American Library Assn. Strips Name of Dewey Decimal System Creator from Annual Award

From The Los Angeles Times:

The governing body of the American Library Assn. voted to remove the name of Melvil Dewey, the creator of the Dewey Decimal System, from one of its annual awards.

The ALA council made the decision on Sunday, reports Publisher’s Weekly, approving a resolution that urged the award be renamed because of Dewey’s history of anti-Semitism, racism against African Americans and sexual harassment of women. The initial resolution was advanced by ALA members during the organization’s annual conference. The resolution argued that the Melvil Dewey Medal be renamed because “Dewey did not permit Jewish people, African Americans, or other minorities admittance to the resort owned by Dewey and his wife,” which led to his censure by the New York State Board of Regents.

. . . .

Additionally, the resolution states, “Dewey made numerous inappropriate physical advances toward women he worked with and wielded professional power over,” and his behavior led him to be”ostracized from the organization for decades.”Dewey was one of the co-founders of the ALA, and served as the organization’s president from 1890 to 1891, and again from 1892 to 1893. He’s most famous for inventing the Dewey Decimal Classification system, which is still widely used in libraries around the world. He was also the founder of the Lake Placid Club, a social club for educators which refused entry to Jewish people and people of color. Objections to the club’s policies led to Dewey resigning his post as New York State Librarian in 1899. Dewey was also frequently accused of sexual harassment.

In a 2014 article for American Libraries Magazine, Wayne A. Wiegand writes that Dewey “made unwelcome advances on four prominent librarians” at an ALA event, which led to his ostracization from the group.

. . . .

This is the second time in a year that the ALA has decided to strip the name of a controversial figure from one of its awards. Last June, the organization changed the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. That change came after members raised concerns about the “Little House on the Prairie” author’s “stereotypical attitudes” toward African Americans and Native Americans.

Link to the rest at The Los Angeles Times

Well, they’ve certainly put Dewey in his place.

PG is reassured to find the ALA leadership is comprised of such virtuous individuals. Millions have been unconscionably oppressed and deeply offended by The Dewey Decimal System for generations and, finally, they have been relieved of a great burden.

This alone explains why, for generations, library science has been dominated by white men and women have avoided becoming librarians entirely rather than subjecting themselves to a cataloging system that is so terribly offensive.

PG is planning to visit a library soon to help celebrate its liberation from an oppressive past and finally breathe the air of freedom.

 

53 thoughts on “American Library Assn. Strips Name of Dewey Decimal System Creator from Annual Award”

  1. Signalling at its best.

    Too bad all they’re signalling is how stupid things are getting …

    So they’ll remove/rename one of their annual awards? Big deal. A better revenge would have been to turn it into an award for those old Dewey didn’t like. But then in order for it to signal anything they’d have to make sure that everyone knew/remembered what old Dewey had been against.

    Even better, the ALA should just go ahead and remove all their awards – they’ve all been used to suppress so many for so long.

    “PG is planning to visit a library soon to help celebrate its liberation from an oppressive past and finally breathe the air of freedom.”

    You won’t be able to find anything – they’ve dropped the Dewey Decimal System and are just listing things by the authors’ race/color/sex/religion … 😉

    • In one of our local libraries all the fiction is filed by author. No mystery, no SF, no westerns, all just lumped together.

      I’m waiting for them to do the same with the classified books.

  2. Right, PG. No one in the history of the world has been harmed by anti-Semitism and objecting to it is just ‘virtue signalling’.

    • J – I have no problem with objecting to anti-Semitism and fighting it wherever it may exist – at present.

      As far as the past is concerned, the list of dead anti-Semites is so long as to be incalculable. Do we really assume that, unless each and every one is tracked down, erased from history and never mentioned again, except, perhaps, on a list of anti-Semites, we will have somehow erased or eliminated the harm done by that person? Or that the any victims harmed by the anti-Semite will somehow have their suffering relieved or erased?

      The Wikipedia entry for Dewey – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melvil_Dewey – includes a description of both his many accomplishments and his anti-Semitism.

