By Tony Farkas
I think about overreach a lot. Readers probably get that.
Things like Sunday, in which we marched like lemmings to our clocks to change the flow of time, all at the behest of a government that thought by shifting the hours of the day around like chess pieces that our energy use would be less. Or something.
Then there’s the whole idea behind electric cars, which also is supposed to save energy, the ozone layer and the earth from global warming by shifting the use of fossil fuels to power plants (gotta charge them critters somehow) and scarring the landscape looking for lithium for batteries.
These are just a few examples of what people who consider themselves cognoscenti do to protect the people from themselves. Why, we can’t even be trusted with history.
Now we are going protect people by erasing pesky, unappealing history by changing the names — of birds.
According to many news reports, birds names are “problematic” because they sport names of, according to a CNN report, of “White men with ‘objectively horrible pasts.’”
One twit of an “expert” said that naming conventions of the 1800 were steeped in racism misogyny and really didn’t work by today’s standards, as if changing the names of birds will somehow right the wrongs of history.
This is just the latest of what George Orwell warned us about in his novel “1984.”
He said, “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
You’ve seen this happening before. There is a movement in the sports world to rename or replace mascots because of cultural disintegration by using the name Redskins or Indians.
There was the summer of our discontent, where statues depicting historical figures who had unsavory ideas or actions were toppled; recently, a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was melted down to make “artwork” that is more inclusive in nature.
There’s a longstanding pitched battle over the use of the Confederate flag, which many people equated to slavery, but originally only a battle flag for the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee’s home state.
Now, bird watchers around the country will no longer search for the elusive Wilson’s warbler or Wilson’s snipe, named for a naturalist who held unpalatable ideas; Hammond’s flycatcher, named for a man who looked down on Blacks as lesser peoples; or the Audubon’s shearwater, since John Audubon apparently had little use for Black people.
Other names on the chopping block are the thick-billed longspur, which refers to a Confederate general; Anna’s hummingbird; Gambel’s quail, Lewis’ woodpecker; and even the humble Bewick’s wren.
The experts will tell you that names “have power,” for good or for evil, and that inclusivity is the way to go. An agency will be formed scientists, because we always believe science (see COVID), and upwards of 80 bird species will have their names expunged from the annals of history and society, puppies and democracy will be safe again.
Me, I’ll stick with a couple of “scientists” who make sense, such as George Santayana who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” or Lt. Nyota Uhura, who told Abraham Lincoln, “In our century we’ve learned not to fear words.”
Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard and the San Jacinto News-Times