Monday, March 09, 2015

What's In A Name?

I don’t listen to Obama’s speeches any more, but I enjoyed watching him walk across the Edmund Pettus bridge. It was a moment of important historic symbolism.

Some idiot was shocked and dismayed when he found out that Edmund Pettus was a general for the Army of the South during the Civil War and a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. I don’t know what other kind of person he thought bridges were being named after in Alabama in 1940.
At any rate, he began circulating a petition to have the bridge renamed. I certainly hope that petition fails.

For one thing, in renaming that bridge we would be renaming a very significant historic event, and that should not happen. Think about references to “the battle of Smithfield, formerly known as Gettysburg.” Forget it. Those marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge, not a bridge of some other name.

We should, actually, appreciate having the man’s name on that bridge and should draw some measure of hope from it. Here was a man who advocated hatred and division and instead of being remembered for that, his name is connected throughout history with a seminal event in progress toward racial equality.

The people who marched across that bridge turned the name Edmund Pettus from a remembrance of what is wrong with our social fabric to a symbol of what is right. We should not erase that.

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