Two weeks ago, we ran a letter from Samuel Cabot III of Beverly Farms canceling his support of the Trustees after the organization announced its plans to change the name of Agassiz Rock in Manchester. Last week, Sheila Hill responded with a Letter to the Editor. Mr. Cabot has responded to Ms. Hill, copying our Letters section, and Ms. Hill’s letter back is shown here.
Sheila Hill: Dismayed At The Dismay
Am sorry about your “dismay”. I found the shared lineage of you and Elizabeth ironic and even captivating.
Bill Maher is, of course, a great wit. No one is better at exposing the foibles and contradictions of human nature. I take his point, and yours. He is more entertainer than historian, however, and anecdotal exaggeration is prominent in his spin kit. I do agree with several things he said:
“Being a product of your time is no longer an excuse.” And, “Let’s live in the present and make the future better”. I believe the Trustees would heartily agree.
I found his discourse on the Bible, Jesus, God, etc., beyond the pale. The usage of “slave/servant” and “master” as literal, was uninformed. The Biblical usage was pure metaphor.
Weakest was this statement: “This is how slavery was back then…they didn’t see it as a problem."
Who was the “THEY”, Sam? I can assure you it was NOT the slaves. For them it WAS a problem!
So, now the vast history and entitled behavior of the “THEY” is being re-examined and challenged. I think it’s an appropriate discourse for our aspiring democracy. Even 200 years ago, there were a great number of prominent scientists, writers, and philosophers who were not proponents of Agassiz’s anti-Darwinian, scientific racism views. He was a bit unique in that respect.
I did not send my Cricket letter to the Trustees, and I can see now that might be warranted.
I would prefer we didn’t carry on this conversation in the Cricket, and would hope we could find another less formal venue. Will be interesting to see what, if anything, the next issue brings. And, unless I find the discourse begins to deteriorate, I don’t plan to continue. Like you, I have received many comments and emails of support. Quite likely, we represent two different realities on the topic, and maybe we should leave it at that.
I am concerned that your second letter is even more direct in urging others to withdraw support from the Trustees. What institutions are NOT “political" these days? Since the term “politically correct” made a rather benign entry into the literary scene some 50 years ago, it has been weaponized by both the Left and the Right. This issue is about more than political correctness…unless you consider the Constitution merely an attempt at political correctness?
The Trustees are trying to "make the future better”, and their important legacy sustainable. Bravo! This article from the Chemical & Engineering News also makes the Trustee's case:
P.S. - Clever of you to sign your letter, “Respectively”.