Dearborn sacks commissioner in dispute over Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism
Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. impeached the chairman of the town’s historical commission after clashing with him over the president’s support for an article detailing the anti-Semitism of notorious resident Henry Ford, have officials announced Friday.
Former President Jonathon Stanton’s term ended last week. O’Reilly chose not to reappoint him for another term despite Stanton wanting to continue chairing the historic Dearborn Commission.
Stanton confirmed to the Free Press on Friday that he would not be reappointed.
On Tuesday, Stanton wrote a letter to the commission in which he criticized O’Reilly for decide in 2019 to stop distribution of an issue of Historian Dearborn – a magazine published by the Historical Commission – which contained an item by former Free Press reporter Bill McGraw on Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism. The commission advises the Dearborn Historical Museum (DHM).
Stanton said in his letter that the museum “must tell the truth about the history of Dearborn. … Mayor O’Reilly and those under his leadership have imposed an implicit, and sometimes explicit, policy that the DHM (Dearborn Historical Museum) should avoid discussing the failings of important figures in Dearborn history. “
by Dearborn official seal says the city is “Henry Ford’s hometown”.
Stanton told The Free Press on Friday: “I think it’s important to tell the truth. Henry Ford is the most influential figure in Dearborn’s history, and his failures are substantial. Omit them or hide them, that is. is to lie by omission. The mayor wanted to subordinate the editorial decisions of the historical review of the museum to the priorities of public relations. “
In 2019, O’Reilly defended his decision to withdraw the quarterly issue, which featured a cover photo of Henry Ford alongside an anti-Semitic quote from Ford denigrating the Jewish people. O’Reilly said he was concerned Dearborn and its residents were associated with these views.
“I wanted to keep the city away from possible criticism to be seen as a source of contemptible points of view”, O’Reilly said in 2019. “I sensed in a city post that these views might interfere with people’s understanding of our commitment to inclusion and respect. I felt that they could potentially undermine our efforts, as well as those of our community and our business partners, to promote Dearborn as a welcoming city. in law. … In a world where negativity is so prevalent, I figured they might get people to link the city of Dearborn today with hate messages repeated 100 years ago. “
But Stanton said in his letter: “To be clear, there is no controversy over the historical fact that Henry Ford was a purveyor of anti-Semitic propaganda. There is no controversy over the historical fact that Orville Hubbard has pursued racist policies of segregation. No coherent story about Dearborn or how it happened as it is can be told without acknowledging these uncontroversial facts. “
Stanton also criticized the city’s treatment of the statue of Hubbard, the city’s former mayor who held racist views. The Hubbard statue originally stood next to the old town hall building. He was then placed stored before being moved to the front of the museum. It was deleted last year.
“I was very proud to be with you when you had the integrity to oppose Mayor O’Reilly’s deletion of the historian’s article on the Dearborn Independent,” Stanton added, referring to in the anti-Semitic journal published by Henry Ford. “I have done my best to communicate your point of view to the mayor and the public on your behalf. I appreciate the support you have given me. I am happy that such quality people continue to serve in the Historical Commission. “
In a statement city spokeswoman Paula Rivera sent to Free Press on Friday, O’Reilly thanked Stanton for his services, but did not address the controversy.
“At the end of each fiscal year, I work with the department heads who oversee the boards and commissions to review the appointments and renewals of our volunteer commissioners,” said O’Reilly. “There are many factors that come into play in this process. I would like to thank Mr. Stanton for the time and effort he devoted to the Historical Commission. I would also like to express my gratitude to all of our commissioners and volunteers for balancing these important roles with their many professional and personal responsibilities. “
McGraw, a former reporter and editor of the Free Press who is now a freelance writer for the newspaper and wrote the 2019 article on Henry Ford, praised Stanton in a statement Friday to the Free Press.
“Jonathon Stanton was a smart and enthusiastic chairman of the historic commission,” said McGraw. “By impeaching him, O’Reilly appears to be doubling down on his blunder by removing the Dearborn historian’s Henry Ford issue, which has earned him international contempt. It’s a petty move for a mayor in the final months of his job. ”
The terms of office of the commission are three years. Stanton said he was appointed in 2017 to fill a vacant position, reappointed in 2018 for a term that expires this month. He was elected by his peers to chair from 2019 to 2021.
While the commission advises the museum, the mayor and city council have ultimate oversight. O’Reilly said earlier this year that he was stepping down at the end of his tenure this year. The primary election for Dearborn’s next mayor is August 3.
In his letter, Stanton also raised concerns about how he said the museum “is using funds raised through the sale of collectibles in an unethical manner. A museum should not be unethical. selling his collection to pay the bills – an institution that does this is best described as an antique store or gallery. “
A message sent to the director of the Dearborn Historical Museum on Friday was not returned.