Building Name Review: Moses - Feedback

The Building Name Review Committee welcomes comments on the proposal to remove the un-name Moses Hall. The proposal is available at:

Submitted comments that were designated by their authors to be public appear below. 

This page includes comments received as of February 15, 2022.

In favor of the proposal to remove the name Moses Hall

Timestamp Comment
2/8/2022 14:07:59 No Berkeley building should be named after white men. They are all racist.
2/8/2022 14:10:41 Having read the report, you should absolutely un-name this building. You should also determine the material value he brought to the university (in terms of donations, tuition revenues, prestige, etc.) and pay reparations to communities he disparages equivalent to that amount adjusted for inflation.
2/8/2022 14:12:17 We should not perpetuate the institutions of racism by appropriating the legacy of people who publicly held racist views. I am in favor of renaming Moses Hall and removing the cultural stain from the University of California.
2/8/2022 14:23:46 Racist bozo
2/8/2022 14:24:53 I appreciate the thorough research that went into preparing the proposal to un-name Moses Hall; it must not have been pleasant to read through Dr. Moses's collected works, particularly for those involved who identify as non-white. I support the proposal to un-name Moses Hall; it is important for today's students to know that the university no longer honors those who would dishonor and demean large portions of the world's population.
2/8/2022 14:25:57 UC Berkeley cannot claim to stand for students of color if it continues to recognize and glorify racist people, and as an extension their racist values, such as Moses. This school has shown they can make building name changes and they must continue honoring that.
2/8/2022 14:26:57 The proposal says it much better than I could - I agree with it entirely.
2/8/2022 14:32:39 Bernard Moses is a bad person, don't glorify him with a building.
2/8/2022 14:34:49 Based on the evaluation of Bernard Moses' legacy in the Proposal to Un-Name Moses Hall, his racist views (then still the consensus in social sciences) regarding the essential characteristics of races and the superiority of the white race seem to have played an important role in his historiography of Latin America and the Unites States. The University should begin to counterweigh the harm of his legacy by un-naming Moses Hall.
2/8/2022 14:35:02 As a political science graduate student, I think it is important to reckon with the racist histories of our discipline. Renaming Moses Hall isn't burying or erasing history; it is a collective act of historical excavation and education. I learned a lot from reading the renaming proposal, and I thank those who have put the work in to examine Moses' writings and illuminate the disturbing origins of our disciplines.
2/8/2022 14:44:32 Moses academic writings are rife with blatant white supremacist beliefs; his legacy cannot be disentangled from his horrifyingly shameless opinions about race. There is absolutely no reason for any sort of memorialization or glorification of this racist man and his violent attitudes, and any continued memorialization would be a shameful act of disrespect and racism on part of the university.
2/8/2022 14:45:08 I think it is extremely important to re-name this building due to the racist rhetoric in his responses
2/8/2022 14:46:11 I write to the committee in my position as the Chair of Canadian Studies, a program which is housed in the currently named Moses Hall. I do so in my individual capacity, and on behalf of the entire program, with the full support of the Canadian Studies Faculty Advisory Board.

The goal of the Canadian Studies Program at UC-Berkeley is to deepen understanding of Canada and Canada-US relations and to support members of the campus community who are doing research, teaching and outreach on topics related to Canada. The Canadian Studies program is particularly proud of its longstanding support of Indigenous studies and research on diversity and multiculturalism. These are two key pillars of our public programming and research fellowships.

The report on Moses’s viewpoints shows that his scholarship and public views stand in marked opposition to the values of the Canadian Studies program. Prior to reading the report, I had no familiarity with Moses's writing. Now that I do, it feels extremely problematic to invite speakers and researchers working on issues of diversity and Indigeneity to our monthly colloquia or annual conferences, which are located in a building dedicated to Moses. In addition, our events are open to the public, and draw a diverse audience. We want to ensure that all participants feel welcome to attend and engage in Canadian Studies events. The same is even more true for staff, in Canadian Studies and other programs housed under Global, International, and Area Studies, who work in the building on a daily basis.