    • Is Dewey alive?
      Was he an icon of any of those unsavory movements?
      Did anybody even know or care about his faults?
      Did anybody even know who he was?

      Did this achieve anything but produce a headline?

      Seems to me it is just meaningless posturing.

      Are we to spend the next hundred years denouncing every single dead and buried idiot and criminal that ever lived? Shall we start with Cain, Romulus, or Attila?

      For the record: Melvil Dewey lived from 1851-1931. Like it or not, his ideas might be hateful today but in his time and society they were mainstream. He would have been vilified if he didn’t express those ideas.

      Let the dead past stay buried.

  3. On the other hand, does it hurt *anyone* to remove his name from the award?

    If not, and if *anyone* was made uncomfortable by the association of an award with the name, why mock or dispute the change?

    I see this as similar to changing “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” – it’s a way of shifting our traditions to match the values we hold today, and avoid hurting people whose pain was invisible or inconsequential to the people who established those traditions.

    To add context, we can also consider the example of removing the Joe Paterno statue from the Penn State campus. In that case, the removal was done after his harmful behavior became public knowledge. In the Dewey or Columbus cases, the removals are being made after recognizing that behavior that wasn’t acknowledged as harmful previously is now acknowledged to be harmful and unacceptable, and that historic behavior is intrinsically associated with the thing bearing their name.

    • I’m with Anthea here. They’re still using his system, but not recognizing him as worthy of a named award.

      I remember when all of the Columbus revisionism started. There was outrage there too, until people became aware of just how awful he was even by the standards of his day.

      • A lot of Columbus revisionism stems from *one* dubious book that misquoted and misinterpretted terms of the past. Very debatable. The countries he most impacted still celebrate him. It is mostly the countries that were enemies of Spain that created the spanish Black Legend that survives mostly in the US.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Legend

        Yeah, Columbus was a barbarian.
        So was everybody else of his time.
        Shall we discuss Drake or Morgan? And their misdeeds?

        Above all: what does any of this achieve?

        It’s not as if anybody is suggesting a return to those times nor does it improve the situation of the descendants of his “victims” one whit.

        It is a meaningless gesture meant to draw attention.
        Paying attention only encourages more idiocy.

        Shall we stop referring to the roman alphabet as such because Romulus killed Remus? It’s not a slippery slope: it’s a cliff. Erase the past to define the present and control the future.

        • Felix, removing someone’s name from future instances of an award – or a holiday – hardly counts as “erasing the past.”

          Choosing not to continue honoring someone is a completely different thing from trying to pretend they never existed – or didn’t do both the good and bad things they are known to have done. See the Paterno example above – nobody’s pretending he never coached at Penn State, or never won games. They are, however, refusing to continue to honor him.

          Makes sense to me.

          • See PG below.
            He says it better.

            Pretending bad things/people didn’t happen opens the door for repeats.

            Removing notable but “flawed” people’s achievements is pretending only fools and idiots could possibly hold objectionable beliefs. Which is a free pass to the successful. And isn’t “MeToo” about the sins of today’s notables? Wouldn’t they have an easier defense if they could say “only losers and idiots ever behaved like that?”

            Object lessons shouldn’t be erased.

            • Yeah, I’m confused by both your response and PG’s.

              In what way does saying “I don’t want to name my award after this guy going forward because he was a jerk.” equate to “Pretending bad things/people didn’t happen”?

              Saying “This guy did bad things, but I’m still going to name my award after him” looks a lot more like “pretending bad things didn’t happen” to me.

              To your side comment: “Me too” is *about* no longer pretending bad things didn’t happen. It’s not just about “today’s notables” – it’s about the fact that for a long, long time things like sexual harassment and rape – committed by both “notables” and nobodies – were things most victims *didn’t talk about* because if they did they were subject to further indignity, disbelief, blame, and harassment.

              • We honour people for the good things they have done, not for never having done anything bad. If we only named things after people who never in their lives did anything that anybody considers wrong, nothing would ever have been named after anyone.

                I defy you to name a single human being who deserves any kind of honour according to the standard of perfection that you demand of Dewey.

