Rehabbed Harvard residence will no longer showcase portrait of racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic namesake

The Harvard Crimson reports the U has decided the dining hall at Lowell House will no longer feature a portrait of Abbott Lawrence Lowell, who banned black students from Harvard Yard residences, instituted a quota for Jews and led a purge of gay students. But actually renaming Lowell House? Nah.


Free tagging: 



I presume it is the same

I presume it is the same person the city of Lowell is named after? If we were to change the name of every city, state, building etc named after someone vile from 200 years ago we would constantly be changing. At this point I think taking down the image and calling it a day makes sense.

If he or any of his immediate relatives were still alive I would say rename it but not now.



By on

If we were to change the name of every city, state, building etc named after someone vile from 200 years ago we would constantly be changing.

Nah, we'd only have to change it once (or, once for every time we got it wrong). What's so hard about changing a name? Is it as hard as, say, being banned because you're black, purged because you're gay or limited because you're Jewish?


I think the point is you need to draw a line.

And yea, it is hard. Some people want to remove the name Washington because he owned slaves. Just changing every Washington there is in the country? Kinda silly if you ask me.

As for the Lowell name here? You could probably change the name of the house I guess, but there are also people who think that by leaving the name there the conversation stays alive.

Hell, I bet some day some judge is going to rule that Boston Latin is racist because tests are racist, and everyone who went there didn't deserve to get a separate education from all the minorities who didn't get that same chance. So every Headmaster who ever went there is a bad person and needs their name erased and legacy tarnished. Silly? Of course, but we will probably draw the line somewhere. But I would bet anything that Latin will eliminate testing or some judge will rule that entire school illegal because of the practice of letting some kids in and others out (for a public school) Not saying I agree with it, but something like that will happen.


What's Latin for strawman?

There's a Grand Canyon sized gap between saying hey, let's not commemorate a terrible person vs. let's change how exam school admission works. One has enormous complication issues of equity and intent behind it and the other is just as simple as saying 'Jeff Amherst was a bad dude' so let's not immortalize him. Sure while there are things which would be unacceptable today about Washington and Jefferson, to me that's the level of historical importance which overrides the morality aspect. The actual leaders of the Revolution and birth of the country are at a whole different level than Amherst or Lowell or, in other examples recently the dirtbag Sackler family or Tom Yawkey.

A warts and all approach is fine unless the warts are larger than the rest of the subject in which case, change it and move on.


I get it but everyone agrees that Lowell is a bad person..

Not everyone agrees that Latin is a racist system.

So my point was about a line being drawn, not making up a strawman. Of course you draw the line somewhere right?

So take the Washington example then. He owned slaves right? That is enough for some people to say he is an evil person and his name should be erased. You can talk about being a leader of a revolution all you want, but he still owned slaves.

You say Lowell is on a different level than Amherst or "leaders of our revolution", but he probably isn't much different than any of them, just a little younger (more recent).


By on

I think the point is you need to draw a line.

Indeed. From your comments, it seems clear that you think the best place to draw the line is before attempting or even seriously considering doing anything.

Slippery slope arguments are the refuge of lazy and complacent people.


Don't you ever get tired?

By on

And you want to draw the line at Washington?

Pete, don't you ever get tired of strawman arguments? Don't you ever get tired of telling people what they want?

Let's face it, you're just a crusty cranky old who fears change and doesn't want to be inconvenienced in the least, and to hell with anyone else. You go into these old-man-shouting-at-cloud tirades anytime anyone suggests doing anything differently. Why should anyone take you seriously?


By on

Peter makes a good point.

Personally, I believe that confederate monuments should be taken down since they represent a racist regime (i.e. the Confederacy) that committed a treasonous act against the country. Their leaders should not be idolized in any way shape or form.

I am less enthusiastic in going after every founding father that owned slaves because, yes it was a horrible wrong, but those founding fathers also got this country up on its legs. Washington had many great qualities - he is studied for his leadership, his political savvy, among other qualities. We can learn from him. And they should be studied, warts and all, not dismissed.

Another important point

About the confederate statues is that they weren’t even put up at the time of the confederacy. They were put up in the early to mid 20th century as part of a campaign of intimidation against free black people that went hand in hand with Jim Crow laws. “It’s my culture “ has always been a facetious argument with respect to these intentional monuments to oppression.

