Letter: GOP Viewpoint didn’t tell full story of Philip Johnson

To the Editor:

In “Let’s Not Honor a Bigot,” the GOP Viewpoint published on March 22nd, Ed Chrostowski argues that the town’s Schlumberger structure should not be named for its architect Philip Johnson because in his early years, Johnson supported fascism. As an educator at the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, I know that accusation to be true, but it hardly defines Johnson who, until his death at 98 in 2005, went on to become the designer of many distinguished buildings (including the Congregation KTI Synagogue in Port Chester), the dean of American architecture, and the beloved friend of many Jews in the arts, including Frank Gehry and Lincoln Kirstein, both of whom have structures named for them on the Glass House property, which annually draws thousands of admiring visitors from around the world. Johnson was unquestionably a flawed individual, but Ridgefield is enriched by having had a key shaper of 20th-Century architecture leave his mark here, and since he designed the building, it seems reasonable to put his name on it.  

Mr. Chrostowski finds ironies galore in the possibility that the town might name a structure for Johnson, but the greater irony is that a GOP Viewpoint could be titled “Let’s Not Honor a Bigot.”  That’s more ironic than Melania Trump fighting cyber bullying. Space constraints for letters to the editor prevent me from detailing the many ways in which Donald Trump, the GOP’s leader, is a bigot, but if I could, I would begin with birtherism and Mexican rapists and take it from there.  At least Philip Johnson could plead youthful indiscretion (as well as the anti-Semitic spirit of the times). But at 71 in 2018, Trump has no such excuses. If Mr. Chrostowski wants to get exorcised about bigotry, he should focus on the leadership of his own party.

Perrie L. Ridley

Nutmeg Ridge, March 28