In a Sunday editorial, we noted the terrible toll the Islamic State has exacted on antiquities and relics across Iraq and Syria. Irreplaceable artifacts from civilization’s dawn are being heedlessly destroyed and plundered. It’s a loss not just for the Middle East, but for all of......
Not since Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner has a name change stirred so much disputation.
On Sunday, just before President Obama jetted off to Alaska on a trip designed to shine the spotlight on climate change, his administration announced Mount McKinley, the nation’s highest peak at 20,320 feet, would be renamed Denali, which is the moniker native Alaskans affixed to it for hundreds of years.
“Denali” means, variously, “the high one,” “the tall one” or “the great one,” and, in relative terms, the Mount McKinley appelation was a recent development. It got that name as a result of a law approved by Congress in 1917.
“Denali” got there first, and has hundreds of years on “Mount McKinley.” “Denali” it should be.
However, much of the Ohio congressional delegation, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, were up in arms about the name change, suggesting it’s a slap to William McKinley, the nation’s 25th president, a Republican and a native of Canton, Ohio, who was felled by an assassin’s bullet in 1901. Perhaps predictably, there were also cries the name change represents an act of overbearing political correctness, and Obama is defying Congress. Perhaps the most incendiary response came from U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, whose congressional district includes Canton. He thundered that making the switch from Mount McKinley to Denali was “a political stunt,” and it was “insulting to all Ohioans.” Gibbs vowed he would work to have Denali become Mount McKinley again, and “I hope my colleagues will join with me in stopping this constitutional overreach.”
We’re guessing, however, Gibbs’ call to battle will not stir many recruits. There are still a few supercentenarians out there who were born during the McKinley administration, but they surely have no memories of McKinley. Few if any historians place him in the top tier of presidents, while his vice president and successor, Theodore Roosevelt, is carved into Mount Rushmore. William McKinley is not a president who today provokes much in the way of interest or passion. Chances are, Gibbs’ constituents are much more concerned about issues like economic growth and infrastructure than whether a long-dead president is being sufficiently honored.
Besides, lawmakers in Alaska have been pleading since at least 1975 to change the name of the mountain to Denali. However, they were continually thwarted by Ralph Regula, an Ohio congressman who kept filing resolutions every couple of years the Mount McKinley name should be retained. A compromise of sorts was thought to have been reached in 1980, when the area around the mountain was named Denali National Park and Reserve.
The reading of the law that gives the Obama administration the authority to change the name is knotty but appears to be sound – because there was always pending legislation about the name of the mountain, the United States Board of Geographic Names resisted making a change. However, a 1947 law gives the Interior secretary the authority to change names when the board is stymied or does not act.
We have a suggestion: If, in another 100 years or so, Ohio and Alaska are still feuding over the name of the mountain, the dispute should be settled by having each congressional delegation climb to the top of it. Whoever gets there first gets to choose the name.
In a column that appeared in Monday’s Observer-Reporter, radio and television columnist Terry Hazlett makes a thought-provoking argument – that Bud Yorkin, the television producer, moviemaker and Washington native who died last month at age 89, had a greater impact on popular culture than some of the other, more celebrated figures from the county who made a name for themselves in the entertainment world, such as singers Perry Como and Bobby Vinton, “Silver Bells” composer Jay Livingston or, more recently, television producer Abraham Higginbotham.
Yorkin’s name may not have been one that tumbled readily off the lips, especially in recent years, and you won’t find any statues commemorating his achievements anywhere in Washington County. But, yes, the argument Yorkin had a broader impact on popular culture is a solid one.
Having labored in the movies and television for years, Yorkin made his imprint in the 1970s by helping to shepherd into existence the sitcoms “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons,” “Sanford and Son” and “Good Times.” Bowing in an era marked by social turbulence and rapidly changing mores, these sitcoms, while entertaining, confronted issues that were perplexing the nation, and some episodes didn’t have pat, happy endings – one particularly memorable episode of “All in the Family” from 1973 began with swastikas being painted on Archie Bunker’s Queens house, and ended with the leader of a Jewish vigilante group being killed as a result of a car bomb. As Hazlett pointed out, characters in these television series were far from Ozzie and Harriet: “Their lives became entangled in layoffs, menopause, divorce and abortion. Characters didn’t merely have flaws, they embellished them. And some of them died.”
Forty years after Yorkin’s heyday, we are more inclined than ever to let it all hang out on television, at the movies and in all forms of popular media. For better or worse, Yorkin helped to bring that about.
Along with the Super Bowl trophies and the roll call of Hall-of-Fame players, part of the mythology surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers is they are a professional sports franchise committed to doing things “the right way” – they want to uphold high standards of personal......