Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Changing The Name Of The School

Is this whitewashing history, righting a wrong, or another exercise in feel-good, PC politics? I think you know which way I'm leaning.

Charles M. Goethe's (pronounced gay-tee) days as the namesake of a Meadowview middle school are winding down, and it appears likely the eugenicist will be replaced by a civil rights activist.

At least the first several comments at the bottom of the article made sense.

Yes, Goethe supported the eugenics movement. He also did a lot of good things, and that is why he had a school named after him.

Now, I couldn't care less about Charles Goethe the man. I have serious issues with renaming a school because the person it's named after isn't someone we like today. We keep going down the same road with Washington and Jefferson and the fact that they owned slaves--must we rename our capital, and a state, and another state capital because of that? Must we posthumously rename George Washington Carver?

Lefties: your mecca, Berkeley, CA, was named after a slave-owning Anglican priest. I expect to see the city's name changed pronto.

And we may as well rename all those cities named after those crusade-starting Catholics. You know the cities: Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco.

This is where the renaming idiocy takes us. Is it somewhere you want to go?

Update, 6/22/07: They renamed the school after Rosa Parks.


Kim said...

We're facing our own school naming controversy in Madison, Wisconsin, though in our case the school is still just a hole in the ground so changing the name isn't as big of a deal.


KauaiMark said...

HEY! Don't leave us San Jose'-ans (sp?) out of the mix...

Chanman said...

If you look at that school's test scores and API score, the name of the school should be the least of their worries.

This is a bunch of useless feel-goodism that skirts around a much bigger issue that needs to be addressed.

denever said...

They pronounce it "gay-tee"? Gott im Himmel, that's reason enough for changing it.

Darren said...

I hear you. When this Goethe business started a couple years ago, I pronounced it in German until I heard it pronounced on the news. Apparently he or his ancestors Anglicized the name.

Anyway, here's the opening statement about him on wikipedia:
Charles M. Göethe (1875 - 1966) American eugenicist, entrepreneur, land developer, philanthropist, conservationist, founder of the Eugenics Society of Northern California, and a native and lifelong resident of Sacramento, California.

Here are just the contents of the article:

* 1 Nature guide movement
* 2 Founder of Sacramento State College
* 3 Eugenics controversy
* 4 External links

They've already renamed the Goethe Arboretum at Sac State University, the former Sac State College.

rightwingprof said...

"They pronounce it "gay-tee"?"

Since I'm a linguist and I hail from a heavily German-American area of the country, I can address this. Yes, just like Boehner's name is Bay-ner, and for the same reason. Because the umlaut was long. Similarly, Buehler's (a grocery chain) is Bee-ler's and the largest car dealership in the state of Indiana, Uebelhor Motors, is pronounced EE-bel-hor.

I assume Goethe pronounced his name for the same reasons (though wasn't he from California, and not the midwest?)

Darren said...

I've never heard of a "long" or a "short" umlaut. I assume all of those names are pronounced the way they are for the same reason that Beaulieu Abbey in England is pronounced "bew-lee"--because the names have been Anglicized.

denever said...

I understand that Goethe Street in Chicago is pronounced "Go-ee-thee" by some and "Go-thee" by others.

I'm not such a purist that I seriously expect Americans to pronounce it the German way; nor do I expect German (and other) immigrants to resist Anglicizing names that have sounds we don't use in English.

But I can't help thinking that some Anglicizations are much more grating than others, and frankly all of the non-German versions of "Goethe" make me wince a little.

Darren said...

I agree completely, denever.