I and the Faculty Advisory Board of Canadian Studies thus support the proposal to un-name Moses Hall.
2/8/2022 14:46:58 This level of racism and bigotry is condemnable for any person past or present, and especially unacceptable in a leader and educator. Putting this person on a pedestal and honoring him with a building in his name is against everything the Berkeley community stands for, and the building should be un-named immediately.
2/8/2022 14:52:19 After reading the materials provided by the committee, the white-supremacist views of Bernard Moses seem undeniable to me, and as such, make him worthy of moral contempt rather than official recognition/glorification, and thus, warrant the un/Marisa I am sure that UC Berkeley has produced many more intellectuals worthy of that honor.
2/8/2022 14:55:40 I am strongly in favor of un-naming Moses Hall due to his racist legacy. All building names based on problematic professors, alumni, or donors, no matter their prominence, should be un-named. Thank you for doing the right thing.
2/8/2022 14:56:23 I had no idea who Bernard Moses was before reading the un-naming proposal, but after learning more, I strongly support the un-naming of this building.
2/8/2022 15:05:45 Seems like a good one to un-name. His writings were clearly white supremacist. There are plenty of others to name the Building after! Thanks for your work in researching this.
2/8/2022 15:05:49 Someone with such outwardly racist views, especially toward native peoples, does not deserve to have his name memorialized on Berkeley's campus. There are so many brilliant scholars who have made significant contributions to the university who are far more than deserving of the honor and recognition.
2/8/2022 15:16:19 We are no longer bound to remain silent or acceptant of racist and colonialist views. Not even those of a "prominent and influential" professor who once taught here at the University of California, Berkeley. No title nor status excuses white supremacist views. Views akin to that of Bernard Moses have no place here or, quite frankly, any place that has denounced white supremacy and racism. Perhaps the academics most deserving of a campus building named in their honor are those academics that challenge the divisive, prejudiced views that have remained a hurdle for many in this nation. It follows that the least deserving of the honor are those that advance these deeply misguided and unsettling views. Accordingly, Moses Hall should be un-named.
2/8/2022 15:21:46 Rename to “Momo Hall”
2/8/2022 15:22:57 I am strongly in favor of un-naming Moses Hall.
2/8/2022 15:25:12 Campus should not be celebrating white supremacists. It doesn't matter what work he did for the University if students and staff feel marginalized because a building on campus bears his name.
2/8/2022 15:32:00 Even though he lived from 1846 to 1931, there is no excuse. Karl Marx lived from 1818 to 1883 and Friedrich Engles from 1820 to 1895. We should name this hall the Marx and Engles hall. A pair who lived during his life time and stood for values which all students, faculty, and staff can and should aspire to today.
2/8/2022 15:46:58 Instead of upholding and praising values of white supremacy, there must be an active effort in finding and allocating shared spaces for people committed to inclusion.
2/8/2022 15:49:27 I find it absolutely appalling that in 2022 the names and horrendous legacies of individuals such as Bernard Moses have been maintained by a university that prides itself on progression, diversity, and inclusion of all student bodies represented in this prestigious school. Any individual that spouts the idea of racial preservation through means of prejudice or extermination to maintain the purity of English blood should be removed immediately from the surface of any building or signage. We do not honor and celebrate those that admonish other individuals for the hues and color of their skin we should condemn those individuals and leave them in the darkness of the spaces where their history will gather dust over time as they become antiquated. How can people possibly claim that we live in a post-racial society when many of the individuals that are hailed across institutions paradoxically persecute civilizations and societies for the very characteristic that defines race?
2/8/2022 15:51:03 It has been thoroughly documented the profound racist and settler colonialist ideals that Bernard Moses upheld throughout the course of his life and his time serving at UC Berkeley. He published numerous works around what today is called, "classical racialism" and has deep implications of eugenicist ideals. His white supremacist principles are reflected in his academic writing, and should not be honored nor celebrated.
2/8/2022 16:05:56 I feel it is necessary to remove the name as it is inappropriate to honor a man whose ideas were explicitly racist and colonialist.
2/8/2022 16:25:31 The act of naming a building after a person implies honor and respect for that person. We should not honor those who promoted white supremacy.
2/8/2022 16:54:21 Let's stop glorifying racists, please.
2/8/2022 17:14:33 Dear Esteemed Members of the Committee,

I think this is a very tough topic and decision. I applaud all of you for taking on this responsibility.

