What’s In a Name?

WhatsInANameby Timothy Lane1/13/16
Reading an article that discussed the Black Shakedowns Matter activists at Lebanon Valley University complaining about a building named after a former, long-term president of the college because his name was Lynch, which has bad implications for black people (who nevertheless don’t seem to object to Attorney General Loretta Lynch at all), I got to thinking about the liberal objection to unpleasant names.

Of course, we all recall the big foofaraw about the Washington Redskins by the professionally outraged (most of them whites who live to find things to complain about). Of course, as liberals increasingly seek to eliminate politically incorrect names (usually having to do with race), one wonders how long it will be before they object to the “Washington” as much as they do the “Redskins”. Already we see Demagogues in a number of states changing the name of their big annual party bash because it honors the party’s founders, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson — both slave-owners. And Jackson killed a lot of redskins in his day (and they weren’t football players).

Nothing is too obscure to attract the Goodthinkful Welldoers’ attention. A small California town had been named Fort Bragg after the commander of a regular artillery battery who became famous for his performance at Buena Vista. But that isn’t — yet — their reason for complaint (though in time it will be). The problem is that Bragg was a southerner who later retired for a while to a plantation with the usual supply of slaves. And then he became a Confederate general — though his performance there at times resembles Jubilation T. Cornpone from the Li’l Abner musical more than it does Robert E. Lee (also a target now, as any Dukes of Hazzard fan will know).

One interesting example, many years back, was the New York town of Fishkill. The “kill” comes from a Dutch word for a river, also seen in the Schuylkill River, the Kill van Kull, and the town of Peekskill. But hyper-sensitive animal rights activists were unhappy with the name even though it had nothing to do with actually killing any fish.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly — and liberals gotta find something to be outraged about.

Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine.
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23 Responses to What’s In a Name?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m wondering, Brother Timothy, if the liberal/Leftist/Progressive penchant for atheism doesn’t underwrite this fixation on mere outer forms….names. Call me a buffalo and I won’t be a buffalo. I’ll still be me. And deep-down, the Christian exploration is eking out all the little, deep, fuzzy, and wonderful implications of being a human.

    Of course, there are classes (low classes, if you ask me) of people who have made an art out of being offended…or at least feigning offense. But I still can’t help thinking that if all you have is a superficial conception of who you are then relatively unimportant things such as mere labels take on far greater significance.

  2. Steve Lancaster says:

    Don’t forget 20 some years ago when, I believe it was a city council member, in DC objected to the city budget as “niggardly” used as an adverb to say it the budget was stingy. He was run out of town on a rail by those who did not know what an adverb is or the meaning of the word.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, that’s not a name, though the basic point is the same. Other words that have been attacked are “picnic” and “black hole”. A Southwest Airlines stewardess was sued for saying, “Eeny, meeny, miney, moe, take a seat, we gotta go” — because one version of the nursery rhyme uses a forbidden word (which the stewardess likely didn’t even know). And a Cincinnati high school dropped the Agatha Christie play Ten Little Indians because the novel it was based on was originally titled (in Britain) using the same forbidden word.

      After all, one point of Newspeak was eliminating words, though this is more reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451 than 1984.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        You’ll have to explain the offense contained in “picnic.” I don’t see it. I remember hearing on Rush’s show that “black cloud” was also criticized as racially offensive. It’s easy to pass this stuff off as the product of panty-waste agitators. But the thought occurs to me that some people are so uneducated and so narrowly informed that they ready do believe the word “black” never existed before being a politer name for “negro.”

        I don’t remember the show, but there was some sci-fi show on TV where one race or class of people were referred to as “diggers.” Someone objected to this because it sounded similar to another word.

        Which would mean we’d have to dispense with words such as “shunt,” “punt,” “runt,” “stunt,” etc. Any word that merely rhymes with what is considered an insulting term must be verboten.

        Not only are such people the equivalent of modern Nazis but they are cracked. This is mental illness on display when people obsess over this kind of stuff.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          The claim was that “picnic” was some sort of racist comment on blacks, though I have no idea where the notion came from (aside from a determination to be outraged). You may also recall the Pennsylvania case over a Jewish student using “water buffalo” as an insult and being reflexively accused of racism.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            In a perfect world we treat everyone with the same respect and never is heard a discouraging word.

            In an *American* world we take a few lessons from Don Rickles and lighten the hell up…even laugh at our proclivities. Yes, blacks tend to like fried chicken (so do I) and whites can’t jump. So get over it. Jews are a little stingy with money. Asians work hard (and are pretty tight with their money as well). The Irish like to drink. The English have bad teeth. Women are too emotional. Men are often too logical. Samoans are fat. The Japanese have slanted eyes and eat rice. The Russians drink too much vodka. The French are effeminate but damn good cooks. The Canadians love hockey and pronounce their “Os” kind of funny.

