As a recipient of a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Indiana University in the 1970s, I am deeply concerned about the possibility that the name of Ora L.
Wildermuth could remain on the intramural center/fieldhouse. To link Wildermuth’s name with that of William L. Garrett is especially inappropriate. In my view, this would be disrespectful to Garrett and his family.
To suggest that Wildermuth’s perspectives and comments are somehow mitigated because, as reported in an Associated Press story, “it would be unfair to judge what he said decades ago by today’s standards,” sends a message that racism was once defensible.
Indiana University has the opportunity to communicate a rejection of intolerance and language that potentially fuels ignorance and hatred. Would we, for example, condone or excuse Ku Klux Klan behavior because of its social and temporal context?
Speaking of social context, according to The Associated Press, “Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America.”
These incidents include “cross burnings, schoolchildren chanting ‘Assassinate Obama,’ black figures hung from nooses, and racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.” This context further exacerbates the urgency of IU taking a stand in the social context of today.
I urge each of you to consider the national if not worldwide implications of a major university in the United States implicitly condoning misinformed, naive and hateful behavior in any decade.