                And then, for bonus marks, show me that future generations will approve and disapprove of exactly the same things in the same proportions as yourself, and not erase your heroes from the record for doing things that they disapprove of. For that matter, show that the present generation agrees entirely with your standards.

                • Heated words, Tom.

                  Let’s calm down a little and look back at the original post, if you’re more inclined to discussion than Felix is.

                  ALA has changed the name of an award they give out, based on requests from their members – and if I read the article correctly, the award is generally given to members.

                  Can you provide any compelling reason why they should be forced to retain a name that no longer serves them and their members?

                  For context: I keep asking questions related to the original post to try to get clarification of the views I disagree with. In general, I find that people who hold views I disagree with are not intellectually impaired, but they are bringing a different set of values, assumptions, and experiences to the discussion. If they’re willing to acknowledge the intelligence of someone (such as me) who disagrees with them, we can have quite entertaining and illuminating conversations and walk away with a better understanding of *why* the other person holds the views they do, even if we agree to disagree. I enjoy that kind of thing enough to test the waters, but if you’re not into it we can just talk to other people.

                • Heated words, Tom.

                  In other words, you have no answer for any of my points and no intention of engaging them, so you pretend to take issue with my tone.

                  Let’s calm down a little and look back at the original post, if you’re more inclined to discussion than Felix is.

                  Felix is perfectly well inclined to discussion. It was you who dismissed all his comments out of hand.

                  ALA has changed the name of an award they give out, based on requests from their members – and if I read the article correctly, the award is generally given to members.

                  How many members requested this change? Was a vote of the membership taken? Or was it a small minority of virtue-signalling busybodies, as it generally is in such cases?

                  Can you provide any compelling reason why they should be forced to retain a name that no longer serves them and their members?

                  Can you provide any compelling evidence that it does not serve them, or that force would have been required to leave the award as it was?

                  For context: I keep asking questions related to the original post to try to get clarification of the views I disagree with.

                  Then you should not have opened with this:

                  Are you arguing that the ALA should continue calling their literary award the “Melvil Dewey Medal” in perpetuity *because* some of Dewey’s behaviors would be considered reprehensible today?

                  This is an obvious strawman. You ascribe to PG a completely idiotic view of your own invention, and then claim that other people are going off topic because they refuse to defend a position that nobody actually holds. This is not discussing the matter in good faith.

                  If they’re willing to acknowledge the intelligence of someone (such as me) who disagrees with them, we can have quite entertaining and illuminating conversations and walk away with a better understanding of *why* the other person holds the views they do, even if we agree to disagree.

                  Then you should not start the conversation by dismissing the intelligence of those who disagree with you, and then petulantly demanding that they defend themselves seriously against your insults.

        • Wow, I missed this comment.

          – Black Legend

          – Golden Legend

          They go right into my Story folder. Those are tools I can use.

          Thanks…

          I’ve been studying L.E. Modesitt. He will write a book based on the concept of one man deciding to act, not waiting for society to approve. Then another book based on only society has the right to act, not the individual. He shows both sides of the debate in the only way I can see to do it, by having separate narratives, not trying to blend it into one story.

          Thus, as Reader, I can see the whole.

          • The legends are extensions of one of the best story-fodder rules I’ve ever run into: “Nobody sees themselves as the villain of their story.”

            Not only is the dictum a great character building guideline but so is the rare circumstance that violates it.

            The first Modesitt example is really a common variant of both: the character who doesn’t care what others think so long as he holds faith with himself. Protagonist or antagonist doesn’t matter. Blackie DuQuesne is one of my favorites because of this. He is delightfully amoral…

            Motivations and perceptions are great narrative tools to grow a story.

            • He’s one of my favorite characters as well. But I wouldn’t tag him as amoral; he just didn’t hold to the same standards as everyone else. Sort of like Westlake’s “Parker” character.

              Yeah, DuQuesne tried to kill Seaton multiple times. But Seaton wiped out entire civilizations and species after setting himself up as Overlord of Osnome and Earth… DuQuesne’s plans for setting himself up as a ruler involved picking from volunteers, not conquering and subjecting populations to his will.

