Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Renaming Things

President Obama has come in for the usual mix of kudos and hysterical opposition for his decision this week to officially change the name of America's highest mountain, Alaska's Mount McKinley, back to its original native Alaskan name of Denali ...

Native Alaskans are delighted, and residents of Ohio - the home state of President William McKinley, for whom the mountain was named in 1917 - are outraged ... as are Republicans, who are outraged over anything the President does, anyhow. For my part, I think that Denali is a much more lyrical and majestic name.

In my opinion, it's a tempest in the proverbial teapot. Things get renamed all the time, and someone's social or political ox often gets gored in the process. In the wake of the furor over display of the Confederate battle flag in some southern states, in which the offending flag came down almost everywhere, the victorious flag opponents went on to insist that anything named for a figure of the Old Confederacy be renamed for a more politically correct figure. Here in Virginia, it seems like every other highway, school, or public building is named for Jefferson Davis (the Confederate President) or any of a host of Confederate Generals like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jeb Stuart ... this would make for a lot of renaming, and not everyone is happy about it except Republicans, who are salivating at the huge number of things they can now name for Ronald Reagan*.

Things that aren't named for famous (or infamous) people are often named for their corporate sponsors. Locally, the Washington football team** plays at "FedEx Field," and the "Jiffy Lube Amphitheater" and the "Verizon Center" are popular concert venues. Again, there are ample opportunities to rename things along these lines, such as the "NRA House of Representatives" or the "Koch Brothers Senate."

But getting back to the issue of renaming geographical features, what are some of the other things that the President might choose to rename before the expiration of his term***? This question was asked in an interesting article in the Washington Post the other day ... the list includes Mount Rushmore (named for an obscure New York lawyer, of all people); Mount St Helens (named in 1792 for the British Ambassador to Spain, Alleyne Fitzherbert, Baron St. Helens); and Lake Superior (so called because, well, it's pretty big). They might revert to their indigenous names: "The Six Grandfathers," "Louwala-Clough" (“smoking mountain”); and "Gitche-Gumee+."

So there are plenty of opportunities to rename things out there. What would you rename if you were the president? Leave a comment and let the rest of us know.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* We already have Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the Reagan Building, and the Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Highway, just to name a few. Of course, Saint Reagan would never be accepted by today's Republican party, but a little historical ignorance and revisionism is a fine thing for a political party in need of a hero.

** You're not supposed to call them the Redskins any more.

*** There is no truth to the rumor that his next act will be to rename "Hawaii" as "Kenya."

+ Which you know from Gordon Lightfoot's song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."


eViL pOp TaRt said...

I would rename South Carolina Baja Carolina.

And, as long as someone's at it, rename New York City the Big Loud Apple.

Some Indian referred to Kentucky as "That Dark and Bloody Ground."
That would be a change, for sure.

Linda Kay said...

Here in Texas we have lots of strange names, like Mexia (prounced Ma-Haya), even Texas could be pronouced Ta-Has. Since I'm from Illinois, where there is always rampant greed and shady politicians, we could rename it the Land of Shame (rather than the land of Lincoln).

Bilbo said...

Angel: Baja Carolina ... I like it!

Linda: I could never get over San Antonio's Bexar County, which was pronounced "Bear." And the Land of Shame for Illinois would be especially appropriate.

John Hill said...

I wonder how churches would do if they gave up their tax exempt status and sold the naming rights to local companies.

Having a Bass Pro Baptist Church (complete with an Outdoor World decor) might recruit an interesting congregation.

At a Starbucks Assembly you wouldn't have to worry with members sleeping during a sermon.

First Allstate would give new meaning to their slogan of "You're in good hands!"

And State Farm Neighborhood Church would certainly be a good neighbor to have!

Anemone said...

After John Hill I can't top those!

But here's mine: Rename Santa Cruz Surf City!

Grand Crapaud said...

Can't Las Vegas become known as Sin City West?

And anglicize Baton Rouge into Red Stick. Or would some people get a stick up their butts?

Big Sky Heidi said...

I like Denali better.