Mayor Heidi Harmon’s comments are racist and sexist

July 26, 2019

Mayor Heidi Harmon

OPINION by T. KEITH GURNEE

In reiterating her comment that public art in San Luis Obispo should not include “monuments to old white men”, Mayor Heidi Harmon has completed a trifecta of identity politics invectives: in one sentence she made a statement that was ageist, racist, and sexist.

And not only did our SLO City Council tolerate her sentiments, it embraced them.

Rather than monuments to people, Heidi wants monuments that celebrate “ideas and ideals.” But the last time I looked, it’s people who have ideas and articulate ideals. Yes, people have flaws. Nobody is perfect, but sometimes imperfect people have great ideas and accomplish great things.

The project that spurred her remarks was the proposed sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt to be placed in Mitchell Park where he visited in 1903 after getting off the train and addressing the people of San Luis Obispo on his way to meet John Muir on a tour of Yosemite Valley. Now Teddy was not only a person with grand “ideas,” he had the unique ability to accomplish them.

What about the “idea” of establishing the National Park System? Right after reading Heidi’s latest remarks, I was watching the PBS presentation of the Ken Burns film “The National Parks: America’s Greatest Idea” that attributed the accomplishment of that “idea” to none other than Theodore Roosevelt?

What about the “idea” of an American president interceding into a war between two faraway foreign nations and negotiating a peaceful ending to the 1904-1905 Russo Japanese War for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906? He was the first American ever to receive such an award.

What about Roosevelt’s “ideas” of completing the “path between the seas” with the Panama Canal, his “trust busting” under the Sherman Antitrust Act, and his accomplishments in regulating safe food and drugs for the American public?

And Heidi, what about his founding of the original Progressive Party in 1912? Of course, that was the true Progressive Party, not the twisted one of today.

When the issue of public art returns to the SLO City Council, hopefully they will have the temerity and courage to admit their mistake and right their wrong.

Not only should they allow the statue of Teddy Roosevelt to proceed, they should also start the dialogue of erecting a statue to Maxine Lewis, a remarkable African-American woman who was a hero to our local poor and indigent from the 1960s into the 1980s.

As the founder of the local anti-poverty nonprofit organizations Grassroots and Grassroots II, she struggled to raise funds to feed, clothe, and serve the needs of the needy. My wife cooked the first of what became many Thanksgiving turkey dinners served by Maxine to the poor at the Grassroots office on South Higuera Street right next to Ben Franklin’s sandwich shop. What a proper place for a statue of that great lady!

But I digress. Lo and behold, right when I was sending this to CCN, up pops the blockbuster CCN article on the SLO Police Chief and her missing gun.

At a time when our law enforcement personnel needs more support than ever, is this what we do to support them?

Heidi’s intolerance of statues commemorating famous people is one thing But our mayor and council chooses to shelter a documented woman-beater on their staff while coddling the gun cover-up of their police chief?

The cover-up always gets them. And how’s that for one of Heidi’s great ideas?

Madam mayor and council members, get a grip. Do something. Take responsibility. When the time comes to reconsider your public art policy and the future of your police chief, please reverse your bad ideas.


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shelworth

You should know by now, in this day and age, that the only group who can be racist is white males. All other groups are immune to the charge of racism.


TKG

While I agree with your satire, old white men have become the new frontier and target rich environment for charges of racism by today’s brand of Progressives. Just listen to Ilan Omar!


ActaNonVerba

I’m not entirely sure that homosexual white males can ever considered racist by the dictates (no pun) of today’s PC society.


AmericaTheFree

Where the hell does homosexuality fit in with this conversation?

You’re relentless with your catholicism/religious based prejudice(s), aren’t you? Let me remind you that catholicism/religion has been marginalizing and attempting to eradicate anything and or anyone outside their belief system for centuries; a true example of prejudice (combined with malice intent).

