“How far is too far in relabeling things named for great but flawed Americans?”
Stephen L. Carter argues that we’re making a mistake when we seek to rename events, buildings, etc. because they were named after some less than perfect Americans (i.e. they owned slaves, were racist, etc.).
He concludes, “Jefferson or Jackson, Truman or Wilson, Sanger or Faulkner — all held unworthy attitudes shaped by the values of particular eras. We should accept and explore our history, with all of its complexity and horror, including the possibility that we can admire some aspects of the greats of the past without endorsing everything for which they stood. If instead we’d rather spend time on erasure, there’s a nice domed memorial on the National Mall that needs a new honoree — in a capital city itself named for a man who owned 318 human beings.”
I have to agree with Carter. Let’s recognize (and abhor) their flaws, but we shouldn’t scrub all traces of them in the public square.