San Francisco strikes a blow against Abraham Lincoln
In 1792, after abolishing the monarchy and shortly before beheading King Louis XVI, the revolutionaries made a clean break with the past. The first year of the Revolution, they said, was the Year One (AKA 1 Vendémiaire) so that only those dates of perfect revolutionary purity would count. San Franciscans are busy replicating that revolutionary fervor. The latest plan for Year 1 is to rename all schools with reactionary names — including Abraham Lincoln High School, named after a man with insufficient Black Lives Matter zeal.
I'm reasonably familiar with Abraham Lincoln High School, having grown up only five blocks away from it. Normally, that would have been my neighborhood high school, as it had been for generations of middle-class kids since 1940 when the school first opened.
Back then, naming the school after the president who willingly sundered the nation to end the enslavement of black people and paid for it with his life was considered the highest form of respect one could pay to racial equity in America. Charmingly, the school's first principal was a Mr. White.
Some well known people attended Lincoln in its heyday: John Burton (president of the California state Senate and a congressman), Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie), Einar Enevoldson (NASA test pilot), Vince Guaraldi (a Grammy-awarded jazz composer who wrote the music for the Peanuts specials), Mike Holmgren (onetime coach of the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers), Tony Serra (a famous radical attorney), Jeffrey Tambor (an actor remembered now for "MeToo"), and Laurence Tribe (a crazy man). All these people graduated before 1970.
By the mid-1970s, when I was getting ready to go to high school, busing had destroyed it. It was gang central and, academically, had gone from being a fine institution to being a school so bad that it no longer had college accreditation. This meant you couldn't go from Lincoln directly to a four-year college or university; you had to go via a junior college first.
Fortunately, I was able to go to Lowell High School, which was then one of the top high schools in America. Back then, students needed high grades to enter. They later changed it to grades and testing.
Lowell is another school that ran afoul of the leftists governing the school district. The problem for them is that it's always had small numbers of black and Hispanic students. When I was there, the school was at least 50% Asian. The school district later imposed a quota on Asians, which Asian activists fought for more than a decade to defeat. The Wuhan Flu, though, fulfilled another leftist wish list item by finally giving the school board the chance to destroy Lowell.
But what about Lincoln? It eventually dragged itself up into being a mediocre school, rather than a basket case. However, it apparently is still a drag on minorities because it's named after a toxic and divisive figure in American history: Abraham Lincoln.
What I just wrote is something you'd expect to see in a headline in Mississippi in 1952. Back in the day, the Jim Crow South did not look fondly on honest Abe.
Now, though, the hatred for Lincoln comes from the woke left. The main problem is that he was insufficiently sympathetic to the plight of Native Americans. On his watch, the Homestead Act allowed citizens to own land if they could last five years on it, while the Pacific Railway Act, which led to the transcontinental railway, damaged Native American habitation and culture.
Lincoln also relocated the Navajo tribes via a 450-mile forced march that saw 200 die. Lastly, when the Dakota tribe went to war against the Americans in 1862 and lost, Lincoln allowed 38 of them to be hanged. He commuted the sentences of 264 others. This, by the way, was at the same time that the Civil War was raging, with tens of thousands of men already dead.
However, according to Jeremiah Jeffries, a black first-grade teacher, Lincoln's fundamental sin was non-empathetic rhetoric. Thus, while Jeffries acknowledged that it was Lincoln's bad record with Native Americans that demanded his name be stricken from the school, there was so much more that was wrong:
Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building.
Notice the melding of Marxist language ("human capital" and "casualties of wealth building") and modern racial obsession (his rhetoric failed to show "that black lives ever mattered"). Lincoln's refusal to countenance human enslavement in America simply wasn't woke enough.
What's apparent in all this is that educating children is the least of the school district's concerns. Incidentally, given Jeffries's activism, don't be surprised if Lincoln High doesn't soon rejoice under the name Louis Farrakhan High. Anything can happen in Year 1.