Catholicism/religious is also sexist, not allowing women an equal voice in anything. Here, let me give you a very recent example: Voices of Faith conference 2018, which features prominent Catholic women from around the world, was boycotted by Pope Francis, he also declined to celebrate mass for those attending. The Vatican also took objection to the inclusion of a Ugandan woman who champions Lesbian and Gay Catholic rights in her country (where homosexuality is a crime), they also excluded Tina Beattie, an English Catholic professor of theology. When asked why a senior Vatican official, US cardinal Kevin Farrell, said it was “not appropriate” for the women to be taking part in the conference.

You, or the proto-christian church, have no place in a conversation about racism, sexism, bigotry, or any other form prejudice, as your past and present history is full of the chit!


tosmon

My dude, equality is the legacy of Christianity


AmericaTheFree

Yep! Equality is their game (deep, rich, exuberant sarcasm implied)! As you so eloquently portrayed in your narrative about “white christian men” being, how’d you say it, “the exclusive” authors of “liberalism, rationalism, equality, science etc.” (Europe or European, in the context you use it is code for “white folk”, right?).

Wow! I guess equality isn’t equally understood by all equally, right?


tosmon

If Heidi Harmon likes democracy and the ideas of the enlightenment: liberalism, rationalism, equality, science etc. then she should erect a statue to thank white Christian men. The ideas she defines herself with come exclusively from Christian Europe and no where else.


AmericaTheFree

I’m sorry but you’re wrong! “Liberalism, nationalism, equality, science, etc.” are not the exclusive ideas and practices of “white Christian men” or are they “exclusively from Christian Europe and no where else” and then just passed on to women and other cultures and peoples. It has roots elsewhere/everywhere that are not only ignored by white Christian men but deleted from history by the same. To suggest such nonsense is racist and sexist to the core.


tosmon

I said rationalism not nationalism, but your typo is actually correct, nationalism is also a legacy of enlightenment thought. I didn’t mention it because I doubt Harmon has a national bone in her body, she strikes me as more of a rootless cosmopolitan.


You make it seem like I am excluding women, i’m not. It’s that Heidi Harmon was specifically singling out white men and so I wanted to remind her that her ideology wouldn’t exist without white men. It is objective fact that no where else in the world developed concepts of democracy and individual liberty. Are you saying other places have a history of enlightenment ideals? Where? Africa, China, Arabia, Persia, Russia, where?


MrYan

Dude those concepts you refer, Democracy and individual freedom, came from the Greeks. At the time of Plato and Socrates. They worshipped Gods. Not even close to the time Christians showed up. Geesh.


If you actually embraced education you would have learned of the great accomplishments that came from each and everyone of those countries you’ve listed.


The only point you’ve manage to make is that you are woefully misinformed.


tosmon

Dude bro, I didn’t say democracy was an enlightenment value, only that it was a European value, but I understand how my comment could have been confusing. However, either way its interpreted my point is still valid. Also, the Greco-Roman concept of individual liberty is much different than what was envisioned by John Locke. I am quite educated thank you very much. I don’t agree with his “end of history” theory but Francis Fukuyama does good work explaining the uniquely European history of democracy. Give him a read or listen to his lectures on YouTube on this topic. The accomplishments of other societies are fine and well but we are discussing Heidi Harmons ideology, not Chinese Tianming or Baathist nationalism.

woefully yours, –tosmon


Rambunctious

If the city of SLO would pass a law stating students must vote in their home districts SLO wouldn’t be saddled with a mayor of this nature….the towns leadership is largely selected by people under 25…and so this is what you get….


MrYan

Residency is established when you sleep 4 out of 7 nights a week at a particular location. That’s it. Same for running for elected office.


Technically registration in their “home” districts would be illegal as they no longer meet the requirements of residency. They could be charged for perjury if they continue to do so. Read the voter registration form.


Put up a better candidate and you may get different results. Quit whining about citizens exercising their constitutional rights.


Working to disenfranchise legitimate voters is all the right has left.


MrYan

I guess you’ve never heard of al-Andalus , aka Córdoba Spain.?


A European city ruled by the Moors around 900-1200 AD. A city where Muslims, Christians, and Jews co-existed and thrived.


