Yeah, I'd disagree with you there, Lockhart. We can't exactly judge past figures by our own standards, otherwise we'd have to disown most people kicking about around ol' HPL's time.
I agree with Dave. Don't bother trying to minimize it or apologize for it. I mean, in one of his lesser-known stories the big shocking horrifying reveal at the end was that a sexy woman turned out to be (all in italics, of course) A NEGRESS! Fuck that guy.
On the other hand, man, do I love the stories where he pulled his head out of his racist ass and concentrated on squid-monster metaphors for existential dread.
The real issue is whether a reader finds his work worthy despite the worst parts of his personality. Plenty of writers and artists who have created great works have been appalling assholes. Lovecraft's brand of assholery hits us especially hard because it has been so perniciously destructive and is still so insidiously widespread.
I am not a Lovecraft scholar, but I am a historian and I have issue with applying standards of today against historical figures. I do not condone the behavior, but when you think of the greater context in which they group up pretty much EVERYONE was racist, sexist, and homophobic, You would have to be extraordinarily enlightened not to be. And brave. And perhaps crazy, because you would be ostracized too.
As late as the 1960s Canadian white women who married outside their race could be institutionalized by their families as crazy, because sane white women didn't do that. So we can be all smug in our privileged world with actual civil rights and point fingers, but we didn't live in HPL's world. We have only an academic idea of how people were indoctrinated with what we now consider intolerance. We didn't live it, and we have no understanding of how hard it would be to break out of that mindset.
And if someone argues that racists change their minds all the time now: Yes, but they are living in a society where their ideas are seen as out of step. They are in the minority. It is a much easier transition than the other way.
"All of this is just a long-winded way of explaining that Lovecraft’s racism doesn’t negate his accomplishments. But his accomplishments don’t negate his racism. (Enter, cognitive dissonance)."
Just presenting a school of thought with a dash of sensitivities for those who might, none the less, have reservations against idolizing such points of view regardless of how common they were in the era. In the same way that Columbus who was a hero of his time and certainly no one of his era looked twice at his actions, is being increasingly viewed as a man of shame to have a named day. Though the comparison may not be as apt because in comparison, Lovecraft was more of a common man than historical figure as Columbus.
Edit: While I'm not particularly any sort of activist in my own behaviors, I'm more so voicing my opinion that the website, as a public face, be more sensitive in issues of discrimination, and that placing the face of a man who was rather unapoligetically racist (regardless of the excuse) on a banner that would appear even once a year regularly is not something in-keeping with that vision.
That is certainly a fair point; however, the same argument could be made about other geek culture coryfees. For example, Gary Gygax (along with the other designers of the original incarnations of D&D) has also been accused of blatant racism and sexism. (Fair warning: Don't click that link if you want to avoid flamingly aggressive posts with lots of swearing.)