********************  POSTING RULES & NOTES  ********************
#1 YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
#2 This mail-list, like most, is publicly & permanently archived.
#3 Subscribe and post under an alias if #2 is a concern.

(JAI:  Will repeat again that when a movement wins battles that it has not
even joined then that movement has momentum.  But if that movement consists
only of movement (protests, occupation, symbolic vandalism) without coming
together to discuss, agree upon and disseminate to the larger community its
ideas, its desires, in a word, its demands, then that movement will

(Witness the 2011 "Occupy Wall Street" and its similars across the
country.  With all of the forces that these present efforts, spearheaded by
the BLM movement, where is the movement into the neighborhoods and the
recruitment of 'civilians' to our goals and thus a multiplication of the
forces we would wield?  We must go beyond (not to mean exclude) efforts to
deconstruct the policing mechanism and onward towards calls for the radical
transformation of society, i.e. the replacement of the capitalist system
that is the fount from which all inequities spew therefrom.)

In June, graffiti supporting calls for the Univeristy of Cambridge to
remove a stained glass window memorializing statistician Ronald Fisher, a
supporter of eugenics, appeared on a campus building. The university later
removed the Fisher window.
Amid protests against racism, scientists move to strip offensive names from
journals, prizes, and more

By Eli Cahan Jul. 2, 2020 , 6:05 PM


McGee, a herpetologist, studies the habitat and behavior of Yarrow’s spiny
lizard, a reptile native to the southwestern United States. The University
of Arizona graduate student and her colleagues regularly pack their
things—boots, pens, notebooks, trail mix—and set off into the nearby
Chiricahua Mountains. At their field site, they start an activity with a
name that evokes a racist past: noosing.

“Noosing” is a long-standing term used by herpetologists for catching
lizards. But for McGee, a Black scientist, the term is unnerving, calling
to mind horrific lynchings of Black people by white people in the United
States in the 19th and 20th centuries. “Being the only Black person out in
the middle of nowhere with a bunch of white people talking about noosing
things is unsettling,” she says. McGee has urged her colleagues to change
the parlance to “lassoing,” which she says also more accurately describes
how herpetologists catch lizards with lengths of thread.

McGee isn’t alone in reconsidering scientific language. Researchers are
pushing to rid science of words and names they see as offensive or
glorifying people who held racist views.

This week alone, one scientific society is considering renaming a major
journal that honors a renowned 19th century researcher who held racist
views, and another is voting on changing the name of a trivia competition
that canonizes a prominent eugenicist. And a prominent university has said
it will remove from a campus building the name of a famous scientist who
supported white supremacy. The moves come in the wake of last month’s
decision to rename a major statistical prize—and in tandem with efforts to
change the names of animals and plants that include ethnic slurs or honor
researchers who were bigots.

Unifying these initiatives is reinvigorated resistance to institutional
racism. Kory Evans, a marine biologist at Rice University, says, “Dismantling
white supremacism in science has taken on a new urgency” amid the broader
reckoning ignited by the killing of George Floyd, the Black man suffocated
by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May. The buildings, journals,
prizes, and organism names that have come under scrutiny “lionize figures …
who specifically took actions to undermine the humanity of people of color
… [and] who laid the academic foundation for actual discrimination,
sterilization, and genocide,” says Brandon Ogbunu, an evolutionary
biologist at Brown University.

The current movement isn’t the first to target scientists whose actions
were judged unconscionable by subsequent generations. After the fall of
Nazi Germany, apartheid in South Africa, and various communist nations, the
names of scientists who supported oppressive policies were stripped from
institutions and awards. And even before the recent demonstrations against
systemic racism in the United States, many scientists had lobbied
universities and science groups to stop honoring prominent researchers who
had bigoted views. In 2018, for instance, years of activism prompted the
University of Michigan (UM), Ann Arbor, to remove the name of Clarence Cook
Little, an influential 20th century geneticist who supported eugenics, from
a science building and a transit hub.

Universities concerned about creating diverse and empowering atmospheres
are wise to reconsider whose names adorn their buildings, says UM historian
Alexandra Minna Stern, who has chronicled the evolution of eugenics in the
United States. The names, she says, “make visible the values and priorities
and beliefs of an institution.”

This week, the University of Maine, Orono, followed UM’s lead, announcing
<https://umaine.edu/president/2020/06/29/community-message-june-29/> on 29
June it would strip Little’s name from a building. “Little made an enduring
positive contribution to science,” a university task force wrote
However, it added, “Major areas of his professional life violate the ideals
that are central to the educational mission of the University of Maine and
its commitment to the public good.” Drivers of the decision included Little’s
high-profile support of eugenics and his work for the U.S. tobacco industry
to dispute evidence linking smoking to cancer.
(Continued at
Full posting guidelines at: http://www.marxmail.org/sub.htm
Set your options at: 

Reply via email to