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Remember those who suffered intolerance

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Regarding the current problem of naming a park after an avowed racist who didn’t even live in Auburn, it’s embarrassing when outsiders learn of the quandary and shame us into making sensible decisions. The 9/13/09 letter from a Canadian citizen simply suggests that Auburnites take charge and offer alternatives to local authorities who claim to be stumped. Here’s an idea: Name the park after William Shockley, but bill it as a memorial park to those who have suffered from intolerance. Slap a plaque on a big rock and describe how some, like Shockley, conducted numerous futile studies trying to prove racial differences in intelligence, only to have mainstream science show that the minor discrepancies in IQ tests were attributable to cultural bias in the tests themselves. Describe how this type of thinking was used to exterminate millions in concentration camps under Hitler, subjugate Native Americans here, and deny basic rights to African Americans. End on a positive note, describing how the Civil Rights Movement and great leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. helped reverse the tide of racism and intolerance in our country in which an African American was eventually elected president only a half century later. Point out that even otherwise smart people (Shockley won a Nobel Prize) sometimes have screwy ideas, and they might still try to revive them, to wit the panic in ’09 over Obama’s address to students by a small group of paranoids, like Shockley was. William Shockley and the like: RIP, and thanks for the park. Jim Beall, Sr., Auburn