Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Tale of Two Names

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, or Virginia Tech, or VaTech, is a school which goes by many names.

As we decide how to how to remember the events of April 16, 2007 at the school, it seems to me that names will be very important.

Some names, such as that of Liviu Librescu, deserve to be remembered. Others, such as that of his killer, do not.


Norris Hall, VaTech
Librescu Teaching Hall
Even in his final act of heroism, Librescu taught us the value of personal courage and of sacrifice. His act, and the lives of those senselessly taken, need to be memorialized. Norris Hall, the building in which the major rampage occurred, should be central to that memorial.

I call on Virginia Tech to rededicate that place Librescu Teaching Hall.

The other name, that of his killer, should be struck from our memories. If you have posted it on your web site, remove it. Never mention it again. Let us excise it from history.

This is not denial, a frightful turning away from reality, nor an attempt to hide the cold brutality of the killer. No one should receive glory, even the glory of a three line obituary, for an act such as the one committed that Monday. His acts we can remember for the evil they were. His name deserves nothing.

It's unrealistic, of course to imagine that everyone would heed my little call, or even that those who do will agree that his name should not be mentioned. I certainly hold no ill feeling for those who wish to use his name. I, however, will not.

But I will continue to hold up the name of Liviu Librescu: holocaust survivor, scientist, teacher, and sacrificial hero.


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1 comment:

Patrick said...

"
The other name, that of his killer, should be struck from our memories. If you have posted it on your web site, remove it. Never mention it again. Let us excise it from history."

I don't think we should make a folk hero out of this guy, but that is a scary proposition, though wholly infeasible. The notion that we can brush things away as a culture, excise it from our collective memory, opens the door to perpetual ignorance and lack of growth. Glory is irrelevant, the real discussion should be about how we deal with alienated exponents on a society-wide basis.

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