A name is a name is a name – except in San Francisco

By Barbara Simpson

Is that really all a name is? If you are a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, it is way more than that. It is a reflection of the city and a reflection on the future of all the city represents.

No, that’s not gobbledygook – although coming from the City by the Bay, it’s not surprising.

The movement in San Francisco for name changes surfaced several months ago with objections to a mural in a local high school critics said depicted Native Americans in a negative way. Removal or destruction of the original art has not yet been decided, but the movement for change spread like wildfire.

Now, not only is there a citywide push to change school names, but San Francisco is railing at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his physician wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, for their large donation to San Francisco General Hospital. It is now called Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

The city and some of the hospital employees don’t like what Facebook posts and claim it misleads people and that the couple gained tax advantages by the donation. They are furious San Francisco General was renamed for the couple when they donated $75 million to the institution in 2015. They want the name returned to its original designation.

In fact, the Board of Supervisors voted this week, 10-1, for a resolution that condemned the renaming of the hospital and included a statement that any renaming in the future should be for organizations that align with the values of the city.

Supervisor Gordon Mar admits the city can’t strip the Zuckerberg name from the hospital, but he says he wants the resolution to “send a message” that San Francisco is not for sale.

Not everyone agrees. Dr. Susan Ehrlich, chief executive at the facility, told the local CBS outlet that “naming encourages additional philanthropy.” She said, the Zuckerberg/Chan donation “helped equip the hospital with state-of-the-art technology that benefits everyone. We are proud that the hospital now bears their names and disappointed in attempts to condemn it.”

She’s not the only one. Zuckerberg’s wife, Dr. Chan, says, “Mark and I are proud to support such an important public hospital.”

While the hospital dispute stirs things up locally, the growing uproar about school names continues, with demands to change the names of individual schools that over the years have been named for real, living and historic individuals. Sir Francis Drake? Change it. Senator Dianne Feinstein? Change it! Washington High School? Change it!

How about names like Jefferson or Lincoln or Roosevelt or Sloat or Edison or Mission or Lowell? It goes on and on. At this point, of the 125 schools in the city, there are 44 – elementary through high school – that are on the list of names that allegedly “need changing.” The schools have been asked to consider what change would be appropriate, though any votes on the matters would not take place until early next year. The 12-member panel that came up with the names was selected by the school superintendent.

Not everyone is in favor of such changes, especially since some of the rationales are thin. The Feinstein demand is because when now-Sen. Feinstein was San Francisco mayor in 1986, there was a display of flags in front of City Hall, which included a Confederate flag. Apparently, someone defaced that flag, and Mayor Feinstein had it replaced.

That was her sin.

Those who want to eliminate a school named for Thomas Edison say it’s because he supposedly euthanized some animals during his work.

There are those who supported the United States expansion on land once owned by Mexico and those accused of denigrating Native Americans.

All were “sinners” and must pay by having any public recognition of them eliminated.

There has been no real determination of the cost, although estimates are that if any of those changes do transpire, it would cost in the multi-thousands – money that is not in the budget. Yet the battle continues – and knowing San Francisco, it doesn’t look to go away any time soon, if at all.

The proponents of change say clear standards should be established for naming public institutions – “that reflect San Francisco’s values and commitment to affirming and upholding human rights, dignity, and social and racial justice.”

That’s San Francisco for you.

As for the Zuckerberg donation – the city had no compunction about accepting the money when they needed it.

As they always say, “Money talks.”

Follow Barbara Simpson on Facebook.

Content created by the WND News Center is available for re-publication without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].


Leave a Comment