by Max Brantley
A bill filed in the Tennessee legislature prohibits the renaming or removal of any monuments or memorials or plaques related to any war. The idea, apparently, is to prohibit any tampering with Civil War icons.
The Memphis City Council has jumped out ahead of the lawmakers, the Memphis Flyer reports.
Galvanized into action by a bill filed in the Tennessee General Assembly but not yet acted upon, the City Council voted Tuesday to change the names of three downtown city parks that had been named in honor of the old Confederacy or for Confederate figures.
By a vote of 9 ayes against 3 abstentions, the Council changed the name of Forrest Park (which is managed by UTCHS) to Health Sciences Park; Confederate Park to Memphis Park; and Jefferson Davis Park to Mississippi River Park.
The potential threat to local autonomy from the state capital fired up Memphis politicians.
Councilman Shea Flinn referred to it as "the ironic war of aggression from our northern neighbor in Nashville," and Council member Janis Fullilove, who pointedly noted the Republican sponsorship of the bill, called it a "snake" needing its "head cut off." Councilman Harold Collins said, "I don't care if the name is Nathan Bedford Forrest. He's a dead man. We need to be focused on the living....but we will never let the legislature in Nashville control what we in Memphis will do for ourselves."
I don't think David O. Dodd school or other tributes to the boy martyr, not to mention numerous other Civil War monuments are at risk of de-Doddification in Arkansas, even if Gen. Griffin Smith (CSA-hon.) has retired from the battlefield. But you can't be too careful. Sen. Rapert, here's another tub for you to thump.