In comparison, Washington Street was named in 1788, and if the revolution had failed it would probably be King Street. That’s at least a move in the right direction, rather than a move backwards.


Lol strawman?

Go to Brookline town meeting in a few weeks and you will read about the article someone isn’t filing to change the name of Washington St. because he owned slaves. The strawman is in your backyard LBB.

This isn’t about change, it is about drawing lines. Don’t be lazy and ignore the practicality on this issue. I’m telling you what’s going to happen and why. You’re crying like a baby.

Because you say?

By on

This isn’t about change, it is about drawing lines.

So you're the one who gets to say what "this is about"? Why?

You’re crying like a baby.

No, I'm not, in fact. You, on the other hand, are bellyaching up a storm about an imaginary ox being gored. It's not a good look.


So you're the one who gets to say what "this is about"? Why?

Because the first comment (Matt Frank's) was about changing all the places and names and how that would be difficult to do. So I added to that comment and brought up the point that there was a line needed to be made. How is that bellyaching a storm? Then you got all pissy pants and started having an online fit. Look at all your comments, you are getting really worked up over nothing. I'm guessing you don't have anyone to love you at home, but the internet is not the place to get attention. I mean you got all upset because I called you llb instead of Lbb? Seriously? That is where you want to win the online argument? With your imaginary name? lol pretty pathetic.

Shut up

By on

Stop the racist control trolling. Banning black students, putting a quota on jews, and attacking queer people is unacceptable and that's a line.

Dig deeper

Banning black students,

For the record, he was fighting against mandatory housing of negros where it was not a safe space for them.

Lowell was a scuzbag progressive socialist. Socialism needs whimpering oppressed masses to operate, not more angry disenfranchised enemies.

As a member of the gay

As a member of the gay community who studied American Constitutional History in college I do have a keen sense for parsing out anti gay sentiment in American history, especially in major institutions. You may be shocked to hear that sadly that practice and those implications were widespread. I actually think Mad Men handled it with Sal pretty accurately.

I was also involved in political circles at a very young age dating back to the late 1990's and was that proverbial fly on the wall in many situations where I heard people talking about gay people. Only to see and hear those same people in 2013 run around with rainbow flags over their heads...

He did not seem to be a man I want to emulate or celebrate but he also does not seem much worse than many others with their names etches in sandstone either.


Nah Pt. 2

Remember how the people in Czechia used to live in Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic not Czechia. Was that some life altering problem? Istanbul from Constantinople another good one - the Turks were supposed to keep the name from the Byzantines?

We used to have lots of racists and slave owners in high office in this country, now we have at least less slave owners. Seeing as all names are pretty arbitrary and have no specific value, nothing wrong with changing names that are offensive to people instead of commemorating these terrible people for eternity. If something was named after Hitler, this wouldn't even be a discussion.

And yes, teams with bad names such as the Indians and Redskins should also change their names.


getting offended by things that don’t affect you is weird

By on

who’s going to pay for the replacement or removal of signs on every single building or street that’s named after someone who did something that’s deemed morally reprehensible by today’s standards? Do you realize how much jobs like that cost? It’s not replacing a wooden sign at a community college (which would still be thousands of dollars)


Getting offended by other people's views, even more so

By on

getting offended by things that don’t affect you is weird

Your take -- that people shouldn't feel things that you don't want them to feel -- is even weirder. By an order of magnitude.

who’s going to pay for the replacement or removal of signs on every single building or street that’s named after someone who did something that’s deemed morally reprehensible by today’s standards?

What do you care? Is anyone asking you to pay for anything?

You don't want people to change something for the better, even though it's no skin off your nose either way, as you loudly proclaim. That's a lot worse than weird.


product of history= cop out

By on

saying someone was a product of their time or that this is only an issue now ignores that the people targeted lived at the same time and likely felt very differently about their targeting. It is also framing the problem as people being offended and a not so subtle appeal to going back to when you think this was acceptable.

A Godwin Tutorial

HINT: it does not necessarily have to do with any mention of Hitler ...

