Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Right-wing blog Wants To Replace Statues Of "Fighting Bob" With WHO??

Wisconsin Governor fought for countless reforms, and was ahead of his time on several issues

An editorial on Right Wisconsin, a conservative-based blog in the state, is apparently advocating that we should remove the statues of Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, beloved governor and U.S. senator from Wisconsin’s Progressive era, from the state Capitol building and U.S. Capitol.

A bust of La Follette’s head sits in the Capitol in Wisconsin, while a full-sized statue is in the National Statuary Hall in DC.

The editorial from Right Wisconsin is making light of recent Confederate statue removals (by cities themselves or by force from citizens) and trying to suggest there is an equivalency somehow in removing figures that are from the past. That is a false equivalency, to say the least — La Follette stood for empowering the people, while the statues being removed elsewhere in the country stood for keeping entire races of people defined as second-class citizens.

But brushing aside the subtleties of Right Wisconsin’s byline-less editorial, it would be wrong to remove La Follette’s likeness for other reasons. Namely, because they wish to replace him with statues of William Rehnquist, who served as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and was a Wisconsin-born jurist.

While that is a high honor worthy of recognition, replacing La Follette with Rehnquist would be a slap in the face of what Wisconsin stands for, and what Americans across the nation support overall.

La Follette backed huge reforms long before they were implemented. He was an ardent critic of big businesses crafting backroom deals with lawmakers, and fought against similar corruption within the government. He stood for women’s suffrage, saying early on that the right to vote for all women “will result in a more enlightened, better balanced citizenship, and in a truer democracy.” He also fought for protections of rights regardless of skin color, and was invited to speak by civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois in Atlanta about the fight for equality.

And he vigorously fought for electoral reforms, including implementing the primary system of selecting candidates and instituting the 17th Amendment, giving voters the right to select their own U.S. Senators through a direct vote.

What about Rehnquist? His record on rights is much, much darker. As a clerk for Justice Robert H. Jackson in the 1950s, he wrote a memo defending the “separate but equal” doctrine for keeping Jim Crow laws legal. Rehnquist also was part of the 5-4 majority that halted vote counting in Florida during the 2000 presidential recount. And although he later supported the rule, he was a vocal opponent of the necessary Miranda statement that all police officers must give to suspects they arrest.

Now, you tell me who deserves a spot in the National Statuary Hall: an individual who stood for expanding individuals’ rights, or one whose record included efforts to limit who could take part in American society? My vote goes to "Fighting Bob," and I think most Wisconsinites would agree we should keep his statues right where they are.

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