On largely party lines, the Senate voted Tuesday not to support a proposal to erect statues depicting Gore and fellow Nobel laureate Cordell Hull, on the basis that recipients of Capitol Hill honors should be dead. Hull died in 1955.
This, of course, is silly. Republicans named every square inch of public space after Ronald Reagan while he was still alive; here in Nashville there’s a statue of Billy Graham in front of the Southern Baptist Convention just up the street from the state capitol, and last I checked he’s still alive.
But I realize these are not the state capitol grounds and didn’t require legislative approval. Yada yada. Fine.
From The Tennessean:
Few references to Hull were made during the debate. A bust of Hull — who served as Secretary of State during World War II under Franklin D. Roosevelt and helped establish the United Nations — sits directly across the hall from the Senate chamber, and a government building near the Capitol has been named in his honor. Rather it was the idea of honoring Gore that seemed to make lawmakers balk.
Since we’re talking state capitol statues, I wonder if we will ever get around to removing the statue of devout racist Edward W. Carmack? Carmack was a former U.S. Congressman, Senator, newspaper editor and racist who was killed on the streets of Nashville after advocating the repeal of the 15th Amendment in his newspaper:
"I don't think anyone knows who he is or why he's there," said attorney and professor Lewis Laska. "Edward Ward Carmack was one of the most racist politicians in Tennessee history." Laska feels the statue should come down because of what Carmack stood for.
"He wanted the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution repealed. That's the amendment that gave black men the right to vote. He thought that lynching was a good idea because it kept black people 'in their place,'" said Laska.
Well by all means let’s keep the statue of Carmack on the state capitol grounds, then. And let’s make sure no Republican legislator has to gaze upon the visage of Al Gore on his or her way into work. That would be just too awful.
Meanwhile, I suggest we find another place for the Gore and Hull statues. How about dedicating a Nobel Peace Park? Yesterday I suggested the traffic circle in front of the new convention center, but any place prominent will do. Perhaps the new Riverfront Park? The Nobel Peace Prize is an international achievement; recognition of Tennessee’s honorees should be located where our city’s visitors can learn about the achievements of Tennessee’s native sons and daughters. The State Capitol? Feh. We can do better.
And as for the statue of Edward W. Carmack let me suggest a dark closet deep in the bowels of the state legislature where the rest of Tennessee’s racists remain.