San Francisco to remove Washington, Lincoln and Feinstein from school names

Thomas Veil

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The names of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and other prominent figures including California Senator Dianne Feinstein will be removed from 44 San Francisco public schools, a move that stirred debate Wednesday on whether the famously liberal city has taken the national reckoning on America's racist past too far.
The decision by the San Francisco Board of Education in a 6-1 vote Tuesday night affects one-third of the city's schools and came nearly three years after the board started considering the idea. The approved resolution calls for removing names that honored historical figures with direct or broad ties to slavery, oppression, racism or the "subjugation" of human beings.
In addition to Mr. Washington and Thomas Jefferson — former presidents who owned slaves — the list includes naturalist John Muir, Spanish priest Junipero Serra, American Revolution patriot Paul Revere and Francis Scott Key, composer of the "Star Spangled Banner."
For some San Francisco parents, the brush stroke was too broad.

"This is a bit of a joke. It's almost like a parody of leftist activism," said Gerald Kanapathy, a father of two young children, including a kindergartener at a San Francisco school not on the list.

Ya think?

This is the clearest example yet of why conservatives hate liberalism, and a reason why they deride San Francisco in particular.

And this passed? 6-1??

I'm sorry, but to me this kind of ideological purity test is just going way overboard.

I'd be happy to have someone show me where I'm wrong. I don't have a problem with removing statues of Jefferson Davis and confederate flags, but come on now.
 

Eric

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Why would we want to continue celebrating the names of those who represent the worst of ourselves historically? If Conservatives had their way we would still have confederate flags all over the place and MLK wouldn't have a holiday. Frankly couldn't give a shit about what they think of these changes.
 

SuperMatt

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As somebody who grew up in WNY, the school districts were just named by region. When I went to other parts of the country, I never understood the reason they wanted to name every school after somebody.
 

Eric

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My grade school in san Francisco is named after Woodrow Wilson, yet another racist pig. Why should we keep it? I would seriously like to know why this is acceptable to anyone.

 

Scepticalscribe

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Well, I'm currently reading my way through Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton.

Nuance and context both matter in history, even when (or especially when, viewed through the pluperfect vision of hindsight).

And that leads me to the conclusion that there is - to my mind, at least - a bit of a distinction to be drawn between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on the matter of slavery.

Yes, they both owned slaves, but Washington (who also hailed from Virginia) was uncomfortably aware of the fundamental contradition between a revolutionary state built on egalitarian principles, with philosophical foundations rooted in Enlightenment ideals on the one hand, and a society, economy, political system and - indeed culture - driven by slavery on the other, whereas, Jefferson appeared much less troubled by such matters, and successfully partitioned his mind, so that he could simultaneously inhabit and play the roles of fuedal seigneur and Enlightenment philosopher.

For Washington - alone among the Founding Father presidents who hailed from the South, - made arrangments to free all his slaves on his death (or, rather, arranged for this to take place after the subsequent death of his wife, or had arranged this in advance with his wife).

Better late than never, and - given that era - such self-awareness and moral insight is to be welcomed.

As for Lincoln.......well, to me he remains a hero.
 

DT

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Yes, they both owned slaves, but Washington (who also hailed from Virginia) was uncomfortably aware of the fundamental contradition between a revolutionary state built on egalitarian principles, with philosophical foundations rooted in Enlightenment ideals on the one hand, and a society, economy, political system and - indeed culture - driven by slavery [...]

There's a beautifully nuanced moment in Hamilton (the musical), at the end, during the closing number, specifically during this verse:

I raise funds in D.C. for the Washington Monument
(She tells my story)
I speak out against slavery
You could have done so much more if you only had time
And when my time is up, have I done enough?
Will they tell your story?


Eliza is singing, and Washington steps up to sing the line, "(She tells my story)", but watch how he reacts when she says, "I speak out against slavery", he has kind of sad and regretful look on his face and he steps back (into the afterlife ...)
 

Chew Toy McCoy

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I think this is silly, but whatever.

I also agree that when you liberally scattershot your outrage like this it really lowers the perceived value of more important actionable causes. It's like if there was a massive sinkhole in the middle of the road and your big action on it is putting up a sinkhole warning sign and patting yourself on the back for it and making sure everybody in the world knows about your sign.
 

