Liberals are at it again: changing history to represent current political correctness hysteria. This time, UC Berkeley is under siege, as the seething mass of destroyers seeks to rid the school of its famous Boalt Hall. Why? Because of its namesake, John Henry Boalt, a 19th-century San Francisco attorney who pushed heavily to stop Chinese immigration.
The Boalt name is more than just letters above a door or on a building; it holds a century of memories and success stories. The alumni of the law school even affectionately refer to themselves as “Boalties.”
“The Boalt name has been attached to more than 120 organizations, public forums and positions related to the law school — including its alumni and student groups, endowed chairs, school directory and Facebook page. Over time, in the California legal community, many people simply came to call the law school Boalt Hall.”
The school’s hall isn’t the only thing on the chopping block, however. Two endowed chairs are being considered for termination, too, but the situation here is a bit dicier. The chairs were established by Boalt’s wife, Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt, in 1906 in memory of her husband. She donated $100,000 and specified that the professorships would continue to carry the family name.
But, thanks to Charles Reichmann, a Berkeley law lecturer who discovered the attorney’s aversion to Chinese immigration and published his findings, the Boalt name may well be permanently removed and the family’s legacy wiped from the slate like spilled milk on a counter.
Now, ain’t that the truth right there in black and white?
Was Boalt racist? By today’s standards, just about everything is racist, as Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles explained. But, the question is, was he racist for his time? He was “instrumental in pushing the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 — the nation’s first immigration ban on a specific group of people.” However, as the Los Angeles Times pointed out, “Public sentiment against Chinese immigrants had grown in the 19th century as more than 300,000 came to California as laborers.”
Brad Barber is a 1971 alumni graduate who proudly calls himself a Boaltie. If Berkeley decides to banish the name, Barber said he would lose part of his identity. In his eyes, the university owes it to the wife to honor her gift. He also said he “sees problems in holding historical figures to today’s standards – especially when they are not alive to defend themselves.” While he does not approve of Boalt’s views, he cautioned that “We begin to tie ourselves in knots if we look for virtue in contemporary terms of everyone who went before us.”
Now, ain’t that the truth right there in black and white? Our historical figures are products of their era. What actions will we be judged for by a future generation that are considered perfectly acceptable today? Charles Cannon, Berkeley law school’s senior assistant dean, said the decision will come down to comparing Boalt’s civic accomplishments to his other, less desirable actions. Aside from being a successful attorney in San Francisco, Boalt served as a judge in Nevada and also ran a mining business. These accomplishments, however, are apparently not distinguishable enough to keep the family name as part of the school’s longtime legacy.
To demonstrate, Thomas Jefferson was used as an example of good vs. evil, with the good he did overriding the evil deed of keeping slaves because he helped found our nation. Another example was Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, who supported incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, but then wrote the Supreme Court decision getting rid of state-sanctioned segregation of schools.
Boalt, when compared to these two historical figures, does not meet the criteria. Never mind that without him there wouldn’t be a long list of Boalties running around practicing law. The only saving grace is the prospect of keeping the Boalt name for the school by redirecting it to his wife, since it is not known for sure that she supported her husband’s beliefs. And then there’s still the matter of the professorships. No one is really sure how to get around that tricky little glitch in the quest for political stupidity – uh, that is, correctness.