Achievements that advanced Islamic and Western science came from al-Andalus, including major advances in trigonometry (Geber), astronomy (Arzachel), surgery (Abulcasis), pharmacology (Avenzoar),[9] agronomy (Ibn Bassal and Abū l-Khayr al-Ishbīlī),[10] and other fields.


You are factually incorrect in your zeal to promote European white “culture”, and men’s place a top the heap.


While white men have contributed greatly to the advancement of society, your need to give exclusive credit to them belies the facts, and lends credence to those who would label such statements as; racist.


analyticone

Let’s hear from some women on this! Meanwhile, Heidi, get off your high horse. You rode to power claiming to be a protege of old white guy, Bernie Sanders. Take some time to study the original true progressives – they are truly inspirational, certainly more akin to Sanders ethically and effectively (as was Roosevelt) than you or your acolytes.


Pete

Well said.


ActaNonVerba

Harmon’s toxic comments “monuments to old white men” is a nasty example of racism, sexism and jeunism (bigotry aimed towards senior citizens.)


She is an embarrassment to the City of San Luis Obispo. Shame on her and those that voted for her.


Oh, and by the way Harmon, your judgement of anyone that challenges the lies you spew as being “misogynists” is ridiculous. Do you even know what the term means, or have you just been conditioned to use it as a weapon? Again, shame on you.


oldtimer

I was actually shocked, Teddy being a huge hero to me, over this issue. The man set the stage for sane Social Nationalism and Democracy, I Love my Teddy Bear. Guy was shot in the belly during a speech, trudged on, honored nature, busted up wealthy monopolies. Slo swamp used to be pretty, now a paved Babylon. BUT, we also use tax dollars to upkeep Hurst Castle, a giant sin palace that literally towered over tent cities during the depression, and that iconic photo from south county in Nat Geo during the depression, Citizen Kane anyone, Hurst was a disgusting Human in so many ways, and we Glorify his immortal sins, his frigging summer getaway of 20 other mansions! It’s a dicey thing in this day and age. One bad deed undoes many good ones, given the severity. Erevocable sins are set in stone. And not a dime a dozen. I would seek pleasure in the demolition of that castle for ethics, sell the art for tax payers sake, not millions to then pay to see that sin garbage. The Mayor is a mix of all this; social progression rooted in non biased classic corruption.


Pete

So right on Keith!!!!


How about a memorial to an old black woman, Heidi? I worked with Maxine Lewis in the early ’70s, what a gem she was. And Teddy, he did so many great things.

Shall we dismantle the tribute to the Chinese who built our railroads, take down the bronze statue (of men!) at the Jennifer St bridge? Or is that OK since we don’t know their names?


The rampage of our phony local so called progressives is damaging our town in many ways. Since I believe in that archaic and forgotten concept of representative democracy (the basis of our system) the antics of our local government sadly remind me of the national ‘authorities’. What folly, this latest childish rant from the fools on the hill.


Slosum

Well said Keith. The woman is a menace. This coming from a person of color. White.


But I apologize for it. Not.


I’m really tired of being called names and blamed for things that ultimately are the left’s doing. And this “woman” is among the worst of the offenders.


But she’s cute. And I do like her flower thingy.


MrYan

All the purposeful pearl clutching going on over art in the park.


Communication requires good faith effort by both parties to try understand the intent of the other.


If you insist in interpreting her comments as racist, then you purposefully ignore her intended point. Which is we have a lot of statues of; primarily men in which the vast majority are white.


Do we need more, or could other people like the ones you highlighted in your article be included in public displays? But then there would be those that would find this racist and claim reverse racism. I’m looking at you TKG.


So advocating for ideas over people should prevent tribal warfare over public art. Should is the operative word.


If you look for differences you will find them. If you look for common ground you will find that too. Try to find the truth in the other sides argument once in a while Keith.


Willful ignorance gets old.


Rambunctious

If SLO had a law that students must vote in their home district the city would be a much better place to live….