A Man Can Lose His Past in a Country Like This

September 1st, 2015. 11:14

Disclaimer: This post doesn’t really have anything to do with my college experience; rather, it’s just a bit of righteous right-wing indignation at something that happened in the news recently. You can tell it’s something I’m really angry about because the new Metal Gear Solid game came out today, and I’m using my free time to write this instead of playing it.

Coming from Arizona as I do, I’d be remiss if I wasn’t familiar with one of our nation’s greatest natural landmarks. It would also be expected of me to be incredibly bored by it. That’s why I tend to gravitate toward liking landmarks that are more foreign to me, such as Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, that landfill in New Mexico filled with cartridges of the ET game for the 2600, and, above all (literally speaking), Mt. McKinley. Or Mt. Denali?

I guess I’m just not sure why, exactly, our fearless leader Commander-in-chief president felt the need to further bury our past and apologize for anything that may have happened therein. Recently, of course, he did the same thing with the Confederate flag, which apparently is more of a symbol of slavery than, say, the Pyramids of Giza … or our entire railroad system … or basically anything else in history that actually involved slaves. I hate to break it to you, but the Confederate flag isn’t a symbol of slavery. In just the same way that Mt. McKinley isn’t, either.

This having been said, I’m not really that angry about this one. It’s a mountain, and from what I can glean President McKinley didn’t really have anything to do with it. But I just don’t like what the past few months’ occurrences mean for our future. I worry that, soon enough, anything named after a straight white male or anything else that might make someone uncomfortable will have to be changed. In Arizona we’ve already seen that happen with Squaw, er, Piestewa Peak. These things seem dangerously similar to what Bradbury writes about in his excellent Fahrenheit 451:

Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that!… Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did.

Sure, we’ve not gotten to the point where we’re locking up authors, but it’s not so far-fetched to imagine the names of more things being changed. If we follow the McKinley pattern, we’re going to have to change the names of anything named after white people, including, but not limited to: Washington, Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana … the list goes on. I guess my point here is, we’re going to have to draw the line somewhere. If we didn’t draw it at the Confederate flag, and we’re not drawing it at Denali, where are we going to draw it? Obama still has another year and a half left in office, and in that time he can do some serious damage. Let’s not let him.

4 thoughts on “A Man Can Lose His Past in a Country Like This

  1. Today I visited Santa Fe.

    In the town square stands an obelisk, an old monument to US and territorial soldiers lost fighting various skirmishes with “rebels” (1862-type) and “savage indians”. Except on the panel with the indians the word “savage” was stricken out – a rectangular void in the white marble about 7″ x 1″ x 1/4″ deep. On the other side was a plaque, recently placed, explaining to anyone who might be offended by what remains unstricken that these were the attitudes of those who placed the monument – apologizing in advance for any microagressions caused.

    Happily, about a 1/4 mile away stands a bronze statue of Ranger SFC Leroy Petri of Santa Fe, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. I guess we should enjoy it while we have it until some future Obama finds cause to deface it or take it down.

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    • I remember seeing that the first and last time I went to Santa Fe.

      Santa Fe did not leave a good impression upon me. Dirty, grungy, liberal, and expensive are the adjectives that come to mind. The streets, in addition to being grimy and trash-laden, were filled with cars sporting Obama bumper stickers.

      I think my wife and I were the only non-leftists in the entire city. Seeing that defaced monument capped off the experience.

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      • Santa Fe was not a total write off. Both the New Mexico State Museum and Georgia O’Keeffe museum gave me and my friend free admission for my being a veteran.

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