New name for Washington?
By Jean Godden
Demonstrators are pulling down statues. There goes another one: Protesters in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park removed the statue of Francis Scott Key, who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner," our national anthem.
Scott Key won't be a big loss. Despite writing "o'er the land of the free," the author once went to court to defend slavery. He wrote the words (including ones about "hirelings and slaves)," then swiped the melody from an un-singable British drinking song. Let's think about changing our anthem to something inspiring like "America the Beautiful" or Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is My Land."
The move to sanitize history by removing monuments dedicated to dubious heroes and to Confederate generals is an admirable undertaking, long overdue. Why continue to pay tribute to people like Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Generals Stonewall Jackson and Albert Pike, men who took arms against the United States of America to try to perpetuate slavery?
Taking a further step -- removal of tributes to people like George Washington, our first president and revolutionary war hero -- may be somewhat more difficult to justify. It is indeed sickeningly true that Washington owned slaves, as did some others who risked their lives to birth a nation (Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, among them). Can we now impose 21st Century thinking on those born into the 18th Century?
Apparently we can. Portland protesters tackled a statue of Washington during a recent demonstration. There's petition here to get rid of George's statue on the University of Washington campus. And some residents are questioning the continued use of the state name. On his Facebook page, West Seattle resident Bill Schrier says he has long disliked our state name partly because this state is so often confused with the other Washington, the one in the District of Columbia. (Which, by the way, is also rethinking its name in the event that the district at long last becomes a state.)
Meanwhile, Schrier is asking the open question: If not Washington, what should be the name of our state? In the 1880s when this state was seeking recognition, some preferred the name "Columbia." However, that suggestion -- paying homage to mariner Christopher Columbus -- was quickly discarded. It was a fortunate decision since we now know that Columbus was a genocidal carpetbagger who enslaved the natives. Why even Spokane, like Seattle, has changed its Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day.
That still begs the question of what might we rename the state? Some have suggested that it would be appropriate to pick a native American-inspired name similar to states names like Illinois, Idaho, Utah and Arizona. One wit passed over native names like Humptulips and Dosewallips and suggested Puyallup because he thought "it would be funny to listen to outlanders trying to pronounce it."
There are native Northwest American names that are easier on the tongue like Tahoma, Kitsap and Yakima. Other possibilities are the Northwest's native American heroes like Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and Nisqually Chief Leschi. The chief was unjustly tried for murder and hanged but fully exonerated in 2004 by both houses of our state Legislature.
Changing one's home address to Seattle, Leschi, or Tacoma, Tahoma, might be a bit difficult to sell. However, there is one simple possibility. That's "Cascadia" -- a land named after the Cascade mountain range that bisects the state. Cascadia lacks any unfortunate undertones for it only means falling waters and, on the West side at least, we have waters in abundance.
Are people taking a name change seriously? Some are; some aren't. Ivan Weiss, a Vashon-Island farmer, dismissed the entire prospect, insisting that "a rose by any other name smells as sweet." What matters, he argues, is that the state (whatever its name) ensures that its people are safe, healthy, sheltered, fed and treated with respect and dignity. All of us should be able to get behind that idea.
Why stop there, Ms. Gooden?
The great Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King was also a known serial philanderer - shouldn't we be tearing down his statues out of respect to women?
John Lennon, venerated for the son "Imagine" once mocked disabled disabled people during a live performance - shouldn't we forbid his music be played on the air, in deference to the disabled?
Albert Einstein is known to have harbored racist sentiments - shouldn't we be removing any trace of him from public places, including public universities?
And even Jesus cruelly threw money changers out of the temple, who were just trying to make a living - shouldn't we remove his iconography from churches?
You may think this is a silly reductio ad absurdum argument. I would have agreed with you - that is, before George Washington, Teddie Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were targeted, and language is being scrubbed of anything that remotely conjures up the South, or the Civil War such as "whitening, "Dixie, or "master,"
Everyone needs to re-read Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" where books are banned because they might - gasp! - offend someone. These are truly frightening times.
First of all Ms, Gooden, these "peaceful" demonstrators, BLM social justice warriors et al, are not "protestors"..they are rioters, and rioters to the core. Remember the song from the Democrats at President Trump's impeachment proceedings.."No one is above the law"...well it looks like those who tear down statues, burn and loot are "above" the law and are defended by the likes of Ms. Gooden and 99% of the Democratic Party locally and nationally. I personally admire ALL Confederate Generals including Nathan Bedford Forrest who was a brilliant tactitian and is admired for that reason as well as the others, especially Robert E Lee..I also have no problem with the Confederate Flag if those who want to display it do so..Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is a Marxist organization and its founders are on video admitting as much. The one and only George Soros, destroyer of cultures has given $33m to this outfit since its founding in 2014 and if you feel you need to contribute, know that about 71% of its income goes to salaries, benefits and consultant fees. Needless to say I also support the police as should you considering the exponential rise in crime in NYC, Chicago, LA and other locales where the police are being hamstrung by cowardly politicians from the governor's office on down and supported by media, entertainment "experts", some in the educational field and even some religious "experts" and SJWs..The upcoming political campaign season will be one of the worst in US history if not THE worst..and there have been some doozies in the past..Inform yourself and Stand Up For Your Country, Not Ms. Gooden's version.
There is ignorance and then there is WILLFUL ignorance of racist or bad behavior... Many of the prominent people named in the above comment may not have been perfect but nothing like the willful racists of the Confederacy who took our country to war, slaughtering countless people over their heinous desire to keep slaves.
And in terms of BLM there is some blame to be made about the protesters, but to call them rioters is being blind to the reasons why they had to make a stand in the first place. The previous comment made note of property damage but nothing about black men losing their lives over and over again at the hands of police brutality?!? So murder doesn't make an impression, but property destruction does?
Many of the bad actors were right-wing perpetrators with hammers breaking windows and such were found out to be part of the boogaloo bois boy group, and others. This is purely an uprising against Injustice and the status quo of doing nothing when police act outside of what they're really intended to do.
I am so glad that there will now be much more accountability, and welcome Jean Goddens suggestions for a more mindful society..
Oh, for f*ck's sake... enough, already!! Stop with the insane, inane Marxist bullsh*t. Holding people who lived over 2 CENTURIES ago to the same dubious moral standards liberals are trying to impose on us today is just nuts. Human beings - and human societies - behave according to accepted social norms IN EFFECT AT THE TIME! Those norms change. History does not. Denying history doesn't make you smart, or clever, or even rational. What it DOES do is make you look like a fool. Instead of trying to re-write history, how 'bout being content with recognizing that people in our PAST made mistakes, and leaving evidence of those mistakes in place to help remind us not to make those same errors again?
Well I guess my daughter will get to move to a new address with out ever packing a box.
Chief Seattle enslaved those he captured, so shouldn't the Cirt of Seattle also change their name?
As I suggest in an op-ed in the Seattle TImes sometime ago, we should change our state's name to Walla Walla (means "many waters," which is appropriate).. First, we'd keep our WA postal code, so we wouldn't have to change our stationery. And think of the cachet: why, "New York, New York" can't hold a candle to "Walla Walla, Walla Walla"!