Each Wednesday I speak on the issues of the day to a retirees' class. The big news last week was the resurgent Republican effort in the U.S. Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Even a highly informed, fully engaged and soberly responsible audience sometimes can find the nomenclature and nuance of federal and state health issues less than scintillating.
It's when you get into Medicaid matching rates, re-insurance and cost-sharing subsidies that you risk losing a handful of listeners. That's especially so for seniors who participate in the best health-insurance system in the world--American Medicare--and are not directly affected by Obamacare.
So, I told the group, let's have some fun first.
I brought up the Arkansas Politics Hall of Fame that Shane Broadway had suggested as his signature project as the new head of the Political Animals Club in Little Rock.
We spent maybe 10 to 15 minutes on the subject. By the time we finished, I was convinced that it is imperative that Broadway abandon the destructive notion forthwith.
A simple opening question: Should the late Orval E. Faubus, the 12-year governor, be enshrined in this prospective hall of fame?
He was sure-enough famous in the late 1950s. Sixty years ago Friday, in Atlanta for a meeting and attending a Georgia-Texas football game, he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 33,000.
But history bases his fleeting flame on ignominious resistance to the court-required racial integration of Little Rock Central High School. His lawlessness had to be dealt with by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and federal troops.
I repeated my conclusion of a recent column, which was that I'd hate to see Faubus as a member of such a hall of fame, but would assign no credibility to it were he not.
Then I told about the email I received from one of my many formidable conservative critics.
This correspondent made the point that I was calling for historic commemoration of a racial segregationist like Faubus--along with two others, the late U.S. Sens. J. William Fulbright and John L. McClellan. They, in 1956, signed the Southern Manifesto opposing the Brown v. Board of Education ruling of two years earlier. Thus, they went on the historic record as wanting to preserve racial segregation.
What's different about that--my critic wanted to know--and people who want to commemorate Southern history by preserving Confederate monuments?
I have lamented Rebel-celebrating monuments, although my most recently evolved position was that I'd prefer that we keep them up to avoid the folderol of removing them and simply go back to walking past them without paying any attention.
I asked the class if anyone could help me fashion a response. No one could.
I understood. My instinctive response had been to tell the gentleman that halls of fame are about prominence in the relevant field, not for judgments of morality or behavior.
But then two words flashed. One was Pete and the other Rose.
He--Pete Rose--got more base hits than any baseball player in history. Yet he has been denied induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of behavior.
A class member said maybe we should have both an Arkansas Politics Hall of Fame and an Arkansas Politics Hall of Shame. Another said I was confusing fame with notoriety, which I wasn't, though I admired her command of language nuance.
I was not confused about fame and notoriety. I was wondering whether to blend them for these purposes.
My eventual position, I told the class, was that Confederate monuments should be in private museums, not the public square, and that, similarly, the Arkansas Politics Hall of Fame should be a private entity, not a public one.
I asked for a show of hands. It looked about even between those who said Faubus should be inducted and those who said he shouldn't.
Then came the audience comment to end all comments. It was that, by my rationale regarding Faubus, an International Politics Hall of Fame would be obliged to induct ... Adolf Hitler.
Yes, we went there.
Alas, it was time to move on to Medicaid matching rates, re-insurance and cost-sharing subsidies.
That Hitler got brought up wasn't the thing a woman chided me about after the class. Instead, she found it offensive that I had likened Robert E. Lee and Faubus.
Had I done that? I hadn't meant to.
Give it up, Shane. There is enough aggravation in this world without borrowing any. All an Arkansas Politics Hall of Fame would be good for is arguing.
Anyway, I'm told that a former editor of this newspaper once made fun of halls of fame in Arkansas--or at least their proliferation--by saying we need bumper stickers declaring, "Honk if you're in a hall of fame."
Spoken by someone not in one, I'd wager.
I would never honk about such a thing.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 09/24/2017
Print Headline: In the hall of ... shame?