Wiping out Cooks
History mavens railing from their mothers’ basements are demanding removal of a statue of Captain James Cook that now stands in Resolution Park overlooking Cook Inlet in Downtown Anchorage.
Why? Our social media betters say Cook had the temerity to unapologetically explore the world and claim what he found for Great Britain without bothering to ask local inhabitants’ permission or noting their place in history. In their descendants’ eyes, he was an unrepentant imperialist, the spearpoint of colonial excess, a bad man.
The Cook statue was a given to Anchorage by British Petroleum during the American Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. Anchorage’s statue of the British bounder is a replica of one in Anchorage’s sister city, Whitby, England.
If city leaders in all their wisdom decide to remove the statue – and with this administration, anything really silly is possible – can we expect those who lust for history’s erasure to be satiated or will they want even more?
There certainly is more to do. The name Cook abounds in Alaska. According to our dusty U.S. Geological Survey “Dictionary of Alaska Place Names,” there also is Cook Inlet, named for the captain by the Earl of Sandwich, Cook Bay, and Mount Cook, a 13,760 foot peak near the Alaska-Canada Border, left to deal with. Then, there is Cook Island, Cook Bay, Cook River, Cook’s Rock and a host of other Cook-named places, though which Cook they are named for is dubious. But why take chances? They must go. When scrubbing history of the Cook name, better to get them all than miss one.
As the statue crisis percolates, you might wonder: In a city on the verge of falling apart, do we all not have better things to worry about than a statue of Captain James Cook?
You might think so. You would be wrong. Want to buy a statute?