On the mighty Jordan River

Indiana University, my alma mater, has decided to remove eugenicist David Starr Jordan’s name from all campus properties. This includes the biology building, a parking garage, a street (they’re still working this part out with the city) and the mighty Jordan river, which cuts through campus.

Shut up. It is mighty. And it is a river.

Now, to be clear, 1) I support this decision, and 2) I couldn’t have told you David Starr Jordan’s first or middle names if my life depended on it prior to ten minutes ago, nor was I aware that he was a eugenicist. Not that it matters much, but apparently he got into that after ending his association with IU. I am not terribly pleased with the insanely boring choices they’re going with for new names (the Biology Building, the East Parking Garage, and the Campus River) but it does appear that they’re considering those names temporary placeholders while they work out better names for them. I can live with that.

This is not, however, why I’m writing this post. I’m not attached to Jordan’s name for the building or the street, and certainly not the parking garage. Rename those all you want. But I have just discovered something fascinating about the way my brain works, which is that despite knowing all four of those things were called the Jordan Whatever, and despite knowing at least vaguely that there was a biology dude who used to be affiliated with IU named Jordan, it never once occurred to me that the river was named after the same guy and not the river Jordan in Israel. Which, like, I’ve been calling that damn river the “mighty Jordan” for twenty-six fucking years as a mild little personal joke, with the understanding that people who I’m saying that to know we’re comparing it to the real one.

(Those of you who have never been to Bloomington: this thing is three inches deep at its deepest, and most of it you can jump across. For those of us not emotionally invested in it, it is a creek at best.)

I don’t know how my brain did that. You can damn near see Jordan Hall from the Jordan River and it never even once crossed my mind that they’d been named after the same dude. So, yeah, part of me doesn’t want the river renamed; I just want them to start lying about how it got named that, and insist that it’s always been named after the river in Israel, so I can keep making that joke.

Probably not entirely reasonable, I know, but I have to make exceptions for my own idiocy sometimes.

Okay, seriously now: am I watching the debate tonight? And if I am, am I liveblogging or livetweeting it? Decide for me:

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

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