Ban on Changing Park Names Passes Against Democrat Objections

Monday, February 25th, 2013
by Blake Farmer

Legislation that would prevent the renaming or moving of war-related monuments in Tennessee passed the state House last night. The bill comes as city officials in Memphis have renamed three Confederate-themed parks.

Democrats tried to get the bill’s sponsor – Republican Steve McDaniel – to admit he was responding to the name changes in Memphis, which he denied.

Rep. Johnnie Turner asked what if Jews hadn’t been allowed to tear down Nazi statues.

JOHNNIE TURNER: “I’m not comparing the Confederacy with Adolf Hitler. I’m just saying during the time that he reigned, there were statues everywhere. But today, you would have to look far and wide.”

STEVE MCDANIEL: “Much of what you said just makes my point for me.”

McDaniel says present generations shouldn’t get to decide what history future generations are allowed to see.

Democrats also tried to add an amendment preventing the renaming of Civil Rights-related monuments, but were unsuccessful.

While debate around HB0533 is about Civil War sites, the legislation includes every conflict from the French and Indian War to Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). The legislation refers to the Civil War as the “War Between the States.”

The proposal casts a wide net, saying “no statue, monument, memorial, nameplate or plaque which has been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of” a war and is located on public property cannot be “relocated, removed, altered, renamed, rededicated or otherwise disturbed.”

Also, streets, buildings or parks named for any historical military figure or organization can be renamed.

And finally, the legislation suggests governmental entities responsible for monuments have to take proper care of them.

An amendment adopted by the state House allowed the Tennessee historical commission to grant waivers.

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