Godwin's law (or Godwin's rule of Hitler analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1"; that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds, the point at which effectively the discussion or thread often ends. Promulgated by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990, Godwin's law originally referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions. It is now applied to any threaded online discussion, such as Internet forums, chat rooms, and comment threads, as well as to speeches, articles, and other rhetoric where reductio ad Hitlerum occurs.

Recent Godwin Interview For Further Study

North House

By on

North House was renamed Pforzheimer in 1995, for donors.

If that's a good enough reason to change a name, why isn't "let's not name things after bigots?"


By on

North House was named "geographically"...

So...there would appear to be a stronger argument in favor of keeping that name rather than continuing to honor a racist. I'm not sure what point you're making here?


By on

The Turks actually did retain the Byzantine name for almost 500 years. The Ottomans never renamed their capital. The name was finally officially changed to Istanbul ('the city'), which had long been in widespread use, in 1930. by the Republic of Turkey.

I don't claim that this is a definitive argument for any particular position. It's a reminder, though, that names can remain perfectly serviceable long after they have lost their original association.

Why did Constantinople get the works?

By on

It had been Istanbul informally for so long that it's not clear whether the name comes from "eis ten polis" (Greek: "to the city") or is merely a contraction of "Constantinopolis".

As for Czechia, it's not the same country as Czechoslovakia, which was a union between the former kingdom of Bohemia ("Czechy"), ruled by Austria, and the Slovak lands of the former Hungarian kingdom (the king of Bohemia, the king of Hungary, and the emperor of Austria were all the same person). Slovakia seceded from Czechoslovakia in 1993, leaving just the Czech Republic/Czechia.

If I know Harvard, as soon as a sufficiently large donation is received, Lowell House will become Google House or Amazon House.

Renaming Houses

By on

As long as we're renaming houses, why not honoring the hard-working students who stay up late every night, enabled by the invigoration of [....wait... let's hear it....] Maxwell House.

Or if you insist on the theme of honoring prolific benefactors, not Google House or Amazon House, but Harvard's own Zuckerberg House.

When do they remove the

By on

When do they remove the portraits of those who supported banning women from Harvard?

That's not as long ago.
Is there a waiting period?


The Lowells

By on

Weren't big fans of the Irish either not that matters in the world of political correctness.


Let the name stay

By on

America's past is what it is. We all know about it. No point in trying to act like it didn't happen. Instead use it as a teaching moment going forward. For what it's worth I also didn't think they should remove the confederate statues either.



By on

If I were one or more of the things this old dickweed hated, I'd be proud to stay in a place named after him. It would be like sticking a finger in his eye every time I used the bathroom or went to bed.

It's like not flushing when you're at Yankee Stadium.


How does that work?

By on

Instead use it as a teaching moment going forward.

How exactly does that happen when a horrible person is memorialized? Do we throw shit at the memorial?


Here's one way to teach

By on

Imagine a conversation like this-

Student A- Boy, I love attending a school like Harvard. It is so progressive. So open.
Student B- Really?
A- Yup.
B- Well, you know about President Lowell, right?
A- Who?
B- The guy who Lowell House is named after. He was in charge of Harvard in the early 20th Century.
A- I don't really know much about him.
B- Lowell was a real piece of shit. He tried to keep black people and gays out, and he instituted a quota for Jews.
A- I guess Harvard isn't the paradise I thought it was.

While it would be great if Harvard was the open, progressive place people think it is, it is good to have the unfortunate side of history. Erase Lowell and you erase a manifestation that Harvard did those things. I feel the same way about Confederate statutes, or as I call them, loser statutes. They exist as a memory of the time that the South decided to fight a war about slavery- and lost! If they want the constant reminder of how their ancestors fucked up, so be it.


I feel the same way about

By on

I feel the same way about Confederate statutes

A majority of the statues were put up in the Jim Crow (and later Civil Rights) era. Your argument would make more sense had they put of these statues right after the war, but most of these were put up specifically to intimidate black people while politicians were passing Jim Crow laws and later to intimidate black people during the civil rights movement.

The people who put up (and still support) these confederate statues don't care that the south lost. What they care about is being part of a racial group that deemed themselves to be superior.

