Our country is in a state of flux right now. Many white people are finally becoming more aware of the racism that people of color experience on a daily or near-daily basis. Not only that, but many are getting motivated to do something about this problem that’s plagued our country since its very beginning.
With that, statues of historic-but-racist members of our society are being removed, branding of items that included insensitive portrayals of POC are being changed, and now an entire airport might potentially get a new name.
Patrick McCarran, was a Nevada Senator from 1933 to 1954. He was considered a major proponent of the aviation industry in the 1930s, and sponsored key legislation that eventually helped shape modern-day air travel into how it is today. Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport was named after McCarran in 1948.
However, McCarran was also known to be racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic. His efforts encompassed trying to restrict immigration (including Jewish people following the Holocaust), attempts to block Jewish judicial candidates nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the passage of the McCarran Internal Security Act, which allowed for revocation of citizenship and limits on free speech. Naming an airport after someone like that might have been acceptable in the past, but nowadays it’s definitely not OK.
All but one member of Nevada’s congressional delegation have recently written a letter to Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak, to not only change the name of the airport, but to also remove the statue of McCarran that’s in the U.S. Capitol.
“While Senator McCarran fought for workers’ rights and sponsored legislation that helped shape the modern air travel industry, his dark legacy of virulent racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia have no place representing Nevada in the United States Capitol,” the letter read in part. “Our state…should embody Nevada’s values as a compassionate, diverse and welcoming state.”
Some leaders in Las Vegas suggest that changing the name of the airport would not change history. They’re absolutely right. However, wrongs can still be righted and modern-day history doesn’t and shouldn’t include honoring a bigot.
Sisolak himself tried to rename the airport early in his career as governor. Perhaps this time it can finally happen.
Feature Photo: Mliu92/Wikimedia
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary