So Much for States’ Rights

The story as I understand it — for some time, Alaska has wanted Mount McKinley to be renamed Denali, its original indigenous name. In fact, as far as the state of Alaska is concerned, the mountain is Denali, not Mount McKinley. Since the mountain is part of a national park, the state couldn’t rename the mountain itself. So now the White House said, sure, we can call it Denali.

And the Right is throwing a typical rightie fit. The Ohio delegation to Congress is particularly incensed. Republicans — well, Republicans who are not from Alaska — are claiming that the White House can’t approve such a name change without congressional consent.

So much for states’ rights. Shouldn’t this be between Alaska and the federal government?

Every year, the same story plays out in Washington, D.C.: Alaska legislators sometimes file bills to change the name from Mount McKinley to Denali, and every year, someone in the Ohio congressional delegation — the home state of the 25th President William McKinley — files legislation to block a name change.

Members of Alaska’s congressional delegation said they were happy with the action.

“I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a video statement recorded on the Ruth Glacier below the mountain.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said in an email that “Denali belongs to Alaska and its citizens. The naming rights already went to ancestors of the Alaska Native people, like those of my wife’s family. For decades, Alaskans and members of our congressional delegation have been fighting for Denali to be recognized by the federal government by its true name. I’m gratified that the president respected this.”

According to the order Jewell signed, there is a policy of deferring action while a matter is under consideration by Congress. So the Ohio delegation’s annual legislative efforts have stalled any federal movement. But the law does allow the interior secretary to take action when the board naming doesn’t act “within a reasonable amount of time,” the order said.

“It’s something (former Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond) pushed for back in 1975, and because of an effort to stop it in legislation that has not actually gone anywhere in the last 40 years, the Board of Geographic Names did not take it up,” Jewell said.

As interior secretary, she has authority to make a unilateral decision after a “reasonable time has passed,” Jewell said.

On right-wing sites, the trolls are certain that the President himself called for the name change because McKinley was white. The Ohio congressional delegation has the vapors. Somewhere, someone suggested Ohio name one of its own mountains after McKinley. Heh. I checked; the highest point in Ohio is called Campbell Hill, and it’s a whopping 1,550 feet high, compared to Denali’s 20,237 feet. A 1,550 foot peak is about right for McKinley, though, I’d say.

Next up: I’m sure there’s a meltdown on Fox News; Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity will make it a racial issue if they can’t figure out a way to tie it into the war on Christmas. Someone will note that “Denali” sounds African. Someone else will try to get a federal court to block the name change. All of the presidential candidates will be asked their opinions. No one in the press will press the Republicans about states’ rights, however. Because that’s how it always is.

24 thoughts on “So Much for States’ Rights

  1. Well every picture that I can find of the mountain shows that it is obviously white, so………

  2. On right-wing sites, the trolls are certain that the President himself called for the name change because McKinley was white.

    Y’know, I would have been disappointed if that hadn’t happened. After nearly seven years, it’s sort of “sol” follows “fa.” They’re singing their programmed tune.

    Still, the news this morning surprised me. I thought the mountain was officially “Denali” for many years now.

    • joan — my understanding is that the mountain officially was “Denali” as far as the state government of Alaska was concerned, but since it’s in a national park they couldn’t change the “federal” name.

  3. Breaking news: Scott Walker has announced that there should be a wall built around Mt. McKinley.

    Great reporting Maha, I hadn’t seen the Alaskan delegation support for this, and Ohio’s blocking of the move, anywhere else. I knew there had to be something going on outside of BO just doing whatever the hell he wants to piss off the republicans. Which would have been a good enough reason for me.

  4. Has the former half-term governor weighed in yet? Tough spot for her–Alaska’s states rights versus spite for all things Obama. Should be an easy wager though.

  5. Parenthetically, of course, no such thing as “states rights” in the Constitution; they do not have any rights whatsoever.

    They have powers. Big difference.

    High time someone mentions this and exposes the conservatives’ inability to tell the two apart.

  6. Moosewomen isn’t posting today. She’s plum tuckered out from shoveling huge amounts of praise on Donald trump.

  7. Other than having once been on the North American continent McKinley had absolutely no connection to the mountain. On the other hand, those that call it Denali were, are, and will be connected with the mountain for centuries.

    McKinley’s big claim to fame is that he was shot. The Ohio presidents really haven’t been the top of the crop. Seems like when we want a mediocre to poor president Ohio has a very good chance of supplying one.

  8. McKinley’s big claim to fame is that he was shot.

    I went to McKinley Middle School for a year — it was pretty mediocre, too.

  9. I doubt Palin would get into this one, since it would probably be pretty easy to scoop up sound bites from her time as gov calling it Denali, as virtually every Alaskan does and has for decades, and put together a YouTube vid of several minutes length saying it many different times.

  10. It might be a trick of my memory, but, I am pretty sure that my folks told me that the mountain was called Denali by Alaskans. They “went outside” in 1946.

  11. At this point in his Presidency, I suspect that Obama’s just trolling the conservatives, and he and Michelle sit over dinner, and laugh their asses off!

  12. “he and Michelle sit over dinner, and laugh their asses off!”

    I hope your right Gulag, the thought of that makes me smile!

  13. Spent the first two decades of my life in Alaska. Alaska has some of the most ignorant Obama hating rednecks you could possible imagine, I know I am friends with some of them, and they all, as in 100% want the name changed to Denali.

  14. Well, if Obama wants to get the wingnut really howling, he should have the FAA change the name of Reagan International Airport to Cesar Chavez International Airport. Who knows?…Maybe Sojourner Truth International Airport might go over a little better.

  15. And of course, to top it all off – “Denali” is apparently the Kenyan word for “White power”, donchaknow….

  16. Right – that should have been “Black power” – but, as there are no Kenyan words for anything, I think I’m safe.

  17. My current list of phony Republican Conservative principles. Too tired to link, but do I really need to?
    • Small government (States voiding local fracking bans)
    • Judicial Activism (Roberts Court war on Voting Rights Act)
    • Free Market (Bank Bailouts)
    • Family Values (Vitter the Shitter)
    • Patriotism (Booing a gay soldier, Texas and Alaskan Secession organizations)
    • Religious Freedom (Ground Zero Mosque)

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