Should we even name any buildings or public spaces after people?
Can we leave buildings unnamed?

This is not to say that we should not and cannot acknowledge one another's achievements and contributions. Perhaps more tactful ways to honor and remember the many facets of our shared identity and the human experience exist...

In the case that the committee decides to name a building, does the option to name a building after a group of people, indigenous tribe, indigenous plant, or indigenous animal exist?
2/8/2022 17:31:29 I find it very oppressive to have to go to school on a campus that has buildings named after known racist and discriminatory individuals. I personally have walked past Moses Hall dozens of times and find it deplorable to honor a person with such degrading practices and point of views. I chose Berkeley because of it's high standards of education and dedication to excellence. A white supremist and their ideals have no place on Berkeley's campus of intelligence, high intellect, and diversity. Moses Hall needs to be renamed if Berkeley truly wants to rectify the mistakes of the past and have a truly inclusive environment for all persons.
2/8/2022 18:01:19 I think he should not be honored, but should be remembered. Not by a building being named after him, but in an acknowledgement in all the harmful racist attitudes held by Berkeley scholars past and present. Lots of work to be done in this aspect, but this would be a step in the right direction
2/8/2022 19:13:03 The University of California still has much work to do to atone for the legacy of colonialism and challenge the contemporary reality of white supremacy, I agree that renaming Moses Hall is a necessary step.
2/8/2022 19:33:00 The academic work for which Moses was honored by the naming of Moses Hall was so thoroughly and violently racist that, by maintaining the building name, the University would seem to recognize as a legitimate and positive contribution to the fields of history and political science a view that promotes the elimination and subjugation of all non-European peoples. Moses's belief in the inherent superiority of European peoples was a core tenet of all of his historical and political analysis. Further, he actively participated in US colonial policy by serving on the Second Philippine Commission.
2/8/2022 19:40:56 I support the un-naming of Moses Hall.
2/8/2022 19:42:22 I support un-naming Moses Hall and all campus buildings named after racists and colonizers. I urge the Committee to un-name the building and consider renaming it after a Black revolutionary.
2/8/2022 20:53:48 I suggest unnaming all buildings (including Moses Hall) and monuments that have been with the same name for "10-20" years, and then renaming them whatever. Please get rid of perpetual naming, no matter how much money was donated or how wonderful a name seems today. Live and learn. If some name is all that wonderful, then the name might be "renewed".
2/8/2022 21:36:59 I find tradition for its own sake to weigh very weakly on how we should act now and in the future. Why not un-name so that other positive ideas and people may be promoted. Philosophy is dedicated to the constantly and irreverently challenging of ideas so that they may be discarded or refined and intellectual growth achieved. It seems to be in this spirit to challenge and reflect on the naming of this building so that a better one may be found that properly represents this academic attitude.
2/9/2022 8:15:00 It's a reality UC Berkeley has a legacy of white supremacist scholarship. Unnaming Moses Hall is a gesture of goodwill to indicate the future of Berkeley is anti-racist. It's unconscionable to allow harm to be done to members of our community by honoring white supremacists on our campus. A change such as this is a reminder for all of to examine our own work to ensure we are not contributing to the legacy of white supremacy.
2/9/2022 8:46:21 If this wisdom is true "Never meet your heroes."
Then it would seem to fly in the face of that wisdom, to name a building after anyone.

If there were good ideas/ideals, then make a monument to the idea itself, to the ideals we want to live up to. But never to an actual named person, that only history can actually judge.
Only some distant future generation can really decide if they were all that or not, so leave it to them.

If the rule was:
you had to be dead for 100 years minimum, before any building could be named after you.
I'd be pretty sure that rule alone just about prevents most building un-naming to be needed later on.
As we can see right here, this very situation is that History IS The Judge. That appears to be fundamental reality we did not escape, so maybe best to act like it, and have some rules that reasonably reconcile with that reality.

If your friends think you're cool, is expected. If the future people 100 years from now also think you were cool, that's probably amazing enough they might want to name a building after you or put up a statue of you or something.

