MY PC – If you Google, you can find these photos taken around July 4, 1913, the 50th reunion of soldiers on both sides who fought at Gettysburg. Some are in their uniforms, blue or gray, with medals. They are aging gray beards, a few with only one leg or a single arm, smiling for joint photos or kneeling in the dirt drawing maps of where they were on July 1 through 3, 1863. They seem to be getting along, considering that 50 years prior, which would be 1970 for us today, they were trying to kill one another. Obviously they didn’t, but we can only wonder what they would think of us. Maybe they would say, “Did any of you pedestal-pullers ever put on a uniform?” or, “It’s about time.”
So let us discuss Eskimos, what Beaumont needs and why quoting a Viking can get you in trouble. Let’s start with Eskimo. After 99 years, Dreyer’s Grand, a U.S. subsidiary of Froneri, which owns Eskimo Pie, said it acknowledges the name is “derogatory” and will change it. Speaking of the cold, the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League have been called that alliteration for more than 100 years, but will look for a new name. In the meantime, the club will use the titles EE Football Team and Edmonton Football Team. Very catchy. Its Board of Directors ordered the change following a decision by the Washington Redskins to change their title. I agree. The very name “Washington Redskins” is an embarrassment to the nation and to the world. I suggest the Chevy Chase Redskins. The Atlanta Braves have removed a “Chop On” sign that sat near an entrance to their stadium, have dropped the tomahawk chop hand signal used by the fans and changed its slogan from “Chop On” to “For The A” for the 2020 season, but will keep their name – so far. The Cleveland Indians are under pressure to change the team’s name after having dropped the controversial logo Chief Wahoo last year.
Speaking of Native Americans, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA, has been named that as long as the rivers flow and the sun rises, but may soon be renamed the Bureau of Noble Tribes Who Had Their Homelands Stolen by the Round Eyes. (Darryl Lacounte is serving as acting BIA Director. He is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.) BIA is the oldest agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, established in 1824, by John C. Calhoun. Because he strongly defended slavery, Calhoun is having his name removed from Calhoun College at his alma mater, Yale. It will be renamed for computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper. It didn’t stop there. Calhoun, who served in several offices including vice president, is one of 10 white men – mostly Southerners — whose statues may be removed from the U.S. Capitol. And down in Mississippi they are looking for a new state flag.
Getting back to food brands, Quaker Oats has announced that it will rebrand Aunt Jemima. The companies that make Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Cream of Wheat announced reviews of their products’ labels and branding. Land O’Lakes has removed a Native American woman from its products. Then there is poor Trader Joe’s, which is renaming and repackaging its foods. The company thought it was being cute by naming such products as Trader Ming’s for foods and condiments related to Chinese cuisine, Arabian Joe brands for Middle Eastern foods, Trader José’s for Mexican-style products and Trader Giotto’s for Italian-themed items. The changes came after petitions demanded the re-labelling, but there are two other petitions being circulated that must cause confusion in Trader Joe’s corporate HQ. One calls for the company to reduce plastic packaging — it has 124,000 signatures, and another begs the company to open a branch in Beaumont — it has more than 2,800 signatures.
Even the entrainment world is changing. The Dixie Chicks are now just the Chicks. Lady Antebellum is now Lady A. Meantime, Walt Disney is making some changes. Its “Song of the South” won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Original Song, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and was a financial success. But today Uncle Remus spinning stories to a white boy is considered racist. Disney has not released “Song of the South” on any home video format in the U.S. The Disney theme park ride Splash Mountain is based on that film’s animated sequences, but this past June Disney announced the U.S. versions of the ride would be reworked to be based on the 2009 animated film “The Princess and the Frog” instead. Royalty and frogs might object.
We have recently discussed the drives at UT and Texas A&M to remove statues, names on buildings, change the name of the UT football stadium, and replace “The Eyes of Texas.” At Aggieland, there is a movement to take down the statue of an A&M president, Sul Ross, who saved the school as it was about to be abolished. A recent photo shows, perched atop the statue, a protesting student from Huntington, New York. Could I go to Huntington and climb on top of a gas pump? Huntington is the only township in the United States to ban self-service gas stations.
Finally, we have this, preceding the current frenzy. On Jan. 15, 1999, David Howard, an aide to Anthony A. Williams, the mayor of Washington, D.C., used “niggardly” in reference to a budget. This apparently upset one of his black colleagues, who thought it was a racial slur and lodged a complaint. As a result, on Jan. 25, Howard resigned, and Mayor Williams accepted it on the grounds that Howard had shown “poor judgment.” However, after public pressure and an internal review, the mayor offered Howard the chance to return to his position as Office of the Public Advocate on Feb. 4. Howard refused but accepted another position. The word means “stingy” and is of Scandinavian origin going back to the Vikings.
Ashby’s statue is at firstname.lastname@example.org