Letter to the editor: Teach history fairly, but keep the Cabrillo name

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To the editor:

I’ve been following the discussions in Lookout regarding the decision to rid Cabrillo College of the “Cabrillo” name. In trying to think of an analogy, an age-old idiom came to mind rather quickly, “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

It’s often expressed in the negative, as a warning or admonition, as in “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”

In a zeal for political correctness, the trustees have cut off 60 (plus) years of time, energy, and resources that were invested by staff, students and the community in building the reputation of “Cabrillo” (yes, you don’t even need to say Cabrillo Community College) as one of the highly regarded community colleges in California.

They’ve done this simply to spite and wave the collective finger of shame in the face of a distant Spanish explorer ... so distant that his face is now a hollow skull. They will point out that Juan Cabrillo represents the evils of colonialism.

Yes, but that was the way of the world in the 16th century. It’s so easy to abhor that reality when viewed with 2022 hindsight.

In decision-making, one may ask, “which of the options is the lesser of two evils?”

The problem, of course, is that if you don’t think beyond simply choosing an option, you will still end up with evil. Just because the trustees had the administrative right to do what they did does not mean it was the right thing to do. Their decision cannot unring the bell of history.

One need only Google “Cabrillo” to see how embedded its use is, not only locally, but throughout California. Is there an end in sight for trying to rectify historical wrongs by erasing names on a map?

I have no problem with teaching the factual history of how Indigenous peoples have been mistreated, and indeed they have. But simply (or perhaps, not so simply) changing the name of an institution strikes me as wasteful, “feel good” posturing.

Joe Fabiny