A few years ago the board of trustees of Whitman College elected to change the college mascot, and the name of the sports teams, from “the Fighting Missionaries” to, simply, the “Blues.“
The fighting missionaries referred to Marcus and his wife Narcissa, and their friends the Spaldings, all Christian missionaries.
The Blues refers to one of the school colors and, more probably, the nearby Blue Mountains.
Recently, our state Legislature decided it was time to replace one of the two statues we, as a state, are allowed in Statuary Hall in the Capitol.
Thankfully, they elected to keep Mother Joseph, who ministered to our indigenous nations in the 19th century, but remove the statue of the Right Reverend Marcus Whitman.
Even by the time I arrived on campus in 1973, Marcus was a joke, dressed in buckskins, holding a rifle in one hand and a bible in the other.
Other than that, the Whitmans were mostly known for spreading deadly measles amongst the local tribes and, hence, bringing on a massacre.
The replacement is Billy Frank, Jr. a lifelong Washington native rights activist.
What a great choice.
But I’m afraid it may signal the beginning of bad times for both white nationalists, other various racists and Christian fundamentalists.
To them all I can say is, “sorry.”
P.S. I’m a proud Whitman graduate, class of ‘77.