So far, they have lost this battle: “We decided not to judge Audubon by modern standards”
For a group of people who claim they don’t want former president Donald Trump back in the White House, the radical woke left seems keen on doubling down on the exact radical policies and woke encroachment into our lives and culture that created a space for Trump in American politics in the first place.
Apparently reading George Orwell’s 1984 as a how-to manual rather than as the dire warning it was intended, regressive leftists assault our history and culture, battering away at everything from the innocence of our nation’s children to erasing history by dismantling statues to renaming . . . everything. They have been busily working steadily to an Orwellian Year Zero.
The latest insidious attempt to destroy a long-standing American “brand” (if you can stand the word, I barely can these days) is the on-going lobbying for the iconic Audubon Society to change its name because racism. Or slavery, I guess, since John Audubon, for whom the society is named, owned slaves over 170 years ago.
For decades, the society has quietly protected birds, wildlands, and parks without getting anyone’s beak out of joint. But lately, members of this organization have got their feathers ruffled over a very human issue: race.
The problem is Audubon himself, who lived from 1785 to 1851, and owned at least nine black slaves who worked the family home in Henderson, Kentucky. “He also used enslaved people as assistants in the field while he was shooting birds to collect specimens,” adds Gregory Nobles, a biographer who says Audubon was dismissive of the abolition movement and frequently hunted in the South. “At one point, Audubon took two enslaved men down the Mississippi to New Orleans and sold them. I don’t know how you can spend so much time in close quarters with people and then sell both the boat and the men.”
Records show Audubon also robbed Native American graves and collected human skulls. Today, many consider him a racist even though some believe he may have been mixed-race, owing to a Creole mother, and passed himself off as white.
“Simply to say he was a man of his time and bore no responsibility on slavery is historically and intellectually a mistake,” Nobles asserts.
Now, some Audubon birders want the national society’s name changed. They believe a rebrand will help conservation because more people of all races will be attracted to the cause (although no alternative titles have been agreed upon). Opponents argue that changing the name means losing brand affinity. Most Americans—including big donors—associate Audubon with birds, they say, and changing the name risks the very conservation they seek to promote.
This is just insane. How on earth would anyone even know about Audubon owning slaves nearly two centuries ago if the Audubon people pushing this name change didn’t tell them? How can that possibly be relevant to their mission? And what do they think will happen? They’re suddenly ‘Birds Are Us,’ and all the black people will magically become conservationists? They were staying away because of some obscure historical factoid? Give me a break.
Anyone interested in conservation is already working in or for it, or donating to the Audubon Society because its name is synonymous not with a slave-owning historical figure but with wild birds.
Thankfully, the board voted against this needless crazy. The vote ended with board members quitting, and frankly, the Audubon Society is probably better off without such people. That said, the left never gives up. They never take a stab at something, fail, and then fall back on to the couch, shruggingly accepting a loss. They just keep going, fully expecting the rest of us to relent.
Surprisingly, perhaps, one voice of sanity at Audubon was that of a self-described progressive.
The Free Press continues:
. . . . the task force’s internal report recommended a name change. And yet—in a shock move—the board voted against it.
And though the board announced plans to devote $25 million to diversity programs, three board members resigned in protest over the decision to keep the Audubon name.
“He was a racist, a slave owner, he desecrated Indian burial sites,” Erin Giese, one of the board members who quit, told me.
. . . . Almdale, in Los Angeles, made it clear he was against the change both nationally and locally at his 800-strong Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society, posting about name changes on his chapter’s blog. His local club didn’t even take the debate to a vote, he told me.
“We decided not to judge Audubon by modern standards,” Almdale said.
He says the division isn’t red versus blue. It’s far-left versus center-left. And it’s more generational than racial.
“I’m basically a progressive,” says Almdale, who drives a Prius, voted for Hillary and Biden, and calls himself a Never Trumper. “I’m old, I’m white, I’m a man. So what? I’m angry. Audubon’s known for birds, for helping and enjoying them. If we change, what are we?”
He calls the battle over language a “divider” and “propaganda.”
He’s not wrong.
The Audubon Society and American Ornithological Society are apparently being besieged with petitions to change the names of birds. Of birds. Because “colonialism.”
Again from the Free Press:
But after petitions and a fierce online campaign, the American Ornithological Society officially renamed McCown’s longspur to the thick-billed longspur in 2020.
Today there are 155 North American bird names on a change list that “represent colonialism,” according to two ornithologists who started the list in 2020. That includes Hammond’s flycatcher, named after William Alexander Hammond, a U.S. surgeon general, and Townsend’s warbler, named after John Kirk Townsend, a Quaker naturalist who hailed from a family of abolitionists. The work of both men, according to a Washington Post op-ed written by the change list authors, led to the desecration of Native American graves.
“We cannot subjectively decide—especially if the adjudicators are White—that some names can be retained because they are associated with less abhorrent pasts than others,” the ornithologists Gabriel Foley and Jordan Rutter argued in their piece. “We must remove all eponymous names. The stench of colonialism has saturated each of its participants, and the honor inherent within their names must be revoked.”
All the eye rolls.
This insidious attack on our nation’s history and its historical figures can no longer be humored or tolerated. It’s (past) time to stop this nonsense in its tracks. Because we know from studying history or can surmise from reading 1984 exactly where all this leads. Nowhere good.
The dystopian hellscape the left has in store for us is taking form in blue states like California and in our biggest cities. Year Zero is not the beginning of some marvelous utopian paradise; it’s Aldous Huxley’s brave new world, the end of everything we know and love, of America herself. Enough is enough.
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