Proving that they’re more out of touch than thought possible, GOP lawmakers in Ohio on Wednesday called on the president to shift his focus back onto an issue that shouldn’t even be up for debate: the name of Mt. Denali.
Eleven lawmakers sent a letter to Trump in which they wrote that it was “disrespectful” for Obama to change the name of the mountain. Obama renamed the mountain to Mt. Denali, reversing the decision to rename the mountain after William McKinley, a former president from Ohio, in 1896.
The lawmakers’ request is symptomatic of a larger, more sinister plan for the United States – the GOP’s quest to preserve the structures of power as they stand. Anyone who isn’t white, male, and Christian doesn’t deserve to be honored. And even more urgent appears to be the need to reverse any trace of the legacy left behind by America’s first black president.
“President William McKinley’s legacy should not be compromised by a political stunt.”
“Mr. President, we appreciate your comments opposing the Obama administration’s actions and stand ready to work with you to preserve William McKinley’s legacy by restoring President William McKinley’s name to the Alaska mountain.”
The move was not exactly a political stunt, but a decision by a former president to reverse the erasure of history committed by America’s historically white, male government. What is disrespectful is the lawmakers’ assertion that honoring the history of Alaska is offensive.
According to Live Science, the word “Denali” comes from Koyukon, which is one of the Athabascan languages traditionally spoken in Alaska. The word for the mountain in Koyukon, “Deenaalee,” is ancient and may have been used by native Alaskans as early as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
In 1896, a political supporter of William McKinley started calling the mountain Mt. McKinley, and in 1917, Congress officially recognized the name, effectively erasing millennia of culture and history to honor the legacy of a white man.
Current members of Congress representing Alaska have resisted Trump administration efforts to change the name back to Mt. McKinley.
Let’s call this what it is: white supremacy in action.