HISTORICALLY CORRECT: New freeway sign.
One of these days, friends, I’m going to pick up the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and my indignation buzzer is going to simply burn right the hell out. When that happens — given the enormous pressure stored up inside me over Elections 2000 and 2004, the evil genius of Karl Rove, Fox News’ “Fair and Balanced” motto, voter fraud in Ohio, the Iraq War, Abu Ghraib, 1,500 dead soldiers and counting, and a thousand other things that have made me feel like I’ve been nibbled to death by rabbits since the Bush presidency began lo these 300 years ago — it’s going to all go very bad. I’m talking cold-cereal, breakfast table fusion. I am Dave, destroyer of worlds.
The resulting blast will likely take out most of the Stifft Station neighborhood, and cover the Hillcrest/Pulaski Heights area in a fine layer of ire, rendering it uninhabitable for generations. With Bush scurrying off to hide somewhere in Nebraska, Dick Cheney will have to come in from a golf junket with his Halliburton buddies to assure the public that it wasn’t a terrorist plot designed to scare Mike “The Stick” Huckabee back onto comfort food, but just a dumpy white Democrat in Arkansas who finally got his fill of bullshit and exploded.
I thought it was going to happen on Thursday, Aug. 18.
When it comes to the D-G editorial page, I’ve long since become like one of those kooky hillbilly fundamentalists who condition themselves to drink strychnine by taking a sip today, a half-teaspoon tomorrow, working their way up to a quart. These days, after years of D-G editorials crowing over pretty much everything I despise, the black little chamber in my heart where I process their daily tankerload of crapola is pretty much lined in the same stuff they use for heat tiles on the space shuttle.
This editorial, however, was so ironic and infuriating that only by the force of my will and the blessed squeeziness of the stress ball I keep in my desk drawer was tragedy averted.
That day, the D-G editorial page ran an unsigned missive titled “A decent respect in Memphis.” Therein, they gave a rundown of the recent unpleasantness over some Memphians’ attempts to rename three city-owned parks — Confederate, Davis (as in Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy) and Forrest (as in Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general who, after the Civil War, found time between drinking corn likker and beating his wife to found the Ku Klux Klan).
Mainly the D-G editorial was an excuse to give ass-pats to Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton for refusing the “airbrushing” of Suth’ern history, then get in a swipe at our Mayor Jim Dailey for taking down freeway signs for Confederate Boulevard just before the opening of the Clinton Library (signs which had been both wrong and misleading since 1978, when the majority of Confederate Boulevard was renamed Springer Boulevard after a prominent black family in the Sweet Home area).
“It has become commonplace in this politically correct era to wipe out any awkward remains of the past,” the D-G wrote. “As if, because we disapprove of an historical figure, whether of his politics or morality or the way he wore his tie, his memory must be erased.”
That was the line that almost had me going nuk-u-lar.
The D-G editorial page routinely broke out the pitchforks and torches a few years back when the city was thinking of ways to commemorate the presidency of Bill Clinton. Disapprove of honoring a historical figure because of his politics or morality? Would you, Paul? Say it ain’t so.
As it so happens, I have an August 1999 editorial by D-G editorial page editor Paul Greenberg right here, written back when he was rabble-rousing to try and make sure Markham (the street whose name is so historically important that I’ve heard even our historians aren’t quite sure who it was named for) was never besmirched by the name of the only Arkansas politician who ever did anything more historic than siccing the National Guard on school kids and porking Fanne Foxe.
A few choice lines, just for the hypocrisy factor:
“So they decided to go ahead and ram this bitter little pill down Little Rock’s throat. And they were surprised again when Little Rock refused to swallow. … Why not have Clinton Avenue extend all the way past the Excelsior and the Doubletree hotels — with their unavoidable memories of Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick? With that extension, the whole flavor of a President Clinton Avenue would change. … The innocent tourist, complete with shorts and camera, would find himself on another Clinton scandal tour.”
Let me rephrase that for you folks in Standard Umpstead: “Don’t you Arkie idiots know that parks and streets are supposed to be named for wealthy, elitist, slave-owning traitors, one of which went on to found the largest homegrown terrorist group this country has ever seen — not for an Arkansan who had a little trouble keeping his zecker pipped up while rising from poverty, winning the presidency, keeping our extremist stop-at-nothing enemies at bay for eight years and presiding over the longest period of wealth and prosperity most Americans will ever know! I mean, come on! Use a little common sense here, people!”
Airbrushing history indeed. Still, it makes me feel a bit better knowing that — if you watch them long enough — you’ll find that the editors at the D-G don’t even buy the crap they write.
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