So let the future make their own decisions about who among us in the past was cool enough to get some kind of honors like that or not.
2/9/2022 11:38:03 Having read the Proposal, it is undoubtedly obvious that Bernard Moses was a white supremacist who justified colonialization through racist beliefs/remarks. By continuing to have the building named Moses Hall, UC Berkeley celebrates Bernard Moses and his racist beliefs. Please un-name Moses Hall and re-name it in favor of an under-represented/marginalized student/faculty/figure! There are better and more influential faculty that we can recognize and celebrate!
2/9/2022 11:48:23 I support the graduate students, faculty and staff in the Department of Philosophy in their recommendation to un-name Moses Hall based on Moses’ expression of racist, white
supremacist views in various published works. His racist, white supremacist views are at the center of all his work, which is not in alignment with the values and mission of the university and in fact, are in direct conflict with several of the Principles of Community.
2/9/2022 12:54:35 Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
2/9/2022 15:24:56 The racist ideologies of Bernard Moses create a triggering and hostile racial environment for our community. They are in direct conflict with our campus' core values around equity, inclusion and belonging. We cannot proclaim to represent these principles while honoring a White supremacist in this way.
2/9/2022 17:15:18 I think the movement to re-name buildings over racial issues is healthy. Of course Moses was defined by his era but part of being in our era is rejecting the toxic belief systems of the past.
2/9/2022 23:01:09 Legacies do not exist beyond the test of time. It is clear that the ideas expressed in Moses' work uphold white supremacist ideologies. Each day, we make a choice about the legacies we maintain with the names we honor. Let us choose to answer this call to act with the obvious answer--un-name Moses Hall.
2/10/2022 8:12:04 Bernard Moses = Racist
2/10/2022 10:32:19 Bernard Moses was one of the worst offenders amongst those after whom campus buildings have been named. For years, I began my Urban Field Geography course with a day on campus, pointing out how campus buildings tell the story of how UC Berkeley developed and, as a part of that history, how the university has been complicit in everything from the Sioux wars to strike-breaking to building the H-bomb.

I feared that Moses Hall had escaped attention in the general discussion of erasing names of flagrant White Supremacists from UC Berkeley's honor rolls, so I am pleased to see this report. It is commendably thorough in analyzing Moses' scholarly writings, which display repeated and extreme instances of his racial and colonialist views. I was, however, a bit disappointed not to have seen more about Moses' role on the Philippines' Commission and the part it played in the disgraceful, brutal US conquest of the Philippines and suppression of the islands' independence movement after 1900.

Nevertheless, the report makes a thorough and damning case against Moses. He will not be missed, even if it makes the job of criticizing the university's dark side a bit less easy!
2/10/2022 14:14:04 the evidence from his work makes it very clear that white supremacist racism marks the fabric of Moses's thinking and scholarship. that is sufficient warrant for the name to be expunged from the building of an institution devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and to improving the lot of humanity. also, it's very easy to remove a name from a building, and it isn't a big deal, so just do it.
2/10/2022 18:30:05 The history seems clear that we should not be elevating and honoring Mr. Moses with a building. Should the building be un-named, I think a plaque / interpretive sign explaining Mr. Moses' legacy and why the building no longer bears his name would be cool.
2/10/2022 20:25:31 As a member of the philosophy department who uses the building every day, I would prefer the building were not named after someone who held and expressed views that demean and exclude members of our community.
2/14/2022 9:58:57 I would like to see buildings named after ideas and concepts rather than individuals. An idea is more inspirational than an individual. A single person may have furthered a concept and made great accomplishments but no one works alone. All of society contributes to the accomplishments of all others. Why single out one person. Why must we perpetuate an authoritarian model with 1 individual at the top of any given pyramid? If you want an egalitarian society then stop lifting individuals to VIP status and acknowledge that a society moves as one body towards the exploration of ideas and concepts. Each person must work toward the benefit of the whole rather than the benefit of themselves. By naming a building after a person UC Berkeley is indicating the person matters more than anything else .
2/22/2022 9:44:53 The racist views espoused by Bernard Moses are horrendous, and must not be celebrated by enshrining his name on a UC Berkeley building.
3/25/2022 19:59:31 I am a 1982 alum of UC Berkeley and lifetime member of the Alumni Assn. I have two children who are not anglo who I would like to encourage to apply to school there. I urge you to rename this building to further distance my beloved alma mater from it's racist past and allow my children to have one less encounter with this country's history of racist violence as they walk through the campus.
3/25/2022 21:21:38 I appreciate the loving hearts of those who are working tirelessly to reduce racism in our community, namely UC Berkeley, my alma mater as well as my husband's, my sister's and brother's... thank you, thank you so much!
3/25/2022 22:17:16 The building should be un-named. An institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge does not carry out its mission by accepting arguments based on inaccuracies and prejudice. Whole swaths of U.S., British, and other societies worldwide refused to accept and fought against Professor Moses’ espoused views long before his time at Berkeley. Professor Moses’ position as an educator makes his accountability paramount, rather than subject simply to opinions of his work. People at the time of his writings knew such views were worse than ethically bankrupt. There is only more grievous harm done by now ignoring such intellectual and ethical harm-doing, as his status and views could be weaponized. Conversely, addressing and working to correct it makes for that essential rising tide that lifts all boats. Fiat lux!

