Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia created a D. C. Facilities and Commemorative Expressions (DCFACES) Working Group to review the hundreds of public buildings and spaces in the District, and make recommendations as to whether they should be renamed. The Working Group has now submitted its report; it is embedded below. The report’s first paragraph makes clear where the Working Group is coming from:
When history revisits the summer of 2020, not only will it recall the impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic, but also the death of civil rights icon John Lewis, a historic vote for DC Statehood in the House of Representatives and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Together and separately, each of these events fueled winds of change and unprecedented levels of activism in the battle for inclusion, equality and justice. The movement following Floyd’s death led cities, states and the federal government to reflect and reconsider commemorations in the modern context.
It seems probable that Floyd died from a drug overdose. Will anyone ever go back and qualify the countless references to his “murder” that have appeared in the last few months? Of course not.
These are the criteria that the Working Group says it used in recommending renaming of public monuments, buildings and spaces:
1. Participation in slavery – did research and evidence find a history of enslaving other humans, or otherwise supporting the institution of slavery?
2. Involvement in systemic racism – did research and evidence find the namesake serving as an author of policy, legislation or actions that suppressed persons of color and women?
3. Support for oppression – did research and evidence find the namesake endorsed and participated in the oppression of persons color and/or women?
4. Involvement in supremacist agenda – did research and evidence suggest that the namesake was a member of any supremacist organization?
5. Violation of District human rights laws – did research and evidence find the namesake committed a violation of the DC Human Right Act, in whole or part, including discrimination against protected traits such as age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and natural origin?
One can imagine a world in which those criteria were different. For example, we could rename anything dedicated to the memory of someone who espoused socialism. Or, short of that, excessive taxes and spending. Or who failed to stand up to totalitarianism. But that, of course, is not the world we live in.
The Working Group reviewed more than 1,300 District “assets,” both District- and federally-owned, to identify persons whom it is unsuitable to recognize under the above criteria:
The research team investigated each person for whom a District property was named. Given the closure of research facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic all research was conducted online and from published reference materials. Analysis focused on identifying persons of concern whose life stories may have conflicted with the values of the residents of the District of Columbia today, as expressed in the DC Comprehensive Plan. Names were divided into three “stoplight” categories, indicating whether the person’s life story clearly conflicted (red), may have conflicted or warrants further investigation (yellow), or did not conflict (green) with these DC values. A “person of concern” is defined as a namesake whose legacy warranted Working Group review and decision.
These are the “red persons of concern” in the category of public schools:
1. Alexander Graham Bell – Bell Multicultural High School
2. Robert Brent – Brent Elementary School
3. Jehiel Brooks – Brookland Middle School
4. James Monroe – Bruce-Monroe Elementary School @ Park View
5. James Birney – Excel Academy/Lee Montessori PCS – East End (at Birney School)
6. Charles William Eliot – Eliot-Hine Middle School
7. Anthony T. Hyde, Henry Addison – Hyde-Addison Elementary School
8. Thomas Jefferson – Jefferson Middle School
9. Francis Scott Key – Key Elementary School
10. Zachary Taylor – Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School
11. John Walker Maury – Maury Elementary School
12. William Winston Seaton – Seaton Elementary School
13. Benjamin Stoddert – Stoddert Elementary School
14. Strong John Thomson – Thomson Elementary School
15. John Tyler – Tyler Elementary School
16. John Peter Van Ness – Van Ness Elementary School
17. Joseph Rodman West – West Education Campus
18. Woodrow Wilson – Woodrow Wilson High School
19. C. Melvin Sharpe – Bridges PCS Sharpe Campus
20. William Benning – DC Prep PCS, Benning Elementary
21. Matthew Gault Emery – Emery School (CHOICE Academy)
I have never heard of many of these people, but James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, Zachary Taylor, John Tyler and Woodrow Wilson make the list. Looking on the bright side, it will be hard to find a Democratic Party politician prior to Barack Obama who passes muster. And Obama only qualifies if they ignore his anti-gay marriage position. Note that Francis Scott Key is on the list. I don’t know why, but I hope they have something better than the idiotic claim that the National Anthem is somehow pro-slavery.
These are the “red” individuals proscribed in the “residential buildings and campuses” category:
1. Arthur Capper – Arthur Capper Senior Housing
2. James D. Barry – Barry Farm Dwellings
3. William Benning – Benning Terrace
4. Daniel Carroll of Duddington – Carroll Apartments
5. James Greenleaf – Greenleaf Gardens (family and senior)
6. Benjamin Stoddert – Stoddert Terrace
7. Thomas Jefferson – Potomac Job Corps Center, Thomas Jefferson Hall
8. John Tyler – Potomac Job Corps Center, Tyler Hall
9. Woodrow Wilson – Potomac Job Corps Center, Woodrow Wilson Hall
Note that the leftists have finally caught onto Woodrow Wilson.
These are the offending parks, fields and playgrounds:
1. James D. Barry – Barry Farm Playground
2. William Benning, Benjamin Stoddert – Benning Stoddert Playground, Garden
3. Robert Brent – Brentwood Playground, Brentwood Hamilton Field
4. James Monroe – Bruce-Monroe Community Garden
5. Matthew Gault Emery – Emery Heights Playground, Garden
6. Henry Foxall – Foxhall Playground
7. Thomas Jefferson – Jefferson Field
8. Guy Mason – Guy Mason Playground
9. William Henry Harrison – Harrison Playground
10. James Greenleaf – King-Greenleaf Playground
11. Benjamin Stoddert – Stoddert Playground
12. Abel P. Upshur – Upshur Playground
The Working Group says these government buildings should be renamed:
1. Francis Preston Blair, Jr – Blair Shelter (occupies Blair School)
2. Robert Brent – Brentwood Square Center
3. Jehiel Brooks – Bellair (Brooks Mansion)
4. Benjamin Franklin – Planet Word (occupies Franklin School)
5. Matthew Gault Emery – Emery Shelter Clinic
6. Andrew Jackson – Jackson Arts Center (occupies Jackson School)
7. Francis Scott Key – Key Bridge Boathouse
Benjamin Franklin offends contemporary leftists, even though he became the president of an abolitionist society. But he had owned two slaves, whom he later freed, when he was young.
The Working Group recommends that the federal government “remove, relocate or contextualize” memorials to the following Americans:
1. Christopher Columbus – Columbus Fountain (federal)
2. Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin Statue (federal)
3. Andrew Jackson – Andrew Jackson Statue (federal)
4. Thomas Jefferson – Jefferson Memorial (federal)
5. George Mason – George Mason Memorial (federal)
6. Francis Griffith Newlands – Newlands Memorial Fountain (federal)
7. Albert Pike – Albert Pike Statue (federal)
8. George Washington – Washington Monument, George Washington Statue (federal)
There is considerable chutzpah involved in telling the U.S. government that it should “remove, relocate or contextualize” the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. Beyond that, if you put these lists together, it is pretty much a Who’s Who of American history, from Christopher Columbus on. Which I guess is the point. Stephen Dedalus said that history was a nightmare from which he was trying to awake, but these people really mean it.
The interesting question, to me, is whether there is a single Democratic Party politician who will object to de-platforming Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, George Mason, John Tyler, Alexander Graham Bell and the rest. I’m not holding my breath. If you vote for a Democratic candidate for any office in any state or on a national ticket, this is what you are voting for.