I can’t be the only one who gets sick as they drive toward New York. No, not the noise, the crowds, the congestion, the traffic, the taller-than-tall buildings. No, it’s the signage! As I see the signs, from which I can’t possibly turn away, my throat constricts, my eyes redden, I sweat. The medicine my doctor prescribes for this can’t be taken until the symptoms start. I am condemned because of my obsession with history. I know that, in 1664, New Amsterdam was taken by force by the English. New York City and New York State were then named after the Duke of York. This Duke of York later became King James II (1633-1701, king 1683-1688).
I am an American patriot and, while I understand our alliances with Great Britain in two world wars, our trade relations, our English common law roots, I abhor all monuments in our country to the English monarchy and English aristocracy. I don’t care a whit that this Duke of York never came to the American colonies or was not a Loyalist during the Revolution which occurred nearly a hundred years after his death.
I should add that it’s okay with me if a place was named by the British, or named for a place in Britain (like Cornwall, New York; Boston; New Jersey; New Hampshire; Richmond, Virginia), but not for a British monarch or aristocrat.
I don’t care if the generation of American revolutionaries left the names in place after their victory. Maybe they left the names to help reconciliation with the Loyalists. But who cares about reconciling with the Loyalists in 2017? And I don’t care if some people today find the names quaint, exotic, foreign. So, off with their heads — I mean, off with their names:
Among the New York cities and towns:
Among those outside New York:
On August 16, following the events over the previous weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his intention to create a commission to review, within 90 days, all “symbols of hate on city property.” He said at the time that he had one in mind: a sidewalk marker in downtown Manhattan for Nazi collaborator Henri Phillipe Pétain. He named the members of his Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers on September 8. In October, the Commission opened a website so New Yorkers could participate in a survey. The Commission scheduled five public hearings between November 17 and 28.
There was talk about developing guidelines to assist the Commission in making its recommendations. I have already suggested one above: If there is ambiguity as to whether the person after whom something was named was or was not offensive, we should assume offensive. Thus Georgetown, D.C. could have been after two non-royals or the king. Here’s another example of this principle: There are three towns in New York named Clinton — in Clinton, Duchess, and Oneida Counties. They all predate Bill and Hillary Clinton. But future generations may assume they were named after Bill and/or Hillary. So, change the names. And not to “Governor Clinton, N.Y.” since that could refer to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. Instead, use “George Clinton, N.Y.” or something totally different. This guideline is supported by the folks who refused to let “Robert Lee” broadcast a sports game, and by those in D.C. who were upset in 1999 over the use of the “niggardly.”
A second guideline is to terminate the use of a name of a royal/aristocrat even if he or she was a “good person” like apparently the Second Baron Baltimore was.
Third, it doesn’t matter how long the name has been entrenched, adopted, and widespread, like “New York City.”
Fourth, overlook no one. We’re not just talking here about Confederates or slave-owning U.S. presidents (Washington, Jefferson, etc.) or British royals and aristocrats, but non-British royals, like King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) for whom Louisiana was named, and Christopher Columbus (Americans of Italian ancestry are incensed about the Commission), and the ostentatiously wealthy like Trump, Rockefeller (as in “Rockefeller Center”), and Carnegie (as in “Carnegie Hall”). The safest course may be not to allow any public thing to be named after a person, or group of persons, living or dead. Ban hero worship.
Here’s another guideline: Don’t just smash small like a sidewalk marker, Mayor! Go big! Don’t work on banning offensive T-shirts and lapel pins! Save those for later. Don’t swat flies and ignore the elephant in the room. Work to change the names of entire states and everything named after them if they were named after British monarchs or aristocrats:
We are new men, new women, a new creation. We must remake our Nation so that the names of places — the names of states, towns, streets, rivers, mountains — Mount Rushmore, Stone Mountain, reflect America, today’s America, tomorrow’s America. We want to create an environment in New York, and everywhere else in America, where every place is a “safe space” just like our fine, fine universities are doing for their campuses.
For more than seven years, before he was mayor, Mayor Bill de Blasio has worked to make our streets safe spaces, including safe from offensive even temporary billboard ads, as related by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights:
In February 2011, a pro-life group, Life Always, displayed a huge billboard in the SoHo section of New York that showed a picture of a young black girl with the inscription, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” Prominent African Americans endorsed the billboard; it was displayed during Black History Month.
The billboard incensed de Blasio, who was then New York’s Public Advocate. He not only failed to be an advocate for the unborn, or for pro-life New Yorkers, he actually recommended censoring it. “The billboard simply doesn’t belong in our city. The ad violates the values of New Yorkers.”
In other words, if an ad offends de Blasio’s values, it offends “the values of New Yorkers.” Not content to criticize an ad he objects to, he sought to muzzle the free speech rights of black pro-life men and women. He succeeded.
De Blasio’s passion for declaring abortion rights to be representative of New York values led him to support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s equally censorial approach to this subject. In 2014, Cuomo railed against what he called “extreme conservatives” who are “pro-life, pro-assault weapons, anti-gay.” He said such persons “have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”
So New Yorkers opposed to abortion “have no place in the state of New York,” and should get out of town. De Blasio said he agreed with that position “100 percent.”
I guess Mayor de Blasio regards Catholic names to be un-American, un-New York. I wonder if he gets physically sick when he hears a radio broadcast in Maryland about traffic conditions on “Father Hurley Boulevard” or “St. Barnabas Road.” Or sports announcers constantly referring to the University of Notre Dame (“Our Lady”), St. Bonaventure University, Villanova (after St. Thomas of Villanova), or DePaul University (after St. Vincent de Paul). And does he get physically sick in reading maps that show, or driving through, towns and cities like:
We don’t want diversity. We don’t want tolerance. We want safe spaces for all. Go ahead and take the survey, Mayor. If more than X% are offended by anything public, terminate it!
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