Opposed to the proposal to remove the name Moses Hall

Timestamp Comment
2/8/2022 14:12:57 Nothing wrong with this name
2/8/2022 14:16:37 The name is part of history
2/8/2022 14:16:46 It is clearly apparent that Berkeley owes an extremely large part of its current social science success and brand to Moses's service to the university. Comparing the biology of various races, which we now know as complete pseudoscience, was not considered such at the time. The cited quotes from Moses in the proposal easily arise from such pseudoscience, which must be accounted for in considering each quote (as opposed to reading it as if in a vacuum).
2/8/2022 14:18:37 The name in no way marginalizes any group or demographic. The current frenzy to rename many of the campus' historic buildings is unsightly and should be reconsidered under the idea of whether or not renaming these buildings is actually benefitting anyone, or if these efforts are only an attempt to evaporate the campus' history.
2/8/2022 14:21:14 Why? This seems like another one of those “feel-good” policies that diminishes focus on real issues
2/8/2022 14:27:48 Racism is a systemic evil that has unfortunately been a part of American history since the 1600s. I believe I speak for many others when I say I support efforts to make Berkeley a more diverse and inclusive space but I feel there are better, more direct, and more effective ways to accomplish this lofty goal than un-naming a building named after man few have ever heard of. Unlike many Confederate leaders whose names have been rightly removed from buildiings in the South, only after a very deep reading of his works does one find outdated and problematic views. While deeply unfortunate, these views were commonplace among educated people of his time. I believe encouraging college applications from minority communites, increasing financial aid programs, and fostering school-wide community building programs will more positively affect the student body in terms of reducing racism than un-naming Moses Hall
2/8/2022 14:37:16 Ridiculous. Stop trying to remove history as if it never happened. If there is an issue, have historical contextual information available for students/visitors about the actions of these individuals who are guilty of being a product of not growing up in the millennium and not sucked into groupthink behavior due to social media. Since this is an academic institution, use this as a teaching moment, rather than an attempt to brush history under the rug. Removing the name also removes conversation, which means future generations of students will not be aware of these historical figures and their impact on other cultures, thus, unable to critique their behaviors. This goes against teaching critical race theory.
2/8/2022 14:38:35 I'm not exactly sure why another building has been tagged to be renamed, but I don't think one can repair the past by renaming things - and I'm not sure we should. Our history is what it is, we learn from it by remembering so that it never happens again.
2/8/2022 14:41:03 don't know which Moses hall was named for but Moses is as deeply rooted as any name and there have been so many, including leaders of civil rights movement as well as ancient liberator of slaves. This is a foolish action and will in now way benefit what has been a great institution of learning, research and values.
2/8/2022 15:07:22 The building should not be renamed.
2/8/2022 15:25:18 In an ever-changing landscape of social ideology, the University of California Berkeley holds a position at the forefront of experimentation and advocating for progressive principles. In the fever to create a blameless, acceptable image, at all costs, many students and faculty fail to heed the principle of cultural relativism that they uphold, as well as failing to understand why less than acceptable people might deserve recognition despite their flaws- both in a modern context and in the cultural context of the associated individual. Many of Mr. Moses' comments are clearly racist, and, just as was mentioned in the proposal, were noticeably so even for his time. The University as a historically progressive institution surely would have recognized as much at the time when the building was dedicated after his namesake. This, therefore, suggests that Moses Hall was not given its name because of or including Mr. Moses' certain racist beliefs, but rather in total irrelation to them. Moses Hall was named Moses Hall because of Bernard Moses' invaluable contributions to the development of UC Berkeley. If we as a University community are to ever study history, art, politics, really any subject effectively, we must learn to divorce ourselves from a good-bad or dichotomy study of history, and realize that no individual at any period of time will ever hold up to the even greater scrutiny of the future. Rather, the name "Moses Hall" ought to be left as such for the factual reason that has not changed- Professor Moses' contributions to UC Berkeley warrant his recognition.
2/8/2022 15:37:55 Global warming is going to wipe out our entire species this century (including any vestige of Moses Hall), and we want to waste our time un-naming an ugly, non-descript, readily forgettable building like Moses Hall just because it's named after some long-dead white dude who expressed some racist views 100+ years ago and of whose existence almost no one today is even aware? Is he really all that important? It's such an obscure building that I had to look it up just to remember that I pass it daily on my walk to the Campanile.