            The world didn’t collapse for saying this. But we’re turning people into a bunch of language-Nazis by obsessing over all this stuff. And, by the way, the Germans make great toys.

          • Rosalys says:

            Perhaps the word picnic sounds too close to picaninny. That’s a word I know because my grandmother used it.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      There was a local city commissioner a while back (in the 80’s) who got in trouble using that term. At the time, I don’t believe I had ever heard the term before. It’s such a rare word, and one so obviously charged with connotations, that I wonder if that guy wasn’t just tweaking people.

      I’ll not shy from using the terms “black hole” or “black cloud.” Hell, I’m still going to sing “Don we now our gay apparel” and try not to smirk. But I’ll probably shy away from using “niggardly.”

      By the way, you “toot” the horn on your car and do not “honk” it because “honk” sounds too much like “honky.” Not sure what to call soda crackers anymore. And Pike’s Peak should be renamed because it sounds too much like “kike.”

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Let’s see, there was a Disney movie called The Black Hole, which actually dealt with a spaceship encountering one. Fred Hoyle’s first novel was The Black Cloud. And Sherlock Holmes uses “niggard” in “The Case of Charles Augustus Milverton”.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Although soda counters have just about disappeared from the scene, where I wonder have the soda jerks gone?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Soda jerks have been replaced by the various TV news program circle jerks. But that’s certainly a great old-fashioned term, Steve. Love it. Not sure what that derives from.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I don’t know how old it is, but it definitely gets used in “Officer Krupke” in West Side Story. “Dear kindly social worker, they tell me ‘get a job’. Like be a soda jerker, and that means I’m a slob.”

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            The term soda jerk derives from the motion the preparer makes pulling the handle at a soda counter. Our local drug store had a soda counter until the late 60s and I had the opportunity to learn the etymology of the term first hand, 🙂

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              There used to be an old soda shop in a large neighborhood in Spokane near to where my sister lived in the late 80’s. It’s gone now. But there’s a part of me that thinks there would be a market for something old-fashioned like that.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    There’s one word that may need to be added, according to an article today in The Blaze. The word is “taharrush”, and it’s an Arabic word used to describe group attacks on women such as happened in Cologne etc. on New Year’s Eve. Geert Wilders wondered about the desirability of bringing in people who have such a word. In any case, thanks to elites eager to prove Jean Raspail right, we will need to be aware of it. The link is:


    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The scandal is the fact that this “tahrrush” has been going on for months and governments and the media have been covering up the fact.

      This is the case, not only in Germany. The Swedes have been having problems with young Arab males for some time, but have kept a lid on the information.

      • Rosalys says:

        In fact “taharrush” has been going on in Arab countries for some years – but apparently, there they don’t consider it a problem.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Neither do immigration advocates in Europe and America — as long as they can keep what’s happening secret from the voters. Makes you wonder how much of it is happening here already, and simply not being reported.

  4. Rosalys says:

    A few years ago some overly sensitive moron tried to get people worked up about the official name of our state being “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” He wanted the part about plantations removed. This is a very historic name, and the very historic meaning of plantation is, “a settlement.” A settlement may or may not include slaves, but the word makes no reference to slavery at all. Fortunately, he was not able to get anyone ginned up over this non-controversy.

    I’m really getting tired of these people with so much time on their hands, that they can sit around dreaming up this ridiculous stuff.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Oh….I thought it was because it was an affront to plants. Thanks for the clarification.

      And, really, some people do have much too much time on their hands. There are better things to do in life than all this superficial moral preening.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Even a plantation doesn’t necessarily involve slaves. Many Southern plantations survived the War after all, and continued to operate without slaves. (Many years ago, we visited Belle Meade in Nashville, which post-bellum was run by former Confederate cavalry general William H. Jackson as a supplier of horses.) In fact, I’ve seen (but never bought or read) a book about an early 19th Century Virginia plantation owner who opposed slavery and operated with free labor.

      • Rosalys says:

        And what about the Southern, free blacks who owned slaves? Granted there weren’t a lot of them, but they did exists. I read somewhere that one of the biggest slave traders in the antebellum era was a black!

        • Timothy Lane says:

          In New Orleans, there were enough free men of color (some of them indeed slave-owners) to form a pair of militia regiments that were available to the Confederates (and ready to serve, though they were never activated). When B. F. Butler took over the city, he decided that they were still available for activation. He did insist that no slaves be used — but they were simply asked if they were free blacks, and we all know who questions like that work. Butler knew that, but it was good enough to serve his purposes.

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