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Caltech and Robert Millikan’s eugenical heritage

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Caltech and Robert Millikan's eugenical heritage

For a list of institutions that increasingly face their racist past calculations, add the California Institute of Technology.

A petition calling for the removal of the name Robert A. Millikan from buildings, programs and open spaces on the Pasadena campus has collected 862 signatures since June 28, according to its originator, Michael Chwe, who received an economics degree from Caltech in 1985 and is now a professor political science at UCLA. The signatories included 51 faculty members and 448 alumni.

The organizers aim to force Caltech to recognize Millikan’s role in openly promoting racist eugenics doctrine and the policy of forced sterilization and segregation in schools and housing.

Robert Millikan is the patron saint of Caltech.

Michael Chwe, sponsor of the petition to remove the name Millikan from the Caltech campus

“He is not a small player, but an important operative in this campaign,” said Anthony M. Platt, a scholar at UC Berkeley who has studied Millikan’s role as leader of the Human Betterment Foundation, a group of wealthy and Californian people who have eugenics advocacy and sterilization forcibly influenced Nazi policies in the 1930s and 1940s.

The goals of this petition can result in an appalling reassessment of Caltech’s self-image. Some historical figures occupy a respected status such as Millikan at Caltech. He is usually given credit to start the conversion of the provincial Throop University into a global research center as it is today.

However, other similar figures who have been similar or are being removed by their institutions. Perhaps the most prominent is removal by Princeton name Woodrow Wilson from his residential college and public policy school. That’s in late recognition Wilson’s racism is uncompromising as president of Princeton, where he refused to accept black students, and as president of the U.S., when he reorganized federal civil services that had become integrated.

Caltech carefully noted the movement to erase Millikan’s name. “We take seriously the concerns raised by members of our community about this issue,” Shayna Chabner, head of university communications, told me via email.

Among the steps is to “form a task force representing the Caltech community – including trustees, alumni, students, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and staff – to study and advise on Caltech’s policy to name buildings on campus: then, now, and in the future “

Universities also have promises to publish more detailed data about the diversity of teaching staff, staff, and students, conducting a “campus climate survey” to gather the personal experiences of Caltech students and to provide unbiased training on campus search committees.

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This seems to be a response to the June 25 statement by Caltech’s Black Scientist and Engineer stated that the lack of racial diversity permeated the campus. Of the 1,299 graduate students at Caltech, the group said, only 11 were black.

Millikan was Caltech’s first Nobel laureate – in physics in 1923, for setting the elementary electron charge – and served as its president (technically chairman of the executive board) for 24 years, longer than anyone else.

His name adorns buildings, rooms, and spaces across the campus; the nose on his chest overlooking the campus footpath had been worn on the bronze luster by generations of students who rubbed it for luck before taking their exams.

During his reign at Caltech, from 1921 to 1945, Millikan was one of the most famous and most respected scientists in the country. At the same time, he helped direct the Human Betterment Foundation, which tarnished the legacy that goes far beyond Caltech – the name Millikan graced the streets and public schools throughout Southland.

The Human Betterment Foundation is the brainchild of Ezra S. Gosney, who had settled in Pasadena with wealth from agriculture and real estate and founded the organization in 1929. Membership of this group guarantees wide influence.

That includes Rufus von KleinSmid, then USC president Lewis Terman, a Stanford psychologist who pioneered IQ studies, and Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

(The petition also calls for the renaming of Caltech’s Gosney Research Fund and Harry Chandler Dining Hall, among other facilities.)

Under Chandler’s leadership, according to Alexandra Minna Stern, a eugenics historian, from 1935 to 1941, The Times published a weekly column titled “Social Eugenics” by Fred Hogue, a eugenics fan. Become one Column 1936 Hogue praised “movements in Germany and other Nordic European countries for the elimination of improper reproduction.”

Millikan was not a charter member of the Human Betterment Foundation, but joined the council in 1937. His views on race and women are no secret – indeed, they were released by Caltech faculty member David Goodstein in the 2001 defense of Millikan against old accusations of academic fraud as “typical at the time from a man who grew up and has a background. “

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Goodstein acknowledged that Millikan in 1936 advised Duke University not to hire a female physics professor because there were no prominent female physicists in the US.