Yeah cause Germans totally aren't taught about Nazis/Hitler

Nope, all those manifestations of things the Nazi's and Hitler did were erased when all the monuments and such were demolished. Yup, I remember seeing all the demo'd parts of various buildings in Berlin where the Swastikas used to sit and many residents wondered aloud "gee, what was that all about?"

And its super adorable that you think the Confederate statues are just relics to some losers ancestors and not a purposeful, concerted manifestation of Jim Crow-era scare tactics by the Daughters of the Confederacy and other groups meant to terrorize the black community.

Seriously, why is this idiocy parroted around as an intellectually honest argument?


It's possible...

By on

...despite all the information that has been shared about this, that Waquoit actually does not know that those Confederate monuments were not erected in 1865.

They ARE "loser monuments" in a sense, Waquoit, but they represent a lot more than pathetic moping over the treason of one's ancestors, and they're far from harmless.


Awww someone doesn't like history lessons

"Although deliberately framed as if it were a law of nature or of mathematics," Godwin wrote, "its purpose has always been rhetorical and pedagogical: I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler to think a bit harder about the Holocaust."

And hear I was hoping it would spark a light bulb and make you think a bit harder about the historical details of those Confederate statues that you happened to conjured up.

If you think I was being insincere about the comparison, I can't really help you.


By on

Your issue is with those things I referred to as "loser statues?"

Are you saying that they are not loser statues?

The issue is that you seem to

The issue is that you seem to think that Confederate war statues "...exist as a memory of the time that the South decided to fight a war about slavery- and lost!"

You should probably try to do some reading about the real reason those statues exist. It might give you some insight into why people want to remove them.

Did I stutter?

a purposeful, concerted manifestation of Jim Crow-era scare tactics by the Daughters of the Confederacy and other groups meant to terrorize the black community.

Just take the L.



By on

Hitler explicitly modeled his racial codes off Jim Crow and his genocidal policies of US slavery and indigenous genocide.

Once again intentionally missing the point

Yeah sure you ain't gonna defend the Confederacy but you sure as hell keep beating around the bush about what those statues truly symbolize.

This was never about CSA or Nazi Germany, this continues to show that you are intellectually dishonest.

If I'm missing your point

By on

You are definitely missing mine. Not my original point, which was admittedly a weak argument, but everything after you decided to compare the Confederacy to the Third Reich.


By on

you decided to compare the Confederacy to the Third Reich.

They didn't.

You're original point was grossly misinformed

And despite being spoon fed the history of those statues, you still don't get it.

Getting rid of those statues will erase the historical lessons to learn about the Confederacy in the same way that removing Nazi monuments erased the historical lessons to learn about facism and Nazi Germany. Which it didn't.

Or maybe you're being willfully ignorant to save face or troll. Either way its pretty pathetic at this point.

It's not that I didn't get the point

By on

My point as always being that making the Nazi reference is laziness.

Lowell was not reviled upon his death. The South (well, the white South) was made to suffer at the end of the Civil War and had to figure out how to honor family who served and died. The more appropriate point of reference would be how Germans handled commemorating the War to End All Wars. But you went all Nazi on this. In the end, you took my weak analogy and made an equally weak response.

Also, I find the "history of those statues" a bit revisionist, which ironically is what the statues do themselves.

Nah you had garbage point that you doubled down on

For the third time, those statues were not to honor the family of those who served, they are well documented manifestations of Jim Crow-era white supremacy.

So now you're crying fake news or whatever and moving the goal posts because you don't like the narrative. So brave.

The lack of self-awareness here is palpable.

Talk about almost self-aware wolves

For the fourth time, those statues were not to honor the family of those who served, they are well documented manifestations of Jim Crow-era white supremacy.

Therefore they have no reason to be preserved despite your naive fears that it'll erase the lessons learned. Because as is shown in the example that seemed to trigger you, people in Germany still getthe lessons learned from that era, despite Nazi symbolism being torn down.

Oh also as others have pointed out to you in this thread, Hitler took many ideas from Jim Crow-era white supremacists.

Hitler also assisted in the development the VW Bug

By on

And once again, invoking Hitler does not further the discussion. Opposition to the loser statues can be easily mounted without going to the n-th degree, which is the invocation of Hitler. Others have done it (did you notice how I didn't reply to any of them), but you just couldn't do it.

holy shit dude

By on

They're not "invoking hitler." They're using an example of a place with a terrible history that has since learned how to teach about their own history while taking down pieces and symbols of that society in public areas.

