Small state, smaller racial idea

It’s always painful to admit ignorance, so it hurts when I say I had no idea that the full name of the state of Rhode Island is “the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (Photo: The Boston Globe)

I’ve been there, had friends who lived there and showed me the Gilded Age mansions of the rich who spent their summers in Newport. 

The official name is in the process of being changed, because of the word “plantations.”

In the report of the “why,” the story erroneously references the name’s “connection to slavery.”

The name has no connection to slavery, but the state does. 

Rhode Island’s Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order to change the name, even though 10 years ago, 78% of voters rejected the name change.

“Many of the State’s residents find it painful that a word so closely associated with slavery should appear in the official name of the State,” Raimondo wrote. “The pain that this association causes to some of our residents should be of concern to all Rhode Islanders and we should do everything in our power to ensure that all communities can take pride in our State.”

So let’s cancel the word “plantation” because it triggers some people. 

Here I admit another ignorance — that although Rhode Island abolished slavery in 1652, the law was not enforced and Rhode Island was active in the slave trade. For a long time.

The governor’s executive order makes no mention of the state’s actual involvement with slavery. 

That means it is a meaningless placebo, one that obscures the real truth.

It reminds me of the aide to the mayor of Washington D.C., who was forced to resign for using the word “niggardly,” which means stingy. He lost his job (he was later rehired) because of howls of the ignorant who thought he had used the N-word.

Raimondo’s executive order is only step one. Rhode Island will again put it to a vote, and the result might be different this time because America is engaged in a massive self-purification in favor of  racial justice and this name change might be confused with actual change.

It would certainly give the students at Brown University something to do with their free time.

If the bill passes, will it stop there?

Rhode Island’s nickname is the Ocean State.

How were slaves transported from Africa to the Western Hemisphere? The ocean. 

What if, in the words of the executive order, “residents find it painful that a word so closely associated with slavery” is still used?

It’s got to go. It’s back to, “We are small, really small. Tiny, you might say.”

The ignorant and the PC are on the march.

17 thoughts on “Small state, smaller racial idea”

  1. “He who controls the past controls the future.” First, the PC bandits will erase our past (the good parts), and then re-write the past stressing the awful parts, telling us they are doing so merely that a better future can be created — “better” being in the eyes of the PC bandits. It will not be long before our children will be taught “history” as the PC bandits have recreated it, teaching nothing but the bad and nothing of the good. Said children will then grow up with a twisted (but to them normal) understanding of our nation’s history. If present-day Americans who know of the good and the bad (and there are fewer of us every day) do not find this terrifying, then we truly have lost our way.

  2. Thank you (again) for pointing out the current level of craziness (or mishigas if you prefer) surrounding everything in today’s “Name Game.” While I do agree that certain adjustments should be made regarding specific items, as you have otherwise noted, the PC police are on a rampage.

    I guarantee you that the word “plantation” will not change in Central or South American countries. There are 3 cities in the US with name “Plantation,” – located in MS, FL, and KY; all confederate states at the time. Be interesting to see when the racial equity marches start in to these particular cities.

    In the “waiting for the other stupid shoe to drop” department, I’m waiting for the fruit called a “plantain” to be required renamed because it’s too close in name to plantation.

    How will the world remember this time period ? We had the stone age. The bronze, industrial, etc. We can’t be the “stoned” age. That was the ’70s ! Maybe the far left since the dark ages was already used. Could it be the “P.C.” years ?
    Obviously, none of this makes any sense, nor is it supposed to.

  4. This is happening in all areas of discourse. Realtors are now considering not using the moniker “master” for bedroom, because it evokes master-slave for some people. Randy mentioned Central and South America and it made me wonder if the woke PC crowd will now demand that Spanish, which has feminine and masculine forms in the language, neutralize that language. And why stop there, Polish, German, French, Italian — all soon to be gender neutral?

  5. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    Nice piece.

    I’d say that the PC rampage is basically ahistorical. It depends on Americans’ prevalent ignorance of their own history. It is only for that reason that the left-puritans get away with ignoring the positive story of U.S. social and political development–over-emphasizing everything that serves their political agenda. Complaints and disgraces are usually amplified by social media, and in the corporate media generally, while genuine history, including the positive and the negative, requires a longer attention span.