              Smith painted DuQuesne as the bad guy… but if you look at what the characters actually *do* in the story, about the worst you could paint him as would be “chaotic neutral.” Seaton, on the other hand…

              • Morality is what the community expects of you, no? Well, Blackie cares about no community. Not even the free minds. And he was as comfortable playing the bad guy as the hero, typically both in the same story.

                He is all about his needs and what the moment requires. Both villainous and heroic and, yes, mostly neutral.

                Seaton, though, is mostly about community and just *his* community. He would do poorly in the Lensmen universe, I think. Kinnison would not approve. 🙂

                As more Smith works enter the PD I’d like to see somebody take a crack at a DuQuesne empire–I think he bit off more than he can chew–and somebody should give the Red Lensman her due. Clarissa I think can carry a whole series set in the Matriarchy. Perfect as commentary on current sensibilities.

                • In my mind, heroes sacrifice themselves for others while villains sacrifice others to their interests.

                  Depending on the circumstances or vantage point both can be “good” or “bad”, which I like. Combined with the unreliable narrator technique you can get some interesting stories. Rogues, rascals, anti-heroes, lots of room in the gray lands…

                  What we don’t see often is hero vs hero. Writers seem to always pick sides…

    • See also my response to J R Tomlin above.

      One of of the things that bothers me is that I’m concerned about erasing history, including erasing evil people from history.

      In Dewey’s day, unfortunately, anti-Semitism was a commonly-held belief/value/evil. But is his anti-Semitism the most important thing about him?

      Is the Dewey Decimal System inherently anti-Semitic? Were all the librarians who used the Dewey Decimal System for decades in any way endorsing anti-Semitism?

      Martin Luther was anti-Semitic. In some of his writings, he advocated that Jews be killed because of their “murder, cursing, blaspheming, lying and defaming.”

      Does this mean that the names of all Lutheran churches should be changed? Or that those people who attend them each Sunday should be criticized or shamed?

      Henry Ford was notably anti-Semitic. He bought and supported an anti-Semitic newspaper that was distributed through all Ford dealerships nationwide.

      Ford’s anti-Semitic writings were translated, published and widely distributed in Germany. Heinrich Himmler described Ford as “one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters”.

      Hitler admired Ford, mentioning him twice in Mein Kampf and later said “I shall do my best to put [Ford’s] theories into practice in Germany”, and explicitly modeled the Volkswagen, the people’s car, on the Model T. In 1938, the German consul at Cleveland gave Ford, on his 75th birthday, the award of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal Nazi Germany could bestow on a foreigner.

      Testifying at Nuremberg, convicted Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach who, in his role as military governor of Vienna, deported 65,000 Jews to camps in Poland, stated:

      “The decisive anti-Semitic book I was reading and the book that influenced my comrades was … that book by Henry Ford, The International Jew. I read it and became anti-Semitic. The book made a great influence on myself and my friends because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success and also the representative of a progressive social policy.”

      Ford was also notable for offering workers in his plants a $5 per day wage in 1914, which more than doubled the pay of most of those workers, and instituting the first five-day work week in an industrial setting. In the 1920’s, Ford was one of the few industrial enterprises that actively recruited and hired black workers.

      In 1936, Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, started The Ford Foundation. By 1947, after the deaths of Henry and Edsel, The Ford Foundation owned owned 90% of the non-voting shares of the Ford Motor Company.

      Based largely upon the Ford family’s bequests, The Ford Foundation became the largest philanthropic organisation in the world.

      According to the Ford Foundation’s website, its activities have included:

      – The 1964 Civil Rights Act was an opportunity for the Ford Foundation to expand its support of academic studies on race relations and African-American educational institutions to include action-oriented grantees who sought to empower whole communities. Most significantly, Ford supported public defenders and the training of African-American lawyers. This innovative strategy became the framework for Ford’s advocacy for Mexican American, Native American, and women’s rights in the US, and for its role in bringing down apartheid in South Africa. By the 1980s, Ford was investing heavily in indigenous and cultural rights.

      – Ford Foundation funding helped California Indian Legal Services implement a 1970 pilot program—the Native American Rights Fund (NARF)—to provide legal services to Indians on a national level.

