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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tear Down This Monument!

For John, BLUFI would rather keep the monuments and use them as teachable moments.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Old Gray Lady, by Ms Edith Sheffer a senior fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, 31 March 2018.

Here is the lede plus three:

My son’s school, David Starr Jordan Middle School, is being renamed.  A seventh grader exposed the honoree, Stanford University’s first president, as a prominent eugenicist of the early 20th century who championed sterilization of the “unfit.”

This sort of debate is happening all over the country, as communities fight over whether to tear down Confederate monuments and whether Andrew Jackson deserves to remain on the $20 bill.  How do we decide whom to honor and whom to disavow?

There are some straightforward cases: Hitler Squares were renamed after World War II; Lenin statues were hauled away after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  But other, less famous monsters of the past continue to define our landscape and language.

I have spent the past seven years researching the Nazi past of Dr. Hans Asperger.  Asperger is credited with shaping our ideas of autism and Asperger syndrome, diagnoses given to people believed to have limited social skills and narrow interests.

Of course not all of the statues of Lenin have been torn down.  There is still one standing in Seattle.  Notwithstanding the horrors he perpetrated and those by his successor, Joseph Stalin.

I always wondered who David Starr Jordan was.  That was the name of one of the five high schools in the Long Beach Unified School District, back when I was in high school.

It was informative about how we came to understand autism.

I wonder what we will do with all these remnants of iconoclastic actions when our cultural standards change and we have moved on to aborting babies who show signs of autism?

Regards  —  Cliff

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