Sanitizing history...
Jan 31, 2013 | 1162 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is apparent to me that there is an overabundance of White Guilt Syndrome or WGS in Moab these days.

Some of those who suffer from this horrible ailment have informed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of their suffering. They ask them to help with their cure. If only we could change the name of Negro Bill Canyon, they cried, for the WGS find the term “negro” degrading and racist.

The NAACP declined, saying the name should remain unchanged. Who could blame them? How would anyone know that Bill was a black man, especially since Grand County is whiter than Wonder Bread?

Ah, but the WGS people were not to be denied. Onward they march. After all, who is the NAACP to tell white folks what is best for people of color.

Changing the name from Negro Bill Canyon to William J. Grandstaff Canyon or any other variation of Bill’s name is the perfect way to sanitize and homogenize Grand County’s history. It is just too uncomfortable to contemplate the unvarnished truth.

I toured an old Southern plantation years ago, and it strikes me it could benefit from the politically correct crowd’s version of “new speak.” Black slave quarters should be called worker’s apartments and slave ships, African cruise boats. While we’re at it, how about changing the term concentration camps to gated communities. It’s always best to leave history unedited.

There’s another historical reason not to change the name. This is the place that the Sagebrush Rebellion (also called “Sage Hens” in some circles) came to an end on that infamous hot summer day of July 4, 1980.

This is important ­– because I read in a letter to the T-I, Jan 17, 2013 that Sage Hen ex-Grand County Commissioner Ray Tibbetts’ name should be considered as the new name for Negro Bill Canyon. I have to say that Sage Hen Ray Canyon does have a certain cachet, but no thanks. On this historical day, the Sage Hens lacked the Rocky Mountain oysters to run their D9 cat up Negro Bill Canyon and truly open the closed road. But they did photograph well.

Moving a few boulders is not a rebellion. This act of “defiance interuptus” toward the federal government’s road closure at Negro Bill Canyon was heralded by some as the shot heard around the West. It very well could have been if they had not fired blanks.

There is too much history in Negro Bill Canyon to change the name for one’s comfort level. Leave the name alone.

—J.D. Rogers

Applegate, Ore.

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