Keep the Gandhi statue at Fresno State

Keep the Gandhi statue at Fresno State

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David Richardson started this petition to CSUF and

As a former Fresno State student thirty years ago, I was there when the Peace Garden was created and the busts of those who had become international symbols of civil rights, non-violent resistance and peaceful change were put in place. At that time, I could not have fathomed that one day the garden which was begun in a spirit of hope and optimism for the future and respect for the lessons of the past would, one day, be under attack by a movement which has so far shown neither of those qualities. I certainly would not have believed that it would happen within my own lifetime! Yet, here we are and a new generation is trying to erase the sins of previous generations in a full throated orgy of violence and destruction.

For the last thirty years since leaving Fresno State, I have taught history to generations of local area community college students all over the Central Valley. I have always tried to be fair minded in my presentation of the past and show the good, the bad and the ugly. I hope that I have also taught my students that historical figures cannot be judged by our modern standards. They lived in their own worlds with their own standards, prejudices and morals. They need to be examined for the totality of their lives and work and their impact on history. Erasing them or looking only at the most negative aspect of their character and making ourselves their moral superiors accomplishes nothing except to reinforce our own belief that we have figured out the solutions to all of history's greatest issues and history has nothing to teach us.

But how will history judge us if we embrace the current standard that no one is allowed to make mistakes as future generations understand them? How will the videos of statues being pulled down, monuments defaced and destroyed and violence and looting be portrayed in 50, 100 or 150 years from now? Will they be shown in conjunction with the pictures of the Taliban destroying the Buddha statues in Afghanistan or ISIS destroying the Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq in 2015? Are we so confident of our intellectual and moral superiority that history stops with us and there is nothing left to learn? If so, may God forgive us.

Please join me in urging the administration, faculty, staff and students of Fresno State to preserve the history that has been created and as of this moment still stands in the Peace Garden. Allow future generations the opportunity to learn and grow from both the failures and mistakes even of our most iconic heroes and heroines. The picture above is one of Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor who was instrumental in bringing the Peace Garden to Fresno State and has been influencing students for over fifty years. Thank you for your support.

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