Trees just might be racist, Portland, Oregon Board of Education director worries

Before Portland, OR became notorious for left-wing riots and a corporation that profits off of slave labor, it was famous as a center for the lumber industry.  Before it decamped for Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific Corporation and its skyscraper headquarters were the stars of the Oregon corporate scene.  (This was before Nike rose to prominence.)  Lumber baron Simon Benson built a hotel in downtown Portland that opened in 1913 to provide the burg with a hostelry that was up to the standards of the big cities, featuring gorgeous wood paneling in its lobby and elsewhere.  More than a century later, it still does business, and I've stayed there.


Flickr CC-BY-2.0 license.

But in the "anti-racism" hysteria that has gripped education and other segments of society, because trees were once used for lynching, they now are worrisome symbols that might offend...somebody.  Somebody with a very low IQ, it seems to me.  I'm so old that I remember when environmental extremists were derisively called "tree-huggers," a term which now must be held by some in positions of authority to be vaguely racist.  Consider this absurd worry from the Portland School Board via the New York Post:

A Portland high school delayed a vote to change its mascot to an evergreen tree over concerns about its potential ties to lynching, a report said.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School — named after the prominent black activist and reporter who documented lynching — was set to vote on the new mascot last Tuesday until a board director shared community concerns over the tree's imagery, the Portland Tribune reported.

"I'm wondering if there was any concern with the imagery there, in using a tree … as our
mascot?" Portland Public Schools Board of Education Director Michelle DePass asked at the meeting.

"I think everyone comes with blind spots and I think that might've been a really big blind spot."

One board member, Martin Osborne, who is black, had the intelligence to point out that evergreen trees were not used for lynching, as anyone who has ever looked at their branches can appreciate.

But madness does not recognize facts and logic.  So I wonder how Stanford University is taking this latest revelation.  The university's seal features a tree, and the town next to which it was built is called Palo Alto, meaning "tall tree" (or pole).

Back when I was a student there in 1969, the teams were called the "Indians," a name deemed racist long before the Washington Football Team changed its name and mascot.  That name was replaced by "The Cardinal" — named for the red color adopted by the university, not the bird.  That name makes for a lousy mascot, so instead, the Stanford Band adopted a tree as its mascot, and a tree now functions as the unofficial mascot of the University.  Is it time to throw out the tree?

What's next?  Laws mandating that lumber may not be used to build homes or any other structures?  After all, your house may be promoting lynching if it is built from lumber.

Of course, this is absurd.  But so is worrying that an evergreen tree symbolizes lynching, yet an educator in a position of great influence thinks so.

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