Los Angeles Times op-ed: John Boalt's Primary Legacy Is a Racist Anti-Chinese Essay. Strip His Name From UC Berkeley Law Already:
The law school at UC Berkeley, after a yearlong review, has formally asked the chancellor to take the name “Boalt” off its building. The question remains, though, why John Henry Boalt’s name was ever affixed to University of California property in the first place.
A lawyer in late 19th century Oakland, Boalt’s primary legacy was a virulently racist essay that launched the campaign for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned immigration of Chinese laborers to the U.S. for more than 60 years. In “The Chinese Question,” Boalt allowed that the Chinese might be smarter than some native tribes and preferable to the “African Negro,” but “the Chinaman has brought to us and planted within our border all the vicious practices and evil tendencies of his home … .” He wrote that the “Caucasian and Mongolian” races were “separated by a remarkable divergence in intellectual character and disposition.” In Boalt’s view, the Chinese could not assimilate and the races should not associate with one another.
By contrast, UC Berkeley — and its law school in particular — were ahead of the curve on welcoming diversity. “From its inception, Berkeley Law, unlike many law schools of the period, was open to all qualified applicants, regardless of their gender, religion, or ethnicity,” brags the law school’s website.
I know it’s true. The university’s policies and practices helped students skirt the Chinese Exclusion Act that Boalt championed. My grandfather was one of them. ...
[T]his disgraceful saga still isn’t over. Because of the terms of the bequest, de-naming the Boalt professorships would require approval of the state attorney general, and to date no one officially has requested such a change. As for Boalt Hall, the campus Building Name Review Committee must now complete its own review before UC Chancellor Carol Christ and President Janet Napolitano will weigh in. The process could go on for months.
According to Charles Cannon, who chaired the law school’s review committee, “We are not talking about stripping the Boalt name out of existence but rather putting it in the proper historical context.” What possible “historical context” could justify even another day’s delay?
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage: