Tennessee editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
The Paris (Tenn.) Post-Intelligencer on war memorials legislation:
"History is history and should be left there."
That's what a state legislator from the historic town of Parker's Crossroads said about a measure that would make it harder to rename or move war memorials.
It's a ticklish subject, because it involves racial sensitivity. How does a community recognize the fact of the past without stepping on the toes of people to whom that fact is hurtful?
The answer probably is that you can't, not fully. The best thing is to acknowledge the bad things that happened and move on.
A very modest example is the Confederate soldier statue on our courthouse lawn. Such monuments are so common across our region that nobody thinks much of them anymore.
The statue recognizes a significant time in our past, when farm boys and shopkeepers gathered on the square to become soldiers, marching off to war. It happens to be a fact that they wore uniforms of gray instead of blue.
Nobody today sees that weathered stone as a defense of slavery. It's significant that time has worn the soldier's face away; the memory too is faded, no longer an ideological symbol but merely an acknowledgement of history.
Yet some still find any such memorial hurtful; they want to tear down the statues and rename the parks.
The measure before the Legislature would require state and local governments that want to move or rename a memorial to apply to the Tennessee Historical Commission for a waiver. It also would prevent steps to stop maintenance funding for memorials.
That sounds reasonable.
The fact that our community's prized center for the arts bears the name of Robert E. Lee must not be seen as a finger in the eye of those who are sensitive. It simply recognizes the fact that once upon a time, long ago, people here considered that the proper thing to do. Changing the name would serve no useful purpose.
Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press on Tennessee-Georgia water wars:
The Tennessee River is not to be taken for granted.
And it shouldn't be piped to North Georgia in a land grab, either.
In 1998, a Georgia planner named Harry West half-jokingly talked of sticking "a big straw" in the Tennessee to bring water to thirsty Atlanta.
The talk made headlines and galvanized Tennessee state officials to action, drafting a new permitting law that bans what is called "interbasin transfers." The bill quickly passed unanimously.
In approving it, Tennessee lawmakers and policy wonks pointed to the example of the Colorado River, which once flowed from the Rockies into Mexico and then to the Gulf of California. Now, after being diverted hundreds of miles to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and other fast-growing cities and acres of thirsty deserts converted to croplands, 70 percent of the Colorado's water is siphoned away.
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