Your Views: Tread lightly when renaming streets

Your Views: Tread lightly when renaming streets
Alexandria City Hall. (Photo/Missy Schrott)

To the editor:

The Dec. 22, 2021, Wall Street Journal carried an editorial about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s behind-the-scenes efforts to discredit and marginalize the Great Barrington Declaration, a little known – perhaps due to the “hit” from the heads of health agencies – effort by three scientific experts, one each from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford, challenging the groupthink on how to appropriately address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of generalized shut-downs and mandates, the declaration advocated remedies targeted toward at-risk populations. Other health and scientific experts and the general public were invited to sign onto the declaration, and, a year later, 850,000 worldwide have done so, I among them.

This letter, however, is not about the Great Barrington Declaration, but about the effort to rename Columbus Street as “Fauci Street.” The libertarian think tank hosting the declaration filed a FOIA which revealed the CDC’s behind-the-scenes efforts to discredit and marginalize the declaration.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial criticizes this effort as an abuse of power and an attempt to politicize science by doing a pre-emptive strike on alternative hypotheses. Most readers likely agree with Fauci and not the Wall Street Journal, but my point is that alternative views can be raised which could cause some future generation to view Fauci more negatively than he is viewed today, much as Columbus is viewed today more ambivalently than in past generations when many Americans viewed him as heroic.

The challenge with naming any street after a historic figure is that each generation has its own interpretation. Because Fauci can come under criticism just like Columbus, we could constantly be renaming streets as historic figures come into and out of fashion with each passing generation.

This example shows why city hall should continue to honor its long-standing rule that a street should not be renamed until three-quarters of the street’s addresses petition. That is not to say that problematic street names should never be changed, but it is to say that a consensus among those most directly and immediately impacted by such a change should first be arrived at before such a change advances.

-Dino Drudi, Alexandria