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It’s all about lines.
Where is your line? It varies from topic to topic.
Lately everyone, it seems, is expressing their line on almost every topic.
I have a very firm line of no ketchup on a hot dog. Never.
Daniel Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, has been criticized for his team’s name for decades. He once said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER. You can use caps.”
NEVER appears to have finally arrived for Snyder, as he announced last week he will consider a new name.
The FedEx Corp., which paid the team $205 million for the naming rights to FedEx Field, where Washington plays, recently requested the team change its name. Several Native American leaders asked Snyder to change the team name over the years, and the Oneida Tribe from Wisconsin asked FedEx six years ago to reconsider its naming of the stadium. Those pleas didn’t affect Snyder, because he had a line. And it stopped at changing the team’s name.
Now Snyder’s line has moved, and the team is now looking at a name change.
Was it the $205 million? Did he have a change of heart, or do more research about the Native Americans’ request? Did he realize his team represents a city whose population is majority African-American?
Some will criticize Snyder for caving in or selling out: “Why didn’t you stand your line, Dan? You’re going to erase more than 80 years of history?”
Others will ask what took so long: “Stanford University got rid of its Indians nickname 48 years ago, Dan.”
There is now discussion of changing the name of Oñate High School in Las Cruces.
The school, established in 1988, is named for Juan de Oñate, a Spanish conquistador, who led the quest to establish New Mexico as a colony for his country, beginning in 1598. He headed north from Mexico (New Spain), with an expedition to establish the colony, also driven by the search for a legendary treasure. He executed people in his own party, and took Native Americans as slaves, torturing and slaughtering many of them. He was notorious for cutting off their feet to hobble and control them.
Oñate became governor of the New Mexico colony (Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico), but resigned in 1607, and at trial, was found guilty of cruelty, immorality and other crimes. His conviction was reversed in 1624, but he was not restored to the governorship.
What will happen if Las Cruces Public Schools decides to change the name of OHS?
Some will criticize the school board for caving in or selling out: “Why didn’t you stand your line? You can’t change history, and we would not be where we are today if Oñate hadn’t established this territory.”
Others will ask what took so long: “Why are we educating our young people in a building named for a violent, gold-hungry murderer?”
There are some lines that extend for everyone. Example. What if, instead of Oñate, the school had been named for Dr. Mortimer McTavish (I made up that name). In this fictional scenario, McTavish had been a respected principal, and later advocated for a third high school in Las Cruces, eventually becoming superintendent of LCPS. Let’s say, when the new building opened in 1993, it was named McTavish High School. Then, say, in 1999, McTavish was convicted of statutory rape of five students.
McTavish’s updated status as a convicted felon didn’t change the things he accomplished in the school system. But I think everyone in Las Cruces would be screaming to change the name of the school. I bet everyone would agree a school named for a pedophile was beyond their collective line.
I use the Oñate High School name issue to represent hundreds of names and monuments now being re-evaluated in our country right now. Should we change names? Should we take down statues?
These are good questions we should be asking ourselves right now. And the important part of that is, I believe, asking “ourselves.” Don’t ask your neighbor, borrow an opinion from a TV commentator, check your social media group or listen to a local newspaper columnist. Ask yourself.
Where is your line? And why do you draw it where it is?