Rini in the above essay, protests
against the names of various institutions of the United States kept after
famous persons who where a big time racist in their time. She takes the example
of few institutions like the Princeton institution names after the 28th
American president who was a horrible racist, Calhoun College named after john
Calhoun who championed the “Indian removal” and considered slavery as “positive
good”. Similarly, Georgetown University pointed out the names of two slave
sellers from the campus building.
The essay is more
than just a yes or no. the discussion is well researched, and she strictly
sticks to her against this system of keeping the names famous institutions
after random racists.
Rini has used the word “dead” in the title to criticize the
concept of using the names of dead racist men by present generation as their
The first paragraph in the essay
sarcastically tells about the name of Romeo whose name was associated with
Juliet’s family enemy. Rini tries to relate this situation with her argument in
renaming the institutions kept after racists.
Paragraph three states how
Princeton Institute named after a racist person has raised questions among many
of the students. Paragraph five is one of the important stages in the essay
which criticizes about the name America named after Amerigo Vespucci who was
responsible for setting villages up on fire. There are many other people including
George Washington and Christopher Columbus who are important personalities in
America who have hundreds of buildings named after them but had a racist past
ninth paragraph the author points out US Philosopher Austin Kirke’s argument
that states the reason why a person or institution is named with a certain
term, with the same reason that person or institution can be renamed.
has endeavored to maintain the balance between simple narrative and literary
ornaments. However, in certain paragraphs there are some terms which cannot be
comprehended very easily by laymen. Though Romeo and Juliet are a Novel that
maximum English knowing audience have read, but there are sections of the
population who might not have read the same, for them to understand the context
would be difficult.
of the British philosopher JL Austin and his narrative that has been quoted in
the text has to be understood in its complete meaning, which is only achievable
after the source text has been duly read.
of Keysor Soze which has been given will be understood by the people who are
familiar with “The Usual Suspects” where the mentioned person has been
portrayed as a villain and crime Lord which is greatly different than the
characteristics of Romeo, and hence the whole novel of Romeo and Juliet becomes
unjustified just by the change of a name.
beginning of the article starts with the example of Romeo and Juliet where
Juliet addresses Romeo stating that the name Romeo Montague is connected with
the family enemy of Juliet. Romeo insists that how he himself has started
hating the name because of the same reason.
is quite justified in using the given example because it just goes perfectly
with the present situation where the students of Princeton University have
started disliking the name of the university themselves because of the person’s
racial past. The author points out that it is not just about the past History
which is dark, but it is about the relevance of the name in the present day
situation. There can be a moral revolution as well and not just political
revolution which can be the cause of a rebaptism.
used a number of evidences in support of her stated position of rechristening
various public utility offices, universities and roads in order to establish
the endeavor to move on from the past political history which has been often
darkened by slavery, racism and exploiting the weaker section.
Princeton University has faced demands of rename from the students who has been
a racist in his tenure. The Calhoun
College named after John Calhoun has been put under scanner as well. Calhoun
has been recently criticized for his removal of “Indians”, and for his position
of soft support to slavery. However the author doubts whether such renaming is
feasible in itself because many noted personalities after whom the names of a
number of roads, universities, schools and public properties have been given
have a past that is negative and spotted with activities of racism. Examples
are Christopher Columbus and George Washington.
the set of moral standards that is followed by a certain section of a society
at a certain point of time. The author points out that the time when the
baptism happened of a certain institution the standard values were different
than the present-day time. Therefore by the rebaptism the people are not
denying the past but are endeavoring in establishing the values of the present
in a better way. As was pointed out by John Calhoun, slavery was a positive
good (Grove). Even George Washington had several numbers of slaves at his
disposal. Therefore that might be the practice at that point of time which is
at present day not really considered as morally “good”. The author by value
only tries to establish that over the time the belief and thought process of
the people change. That can be justifiably reflected by rechristening the names
of premiere institutions of a country.
signifies the power or supremacy to do something at will. The naming of
different institutions and public properties have historically happened by the
authority of certain sections of political class. The author points out the
unchallenged power of the political class in the past and the present that can
christen or rechristen at will and wish.
situation seems to change lately. There are people who have started to question
this unlimited and unethical power, “authority” as the author calls it. Rini
points out that because Romeo’s parents had the ultimate authority over their
child they could name him as they wished, but there is nothing that can stop
the process from repeating, may be by someone else this time, Romeo himself
“We” is a
collective term that the speaker uses to denote himself or herself along with
other people who match the given criterion. The author has chosen to use “we”
in the places where she either proposes to challenge status-quo, or she points
out the absurdity in such action. She herself has justified how renaming of the
public institutions is necessary when the name is that of a personality who
carries a bloody or dark past. Then again she referred how far they, the people
of America at the present time, termed as “we”, can go because the name of the
nation itself has to be changed in that case.
has cleverly used “you” to evoke the emotion required to understand the context
she wants to portray. Her statement “positive good great grandparent’s forced labor”
makes the reader feel a certain amount of guilt because of the actions
performed by the predecessors who justified slavery as “positive good”.
two angles that have been raised by the author are contradictory in nature. In
the first part she states how there has been a clamor about renaming Princeton
institution because of the dark history associated with the name of the person
after whom the institute is baptized. She asks, “why not”, and justifies that
it is natural in today’s times to question the dark and racist past and such
people must be trimmed of the honorary positions.
angle is how far the country can go in terms of such renaming. America itself
is named after Amerigo Vespucci who had the past of setting villages on fire,
or George Washington who owned several hundred of slaves himself after whom the
capital of USA is named, or Columbus who is behind killing of many Indians.
“Where should we stop?” she asks.
been a number of cases recently where there was strong demand for name changing
of different public institutions, some of which really make sense after the
study of the article by Regina Rini. Ben Tillman has been criticized for
several of his actions including some relating him to the Hamburg Massacre. He
has been related to various racist anti African activities in America. The
Tillman Hall in Clemson University is thus demanded to be rechristened. Robert
E Lee divides the public opinion, because he had been proactive in killing many
in a bloody civil war (Foner). The terms like red skin or black skin has been
in question and out of use for a long time now. Differentiation according to
skin color is the basic form of racism. Therefore the “Washington Redskins
football team: has been pressurized by various quarters to rename their team.
many examples, which seem to be quite justified after reading the article.
However the author herself again questions how far can we go in this game of
naming and renaming.
Foner, Eric. “The Making And The Breaking Of The Legend
Of Robert E. Lee.” Nytimes.Com, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/books/review/eric-foner-robert-e-lee.html.
Grove, John G. John C. Calhoun’s Theory of
Republicanism. University Press of Kansas, 2016.