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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: President Wilson at top of undistinguished list in Spokane

So a socially consumed Tacoman (pronounced Taco Man) wants Spokane Public Schools to dump the Wilson out of Wilson Elementary because its namesake, the 28th president, was a diehard racist.

How dumb am I?

I thought the school was named for the Seattle Seahawks quarterback who threw that gawd awful game-losing pass in last year’s Super Bowl.

Either way, Dan Hasty wants to help us ignorant East Siders purge the sins of the past.

Hasty, I’m ashamed to say, has so far met with resistance from the unenlightened.

“The board is harder-pressed with other items right now,” school district spokesman Kevin Morrison said in a news story.

Fine. Be that way, Kevin.

That just gives me more motivation to prod the school board into a Hasty decision.

This may come as a shock to many of you, but Woodrow Wilson Elementary is just the tip of this ingrown toenail.

Spokane, I’ve learned after literal minutes of research, is riddled with inappropriate and unacceptable civic nomenclature.

You heard me – nomenclature!

As proof, I’ve compiled a growing list of offensive school and place names that must be expunged and changed if Spokane is ever to embrace the light.

Offensive names, like …

LEWIS & CLARK HIGH SCHOOL – Named for explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The school should be renamed Lewis High School due to Clark’s racist remarks that the Sioux were the “vilest miscreants of the savage race.”

BING CROSBY THEATER – Did you know Bing performed numerous times wearing blackface? Or that he was a notoriously bad tipper? Then there was that stuff that some of his kids claimed about Dad being a real louse at home. There’s only one recourse: Out with Der Bingle. In with the Bob Hope Theater.

BOB HOPE THEATER – Uh-oh. Hope did blackface, too. Better change the place back to the Met.

GRANT PARK & ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – As the 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant was awash in scandal and called a drunk, to boot. This sets a terrible example for our impressionable children. The Perry District school and park should be renamed for a more bland leader like, say, President Millard Fillmore or Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart.

LEWIS HIGH SCHOOL – Renamed recently for Meriwether Lewis, the explorer should be expelled for using racially insensitive invective like “savage” and a “squaw” when talking about Sacajawea. The school will be far better off reverting to its original, non-troubling name, South Central High School.

SPOKANE INDIANS BASEBALL – Ethnicity has no place in the name of any politically correct sports team. Hurt feelings can be avoided by renaming the team the Spokane Ottos after the club’s fuzzy blue nonracial, non-offensive and nonsensical trumpet-beaked mascot.

FRANKLIN ELEMENTARY – As much as it pains me to say this, the namesake of my alma mater must go. Whether fact or fiction, Benjamin Franklin is now more known as the nation’s founding philanderer. Douglas Clark Academy has a much classier ring to it.

DIVISION STREET – Too divisive. Unity Way is way more inclusive.

ROOSEVELT ELEMENTARY – This school’s namesake, 26th President Teddy Roosevelt, was a mass murderer of defenseless “big game” safari animals. How environmentally harmful is that? As a reparation, the school should become PETA Prep.

HILLYARD – Yes, even this hard-knuckled northeast Spokane community is tainted. That’s because Hillyard is named for James J. Hill, a train baron who grew filthy rich off the sweat of his poorly paid and exploited railroad workers.

So welcome to Dogtown by popular demand.

WHITMAN ELEMENTARY – Whew. This is far worse than Hasty could have imagined. Whitman Elementary School, I discovered, is named for territorial missionary Marcus Whitman.

If that doesn’t violate the separation of church and state, I’ll eat my hymnal.

By the way, I find the CITY OF CHENEY offensive because it reminds me of Dick Cheney.

And not only that, but JAMES GLOVER – as in Father of Spokane James Glover – apparently had his wife stuck in a nuthouse so he could squire somebody else.

Where will it all end?

I’m beginning to fear that every one of us has something dark lurking in our past.

I don’t know how we live with ourselves.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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