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Repeating history

By Brian Bloom

Regional Manager

One of my favorite Forrest Gump quotes is “stupid is as stupid does.”

I found it fitting when I learned that the Ku Klux Klan proposed a downtown Memphis rally March 30 in retaliation of the cities’ removal of a marker at Forest Park.

That marker memorialized former Klan grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest (No relation to the aforementioned Gump) with a statue of his grave.

The statue had been paid for by the Sons of Confederate Veterans honoring an individual who was highly respected in the region in his day, albeit an alleged Klan leader himself.

Earlier this month, city leaders changed the names of three Confederate-themed parks. Forrest Park, because it’s in the medical center area, was renamed Health Sciences Park.

While I agree many issues related to the War Between the States are hurtful and particularly so to individuals whose families suffered indignation, the great glory of history is that by recognizing our mistakes, we can resolve to not repeat them.

I don’t want to make light of what the KKK stands for. These people are dangerous if only in that they can unify others with questionable moral integrity. Mob mentality is always something to be cautious of and I place the clan side by side with the Missouri-based Westboro Baptist whackos.

I do remember the only Klan march I ever saw.

I was the editor of a small paper in Waynesboro, GA when the Klan came to town. I don’t recall what brought them there although we were always aware of their existence.

What I remember most were the people who lined the sidewalks to watch.

Side by side were old and young, rich and poor, black, white and Latino. Side by side, as Klansmen marched through the street these individuals quietly, and uniformly, turned their backs to the marchers.

As Klansmen increased their chanting, hoping to get the goat of the townspeople, laughter broke out among those on the sidewalks.

In Memphis, City leaders tried to turn their backs on history by renaming parks that have stood the test of time and reminded us of an era we can ill afford to forget.

Instead I suggest the public turn their backs on the Klan. Show them the ridiculous nature of their very existence. A little laughter wouldn’t hurt either.

***

Memphis lawmakers Larry Miller and Reginald Tate filed bills that would set up a special joint legislative study committee to determine the feasibility of casinos in Shelby County.

The bill is expected to have little chance at passage.

Miller, a House Democrat and Tate a Democrat in the Senate acknowledge the long odds but noted the bills would only set up a special committee to study the feasibility of issuing casino licenses; the operation and administration of casino laws in states with casinos and the potential economic impact locally and statewide.

Casino legalization dates as far back as the 1980s and the 2002 constitutional amendment specifically omitted “games of chance” in creating the Tennessee State Lottery.

In 2004 SR Miller brought forth similar legislation as a means to utilize The Pyramid in downtown Memphis.

Then Governor Phil Bredesen requested the bill be withdrawn urging Memphis leaders to look elsewhere to solve their struggling economy.

I agree.

While it’s always difficult to argue against job creation and construction investment, it’s not difficult to identify the human waste left behind in the casino’s wake.

While casinos do employ potential hundreds, the vast majority make near minimum wage. One only has to look at Tunica’s example to recognize that monies tend to leave the region in which they are raised.

I have no problem with legislators seeking alternative forms of generating revenue in a cash-strapped city that’s facing lower property valuations and increased tax demands.

It’s my hope these two, and the rest of our legislative body, can find better alternatives.

 

 

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