George Washington in our City Plaza
I found it interesting to read Greg Caput’s recent column about the current debate that our community is having about whether to remove the sculpture of George Washington from our City Plaza. This debate of removal appears to be in response to the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept our country.
Those who wish for removal point out that Washington had hundreds of slaves, equating him to a symbol of White Supremacy. Currently the City of Watsonville is seeking input from the community on this matter through a survey that is open until Sept. 30. You can go online to participate in the survey at www.survevmonkev.com/r/washingtonbust. I urge you to participate.
My view, which I have expressed in the survey, is that, yes, our Founding Father had slaves that, from a 2020 perspective, was terribly wrong. But I accept that in the mid- to late-1700s slavery was a common practice. Washington was not perfect, and he was part of the times. The action he took in his last will and testament shows his true nature. Upon his death he set free and provided for his slaves. I admire that about Washington, and I’d like to see his bust remain in our Plaza.
The sacrifices that he underwent to galvanize the colonies to fight British suppression fills me with pride, ever since I was a boy learning about it in elementary school. Along with many other of our leaders of those times, Washington helped create our Constitution. Today, 245 years later, this document still governs our country. Despite the conflict and polarization of our Congress, the Constitution’s form of rule is what is used to keep this wonderful country functioning in a just manner, as our founding fathers visualized.
I urge you to express your opinion to the City, whatever that may be. And, if the majority of the community wants George taken to the Buena Vista landfill, so be it. I just hope those folks realize that it was people like Washington who struggled so hard in the 1700s to give them the ability to express their views freely today—even for getting rid of his sculpture.
A third option could be to ask the City to add another plaque to the bust that tells a fuller story of Washington, including his flaws and his virtues. That way the sculpture becomes a history lesson, not a symbol of division.
Brandon Kett, Watsonville
The fault in our stars?
President Trump brought himself a wave of criticism recently by saying on the subject of global warming and its effect on wildfires: “Don’t worry…it will start cooling.” Problem is, it might not start cooling for ages. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains worldwide records of tree ring thickness, with their thickness indicating temperature cooling and warming variations over the centuries. Those variations have been used by scientists to estimate the age of ancient structures like the Mesa Verde ruins in New Mexico by the tree ring thickness variations in their construction timbers. I’ve read that variations in tree rings in the bodies of Stradivarius violins have also been used to confirm their age. On longer scales, variations in ice core samples from the Vostok station in Antarctica going down thousands of meters and around 750,000 years in time indicate 100,000-year cycles of warming and cooling periods, likely controlled by variations in Earth’s orbit and solar radiation, with Earth now entering its latest warming period which began about 11,000 years ago at the end of our last ice age.
Of course, the fact Vostok is a Russian station might dismiss its data as simply another example of Trump/Russian collusion, but astronomy also provides long term variations in the Earth’s orbit and tilt, known as Milankovitch Cycles, and also cycles in solar radiation which could be the main controlling factors in our climate. If so, perhaps we should reverse that quote from Mark Anthony in “Julius Caesar” to “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in ourselves, but in our stars.”
Steve Bankhead, Watsonville
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