    What is fundamental here, beyond the general ignorance, is the simple fact that we have come to conduct politics by media campaigns, on the model of selling soap-powder. This is basically anti-intellectual.

    The seventeenth and eighteenth century usage of “plantation,” had primarily to do with the “planting” of colonies in the new world. Whatever we may properly criticize in the history of Rhode Island, it doesn’t include the prevalence of Southern-style, slave-based “plantations.” R.I. was, in fact, founded by religious dissidents fleeing the orthodoxy of Puritan Massachusetts. That the present Governor of R.I. should make this plea to change the name of the state shows the vagueness and “guilt by association” character of the PC campaigns. The details of history, the “better and worse” of historical judgments simply doesn’t interest them. The PC folks, or left-puritans, are tied together by media image-making and trendy iconoclasm.

    The real issue of current interest is protests against police brutality, and the endangerment of the public by the militarization of the police–post 9/11. Beyond that, of course, we are witnessing a good deal of instinctive rebellion by young people fed up with their own economic insecurity and the corresponding dominance of the globalizing corporations –which have chiefly benefit from growing economic inequalities over several decades. “Identity politics” distracts attention from the deeper problems of American society. That is part of the reason it is so popular. You don’t have to question the economic powers-that-be. Or to put the point another way, the trendy left has deserted the economic interest of ordinary people–of every race.

    H.G. Callaway

  6. Our education system is the root of the culural revolution. This article speaks of the how.

    Washington Times
    Howard Zinn Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times
    Socialism, Howard Zinn and his fake history
    ‘A People’s History of the United States’ was couched in the language of Marxist class warfare

    By Robert Knight –
    Sunday, January 5, 2020

    Why do so many young people hate America and think we’d be better off as a socialist country?

    We’ve all heard about the impact of “fake news,” but there’s something even more dangerous: Teaching “fake history.”

    “If you think that it is outrageous that Democratic presidential candidates want to eliminate the southern border and that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls our detention facilities there ‘concentration camps,’ then you haven’t been reading and believing Howard Zinn’s best-selling ‘A People’s History of the United States,’” writes Mary Grabar, Ph.D.

    First published in 1980, “A People’s History” has sold more than 2.5 million copies and is in virtually every school district, university and local library.

    Zinn (1922-2010) chaired the history and social sciences departments at Spelman College (which he helped radicalize), and was a political science professor at Boston University.

    “A People’s History” paints America as a darkly evil nation whose every advance came at others’ expense. In 2007, “A Young People’s History of the United States” was published in two volumes (“Columbus to the Spanish-American War” and “Class Struggle to the War on Terror”).

    In her long-needed and extensive corrective, “Debunking Howard Zinn” (Regnery 2019), Ms. Grabar provides numerous examples of Zinn’s revisionism:

    • America discoverer Christopher Columbus? A genocidal maniac, driven by lust for gold and murder. Zinn juxtaposed passages from Columbus’ diaries to construct outright lies about him.

    • The English settlers at Jamestown, Virginia, and Plymouth, Massachusetts? Perpetrators of “genocide.”

    • America’s Founders? Greedy exploiters who fought a revolution not for liberty but for their own class-driven acquisition of wealth and power.

    • The United States in World War II? No better than Hitler’s Germany or Japan. In fact, America fought only because our “main interest was not stopping Fascism but advancing the imperial interests of the United States.”

    • The Marshall Plan, in which the United States spent billions restoring war-torn Europe? The real purpose was “to creat[e] a network of American corporate control over the globe.”

    • America’s internment of Japanese-Americans during the war? No different from Hitler’s extermination camps, in which 6 million Jews were systematically murdered.

    • North Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh? A people’s leader and liberator.

    Everything Zinn wrote was couched in the language of Marxist class warfare. Key events were omitted. The mass slaughter that followed the Communist takeover of Cambodia? Good luck finding it in “A People’s History.” Like his fellow Communist historians in Moscow, Zinn conveniently “disappeared” the more than 2 million murdered by Cambodia’s Communist dictator Pol Pot.

    Zinn was a member of numerous Soviet front groups, and he helped found the socialist New Party, which helped Barack Obama launch his political career. Zinn mentored a young neighbor in Connecticut, Matt Damon, who went on to be a movie star, and who plugged “A People’s History” in his film “Good Will Hunting.”