Writing his wife from Germany around the same time, he described the physicist Paul Ehrenfest as “a Polish or Hungarian Jew” who was “well-mannered and his attitude a little Hebrew (unfortunately) and to be fair, maybe I should say also that he is open-minded friendly , incredibly fast perceptions, and an atmosphere of universal interest are also characteristic of his race. ”

Eugenics is said to cover the world in the 1920s and 1930s. His American manifestation, according to Platt, is a dangerous right wing, which aims not only to promote procreation among the visible elite – that is, rich and white – but the suppression of procreation by groups that are considered undesirable.

The idea reached as high as the US Supreme Court and the famous 1927 ruling by Oliver Wendell Holmes in the case Buck vs. Bell, where Holmes upholds Virginia’s forced sterilization law by referring to Buck’s family, who are black, as a den of “degenerate offspring” and states, “Three generations of fools are enough.” In fact, Buck’s women have normal intelligence but are sterilized without their knowledge.

American Eugenicists found the same cause as the Nazi regime that emerged in Germany. In a 1934 articlePaul Popenoe, a lead researcher for the Human Betterment Foundation, salutes Adolf Hitler and the Nazis for their determination to achieve “national regeneration” by applying “biological principles to human society.”

Popenoe freely quotes from Hitler “Mein Kampf,” including his warning that “to prevent disabled people from producing offspring of the same defect, is an act dictated by the light of the clearest reason …. the most humane act of man.”

Popenoe reproduced the Nazi sterilization law as a whole and observed that while the law “could be considered better than the sterilization law in most American states, success … depends on a conservative, sympathetic, and intelligent administration. Apparently the Nazis did their best to prevent criticism of this score. ”

The Human Betterment Foundation only distinguishes good things from forced sterilization in California.

(Library of Congress)

Throughout the 1930s, Stern discovered, “California and German eugenicists exchanged ideas … and praised each other for increasing the sterilization program.” California, indeed, is a leader in the American sterilization movement.

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The forced sterilization law, which came into force in 1909, was one of the first in the country, and in 1938 more than 12,000 accidental sterilizers accounted for nearly half of everything in the entire country. In 1979, when state law was repealed, around 20,000 sterilizers have been done.

Platt Notes: “Nazi racial scientists were eager to find supporters and supporters in the US, and the foundation was pleased that they received praise from Western European countries.”

During Millikan’s tenure at Caltech, Platt reported, there was a quota that allowed for the appointment of only one full-time Jewish faculty member per year.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Millikan oversaw the acquisition of the archive of the Better Human Foundation and its financial assets for Caltech after Gosney’s death in 1942. Requirements accepted by Caltech calling for income from the Gost Research Fund produced by Caltech to “be devoted forever to the promotion of research to a biological base of human quality.”

The names of Human Betterment Foundation members and management have been moved to the trash by their institution. USC last month removed the name and statue of Von KleinSmid from a central building on the downtown Los Angeles campus.

The Palo Alto school district has chosen to take the name Terman from high school. The Pasadena Polytechnic School has erased the name Gosney from a hall named after him, and his Unitarian Unitarian Universalarian Church, which was founded with Millikan, last year erased his name from a room in his building.

Is Caltech able to face the past from its respected figure? The action might be inevitable, but it might not be easy.

“Robert Millikan is Caltech’s patron saint,” Chwe acknowledged, although he said that younger faculty members and students seemed to invest less in continuing to respect him than others.

Platt argues that Millikan’s review and institutional links to the eugenics movement have long been delayed. It lost its chance to do so in 1942, “when they took over the papers of the Human Betterment Foundation without questioning what it meant.”

Even after World War II, when the consequences of the embrace of Nazi eugenics were known, “there was no reflection at Caltech about what Millikan had followed.” That time may have arrived.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets Ptix.bm For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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CRISTANO RONALDO CAN MAKE UP A GIANT IN CARIOCA AND PORTUGUESE TECHNICIAN SAYS ‘There will be room’

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CRISTANO RONALDO CAN MAKE UP A GIANT IN CARIOCA AND PORTUGUESE TECHNICIAN SAYS 'There will be room'

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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