      – In 1952, the National Educational Television Center was founded with a grant from Ford, bringing iconic programs like Sesame Street and Mister Roger’s Neighborhood to American living rooms—and paving the way for the establishment of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1970.

      – In the early 1960s, Ford funded early childhood initiatives and education research that formed the basis for the federal Head Start program, which launched in 1965. Head Start, which provides early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families, has served tens of millions of children—including Ford Foundation President Darren Walker.

      – Ford’s work in South Africa began in 1953 with support for interracial dialogue. In 1973, a Ford-funded conference on legal aid proved to be a turning point, contributing to the growth of public interest law and other legal strategies to combat apartheid. At the same time, capacity-building programs trained a new generation of leaders for a post-apartheid society.

      – In 1978, Ford helped establish the human rights organization Helsinki Watch, to monitor government compliance with the 1975 Helsinki Accords. After it expanded to monitor and spotlight human rights violations beyond the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe—establishing “watches” in Central America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East—in 1988 the organization was renamed Human Rights Watch.

      – Starting in 1976 with a Ford-funded project in Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus offered small loans to disenfranchised people, especially women, to help them start their own businesses. This work developed into the Grameen Bank, a pioneer of microcredit, which has helped millions of people worldwide and earned Yunus a Nobel Prize.

      Should right-thinking people reject any activities (or funds) that originate with an organization that bears the name of Henry Ford – a noted anti-Semitic bigot whose writings and example were praised by Adolph Hitler?

      • I’m confused now.

        Are you arguing that the ALA should continue calling their literary award the “Melvil Dewey Medal” in perpetuity *because* some of Dewey’s behaviors would be considered reprehensible today?

        In what way does changing an award name going forward erase one iota of the historical record available to people who want to learn more about it?

        To me, choosing not to continue honoring someone with an award named after them because of their actions sounds more like acknowledging history than erasing it.

        If the Ford Foundation decided to change their name, and gave Ford’s anti-Semitic attitudes as part of the reason, would you object to that change? If so, why?

        • Try this:

          https://www.thepassivevoice.com/american-library-assn-strips-name-of-dewey-decimal-system-creator-from-annual-award/#comment-446358

          As a rule, it is best to do things that actually achieve something meaningful instead of crowing over meaningless trivialities that only lead to more meaningless trivialities or serve as cover for true evil.

          Seriously, what measurable good does erasing Dewey achieve anyway? Few knew he existed, even less cared. Why bother?

          Thing is, once you get into the habit of erasing annoying/embarrasing facts it is easier to jump from the trivial to the meaningful.

          Today it’s a 150 year old librarian or confederate general, tomorrow it’s a 100 year old entrepreneur or maybe somebody still alive. Maybe not you but it could be me; I’ve annoyed a lot of fools to date. In print and online. Hope to annoy a lot more before I’m done.

          Bad habits are best nipped in the bud before they get to you.

          The past happened the way it happened, not the way some would like to pretend it did.

          Besides, go forward a century or two and we’re all barbarians.

          • Felix, I notice you didn’t actually answer any of my questions. Want to try again, or are you just having fun soap-boxing?

            • Because the answer is obvious?

              If the Ford foundation is stupid enough to think changing their name changes anything that is their problem. Think the Kennedys changing their name would change the fact their money came via gangsters? They don’t. Their histoty is their history, good things and vile.

              Didn’t the recent election prove that people don’t care about reputation? How about reality TV? politicians getting second or third chances? We’re long past the days when shame meant anything.

              Again: shaming (or dis-honoring) is meaningless. Achieves very little (if anything) when done to the living, nothing to the dead. Think all those people fired for political shaming stayed unemployed long? Don’t think so. They all got new jobs right away.

              This one didn’t even get fired, just suspended:

              https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/restaurants-are-now-a-soundstage-for-our-national-spectacle-and-the-rules-have-shifted/2019/06/28/52401ef2-99b9-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.750100672e42

              The times have changed and it needs to be factored into stories set in the present or very near future. Nobody is going to buy THE SCARLET A or even EASY A.