For some reason, you're reading "Hitler" and "Germany" and automatically accusing them of something that they are not, in fact, doing. Slow down and read through what they're saying. Or just, you know, give it a fucking rest for once.

I swear, this is my last word on the issue

By on

The point is that that whole period in Germany is a bit exceptional. The Germans had a very good reason to banish the symbols of the movement that lead to so much death and destruction. To be honest, I am a bit worried that come, say, 2033 or 2039, the desire to put all of that behind them might come back to haunt them.

Honoring Lowell (which was the point of the discussion) or removing vestiges of him from view at the World's Best University is much different, and though some might have trouble with this, so is the issue of Confederate statues. The quick jump to Germany was unwarranted. Heck, I have already admitted that my original argument (about Lowell) was on the weak side. It could have been picked apart, as could any argument about the loser statues, without going the direction Spin took it.

That it has become too easy to give the comparison to the Third Reich really detracts from the evils they perpetrated. At that was my point (I mean, on the comparison, not on the value of having a building named after Lowell. Somehow we moved away from that.)

statues and names honoring people aren't the past

By on

Statues and names honoring people aren't the past. They are the way we chose to remember it. In the case of confederate statues mostly erected during the second and third iterations of the KKK with the explicit goal or rewriting history to cover up the crimes of white supremacy and turn villains into heroes. I'd agree valorizing white supremacists is deeply American, and continuing to do so is fulfilling their legacy. Thats the problem.

Still waiting for everything

By on

Still waiting for everything named after notorious racist and segregationist Woodrow Wilson to be renamed.


He of the anti union atrocities like the Ludlow Massacre and massive uses of troops to keep starving people in line.

So Drew Faust, Larry Bacow, and William Fitzsimmons and all...

By on

...don't get to have their portraits up either, on account of being on record defending their Asian quotas in court not but last year?

Abbott Lawrence Lowell, who banned black students from Harvard Yard residences, instituted a quota for Jews and led a purge of gay students.

It amazes me how a country where Orwell's 1984 is standard reading during high school or college, where Martin Luther King's speeches are quoted at every opportunity, and where the saying "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" is ingrained in the culture as a cliche...can still have people in prominent positions proceed to publicly and prolifically...throw stones in their glass houses.


When will they change the name of Harvard with its awful past?

By on

Harvard was the first institution of higher learning in America, founded in 1636. Slavery and the slave economy thread through the first 150 years of its history. Slaves made beds and meals for Harvard presidents. The sons of wealthy Southern plantation owners became prominent men on campus. And many of the school's major donors in its first centuries made their fortunes in industries either based on, or connected to, slavery.

Under today's standards, the name Harvard should be removed from the college immediately. Although Harvard still attempts to keep most of its despicable, slave-related history under wraps, those who have researched it find it chilling. It's long past time for the Harvard name to go.

Of course, that's a bridge too far as it might endanger the economic prospects of the Harvard community who have profited on the name and on the backs of slaves for 382 years. Let's limit the feel-good name changing to an obscure lunch room and not anything that might hurt the organization. Really shameless.

It is easy

The process is known as REBRANDING.

Just change it to a value neutral, greekish or latinish or ubuntish sounding not real word and disseminate and promote it.

Heck, just use a pinyin character representing truth. That will work.

Two points

By on

1. You don't get to say what I think, and...
2.'s lbb, you dimbulb.

Also, damn but you're whiny.

Your message would carry more

By on

Your message would carry more weight if it weren't attached to an insult. Maybe you should take a long hard look in the mirror.

Changing the name does not change the history

By on

Moreover, John Harvard, after whom the university is named, did nothing more than die soon after landing in Massachusetts, leaving a small library and 400 pounds to the new college he had heard was being set up in Cambridge.

Technically, Lowell House is

By on

Technically, Lowell House is named for the entire Lowell family.

However, the ironwork in the entrance gate has the letters "A L L" -- President Lowell's initials.

One of the great ironies...