Yoused

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Putting up a sign is what can be afforded at the time. It does help that people are aware that this bit of road is impassable. It will take some time to raise the funds to fill the hole, and everyone around here jealously guards their dirt and gravel, and the paving company is a major PITA to deal with. Chances are it may never even get fixed, but at least no more cars will be falling into it (well, on the other hand, I guess we could use them for fill).

This is how our system limps along. We keep going for the facile non-solutions that cover up the real problem. This country is a teaming mass of sewage, toxic waste, clutter and cordite held together with cellophane tape, bubble gum and twine, barely functioning and ready to burst at any moment. We might be a little better off if we were to use duct tape and bailing wire, but those things are too expensive for us to agree on.
 

Chew Toy McCoy

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Putting up a sign is what can be afforded at the time. It does help that people are aware that this bit of road is impassable. It will take some time to raise the funds to fill the hole, and everyone around here jealously guards their dirt and gravel, and the paving company is a major PITA to deal with. Chances are it may never even get fixed, but at least no more cars will be falling into it (well, on the other hand, I guess we could use them for fill).

This is how our system limps along. We keep going for the facile non-solutions that cover up the real problem. This country is a teaming mass of sewage, toxic waste, clutter and cordite held together with cellophane tape, bubble gum and twine, barely functioning and ready to burst at any moment. We might be a little better off if we were to use duct tape and bailing wire, but those things are too expensive for us to agree on.

Far be it from me to suggest the government can't multi-task, but I highly doubt the residents of SF having to avoid stepping on human shit and needles in front of a $1.5 million 900 sqr. ft. loft are going "Well, thank God we don't need to look at that George Washinton High School sign anymore. Today is a good day."
 

Yoused

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… stepping on human shit and needles in front of a $1.5 million 900 sqr. ft. loft …
Sorry, not sorry. If you want to live in a nice place, make it a nice place to live. You can enclave up all you want, but if you do, fail to waste our time complaining about what is outside your luxury digs. You can drive all the "wrong sort" out of town, but then you better stay in town and not complain about how horrible it is out there. And good luck finding a decent plumber to come in from out there to fix your problem for a reasonable price.

In other words, you can gripe about the shit and needles on the sidewalk, but I can complain about the arrogant assholes who live in high-end lofts who drive up the prices in this city, and as long as we are at odds, the city will only get worse.
 

lizkat

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Why would we want to continue celebrating the names of those who represent the worst of ourselves historically? If Conservatives had their way we would still have confederate flags all over the place and MLK wouldn't have a holiday. Frankly couldn't give a shit about what they think of these changes.
I guess I think of renaming schools as some kind of substitute for actually addressing inequalities. Another "watch the birdie!" distraction.
 

Chew Toy McCoy

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Sorry, not sorry. If you want to live in a nice place, make it a nice place to live. You can enclave up all you want, but if you do, fail to waste our time complaining about what is outside your luxury digs. You can drive all the "wrong sort" out of town, but then you better stay in town and not complain about how horrible it is out there. And good luck finding a decent plumber to come in from out there to fix your problem for a reasonable price.

In other words, you can gripe about the shit and needles on the sidewalk, but I can complain about the arrogant assholes who live in high-end lofts who drive up the prices in this city, and as long as we are at odds, the city will only get worse.

Or you can be like me and complain about both. My point was this little school renaming exercise probably isn't on the top of anybody in SF's change priority list.

Do you live in SF? (That wasn't a setup question). I live in San Jose and it's probably been a good decade since I hung out there on the regular. The few times I've gone up there I don't even recognize the place anymore. New buildings and constant construction, and none of it says "affordable".
 

Joe

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Sometimes I think this goes too far. I can understand changing confederate names because they were traitors but I'm not sure I agree with what SF is doing. It just seems to be creating a problem that no one was even looking for.

I know here in Texas a lot of school districts have been changing the names of schools named after Confederates. People were pissed but they are moving forward anyway. The most popular is Robert E Lee. Lee HS in San Antonio changed to Legacy of Educational Excellence (LEE) High School LOL so they still call it LEE. It just doesn't have Robert E Lee attached to it and they took down the statue of Robert E. Lee on campus.

I know several high schools in the Houston area changed names a few years ago during the time when people were tearing down confederate statues. Houston also changed the mascots of several high schools. Lamar Redskins changed to Lamar Texans and Westbury Rebels changed to Westbury Huskies.
 
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