              • Hmm, do we need and extended discussion on the Disappearance of Shame? Google is littered with discusions dating to (at least) 1994 in the LA TIMES.

                It’s an old topic beaten to death…

                THE MAX PLANCK institute had a whole symposium on it in 2012:

                https://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/en/aktuelles/veranstaltungen/the-disappearance-of-shame

                And it should go without saying that if you can’t shame the living shaming he dead is equally futile.

                The entire value system changed.

                • It’s very sad to see that you seem incapable of recognizing when people are giving answers to your questions. Because you don’t see (or don’t wish to acknowledge) the relevance of the answers, you dismiss it as ‘soap-boxing’. I suppose it’s a convenient way of banishing the thought that you might be mistaken about something.

    • “… it’s a way of shifting our traditions to match the values we hold today, and avoid hurting people whose pain was invisible or inconsequential to the people who established those traditions.”

      So trying to hide what happened in the past? Like those trying to say WWII didn’t happen – or that nothing really bad happened during it?

      Hmm, another thought. Should the winners of that award in the past toss them out? After all, it the award was named after a ‘bad’ man so the award must be junk. Hmm, even renamed it’s still the old Dewey award so still junk – right?

      Heck, the ALA was run by and for people like that Dewey guy, maybe ‘it’ needs to be closed down – or at least renamed.

      • A question for you, since I don’t see where you’re getting your response out of my comment:

        In what way does choosing not to *honor* someone hide the bad things they did?

        • You don’t see – or don’t ‘want’ to see?

          Where are you finding or think you’re finding any ‘honor’ in the system at all? Just because the ALA is now doing a bit of signalling to appease some that were whining, do they now have more ‘honor’ than they did last year when they had a silly Dewey award?

          Felix (who also can’t seem to get through to you) said:

          “Seriously, what measurable good does erasing Dewey achieve anyway? Few knew he existed, even less cared. Why bother?

          Thing is, once you get into the habit of erasing annoying/embarrasing facts it is easier to jump from the trivial to the meaningful.”

          Why bother indeed? Unless it’s to divert attention, which seems to be all this was made to do – well that and to give a false ego boost to those that don’t know any better.

          MYMV and you learn the difference between actually making a difference and merely signalling …

          • Anonymous, if someone isn’t willing – or able – to answer my questions before issuing their own, and isn’t willing – or able – to show how their questions are relevant to my comments, why should I skip over my questions to answer theirs?

            If I take the bait, it’s a highly effective strategy for them to go on saying whatever they want and ignore whatever I say while feeling like they’re being terribly clever and scoring points.

            I’m interested enough in substantive discussion to test the waters, but if the other person is just interested in expounding on the ideas already in their head, I’ll wander on.

            So what do you think? Are you interested in learning about why someone who disagrees with you holds their views, and delving into why you hold your views in order to try to persuade them? Or would you rather assume anyone who disagrees with you holds those views because they’re stupid or brainwashed? If the former, we can have a fun conversation. If the latter, we can just talk to other people!

            • If I take the bait, it’s a highly effective strategy for them to go on saying whatever they want and ignore whatever I say while feeling like they’re being terribly clever and scoring points.

              You’re projecting. That has been exactly your own behaviour in this thread.

              • “You’re projecting. That has been exactly your own behaviour in this thread.”

                Funny, Tom – that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about many the complaints about my comments coming from you, Felix, and Anonymous. (Ignore my questions and insist that I answer yours instead, ignore my statements and instead put words in my mouth that come from your assumptions rather than my statements, accuse me of bad behavior while ignoring your own – for example.)

                I guess we’ll just have to each walk away thinking the other has been arguing their own points without bothering to acknowledge the other person’s.

                In any case, if you’re in the US, Happy Independence Day! (And if you’re not, have a lovely Thursday.)

  4. Over the past year, with all of the “removals” of people that are considered objectionable, I keep building a list of Story Seeds.

    – This “cleansing” is so useful to Story.

    I see so many opportunities to show major events in Story, then a century later have stories where the names are cleansed from modern society.