...of A.L. Lowell’s gay purge was that his sister, the poet Amy Lowell lived with another woman, who inspired her love poems, smoked cigars and otherwise didn’t give a fig for established gender roles.

I think it is also worthwhile to note that Lowell’s Jewish quota and residential policy for blacks were only proposals and eventually rejected by the Board of Overseers. However, Lowell found a work-around which, in effect, enabled the quota to be implemented, more than halving the percentage of Jews in the entering class from a high of 28% to 10% by the time he stepped down as president.

I would suggest as well, that anyone interested do a little googling. You’ll discover that in other aspects he was remarkably progressive. However, like his fellow college president, Woodrow Wilson, he was not immune to the prejudices of his time or class.


That workaround being: legacy

By on

That workaround being: legacy admissions.

Lowell came up with the idea for the express purpose of excluding Jews.

Many of the Jews excluded from Harvard went to MIT instead. MIT used to be a lot more Jewish than it is now. The trend reversed again once Harvard and the other Ivies eased up on their Jewish quota.

Lowell House

By on

They could just rename it after Amy Lowell, and all would be well. Though I would prefer Robert Lowell, myself.

More of this please

By on

More of this type of display. I read the article above.. and I agree 100%. Use it to teach a lesson and learn WHY these types of statues, displays, from yesteryear are horribly wrong. Doing it that way may help people abandon old stereotypes and beliefs if it is presented to them in a corrected format such as the diorama.


White influence is declining

By on

Due to a number of reasons including hubris, self-loathing, and fertility, the era of white-dominant institutions is coming to an end. Which demographic will fill the vacuum? The East Asians have long been poised to make a run at political power but have yet to show up.

Will we have a bunch of competing tribes, a new dominant tribe, or will the whites develop some sort of system to align interests and consolidate power?

Hybridization and mixing

I hope that the American future is an intermixture and intermarriage of all of these groups (E Pluribus Unum), rather than the tribalism you are describing.

Some mixing but more division

By on

There will be mixing as there is now but future division could be based on differences that we don't even pay attention to now. Look at the stark differences and rivalries among the people of India which everybody here pretty much ignores and is like "ummm, they're like Asian or something."

Maybe a better example is the Visigoths of Germany who were at war with everyone, even their distant relatives. The point is that people with a lot in common will find differences and divide up accordingly, jockeying for power until someone comes along to dominate.

Now if you can get these groups to join up to overthrow an existing power or fight off a foreign one, that can work.

I share your hope, but I also recognize human nature

By on

The thing you're describing is a form of American exceptionalism, whether you mean to use that term or not.

The mixing of cultures and peoples with origins from all over the globe, depends entirely on the continued, deliberate, and conscious repression of the tribal instinct. It is something only possible in settler societies where the settlers outnumber the natives and no one ethnic group has enough numbers to revert to its old-world ways of old-world grievances and generations-long blood feuds.

America in the colonial days was like that. To modern eyes it was bunch of white guys, but back then, it was a patchwork of Catholics, various warring shades of Protestants, Germans, Swedes, Dutch, English, Scots, Irish, Welsh, all the sorts of distinctions that many of us here are blind to, but that mattered a whole hell of a lot back then. Still do now, just over there, not over here. That's why they've got national borders separating Dutch from Germans and Irish from English.

The secular system of government, and the principles of rule of law, equality under law, and viewpoint-neutral law itself, that came out of that, came out of necessity. Better to spread out, pretend to like each other, and structure your system of government around everyone leaving everyone else the fuck alone than to try to fight the same battles that had, and continue, to tear the old world into pieces.

Civilization is a fragile thing, and what we've had going here was and is pretty special. Best not to try to burn it all down in a fit of solipsism and race-baiting and grievance mongering. What comes out of the ashes might not be to anyone's liking.

Put another way:
Repress the urge to take offense at the deeds of dead men. Our country depends on it.

A Toast

By on

"And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod.
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God."
-John Collins Bossidy
A toast given at Holy Cross College alumni dinner in 1910

Don't erase Lowell's name

Yes, A. Lawrence Lowell did all of the bad things mentioned in this post. However, he also started the Harvard Extension School, which has subsequently benefited many Jews (including me), African-Americans, and other people whom Lowell tried to keep out of the College.