Instead of un-naming it, why not just bulldoze that eyesore to clear some space for the local wildlife (in the form of, say, a squirrel sanctuary) or simply attribute the name to the more well-known Jewish prophet by the same name and his raucous beach party on the Red Sea? Since the prophet Moses contributed much to religious philosophy with all his declamatory mountaineering, attributing the name of the Department of Philosophy's building to him would be incontrovertibly apropos. Most who pass it probably think it's named after that Egyptian-prince-turned-tablet-wielding rebel anyway, and the reattribution would make Charlton Heston very proud.
2/8/2022 15:40:30 This Committee on Moralizing History (TM) has done little more destroy family legacies and deter students from the good work that came from these people (regardless of personal beliefs - theirs, mine, or yours). When will you "unname" the ENTIRE CAMPUS, since it was ALL BLATANTLY STOLEN from the Native Americans who lived here to begin with? WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO IMPOSE RELATIVE MORALITY AND CURRENT PERSONAL OPINIONS ONTO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TIME AND CONTEXT?Who do you people think you are anyway? What makes you think any of YOU wouldn't have had the same beliefs AT THE TIME, WITH ONLY THE GIVEN KNOWLEDGE AND CULTURES OF THAT TIME? This superiority complex you seem to have assumes you have the right to judge and sentence a person's entire legacy based on YOUR PERSONAL BELIEFS! WHAAAT?! Even the Nobel Committee is not allowed to redact their awardees after the fact! How much more fascist nonsense....and INCREDIBLE WASTE of time and resources...are you planning to pass along to the young minds of your student body? go bears.
2/8/2022 16:46:01 There are two misapprehensions here that I'd like to address. 1) From the language of the proposal, it seems that no name is to be left standing unless its owner believed that race was socially constructed. That race is socially constructed is itself a construction and a fairly recent one. A list of names of people whose idea of the races is essentialist, therefore unacceptable to a certain way of thinking, would include Lincoln, for one. Are present day constructivists so certain we have arrived at the ideology that will be acceptable to the Californians of 100 years hence? 2) There's an assumption that a name on a building endorses the former owner of that name; in practice, it actually turns that name into the name of a building; the person quickly becomes less than a cipher. I have been on campus for decades and have never once wondered who the Moses of Moses Hall was. He might have been the Lawgiver, for all I knew.
2/8/2022 16:46:21 This is stupid and unnecessary. Stop changing things to appeal to ignorant people who will never be satisfied.
2/8/2022 17:04:12 Historic names do much to connect us to a past that we may otherwise forget. Negative connotations of a name don’t change the activities conducted in the building. We should use tradition as a stepping stone rather than attempt to bury history on a whim as the tides of public opinion change. Changing a name doesn’t change the past and wokeness doesn’t reverse racism.
2/8/2022 17:36:01 We need to learn from the past and we can only do that if the bad as well as the good remain to inform us. Prof Malcolm Potts
2/8/2022 21:03:09 Critical Race Theory indicates all white people are racist. Almost everyone before 1863 was relatively complacent with slavery.
2/10/2022 3:19:48 Naming a building after a historical figure honors the good they did, and certainly does not approve of every evil deed they committed.
2/10/2022 7:59:56 They're at it again. The self-appointed arbiters of public morality have found another victim for their Inquisition, another reputation to feed to the bonfire, another dead white male guilty of the unspeakable crime of sharing the norms and values of his day. I'm not surprised, just ashamed for Berkeley. How long are we going to waste our time and energy trying to appease these crusaders? How long are we going to let these self-dramatizing glory-hogs drag the dead through pointless show-trials? Down with injustice and oppression, I agree; but it's not a goal to be attained by attacking men born in the 19th century for not having a post-George Floyd conception of racial justice. If that's the lens through which you look at history, you're bound for a lot of disappointment. Why don't we convict Tamburlaine of child abuse while we're at it? The US government is at this moment under siege by anti-democratic, anti-science populists, the Republicans are going to take back the House in November, and we're wasting our time on this?
2/11/2022 11:48:34 Being upset about historical injustices and the fact that their symbolic vestiges are present all around us is reasonable. Nonetheless, it is unwise for a society to remove from everyday life every public trace of such vestiges. The drive for so cleansing the public mind is built upon two dangerously simplistic views: (1) a person or a person’s name represents only evil if the person has committed certain evils and (2) a society committed to justice should strive to efface from everyday life any sign (however cryptic it may be!) of the fact that values and beliefs antithetical to the ones currently held dear were ever once widespread, entrenched, or thought praiseworthy in former generations of the society. I think that (A) both of these views are rather wrongheaded and that (B) they undergird the movement to change the name of various buildings on UC Berkeley’s campus, including Moses Hall's.

