FACT CHECK: “Denali” is not Kenyan for “black power”…

Yesterday, President Obama renamed Mount McKinley to Denali. Denali is located in south-central Alaska, and is the tallest mountain peak in North America. The mountain peak was originally named for our 25th president, William McKinley, who was elected in 1896 and re-elected in 1900. However, McKinley was shot in Buffalo, NY six months after being re-elected. President Obama did this because the State of Alaska already refers to the mountain as Denali (and has for the last 40 years), and because the name-change coincided with his climate-change advocacy plans. Upon hearing the news, some not very bright individuals on Facebook then started the meme below:


Where to begin with the idiocy of this meme? Okay, well how about we start with the fact that people in Kenya do not speak Kenyan? As Andrew Husband at Mediaite points out, people in Kenya mostly speak either Swahili or English, as those are the two official languages of the country. There are apparently 66 other languages spoken in the country, and none of them are “Kenyan”. Moreover, in none of the 66 languages does “Denali” translate to “black power”.

So far, we haven’t seen any Congressional Republicans share this meme. However, one of Donald Trump’s first executive orders will be to change it back to Mount McKinley. Why? Who the hell knows. The irony of this would be that even though the people of Alaska support the name change to Denali, they would still overwhelmingly support him over whoever the Democratic nominee is. Other conservative pundits have made some interesting comments. For instance, here is Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro claiming that he is surprised that President Obama did not rename it to Mount Trayvon (H/T Amanda Marcotte).

As for me? I’m not crazy about the name change. Why? Because when McKinley was re-elected president in 1900, he chose my favorite president Teddy Roosevelt as his Vice President (yes, yes, I know, McKinley probably only agreed to this at the behest of GOP operatives and certainly did not want Roosevelt as Secretary of War because McKinley thought he was too much of a “cowboy”). But, this decision is clearly what the people of Alaska want, so why not let them have it.

Also, did I forget to mention William McKinley is originally from Ohio? Furthermore, while Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, it was not officially added to the Union until 1959, more than a half-century after McKinley’s tenure. So calm down, Mike Huckabee, who wants Congress to block President Obama’s action (boy,  Republicans are really good at finding creative ways to waste everyone’s time). Matt Yglesias argues that McKinley was a lousy president who just got lucky, but I’m not ready to sign on the the “I hate McKinley” campaign. Likewise, you won’t find me among the morons sharing the above-mentioned meme.


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