What do George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, Teddy Roosevelt, William McKinley, and Herbert Hoover have in common?
If you said that they were all American presidents, you’d be right. But what else do they all have in common? Yes, they were all old, white men. But, come on. What else do they have in common?
They are all historical figures who have San Francisco schools named after them.
Well, apparently not. The San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee has identified more than a third of the city’s public schools that are named after people and places that don’t meet its exacting criteria for the honor. This august committee scrutinized every school’s name for any association with genocide, slavery, colonialism, exploitation, oppression, racism, or environmental degradation. The result is that the schools named for those presidents listed at the top of this post do not fall within the framework of what the committee deems acceptable and the committee wants to change the names of those schools.George Washington, one of the Founding Fathers and the first President of the United States, and Abraham Lincoln, who saved the union, are two of our most revered and respected American president. Yet the committee wants to blackball them and remove their names from the schools because the former owned slaves and the latter perpetuated brutality toward Native Americans.
It’s one thing to purge Confederate statues, monuments, and school names. Those “heroes” fought against the United States during the Civil War in the cause of slavery and lost. They don’t deserve to be memorialized. But American presidents? They founded this nation. They saved this nation. Were they flawed humans? Sure? But the “sins” they’re now accused of were, right or wrong, the customs of society at the time. Trying to erase these America icons from history is ludicrous.
All I can do is shake my head and wonder what has become of common sense.