To the editor:
I rather liked having North America’s highest mountain named Mount McKinley. I took pride in that fact. He’s the only president who attended my undergraduate college.
From a more realistic perspective, however, William McKinley had no reasonable claim on the landmark. There was no real tie between the Ohio native and Alaska’s dramatic mountain.
The McKinley name emerged in the late 19th century when one person wanted to honor a political candidate he supported. In contrast to that, the mountain had long born another name given it by Native Americans who lived all around the mountain and revered it many ways. In a sense, it was their mountain. They had a right to name it.
In other words, when one man (with some later “official” action) changed the mountain’s name, essentially he was “stealing” it from the very people whose lives were so much a part of the mountain.
I regret that some of our leaders object to restoring the rightful, long revered name to the mountain. Of course, petulant political posturing is never surprising. Not only is the name change the moral and honorable thing to do, their manufactured umbrage about a small matter is out of proportion to the issues of greater consequence which should demand the attention of those leaders.
Some try to justify their “righteous rants” by complaining that the administration acted without congressional approval. Given that this action was long overdue, one wonders why Congress itself didn’t have the historic honesty and ethical courage to do the “right thing.” Alas, it’s too common with today’s “do-nothing” Congress to twiddle its thumbs – and then find excuses to blame the president.
I also wonder if the Republican resistance to restoring the Native American name to the mountain is but another example of its insensitivity to the dreams and concerns of ethnic peoples. What a sad commentary on a once-proud party.
William A. McCartney
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