Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waves to supporters at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nov. 19, 2022. (Photo/JTA-Wade Vandervort-AFP via Getty Images)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waves to supporters at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nov. 19, 2022. (Photo/JTA-Wade Vandervort-AFP via Getty Images)

DeSantis and LGBTQ+ history; Stow Lake’s new name should be Jewish

Stow Lake’s new name should be Jewish

Our rare chance for retribution, by giving Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park a Jewish name to offset William Stow’s virulent antisemitism, could soon be lost.

A recent J. article showed that sadly, the majority of the suggested names are those of non-Jews (“These are the 12 names in the running to replace Stow Lake,” June 15).

Too often we Jews sit back silently fearing antisemitism, scared that if we stand out in our Jewish pride, someone like Stow will want to eliminate us.

I stand by my suggestion of Mikveh Lake, which is strongly Jewish, with a San Francisco background, and has a Hebrew water reference meaning “a body of water.” It also doesn’t have the serious “future-proofing” problem that the names of virtually all people have, even after they have passed.

I’d also like to suggest the name Kati’s Lake or Kati Kellerman Lake. Kati was my 7-year-old cousin who was murdered at Auschwitz. Had she lived, I’m sure she would have loved the lake with its boats, ducks, bridges and waterfall. She could have seen it when visiting George, one of only three of our Hungarian relatives who survived the Holocaust. He endangered his life saving many Jews, endured the atrocities of the Jewish ghetto, and at 16 or 17, escaped to Israel by swimming across the Danube, eventually moving to San Francisco and becoming one of the early computer experts.

Joan Davenny, being a Jew and a victim of antisemitism, seems suitable, as well. Hers is one of the names currently under consideration.

As for Blue Heron Lake? My young granddaughter recently was upset watching a blue heron swallow a live mole whole in Golden Gate Park. They eat every sort of animal; at least it wasn’t a bunny or duck.

Please rename Stow Lake to Mikveh Lake or Kati’s Lake.

Lynn Reichman
Eugene, Oregon

DeSantis and LGBTQ+ history

I am responding to Steve Astrachan’s letter, in which he argued that the act of pointing out the parallels to Nazism in Ron DeSantis’ policies is “the weaponization of the Shoah for political purposes,” and therefore an act of bad faith uncivil discourse (“Weaponizing the Holocaust,” June 20).

That this letter was published in the Pride month issue of J. is political, whether Astrachan intended it or not.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

History tells us that Joseph Goebbels set up shop in Berlin with the intention of running a propaganda campaign against the primarily left-leaning city. This campaign included connecting Berlin’s LGBTQ+ community to a so-called “Jewish conspiracy” to groom Aryan children.

A notable victim of this smear campaign was Magnus Hirschfeld, a gay Jewish doctor in an interracial relationship. His books affirming transgender identities and medical transition as treatment for gender dysphoria were among the first that the Nazis burned. Goebbels also targeted Berlin’s drag scene, using the fact that many drag venues were owned by Jews as “evidence.”

Not only does DeSantis parrot Goebbels’ misinformation about LGBTQ+ people and drag, but he also believes that a cabal is “smuggling” books on critical race theory into elementary schools.

He also came for trade unionists (recalling Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for…” quote) by supporting right-to-work laws and other union-busting procedures.

Perhaps worst of all, at the beginning of Pride month, DeSantis filmed a campaign video in San Francisco. DeSantis argued that if elected president, he would “fix” San Francisco. It would be irresponsible to not notice these comparisons.

“Never Again,” includes every victim. If these similarities are not addressed now, how much more harm will DeSantis be able to get away with?

Rena “Rey” Simon-Igra
San Francisco

No praise for DeSantis here

I found Steve Astrachan’s letter giving a righteous defense of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis deliciously ironic (“Weaponizing the Holocaust,” June 20).

Regardless of DeSantis’ approval of the teaching of the Holocaust in Florida schools in the past (which was likely a sop to curry favor with Jewish voters), the fact that he continues to support the concept of government-sanctioned book-banning at all should be noxious to anyone who values the ideal of freedom of expression.

It would be nice to know that the religious fundamentalists to whom DeSantis now appeals in his quest for the presidency would be willing to abide by the tolerant principle of open and respectful dialogue that Mr. Astrachan espouses.

Charles S. Brummer
Mountain View

J. Readers

J. welcomes letters and comments from our readers. To submit a letter, email it to [email protected].