The Intrepid Explorer – April 29

Just when you think you have seen all the aspects that can show a great lack of intelligence or common sense, BAM! You’re sideswiped for being stupid and thinking such nonsense yourself.

Scientists, who we assume are intelligent individuals, are asking for help to rename racist insects. They are seeking the removal of names that are inappropriate or offensive. I didn’t know ethnic insults were an issue in the insect world.

Ethnic slurs are only available with our human interpretation, which, now in the birth of the new world order, have become confusing and somewhat delusional. Bugs go through life being nothing but a bug.

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) announced the common names for the Gypsy moth and the Gypsy ant will be removed from its Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List. The names had been scrapped as they were identified as containing a derogatory term for the Romani people.

For myself, and the group of social misfits that I hold close, the term gypsy is a compliment, a badge of honor. Gypsies are a symbol of freethinking, free-living individuals that live a nomadic life and hold no permanent address.

The term gypsy originated from an ethnic group of people called the Roma or the Romani. The Romani people are a nomadic ethnic group of travelers and vagabonds.

The Roma are descendants of people who left northwestern India 1,500 years ago. In the centuries that followed, Romani people spread throughout Europe and the Americas. Today, the Romani are a diverse people living in every inhabited continent in the world.

As the ESA tries to find the right word, they have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the knowledge that the very gypsy it is trying to not offend has their own word for a non-Romani person, a gorger. A gorger is also a synonym for glutton, or someone who gorges on great amounts of food.

Gypsies form a very tight-knit community, so it’s no surprise that they have a term for outsiders. This is perhaps not unlike the respective outsider of the Spanish (gringo) or the Jewish (goy) and, dare I say, cracker?

But all this talk and confusion about gypsies and moths is nothing but fluttering around a bright light. The other act of sending out and putting forth is the renaming of our mountains, rivers and anything else that might have an obscure offensive name.

The U.S. Interior is taking steps to rename mountains, rivers and other sites. It has stated that there are thousands of offensive and derogatory names on federal public lands that perpetuate a history of colonization and oppression.

A new bill has been introduced calling for the renaming of over 1,000 locations that have offensive names. Sens. Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, reintroduced the Reconciliation in Place Names Act. This bill would look at geographic areas such as national forests and wilderness areas that have racist and bigoted names, as well as names of individuals who have upheld slavery, committed unspeakable acts against Native Americans or led Confederate war efforts.

It was first introduced in the House by then-Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., now secretary of the Interior and the first Native American in that position. Green, who was first a co-sponsor of the bill with Haaland, said in a statement, “Derogatory terms should not be included in the names of geographical places across the landscape of our nation. These terms are harmful relics from the era of invidious yet lawful discrimination that must be removed from public property.”

According to the announcement of the bill, Markey released a statement depicting over 1,400 federally recognized places that were identified as having questionable names. The United States Geological Survey’s database brings up over 600 locations across the U.S. with the name “Negro,” an outdated name for African Americans. “Squaw,” a racist and sexist term for Native American women, found on numerous creeks and locations through the West.

There are also the names of notorious historical figures that can be found at numerous locations across the country. Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president whose face is on the $20 bill, was a slave owner.

Jackson's name is affixed to not only about 20 schools across the nation, but also to a post office branch in California and a private dam overseen by a Boy Scout troop in Mississippi.

Name changes to geographic locations and to institutions have been happening with greater regularity, particularly due to protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in May 2020 that raised issues of racial insensitivity.

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.” This is a quote of Albert Einstein and one that should be heard.

I believe it’s everyone’s right to freethinking and free speech. I believe your cause should be heard and your passion exposed, but be sure you are not putting a band-aid on something that is not bleeding when there are more ways to heal the disturbance. Are all these trivial matters swaying focus on the real issues at hand?

Changing a name is more than just swapping a sign. It has nothing to do with changing the past, as the past is just that. What needs to be done is to just look at all the things in the past, good and bad, so corrections can be made for the future. Names are only names; a noun that can be replaced by a pronoun, but that will be another column. I can’t even stop calling Ridley’s, Faler’s. - dbA

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