Further Information: Laura Wagner and Francis Neff are the senators for the College of the Environment at Western and are working hard to get students involved with the Huxley College of the Environment name change
If we erase the names of everyone we consider barbaric from centuries ago, there will be no one left. No building or institution will be named for anyone who lived more than 50 years ago. I am old enough to have known people born in the 19th century. World War I veterans. The daughter of slave holders, and the daughter of slaves. I lived in Japan and read and wrote in Japanese at a time when every middle aged person lived through World War II. They were bombed by the U.S. I lived near Hiroshima and knew people who were scarred by the bomb. Later I met Americans who worked on the bomb at Los Alamos, including the fellow who triggered the test. He worked on cold fusion. I knew Japanese ex-soldiers who fought Americans, and wished they had won, and Americans who fought Japanese. In short, I have seen the contradictions and moral ambiguity of life. And the futility and mindless cruelty of the past, and present. The atom bomb was, as Truman wrote in the margins of a book, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" (quoting Macbeth).
Anyone who thinks that we are now perfected moral paragons has a screw loose. Look at the environmental disasters we are causing for no good reason, to no one's benefit. Look at the millions of people who are starving and don't have clean water. We could provide them all with food, water, education, the internet and COVID vaccines for a pittance. For a tiny fraction of the military budget. We could do this at a profit! But we do not, mainly because we are stupid.
Of course human nature never changes, but the past was very different from the present. It is a foreign country, as distant from our experience as Tokugawa Japan. That is a truism, but you have to read history and speak with old people to grasp it. To force everyone in history into our present, narrow world view is folly.