    The Cleansers are trying to craft a world that I am not interested in living in. It’s our job to tell the stories that some people do not want others to know.

    This is a good example of what those people want, a safe, sanitized world:

    The Giver Official Trailer #2 (2014)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxFJvlWqphM

    To paraphrase George Santayana:

    Those who consciously forget the past are dooming their grandchildren to pay for it.

    As an example:

    Look at the discussion of Reparations today. There are so many stories waiting to be told.

    It’s all about Family Secrets. A large number of White families have slave ancestry, and they want to keep that secret, so they say, “No”. They have been saying, “No,” for over a hundred years when any rational person would have said, “Yes”. It would have been cheaper.

    I bet, that after full Discovery, Court, fact based Discovery, when all the living decedents of slaves have been paid, that most of the money will have gone to White people. HA!

    BTW, Next time you are in Britain, go to a pub. You will find that they are still arguing about The Hundred Years War, as if it was yesterday. There is no hiding from the past.

    • I love the discussion over slave reparations (as opposed to say japanese camp reparations) and wonder what the promoters would say if the reparations came with a race blindness rider.

      “Sure, we’ll pay reparations but only if race disappears as a legal basis for lawsuits.” Or “Sure, reparations in place of affirmative action and race-based preferences.”

      As they say, be careful what you wish for. You might get it.

      The same applies to a total takeover by progressives. The outcome might not be what they expect.

      Story fodder indeed.
      (At least if you’re into SF.)

      • (At least if you’re into SF.)

        That’s what I love about Babylon 5, they touched on all this, covering a million? years of history.

    • I’m curious – who have you noted as being “removed”, as you put it?

      I’m not aware of anyone whose name has recently been erased from history à la Stalin, at least in the US and Europe.

      I *am* aware of people who have fallen from power and celebrity due to new public awareness of their private actions. They’re still very easy to find information about, though, both from before and after the new information became public. As far as I know, for instance, all of the movies Kevin Spacey has starred in are still available for purchase.

      • My timescale is over centuries, not so much the latest celebs.

        They will have to pull my copy of The Usual Suspects from my cold dead hands. Love that movie. Spacey captured Lex Luthor in the movies.

        Watch the original British House of Cards with Ian Richardson. It makes more sense, where I dropped the American version after the first season.

        Richardson’s breaking of the Fourth Wall makes the series.

        “You might think that, I couldn’t possibly comment.”

        House of cards Origins Monologue
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL9iyYIb_e8

        • At least Spacey is alive.
          Making him unemployable costs him money.
          Not watching his movies? That affects him as much as watching or not watching a Douglas Fairbanks movie. He already got paid and the movie is somebody else’s property.

          Even boycotting Mel Gibson achieves little since he’s long been too old for most action flicks or romcoms anyway. And, like it or not, he’s doing just fine as a director. Mostly because one guy’s pariah is the next’s hero. Look at the recent “expose” of Michael Jackson. His music got a big boost and whoever owns the songs just raked it in. 41% boost.

          https://www.cnet.com/news/michael-jackson-r-kelly-music-streams-jumped-after-hbo-documentary-finding-neverland-lifetime-surviving-r-kelly/

          That’s how effective dis-honoring the dead is.

          We’re long past the days of the days of Fatty Arbuckle.

        • allynh, I read “over the past year” as referring to the removals you mentioned rather than to your work on the list of story seeds – sorry for the misunderstanding! And no worries – The Usual Suspects is still part of my DVD collection too.

  5. <UndercaffeinatedGrouching&Satire>

    Well, given that the Dewey Decimal System was itself evil, imperialistic, anachronistic, and inadequate even at the time it was put forth, I’m not sure that I mourn any less celebration by name of its past. While I continue to ceaselessly pine for its demise and replacement in all of the libraries I use (pretending that would be instantaneous and cost-free).

