts of black Confederate soldiers firing upon northern troops.


Revisionist historians and civil rights activists tend to either ignore, refute or downplay this somewhat ironic and actual occurrence.

But the bottom line is regardless of side, many African American slaves sought their freedom by fighting for both the Union and the Confederacy.

All things considered, the United States has an ugly track record (aka history) towards people of color...when Thomas Jefferson wrote "All men are created equal," he was referring to WHITE people at the time.

So in many ways, these controversial statues and monuments are reminders of how far we still have to go in terms of idealistic equality.






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Posted by PC parent, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Jul 7, 2020 at 3:17 pm

PC parent is a registered user.

@ It's All Too Much

"One such revisionist viewpoint is that there were absolutely ZERO African-American soldiers fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War."

Never heard that one myself, not even when I was a kid.
Granted, such a concept begs the question of why a black person might fight to maintain the slavery state.

One reason for blacks fighting on the side of the Confederacy was the simple fact that some blacks in the South were "freemen" and in fact owned slaves themselves. There were blacks in the South that were fairly wealthy and the system as it was worked for them.

Another reason for blacks to fight for the South, of course, is that blacks were offered their official freedom if they fought.

And some blacks figured getting handed a gun was a step up from where they were and once they were soldiers, they might well be able to escape to the North.

I would also assume that some were coerced by threat to their families left back on the farm/plantation.

But, I don't recall ever being told no blacks fought for the South and I was certainly told that there were blacks fighting for the North.

A more important piece of revisionist history was claiming all Africans got physically captured by invading whites, kidnapped from their own tribes by force. In reality, the huge bulk of Africans taken to the "New World" had already been prisoners and/or slaves of local tribes and were sold to the whites.


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