An Oslo park bench bearing the name of Carl von Linne, an 18th century Swedish scientist known as “the prince of botanists” and the founder of modern taxonomy, could be removed after local politicians have deemed him to be racist.
The Old Oslo borough council is calling for the removal of the bench, which is located in the district’s Botanical Garden and has von Linne’s name inscribed on its back. The request – the latest in a wave of leftist attacks on historical figures – is expected to be sent to the University of Oslo’s Natural History Museum this week after being approved in a vote by the council last Thursday.
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The local socialist and communist parties called for the proposal, saying that having a bench dedicated to von Linne creates an “unsafe” atmosphere in the Botanical Garden, according to Norwegian news outlet Khrono. The Socialist Party called the bench “very problematic.”
“There are people living in the vicinity of the Botanical Garden who find it hard that Linne is being celebrated in our part of the city,” the proposal said.
Von Linne, who died in 1778, is credited with creating the modern, two-tiered naming system for organisms and introducing Latin names for species – for instance, Felis catus for a domestic cat. Incidentally, he was the man who named the humans Homo sapiens. The Linnea flower was named after the scientist, and he was praised by such contemporaries as French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who said he knew “no greater man on earth.”
However, von Linne also divided people into four color categories – black, red, white and yellow – and noted essential features in a hierarchy in which whites were at the top and blacks were at the bottom. In the view of Old Oslo council member Hasti Hamidi, a socialist, that made von Linne “the father of modern racism.”
Hamidi said “one can argue” that von Linne was an important botanist, but that contribution was no more important than his racism and its impact.