I mentioned in this space a few days ago that a former governor of Arizona had messed with the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, by moving it to Sunday in Arizona so employers would not have to let their employees off for the holiday. That governor, Evan Mecham, who also got into hot water for referring to African--American children as "pickaninnies," was eventually impeached.
The holiday for Dr. King forms an easy target for racists and other assorted yokels to focus on as they continue to minimize, marginalize, disparage, and threaten the country's slow but steady march toward real and complete integration. Perhaps the only thing that raises their hackles more is the realization that a black family is living in the White House.
I didn't know until yesterday that three states recognize the King holiday in conjunction with recognition of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The three states, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, are all part of the old Confederacy. Arkansas, in fact, has been celebrating General Lee's January birthday as a state holiday since the 1940's. When the new King holiday came along, the state legislature eventually attached their Lee holiday to it - a bit of state pride, and a bit of sticking their thumb in the eye of the federal government.
Now two Arkansas legislators, one black and one white, have filed separate bills that would remove General Lee from the national King holiday - and the Arkansas Secretary of State has indicated that he supports the effort to align his state with the nation. What's not so clear, however, is where the state's new governor, Asa Hutchinson, stands on the matter. So far the former Bush Drug Czar and graduate of Bob Jones University is being non-committal.
Northwestern Arkansas is home to the University of Arkansas, Walmart, Tyson Foods, Jones Truck Lines, and a healthy and vibrant economy. Many of the people who live and work in that part of the state are undoubtedly embarrassed by the bigotry and political blundering of the folks residing in some of the more rural and remote areas of the state. The Natural State can be a minefield even for master politicians.
Governor Hutchinson, like Clinton and Huckabee before him, will surely develop and hone a fine set of prevarication skills as he bounces between the bumpkins and business executives, trying to keep everybody happy. He has his work cut out for him.
But hey, Asa, that's why you get the big bucks!