Decision not to renew the appointment of the Commissioner of the Dearborn Historical Museum is alarming – Press and Guide
We are dismayed and alarmed by the recent decision of the office of Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr. not to renew the appointment of Dearborn Historical Museum Commissioner Jonathon Stanton. Stanton was an outstanding commissioner, insisting on a balanced and honest assessment of Dearborn’s story – the bad (Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism) alongside the good (his remarkable innovation).
The timing of Stanton’s dismissal is deeply troubling. As anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred soar, voices like Stanton’s, who champion both historical integrity and current inclusiveness, are of crucial importance. Putting them aside or silencing them is of no use to anyone. This does not alleviate the anti-Semitism of Henry Ford. It doesn’t change Dearborn’s story either.
In 2019, we met privately with Mayor O’Reilly to talk about Henry Ford’s hate speech, his increased power, and the mayor’s ability to respond to and publicly disown him. Now we repeat what we advised back then: When ugly chapters in American history are deleted or ignored, they don’t go away. On the contrary, they take on new strength and sow more hatred and more violence.
Henry Ford’s well-known hate speech – his own words, as well as the famous Russian counterfeit of 1903, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which Ford reprinted and distributed – is now enjoying unprecedented reach, popularity and power. through social media. It has catalyzed anti-Semitic harassment and assaults for decades. It is associated with many current extremist writings.
We must follow Stanton’s example: to shed light on the past, learn from it, and teach others. Remember the lessons of history.
Don’t repeat the mistakes of history.
Mayor O’Reilly, it is not too late to right this wrong. Publicly reject Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism. Let the Dearborn Historical Museum do its job. And reinstate Jonathon Stanton. It would affirm the community you serve and prove your commitment to diversity, reconciliation and honesty. Your heritage and Dearborn’s well-being depend on it.
Michigan ADL (Anti-Defamation League)
Catherine Cangany, PhD
JHSM (Michigan Jewish Historical Society)