• William R. Keylor

    William R. Keylor Profile

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There are 10 comments on POV: Balance Needed in Removing Names of Leaders Deemed Racist

  1. Professor,

    Excellent article, and well thought out perspective. Just one complaint. There is a significant body of evidence supporting that Wilson never said the quote about writing history with lightning. Although it’s origins aren’t entirly clear, it attributions to Wilson were mostly after 1915, for the sake of advertising by the creators of Birth of a Nation.

  2. This article makes a very important point: judge figures from the past according to both the standards of their time along with our time (& for all time). As Keylor notes, that requires a balanced consideration of their full careers & lives. Yes, Washington & Jefferson were slaveholders, but that is not the only historical fact they’e associated with. Likewise, Wilson’s overall achievements (& not just as Pres) warrant a more nuanced view of him despite his deplorable racial attitudes. Andrew Jackson, on the other hand, did enough damage to Native Americans & African Americans that that aspect of his legacy outweighs other things he did. Jackson’s image should be removed from the $20 bill.

  3. This article focuses closely on Wilson because of the two WP pieces that prompted it, which is a good thing. Still, it’d be interesting to hear Keylor’s views on other figures from the US & global past. Also, is there a standard that would serve as a tipping point for ceasing to honor people who were/are prominent, but with conflicted/conflicting legacies?

    By prompting such questions & ensuing debates, the article definitely serves a useful purpose.

  4. Imagine living in a world where countless buildings, streets, and even universities are named after people — almost exclusively white men — who believed in fundamental human rights… unless you were black, or a woman, or gay. That’s the U.S., and it’s a stark reminder that many of us have been viewed as less than throughout history, and even today. Now, should we remove all mentions of Wilson, Jackson, and others you mentioned? I don’t believe so. But, it’s well past time to affirm the value of all people by renaming more buildings and streets after those poets, activists, writers, politicians, and freedom fighters who truly stood for the fundamental rights for all people. Don’t you think?

  5. I would focus more on recent history. The late Sen. William Byrd of West Virginia has over fifty sites named after himself(thanks for having spent your tax dollars in West Virginia!)
    He like many of the democrats of his time were ardent segregationists, and former klan (KKK) members. He filibustered the Civil rights act of 1964, and voted against the nomination of Thurgood Marshall or Clarence Thomas to the supreme court. All of this fifty years on after Wilson.
    Yet this history is somehow trumped by an anecdote.

    1. A case can be made for no longer honoring Byrd. But his segregationist years were early in his career, & KKK membership was back when he was young & ignorant. But I say keep his name in the places where it appears. He was a fine example of someone who learned all thru his life, & grew into his job by turning away from youthful prejudices. Long before retirement he embraced his role as a Senator for the whole nation.

      As for voting against Clarence Thomas, well, why not? That SC seat is wasted on one of the worst justices ever.

  6. I think we should remove anything prior to July 30, 2015 from any and all history books. Stop all printing of anything, and able everyone a racist, etc. If that is done, perhaps the liberals will be happy….but probably not b because they will then want control of the world.
    However, let’s get rid of history, flags, literature, and all funding for everything. We can go back to an agrarian society waiting to be conquered by any invading country….particularly the Mexicans.

  7. There are already activists who were involved in tearing down confederate monuments appearing on national news saying that we need to also tear down monuments to Washington and Jefferson. I understand why you draw the line at the confederate flag, and that’s reasonable, but it is because of the most recent movement to remove such that we are also facing demands to remove most historical monuments. What you are advocating against comes directly from the view you espouse about the confederate flag.

  8. In answer to your question, should we remove the name of Washington and Jefferson, too? Yes – we should. From all Black schools, roads, parks, cities, etc. You are a old white man who can excuse the actions of slavery, rape, murder, pedophilia on Black people. I’m an old Black man who can’t.

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