Letter: Renaming mania strikes local leaders

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Asheville’s and Buncombe County’s leaders seem to be afflicted with renamania — the urge to rename all facets of the community tainted by slavery.

The recent decision by City Council to consider renaming streets must go forward, no matter the cost of changing all those addresses. While they are at it, why not change the name of the city? After all, the city’s namesake is slaveholding Samuel Ashe.

The community does not stop at city limits. We should seriously consider changing the name of the county. How did Edward Buncombe, who raised a regiment to fight for the country’s independence, distinguish himself from scores of other slave owners who did likewise?

His regiment won no victories and, though he was honorably wounded in battle, as were thousands of others, his notoriety seems to stem from falling down the stairs while sleepwalking and bleeding to death.

Renaming Buncombe County won’t cost nearly as much as changing the city’s name. It’s not part of postal addresses. In fact, doing so will provide quite a boost to the economy. All the fees attorneys will earn revising decades of legal documents is more than a drop in the bucket.

And changing the county’s name will forever rid us of being known as the source of pure bunkum.

While we’re at it, let’s not stop at changing the names of places that might be racially offensive. How ’bout those that are insensitive to gender?

Since history is to be interpreted by today’s tastes and not by the messy past, what about the French Broad. Let’s make it the French Wide. And what about Beaucatcher Mountain?

Perish the thought that we might spend more energy and taxpayer dollars debating this name or that rather than on establishing systems to test, trace, and treat COVID-19 exposures; strengthen schools and job training to resolve economic and social inequity; provide health care to the infirm and elderly; and guarantee universal broadband access.

If we were to focus on these things, we would certainly earn a name for ourselves.

— John Ross


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7 thoughts on “Letter: Renaming mania strikes local leaders

  1. Smitty

    If one street name is changed, then they all should be changed, as well as the name of the city and the county. To do otherwise would be hypocritical.

  2. Fun Times

    When will the changing begin? I’m looking forward to the ensuing chaos.

  3. Peter Robbins

    Enough grousing. If people want to stop all these name changes, they should write to their representatives on Jenkins Hill and Union Square. That’s what folks out here in Lapland do.

    • Stan Hawkins

      Come now, you know “problem solving” is out of season. This is the time of “problem harvesting.” We must be patient – as Chauncey Gardner said, “there will be growth in the spring.”

  4. Phillip Williams

    I think Skunkum County has a ring to it….and HeadUpYourAsheVille is a possibility. Seriously – if they are going to rename everything, they ought to avoid naming anything after people, regardless of how prominent or famous, and just go with geographical names or something from nature for places, and give streets numbers or something equally nondescript so as not to offend anyone.

    Although I’ll bet my wig someone, somewhere, will find something to be offended about.

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