Perhaps it is unclear why (A) these two views are wrongheaded. While virtually all of the great dead were guilty of some egregious moral misdemeanor (some even of offenses recognized as such in their own day), that does not prevent them from being great for other reasons (none, I will add, are great for having upheld repulsive views or carried our reprehensible acts). There is Kant, the racist of Königsberg; Frege, the virulent anti-Semite; Nietzsche, the misogynist; and the pro-slavery Stagirite, Aristotle. Countless religious authorities (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc.) advocated blatantly misogynistic, racist, and other bigoted views; yet I do not think any of these sins are reason enough to stop us from reading their prodigious contributions to thought and culture. By having on our campus a class labelled “Aristotle,” “Kant,” “Hegel,” or “Nietzsche,” we are not thereby endorsing everything they thought or did.

Similarly, some people were great philanthropists and contributed to the founding or leadership of an institution of learning or some other such praiseworthy endeavor, and their generosity or service is not, in my mind, as a rule wiped out by the fact that they were flawed (sometimes VERY flawed) human beings. Unfortunately, the “renaming” ethos vehemently insists on a one-dimensional view of human character and worth. The more tolerant (and, in my mind, the truer) view is that wrongs and errors neither define a person nor should they prevent others from remembering what good a person may have done. Above all, we cannot forget that human beings are complicated: they are not only good or only bad but an admixture of both, and therefore the choice to rename a building whose namesake committed some wrong or held some repugnant view will either be arbitrary—since the cutoff point for how wrong the namesake had to be to warrant renaming will inevitably be arbitrary—or it will lead to the removal of every person’s name from every campus building, a pill few intelligent campus bureaucrats and fundraisers would swallow.

The second of these views—the desire to efface from everyday life the traces of past difference—is reminiscent of book burnings and cultural re-education propaganda programs. It strikes me as both unnatural and, worse, ineffectual. Renaming buildings is not the road to people’s hearts and minds. Do you think someone who is sympathetic to reprehensible views will be moved to reconsider them as a consequence of renaming a building? Or do you think that fewer people will newly adopt such views as a consequence? If anything, the opposite seems more likely. Moreover, if we are willing to remove the names of buildings, why shouldn’t we remove copies of “Thus Spake Zarathustra” from the library? It was written by a shameless misogynist, after all. Better that than risk that some impressionable young person may read it and start thinking misogynistic thoughts. Frankly, given that classes are taught on all of the above mentioned wrong-doers and wrong-thinkers, we ought to close down the whole philosophy department, lest someone construe it as supportive of those deeds or views. This is all at best infantilizing and at worst repressive.

