Friday, April 27, 2018

Volunteering for Central Park

I use Central Park so much I decided to join the Central Park Conservancy and also volunteer to help out - lawn work or the info booth, I don't know for sure yet what I'm going to do. Maybe both.

Before you can be a regular volunteer you have to go to an orientation meeting, which I did. They show you photos of how crappy Central Park was in the 1960s and 1970s, before the Conservancy got started in 1980. Here are some examples of the crappy photos.

It's a good move because it really makes the Conservancy look good, with the radical improvements they've wrought on the Park.

On my way to the meeting I passed the pedestal where the statue of J. Marion Sims used to stand. 

Sims died over a hundred years ago, and it's just a statue, and I really don't care if people take their anger over slavery in the United States out on a statue. But I don't think that Sims was the monster that he's been made out to be. As this article in the Journal of Medical Ethics notes:
 Sims's modern critics have discounted the enormous suffering experienced by fistula victims, have ignored the controversies that surrounded the introduction of anaesthesia into surgical practice in the middle of the 19th century, and have consistently misrepresented the historical record in their attacks on Sims. Although enslaved African American women certainly represented a “vulnerable population” in the 19th century American South, the evidence suggests that Sims's original patients were willing participants in his surgical attempts to cure their affliction—a condition for which no other viable therapy existed at that time.
I don't care if the statue has been moved to Brooklyn, but I nevertheless disagree with people misreading history for political ends.

Now statues glorifying the racist traitors of the Civil War - I am all in favor of taking those down. I'm a supporter of Take Em Down NOLA.