“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.
Source: Honor the Past, Not the Racism – Bloomberg View
This is an interesting article and I admire Al Carroll for making such a bold proposal. While I don’t agree will all his suggestions, I agree that “nothing should be so revered that one cannot question it, change it, or discard it, and blind worship is always to be avoided.” We should be able to debate, discuss, and even criticize the Constitution. Jefferson may have had went too far in advocating a new constitution for every new generation, but he correctly saw the value of experience. Jefferson wisely advocated “that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.”
Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval (July 12, 1816) in The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Including the Autobiography, the Declaration of Independence & His Public and Private Letters, edited with an Introduction by Adrienne Koch and William Peden. (New York: The Modern Library, 2004.writings): 615-16.
History News Network | How Would You Change the Constitution? Here’s My Proposal..