Dear "Quiet Corner": Please be quieter.
Sometimes we in the Northeast can be a little snobbish, what with our Ivy League schools and fancy museums, family names like Rockefeller and Lowell and Franklin, and of course indoor plumbing. It’s tempting for us to look down our noses at the other less wonderful parts of our country—and there are so-o-o many. We in the Northeast even have leaves smart enough to change colors in the fall just for us! And those dull goldfinches at the feeder? Give them another three months and they’ll be as lemony as any twist in the Martini your butler is currently shaking or stirrring. Even the birds know that we in the great Northeast won’t abide anything less.
But like all truly fortunate people, sometimes, I suppose, we need a little comeuppance, a little reminder that we can be just as backward and lame-brained as our neighbors from foreign countries—like Arizona, Mississippi, South Dakota. That’s where the Killingly, Connecticut Republicans come in. In case you didn’t know, they’re the ones who voted to return the high school mascot back to “The Redmen” not that long after a different administration had removed the name because of its racial overtones. (My blog, December 13, 2019)
Not racial, declare the Killingly Repubs. According to them, Redmen honors the Native American heritage. And when Killingly wants to honor somebody, those honorees better get the hell out of the way. No, seriously. Countless Native Americans showed up at town meetings to plead that the town not “honor” them with a racist designation. They asked instead that good citizens of Killingly choose a different mascot, one that does not belittle the tribe members.
But no, that’s not the way Killingly rolls, and thus the Redmen are back. The majority of the coaches and athletes don’t like it, and most of the townspeople don’t want it; but like those southern towns who fought hard to fly the confederate flag and maintain the monuments to the “heroes” of our bloodiest and most horrific war, the Killingly Repubs comprise many empty barrels that make a lot of noise.
One Killinglier (or Killingly-ite if you prefer) said that he looked forward to telling his grandson some day, you’re a Redman just like I was. I suppose it’s important to have goals, and spreading more racism three generations ahead is kind of like paying it forward in Killingly.
Let’s try to remember though that a town, even Killingly, comprises many different thoughts and attitudes, and that for every celebrant of this racist “victory,” there are probably ten others wondering if it’s really that much trouble to move to Rhode Island—nice airport, good surfing, the Breakers. My sympathies to all those residents currently pricing truck rentals. To them I say, "Today we are all Killingly!" Well, some of Killingly—they know who they are.
In the end, did any good come of this kerfuffle? Yes. Many nutmeggers now realize that the eastern border of Connecticut is not Glastonbury after all. The state actually has more towns beyond there in something called “the quiet corner.” Many of these towns are quite lovely and, well, quiet. Some even appear to be moving smoothly through the twenty-first century with their boutiques, their country inns, their B&Bs. And yes, trees and goldfinches too. But now they have the curse of Killingly hanging over them, dragging them fearlessly and embarrassingly backward through time. Keep these people in your thoughts.
It would be nice if the Killingly Repubs rescinded their Redmen decision, but since that probably won’t happen, let’s at least hope they don’t decide to honor anybody else. There are too many racial and ethnic groups just ripe for the picking.