    Zinn helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a communist organization that undermined the non-communist National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and instigated political violence.

    As for fake history, “Zinn did everything — misrepresented sources, omitted critical information, falsified evidence, and plagiarized,” Ms. Grabar writes. “Zinn liked to pretend [that] he wrote a ‘people’s’ history, telling the bottom-up story of neglected and forgotten men and women. The problem is that he falsified American history to promote Communist revolution. … all the while denying that he was a Communist.”

    Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Zinn warned that concern over communism was due to “hysteria,” and he denied that there was any worldwide movement anchored in the USSR and Communist China.

    In 1967, he lectured that, “We need to get accustomed to the idea that there will be more Communist countries in the world, and that this is not necessarily bad.”

    In a chapter titled “The Coming Revolt of the Guards,” a term that includes homeowners, taxpayers and other middle-class folk, Zinn states flatly that “capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle class.”

    That would be news to a lot of people. Most of America’s poor live better than billions of people around the world who don’t have electricity, indoor plumbing, televisions, cars, smartphones, access to medical care and dentistry and other modern advances.

    After this predicted “revolt,” Zinn envisions a utopian future in which “certain basic things” would be “taken out of the money system and be available — free — to everyone: food, housing, health care, education, transportation.”

    If this sounds familiar, it’s because leading Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are promising the same pie-in-the-sky results to their Free Stuff Army. To pay for it, both plan massive tax increases on what’s left of the private sector.

    The reason this insane, economically illiterate, un-American scheme appeals to so many is that they’ve been miseducated via Howard Zinn into thinking that they live in a bad country that must be rebuilt as a socialist paradise.

    “A People’s History of the United States” should be taken out of the schools and relegated, like “The Communist Manifesto,” to libraries.

    But there should be a copy of “Debunking Howard Zinn” right next to it.

    • Robert Knight is a contributor to The Washington Times

  7. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Tom,

    I wouldn’t attach so much significance to one man–Howard Zinn or anyone else. See for instance, the many fine volumes of the new Oxford History of the U.S. –a much better product. (Its strange, of course, that no U.S. university press could publish this work.) I strongly recommend, say, Gordon Wood –of Brown.

    The problem in the universities is basically the take-over by the managing “administrators” who have greatly diminished the power of the faculty. These are often corporate management types who want to run the university like a business, and often the CEO takes down a gigantic salary and is chiefly in charge of fundraising –from private and government sources. Its one among many “star systems.” Correspondingly, when the state legislatures are grieved with the universities, they cleverly cut their subsidies –thus driving the universities further into the hands of private donors and the power of the U.S. Department of Education over federal funding. (I recall that when I started at Penn State, I paid about $270/year in tuition.)

    Treating the students and their parents as “customers,” who have to be pleased, since they are paying outrageous tuition bills, the managers, with power over appointments and promotions of faculty, favor student complaints over faculty competency on subject-matter. In consequence, the faculty who placate and genuflect to student complaints and say nothing that might “offend,” come to the fore.

    Its a regular feature of corporate hierarchies that open verbal conflict is to be avoided at all cost –since it will be exploited by the higher-ups. Apply this formula to university teaching and what you get is “political correctness.”

    H.G. Callaway

      1. Philadelphia, PA

        Dear Stu,

        Yes, I can agree. Its complaints that the administrators respond to from the students and parents.

        My question was how the “liberal” faculty got that way. But in general, ignoring the positive story of America is not genuinely “liberal.” In fact it is prejudiced, debilitating and unjust.

        H.G. Callaway

  8. Another small state make changes is Delaware. Recently I saw that it was removing its whipping post. I can make the argument that it should stay to remind it’s citizens of the cruelty of capital punishment. Can we please stop trying to sanitize history.

  9. Who will take the lead and call out what this BLM movement is about? Who will say it is Marxism? We know who…Trump. He already has! Who corners him with each move he makes? The Democrats (which include the media), and the never Trumper Republicans. Why? He’s deeper into draining the Swamp where most of them dwell. They care only about their power, not one life, black or otherwise. We have been given by our president a gift to clean it up! We can help by our vote and hopefully save our democracy. There’s no other choice! I truly believe this! We say it all the time that our freedom isn’t free. In our lifetime these words could not be clearer than now! God help us! (SIC)

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