    A couple of specific examples:

    80%+ of law library holdings go between 340.0 and 347.8, which is just slightly too narrow

    Regional food and cooking is organized in lock-step with history, which in turn is organized in lock-step with nineteenth-century colonial linedrawing, which is why all cookbooks on “Chinese cooking” are usually interfiled at most libraries (the number is too long for the spine)… and the less said about Africa and Southwest Asia the better

    In most of the quantum-era sciences, there are multiple equally acceptable Dewey classifications, leading to some interesting hunts in the library at 2am… especially when the old librarian chose option 1, an intervening librarian chose option 2, and the current librarian has chosen option 3 (more specifically, consider classification of a work on the conformation mechanisms and quantum mechanics of enzymes, which is what inspired this example that was a problem four decades ago)

    In short, the Dewey Decimal System is waaaaaaay too much of “it’s a dessert topping and a floor polish” for me to continue extolling its memory.

    • So you’re saying that instead of worrying about the antedeluvian ideas of its creators they should be getting rid of the antedeluvian system itself?

      I can get behind that.
      At least it would achieve *something* other than ego-stroke.

    • That was an infelicitous example, as the unpersoning of Lovecraft by the World Fantasy Convention was widely seen within the field as hamfisted, disrespectful, and motivated chiefly by present politics. Naturally, the Verge article you cite reports only one side of the story – the side, as it happens, that suits you.

      • With all due respect…

        OK, you know what’s coming: Something not all that respectful.

        Mr Simon, “widely seen within the field” is mere ichor-laden rhetoric (with tentacles). Removing Lovecraft’s name from the award was seen as “disrespectful” by a certain segment of the field populated by ardent (well-trained!) screamers… some of whom, it turns out, share Mr Lovecraft’s attitudes toward women, Jews, other immigrants, etc., including public disrespect toward them. And the first movement toward the removal began when the president of HWA was one of those persons handicapped by the absence of a Y chromosome.

        There are more than a few people in horror fiction who opposed that change — a surprisingly large proportion of whom are not currently active authors of horror fiction, but there are some authors — but far from a plurality of those who even cared (let alone a majority of those in the field). “Widely seen within the field” implies at least a plurality and probably a majority.

        <SARCASM> Next thing we’ll be demanding the removal of the statue of Douglas MacArthur at the entrance of West Point because he’s the one who gave the order to fire on peaceful marchers, turning the “Bonus March” into the “Bonus Riots”… and those peaceful marchers were only demanding that the government fulfill promises it had made to induce them to enlist in 1917 and 1918. Not even as confrontational as Kent State thirty-odd years later! MacArthur’s public justification was a claim that the Bonus March was “less than 10% veterans” (a number pulled out of thin air) and infiltrated by communists (the communists tried but were excluded by the veterans!). Actually, I’d support removing MacArthur’s statue for that reason alone (let alone his repeated insubordination)… </SARCASM>

        Seriously, though, at some point, when things change, “giants of the past” may no longer be appropriate role models, and it therefore may no longer be appropriate to name awards after them. The volume and level of ire of those who don’t want their sacred cows gored is frequently mistaken for the level of actual support for that position.

  6. How long have librarians known about this, and why didn’t they tell us? Enter a library now, and we’re surrounded by the work of this man.

    God Bless the ASIN, for the Disruption saves us all.

  7. Never liked the Dewey Decimal System. The decimal idea was fine, but Dewey’s categories are whacko, reflecting the New England prejudices of his era. That is, to some extent, inevitable. Myself, I prefer the Library of Congress system, but it is far from perfect.

    I’ve always been irritated by the reverence of librarians for Dewey, and I’m glad to see that their eyes have opened.

  8. I do need to make a comment about this entire discussion thread – I’m pleased and proud about the behavior of those who have made comments.

    Obviously, the topic under discussion is one about which the visitors to TPV have strong and differing opinions.

    However, in this spirited discussion, I haven’t seen any denigration of or personal attacks against any of the people involved, only a disagreement between reasonable people about the Dewey award and its name.

    Thank you very much. I wondered if civilized disagreement was even possible in this era. I am heartened to see that it is not dead. May it become much, much more common in our shared culture, online and offline, during the 21st Century.

    • I concur. The information I harvested from the thread has unlocked a number of series, and pointed in directions that I had not considered.

      I now have five or six solid fugues to translate into snapshots for future stories.

      Thanks…

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