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Old 12-20-2017, 08:35 AM   #46
Arlington
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: West Medford, MA
Posts: 3,292
Re: Street Name Etymology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shepard View Post
Maybe it's time to rename all streets as either letters or numbers. Letters and numbers never hurt anyone.
On the whole, I'd say "we" (the political process) is doing a good job of sorting this all out. I think most people can hold in mind several semi-contradictory principles:

1) People are memorialized when they are, in some way, "better" than their era (or just happen to own the land being subdivided)

2) It is an important task of civilization to remember the past and benefit from it, through inspiration (Washington) or don't-let-this-happen-again (Holocaust Memorial)

3) Some memorials were advanced for the exact reasons that we now see as conspicuously wrong, or lifting up people who were "better" for something we now view as clearly worse (e.g. Nathan Bedford Forrest, slave dealer, confederate general, and KKK's first Grand Wizard). Strip those away and N.B.Forrest is, at best, a good-looking rich guy who may have had a change of heart late in life--really not enough to offset his "because" I'd call these the "because" monuments. Nathan Bedford Forrest was memorialized *because* he was the slaver, traitor, and supremacist we now reject, not because of "well-stocked plantations" and his "broad shoulders, full chest, and symmetrical muscular limits."

There seem to be 3 tiers:
"Because" monuments, which I say we're free (even obliged) to take down

"Purposely Overlooking" monuments, like Tom Yawkey getting the racism he exhibited in his business purposely overlooked in memorializing him for not much more than his business. Nobody would say Tom Yawkey got a Way *because* he was a racist. These are tough. I'd like everyone to attempt more finesse in navigating these, but I'd say they often need something like a Jean Yawkey or an Eliza Pinckney to increase the teaching value and decrease the purposeful overlook.

"Oustanding" (for a reason we don't strongly disagree with) or "On Balance" monuments, like to the Founding Fathers, where they advanced an important project (democracy) that is still important to us while otherwise fully-embedded in the flawed past, that we can acknowledge without endorsing, as we would any foreign culture.

I'm inclined to give the early, corrupt Irish mayors their monuments because they at least spoke for the powerless of their age, and gross patronage and corruption were a very "all of society" thing
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Last edited by Arlington; 12-20-2017 at 08:47 AM.
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