Massachusetts Daily Collegian

General Joseph Hooker, war hero and famous Hadley resident, under attack

Efforts to change the State House entrance named in his honor are misguided

ctj71081/ Flickr

ctj71081/ Flickr

By Aidan Byrne, Collegian columnist

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If you’ve ever been to the Massachusetts State House in Boston, chances are you walked past or entered through the “General Hooker Entrance,” which is located on the Boston Common side of the building. The entrance is named after Hadley’s own General Joseph Hooker, a major general for the Union during the Civil War. Widely known for his aggressive fighting style, General “Fighting Joe” Hooker was an inspirational leader to the men he led during the Civil War. He achieved numerous accomplishments during his time leading the Army of the Potomac, and was famously quoted as saying “May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none.” He was an American war hero and also one of Western Massachusetts’ most famous residents, born and raised in a house that is only a 10-minute drive from the University of Massachusetts campus. All of these factors were great reasons why Massachusetts erected a statue of him in front of the State House in 1903 and named the Beacon Street entrance in his honor.

It’s no surprise that the “General Hooker Entrance” has been seen as comical to some. Yet, despite its unfortunate sounding name, there hasn’t been a huge uproar over the name until recently. State Representative Michelle DuBois (D-Brockton), has made it her mission to get the name of the entrance changed to something more appropriate sounding. In a tweet to her followers Rep. Dubois stated, “R U a ‘General Hooker’? Of course not! Yet the main entrance of the Mass State House says otherwise. #Metoo it’s not all about rape & harassment but also women’s dignity  A ‘funny’ double entendres misrepresented as respect for a long dead general?” Rep. Dubois also later told reporters that female staffers find the entrance name so offensive that they refuse to use it.

With some politicians spending their time on trivial matters such as this, it’s a wonder the Commonwealth gets anything done at all. You would think that the constituents of Brockton, West Bridgewater and East Bridgewater would have more pressing matters for their state representative to handle than renaming State House entrances. Last time I checked, the South Shore is in the midst of a terrible opioid crisis worthy of state officials’ attentions. Maybe we would should rename it the “Rep. DuBois Entrance” and just get on with the matter. In my opinion, connecting this so-called issue to the #MeToo movement is actually damaging to the movement as a whole. The representative is right;  #MeToo is about rape, harassment and women’s dignity. However, changing the name of the entrance doesn’t relate to any of these subjects. “Hooker” is just a name. No one is being harmed or should feel like they are being harmed; if anyone is offended by the name then it’s their problem, not the Commonwealth’s. #MeToo is about serious problems in our society, and when people like Rep. DuBois use the term for their own small publicity stunts, it blurs what the movement actually stands for. Not to mention, far-right conservatives will use this case as just another reason to ignore #MeToo and view it as “liberal noise.”

If it comes out that General Hooker was a racist or did something legitimately inappropriate or horrible, the Commonwealth should change the sign. I’m a big proponent of taking down statues and memorials to Confederate leaders or prominent bigots. However, a handful of people being offended over a Union General’s name does not constitute a good reason to alter his legacy or change the multiple signs and maps around the Statehouse.

If Rep. DuBois feels so strongly about the issue, she should resign and spend her own time and money working on this endeavor. Changing the “General Hooker Entrance” to the “General Joseph Hooker Entrance” is a fine idea, but if you’re going to spend money from the Commonwealth’s budget, use government employees to do the job and waste time getting the entire Massachusetts House of Representatives to agree on the matter, you shouldn’t be in politics.

Aidan Byrne is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

2 Comments

2 Responses to “General Joseph Hooker, war hero and famous Hadley resident, under attack”

  1. John aimo on March 27th, 2018 3:33 am

    I am just going to be a rebel here and point that the author of this columnist based on a twitter search appears to be a.. white man.

    That automatically disqualifies his opinion as he cannot understand the bigotry and racism and discrimination that women have faced and the hatred that the entrance holds and how the patriarchy has dominated history and that we need to make up for that by removing for the sake of improving our society and women’s self-esteem statues of men, signs of men, special entrances named after men.

    He only appears to agree to removing the sign and censoring the entrance if the guy is racist or ‘something inappropriate’. Well you need to expand your standard for tearing down history beyond confederacy and have it extend to EVERYTHING that is basically related to white men, white people, men, western civilization, civilization, or really anything in the world which was invented or made throughout the history of western civilization and contributions to the world because most of it was done by men and white european men.

    We all know those men are evil and stole and plundered and that the only reason minorities are worst off and third-world countries are third-world and women are raped are because of men.

  2. NITZAKHON on March 27th, 2018 9:32 am

    If you’re opposed to bigots, why are you a Democrat?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_a7dQXilCo

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