Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Political Correctness on Two Wheels

There's a lake in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a place that calls itself "The City of Lakes", named Lake Calhoun. Many of the residents of the watery burg were probably once unaware that this popular swimming and sailing spot was named after John C. Calhoun, a South Carolinian who held the positions of US Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, US Senator and US Representative. Although he died in 1850, Calhoun was a staunch defender of states rights and slavery,  which means that he's now supposed to descend down the memory hole of political correctness.

While efforts have been made to actually change the name of the lake, bureaucratic complications have stymied the process so far. But that's not the case with nearby Calhoun Cyclery, who's so offended by the memory of the man found to be one of the 5 greatest US Senators of all time that they've changed their name.

Calhoun Cycle is now Perennial Cycle

 Calhoun Cycle is proud to announce that we are changing our name to Perennial Cycle. The name Calhoun Cycle was inherited decades ago when it originated as Calhoun Cycle Cellar, a modest bike rental shop with a cigar box for a cash register. Over the years the name Calhoun Cycle has served us well. To our cycling commuter customers we love so dearly, it has come to represent our goals for the bicycle as a pragmatic and sustainable means of alternative daily transportation. Given these goals, we have found the ethics of Calhoun Cycle at odds with the unethical history of the Calhoun name. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the history and heritage of Mr. John C. Calhoun, and feel an undeniable need to separate ourselves from that history. The name Calhoun represents a shameful past of institutional racism perceived as a “positive good”, and the misguided cultural colonialism of renaming a lake after an undeserving man. We cannot go back and change our past, but we can learn from it and from our mistakes, and attempt to right our wrongs. Therefore, we are consciously removing Calhoun from our company name and have chosen the new name Perennial Cycle to best represent our values. When something is perennial it is enduring, it is sustainable and it lives in an unending cycle. Perennial is the flora that surrounds us, which we depend on for our own sustainable existence. And like the tulips, crocus, and basque flowers pushing their way up through the snow, nothing gives us more pleasure in the Minnesota springtime than to also see our robust perennial cycling community bloom to life once again. We thank you all for your support over the years we’ve spent together, and for supporting us in our strategic decision to kill Calhoun.

  John C. Calhoun, scary guy from the Palmetto State.

  The lake named after a scary guy from the Palmetto State.

At the same time, there's a busy street in Minneapolis called "Sheridan Ave." There's another one in Chicago. These streets, and others of the same name, commemorate the memory of General Phil Sheridan, commander of the Union forces at Appomattox Courthouse and architect of the defeat of the native Americans on the plains. He's famous for having uttered the phrase, "The only good Indian I've ever seen is a dead one".

There is a Sheridan Bicycles Company in Sheridan, Wyoming but no word on these bike dealers changing the name of their operation or the town itself adopting a more politically correct moniker.