Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Should you change the name of that school? Here's a simple test.

Towards the end of another Debra J. Saunders fiasco, this one about renaming stuff that's named for Confederates (like, who knew there were three elementary schools in California named for Robert E. Lee?), there's this little anecdote:

"The bill," BTW, is SB 539, which bans naming state or local property after "an elected leader or senior military officer of the Confederate States of America," but exempts the "renaming of a city, county, or other political jurisdiction" with a Confederate name, so Fort Bragg gets to stay Fort Bragg if it so wishes.

(Fort Bragg, as you may not realize, was named after Braxton Bragg, a guy who was a Confederate general, but was apparently named after him before he became a Confederate so it's OK? I guess?)

Before we move on, let's just pause and admire Deb's phrase "Confederate name jihad," because only Debra J. Saunders would call a move to stop honoring traitors a "jihad."  Christ.

Anyway, we've been getting this a lot.  "But where do you draw the line?  George Washington owned slaves!  Maybe we should remove his name from everything too!"  GOP Assemblyman James Gallagher makes the same argument above, vis-a-vis Earl Warren.  Andrew Jackson was a total shitbird, but Jackson Street in SF is still Jackson Street.

So let me suggest a simple test we could use to determine whether or not to remove someone's name: DID THEY ENGAGE IN WAR AGAINST THE UNITED STATES?

Voila!  The scales have fallen from my eyes.  Now this shit is easy.  Robert E. Lee is out and FDR gets to stay.  We don't have Emperor Hirohito High School, so why one named after Nathan Bedford Forrest?  (That was thankfully changed in 2014.)  So that's the rule.  Sorry, Taliban Technical High School.  That has a ring to it, but it's a non-starter.

Towns are harder because they're not a discrete entity like a school.  Thousands of people don't put their elementary school as their return address every time they mail a letter and the rest of the country doesn't commonly refer to a middle school when trying to find a place to stay that's close to Mendocino but cheaper.  So I get the exception for that.  (Although changing the name of a town has been done before.  Even as we speak, I'm in beautiful downtown Yerba Buena.  More recently, Hot Springs, New Mexico changed itself to Truth or Consequences, NM, to win a fucking radio contest. America!)

ONE FINAL NOTE.  This is not to say that you have to change the name ONLY if someone waged war against the US.  After all, the Richard M. Nixon Freeway quietly became the slightly less interesting "Marina Freeway." There's always going to be exceptions.


GG said...

Remember when there was that joke campaign to name some sewage treatment plant after Dubya? Maybe we could rename the SF municipal dump after Debra Saunders.

Anonymous said...

I would support a Change.org petition to ask that one company to rename its urine-repelling paint to "Debra J. Saunders Memorial Piss-Resistant Paint."

TK said...

Although I was against the Bush sewage treatment plan idea, I would gladly endorse the Debra J. Saunders Memorial Waste Facility renaming.

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