Letter: Stain on Johnson’s character cannot be forgotten or erased

To the Editor:

I read the GOP Viewpoint in this week’s Press regarding Philip Johnson with interest. As an American Jew, I am sensitive to these topics, trying to understand all viewpoints and opinions. I am fully aware of Johnson’s past anti-Semitic activities, as well as his admission later in life of the mistakes he made as a young man. Clearly, he will always be recognized as a great architect, but this stain on his character cannot be forgotten or erased. Therefore, I caution those who want to name the building after Johnson to be diligent about considering both the architect and the man before making a final decision. Perhaps it’s time to ask local Jewish clergy about their opinions regarding this sensitive matter.

I do recall an incident that I was involved with at a previous employer. Posters were placed on company walls depicting great American industrialists. The posters highlighted their accomplishments in business and contribution to America. One of the posters was of Henry Ford, a renowned anti-Semite and good friend of Hitler and Father Coughlin in Detroit. I objected to the poster honoring such a person. It was immediately removed. The response from company executives was “We didn’t know that about Henry Ford.” We cannot reward ignorance.

I am hopeful that my thoughts might provoke further discussion regarding this sensitive issue.

Charles Robbins

Ridgefield, March 23