Scrolling Headlines:

‘It’ has revitalized the modern monster movie -

September 21, 2017

UMass Republicans feel ostracized in political climate -

September 21, 2017

Irma hits Cuba, putting rain cloud over students’ study abroad plans -

September 21, 2017

UMass football travels to Tennessee for its first Power Five game of 2017 -

September 21, 2017

UMass women’s soccer looks ahead to Thursday matchup with Davidson -

September 21, 2017

Perussault and the Minutewomen are ready for the start of A-10 play -

September 21, 2017

Behind the “Hate has no home at UMass” campaign -

September 21, 2017

A-10 field hockey notebook: VCU, St. Joseph’s, and Lock Haven dominate -

September 21, 2017

Video games as art -

September 21, 2017

A-10 men’s soccer notebook: Davidson falls to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg -

September 21, 2017

Glazed and confused: what youth should know about vaping -

September 21, 2017

Trust the professors, and trust the system -

September 21, 2017

Beauty that exists all around you and how to notice it -

September 21, 2017

Student death reported to the University Sept. 19 -

September 20, 2017

Domestic violence and experience of Muslim women lecture kicks off seminar series -

September 20, 2017

Students demand bathroom accountability -

September 20, 2017

Small trashcan fire broke out in Kennedy Hall -

September 20, 2017

Immigration policy discussed in public teach-in -

September 20, 2017

Massachusetts men’s soccer ties Central Connecticut State in double overtime -

September 20, 2017

Atlantic 10 Women’s Soccer Notebook: Saint Louis Billikens off to hottest start among A-10 teams -

September 20, 2017

Point: If memorials to the Confederacy should be torn down, so should the Amherst name

(Collegian File Photo)

“Could it not be contrived to send the small pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them.”

In the 18th century, Jeffrey Amherst wrote the preceding question to Colonel Henry Bouquet, a fellow officer in the British army. His letters go on to specifically call for the use of biological warfare. He referred to natives as “an execrable race” and agreed in principle with the use of dogs to hunt them down.

While Amherst served as Commander in Chief of British troops in North America, he supported giving Native Americans blankets embedded with the smallpox virus and the use of any other tactic to “extirpate” the race.

The supremacist ideals that Lord Amherst embodied are more commonly associated with slavery, Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan, but northerners must accept that white supremacy isn’t exclusive to the South and hasn’t only targeted African Americans. Every day that I live in Amherst, I am complicit in subconsciously revering a potential war-criminal who condoned treating Native Americans like animals. If our ancestors were too blind to see Jeffrey Amherst for whom he was, and chose to name a town after him, fine. They have to live with their legacy. But in the 21st century, there is no reason that we cannot disown Lord Amherst’s atrocious record. It’s time to disassociate this incredible town from a supporter of biological warfare.

On September 5, Dallas, Texas voted to remove its statue honoring Robert E. Lee. Another Lee statue was removed from Duke University on August 19 and dozens of monuments to other confederates have been torn down over the past year, as they should be. Viral campaigns like #notyourmascot by the National Congress of American Indians and other groups have called for the removal of appropriative mascots such as the Washington Redskins. These noble steps toward vilifying racism should be commended. However, efforts to rename Amherst have so far been unsuccessful.

How can we ask Texans and North Carolinians to take down appalling monuments to the past if we won’t do it ourselves? Yes, the costs to taxpayers and to small businesses would temporarily pose an obstacle to the renaming of Amherst, but supporters of so-called “confederate pride” can make administrative and economic arguments against tearing down statues and renaming streets as well. What does echoing white supremacists say about the legitimacy of our refusal?

William Bowen, the vocal proponent for the change, may have suggested confusing replacement names or used inflammatory rhetoric regarding Nazis—but these distractions don’t excuse what Lord Amherst stood for.

It won’t be easy or free to do the right thing; it usually isn’t. It would certainly entail choosing a name that not everyone agrees on. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the new name is or who is leading the charge against Amherst’s disgusting legacy. This town couldn’t possibly do worse than continuing to revere a man so antithetical to our values, while simultaneously calling for southern communities to make the hard choices that we refuse to.

William Keve is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at wkeve@umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Point: If memorials to the Confederacy should be torn down, so should the Amherst name”
  1. Nitzakhon says:

    If we’re talking about monuments to historic horrors and tearing things down, let’s tear down the ZooMass Department of Economics, which is definitely Marxist – one of the worst killers of people in modern history.

Leave A Comment