Originally created 12/31/06

Hateful names

Can you imagine that in 2006 the state of Georgia would stoop to honor a racist by naming a road after him?

You don't have to imagine it. It's already been done.

In fact, the state similarly honored his daughter.

A portion of I-285 in Atlanta is known as the "James E. 'Billy' McKinney Highway" - despite the fact that the former state legislator and father of former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney is a blatant anti-Semite.

Asked about his daughter's use of an old endorsement in her congressional race in 2002, Mr. McKinney said it didn't matter because "Jews have bought everybody." He then proceeded to spit each letter for emphasis: "J-E-W-S!"

This is a man to be honored with a public highway?

Cynthia McKinney - an embarrassment to the state who says and does the looniest things - also hangs around vile racists. The night of her primary defeat earlier this year, one of her angry, menacing entourage lashed out at "(expletive deleted) crackers." Another of McKinney's merry band told a Jewish TV news producer, "You want to know what led to the loss? Israel. The Zionists. You. Put on your yarmulke and celebrate."

Ms. McKinney, too, has a portion of road named after her: Cynthia McKinney Parkway, the old Memorial Drive in DeKalb County.

Thankfully, legislators have prefiled a bill to remove Cynthia McKinney's name from Memorial Drive, and another bill to remove her father's name from at least a portion of I-285 north of the Chattahoochee River. Let's hope the General Assembly undoes these mistakes quickly in January.

Just as important is the lesson it provides: what folly it can be to name public roads, bridges, interchanges or buildings after living or even sitting politicians. Besides the fact that it just seems a bit hasty or premature, there's always the chance a politician could end up embarrassing you - or, in the case of the McKinneys, disgracing the state.

And anyway, is it really necessary to name everything that doesn't move? Or to name everything after politicians? Isn't that just a little incestuous, or at the very least elitist? If we must continually be naming things after folks, shouldn't we spread it around and find worthy individuals engaged in endeavors other than politics? You have to love the fact that Lake Sidney Lanier, for instance, is named after a poet and environmentalist.

He is infinitely more deserving than racist former politicians.


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