A long time ago, I used to love Newsweek. I no longer do. The quality of their reporting slipped over time, and recently they were bought by IBT Media (International Business Times, an outfit I avoid), and now it’s just a clickbait non-fact-checking rag to be avoided. Allow me to present an example of their news telling abilities.
In a Newsweek story about a report issued by the Austin Equity Office, the number of factually incorrect and easy to check on the internet information in the first three paragraphs of a seven paragraph story made the veins on my forehead bulge. I didn’t even read the other four paragraphs. Perhaps there were mistakes there too.
The city of Austin, Texas has suggested in a preliminary report, that highlighted historical connections to a former Confederate leader, Stephen F. Austin, otherwise known as the “Father of Texas”, that it might consider changing its name.
Stephen F. Austin was not a former Confederate leader. Slave owner holding conflicted feelings about slavery and undoubtedly racist? Yes (like most white men of his generation), but not a Confederate leader. He died a quarter of a century before the Civil War began.
Mistake #2 & #3
In addition to identifying several neighborhoods and towns linked to the Confederacy, the report, released by Texas’ Equity Office also suggested name changes for city streets honoring the Confederacy or Confederate leaders, including slave owner William Barton, The Austin American Statesman reported Friday.
It’s the Austin Equity Office. I don’t think the State of Texas has an Equity Office. If it does, I doubt it would care much about renaming things associated with the Confederacy.
William Barton was also not a Confederate leader. Nor was he a member of or support the Confederacy. Once again, he was a slave owner (no idea his views on the subject), and most likely racist, but he died twenty-one years before the Civil War began.
Austin, who founded the city in 1839, was notable for his staunch disapproval of an effort to ban slavery in the Tejas province following the Texas Revolution.
This one is actually the real kicker. They link to an Austin History Center page briefly covering the founding of Austin, but either they didn’t bother to read it or they lack the ability to comprehend English.
The site of Waterloo was purchased for the capital of the Republic of Texas in March 1839 and renamed in honor of Stephen F. Austin.
I get it that people who haven’t been educated in Texas will not have Texas history poured into their brains for decades, but all of these things are so very easy to check on the internet. They did seem to check one of them, and they STILL GOT IT WRONG. Therefore, I declare that Newsweek is an untrustworthy rag I will be avoiding entirely in the future. I’m so irritated, I might block my browser from opening their website, on the off chance I accidentally click a link that leads to Newsweek. My advise for you is to avoid them as well. Unless you need an example to demonstrate the state of former icons of the news world having fallen into disgrace.
On subject of this pitiful news story was attempting to report on, my feelings are … I’m down with renaming things named after members of the Confederacy, I am down with moving monuments to the Confederacy and/or its members out of parks and into factual educational settings such as museums (except for the mass produced ones put up everywhere by the Daughters of the Confederacy, melt those down, they are not unique art), but I draw the line at renaming or tearing down anything named for or built by someone who was racist or owned slaves way back when that was a thing people were and did. Why do I draw the line there? I could probably list at least a half dozen reasons why it’s completely unworkable, but let’s start with the fact that eighteen former Presidents of the United States owned slaves at some point during their lives. Just changing the names of things named after any of them anywhere in the United States would be utter chaos, and I can’t even fathom the expense. And there are many other people who were also racist and/or slave owners who were not a part of Confederacy who things are named after, so where exactly would we stop?