As our American readers will already know, the town of Huntington close to New York is now celebrating the 350th anniversary of its foundation with an enormous and very silly row about its coat of arms ~ for which, as the argument is really about the crest, we shall use the correct term of heraldic achievement. The crest, we should point out to new readers, is that part of the achievement appearing above the helmet.
Huntington is that towns best guess at spelling Huntingdon, for which English town its founders appear to have felt some affinity, and Huntingdons most famous son is Oliver Cromwell ~ champion of democracy or butcher of the oppressed according to each mans prejudices. Therein lies the origin of Huntingtons current civil warfare, for many of the townspeople claim Irish ancestry, and Cromwell hated the Irish.
The designer of Huntingtons armorial achievement chose for its crest a black rampant lion holding a hunting horn, and this choice, it has been claimed, commemorates the butcher of the Irish because it was his crest too. Well, it wasnt. Oliver Cromwells crest was a silver demi-lion (i.e. it was cut off at the waist) holding a ring with a jewel in it. So ~ not a lion, only a half lion; silver not black; and holding a ring not a horn.
Aha, yes, but ...... the zealots cry, his shield had a lion on it! Well, so it did, but that lion also was silver, not black, and it had no horn. A lion holding a hunting horn is a different heraldic charge from one holding a jewelled ring, and is different from one holding nothing at all, and a black lion is different from one that is silver or red or purple or blue or green or gold. A black lion does not, cannot symbolise Cromwell.
This writer holds no brief for Oliver Cromwell, believing him a tyrannical dictator who failed to separate his selfish ambitions from the freedoms he promised. Even by the standards of the times he was a butcher. But Cromwells infamy is irrelevant. The men of Huntington who describe the black lion as Cromwells lion and liken its use to that of a swastika among Jews, declaring its presence in their town an insult to all who descend from Irish ancestors, reveal aspects of that same frenzied ignorance that drove Cromwells followers to their egregious excesses. They expose their town to ridicule.