Unfortunately, (B) views (1) and (2) are precisely the coal that fuels the fire to rename campus buildings. Calls for renaming all fall along the same lines (including the call for renaming Moses Hall): it’s pointed out that the namesake of some building held some repugnant view or committed some foul deed, and, therefore, it would be an endorsement of that view or deed to retain the name. But that is precisely to fall in the trap of the view that (1) a person’s name can represent only evil if evil he has done, that any value a person’s legacy may have had is eliminated by what evil that person has done. Why couldn’t keeping a name or statue up be an endorsement of the good that flawed person did? Why couldn’t it be a reminder of the fact that human beings are not perfect, that we make mistakes—that whole SOCIETIES make egregious errors in moral judgment! Why couldn’t it be a reminder to maintain epistemic humility? An antidote against the certainty of extremists? A warning against groupthink and thoughtlessly following the herd? There are many cases where such a name could be all of those things, if only we let it be.

I think a potential objection to my argument for (B) is to say that the REAL motivation behind renaming attempts is simply that the names cause certain communities deep pain. Firstly, I am sorry that is the case, and I wish nothing but healing and prosperity to those communities. At the same time, however, I am surprised to hear such a counter argument on a campus like Berkeley’s, where critical theory is a mainstay, and the view of Wittgenstein that a symbol’s meaning is not determined by virtue of the symbol itself is so well-known among the faculty (certainly the signatories of this proposal, professors of the philosophy department, must know it). Surely, these symbols (names of buildings), as I suggest above, need not have a hurtful meaning? Surely, they can have a better meaning than they are currently perceived to have by some members of some communities? And besides, even if (1) and (2) are not the direct motivations of those seeking renaming, they are clearly endorsed as a consequence, and to have such views become entrenched in society is, I strongly believe, unhealthy for everyone now and in the long term.
3/25/2022 21:40:44 The law school, Boalt Hall, was renamed, which was another absurd woke attempt to rewrite history. But the present Dean, who is a public servant and should be apolitical, did not have the courage to stop it.

Monuments have been torn down or defaced, which is abhorrent. Lots of us are Independents politically, after having begun as Democrats. It is conveniently forgotten that the Democrats gave us the Civil War; and they perpetrated it with the KKK, segregation and LBJ's "Great Sociery Programs," which destroyed black families and consigned them to economic servitude.

History is a two-way street, and attempts to erase it are un-American.

Finally, the last comment posted against this proposal was on February 11th. Like the renaming of Boalt Hall, there is reason to believe that this process is "fixed," and a waste of time for us. The law school's Dean should be removed, but he won't be because he is knee-deep in the woke, insidious process.
3/25/2022 21:03:33 I have many memories of Moses Hall from the 1970's -- also in Fall 1969. I was a graduate student then.
I was even tear-gassed from a National Guard Helicopter, --- while walking very close to Moses Hall, in October 1969, during a Viet Nam War protest. I had to somehow run into Moses Hall, find a women's bathroom, and put lots of water on my eyes.
There were many Professor's offices in that building. There was also a library in Moses Hall where we studied, and the TA's room where we often used to hang out.

I am ambivalent about the proposal to rename this building.
3/26/2022 5:09:24 The founders who built these buildings never thought that later generations who took these building for grant and then turn their back on them
3/26/2022 10:07:53 This proposal is ridiculous. Please stop judging good people from earlier times for what was generally believed at that time. Please have the courage to stand up against this ridiculous pressure and put a stop to this nonsense.
3/26/2022 11:41:11 Another pathetic joke by the fascist leftists at this beloved University. Shame on You!!
3/26/2022 17:07:51 As an alumnus, I have been dismayed and put off my the increasing thought-policing happening at UC Berkeley. I’m left feeling estranged from and ashamed by my university. I would like to see UCB re-commit to free speech, open academic inquiry and wide-ranging debate, tolerance of dissent, and actually being a force for positive progress in the world, rather than endlessly policing thought, speech, and history.