Austin’s Equity Office is proposing that more than half a dozen streets be renamed due to the fact that the current names honor people who once owned slaves.
The office even wants to look into renaming the city itself as the man it was named after, Stephen F. Austin, was an avid pro-slavery advocate who said that slaveholders should be compensated for emancipated slaves, and that freed slaves would turn into vagabonds and a public nuisance.
This is not the first time that the city has taken a look at the issue. Several months ago, Austin decided to rename Robert E. Lee Road and Jeff Davis Avenue, as the city didn’t want to have these two streets named after prominent Confederate Civil War heroes. As part of the decision, the city council talked with those who lived along these streets, only to discover that most people who lived on the streets in question opposed the changes.
Some felt that the city was whitewashing history, while still others undoubtedly just didn’t want the hassle of having to change their address on bank forms, tax forms, school papers, business cards, business letterheads and more just because the city deemed a couple of street names to be politically incorrect. Even so, the fact that most residents opposed the changes didn’t make a dent in the city council’s resolve, and the streets were renamed in April 2018.
Now, Austin wants to rename another seven streets that also bear Confederate-era names. These include streets such as Confederate Avenue, Plantation Road and Dixie Drive. However, these seven streets are just the tip of the iceberg as there is another, lower-priority list of even more roads and locations in the city that the council feels should be renamed in order to remove vestiges of the city’s pro-slavery past.
While the city points out that it costs less than $1,000 to rename any given street, the price tag does not include the cost involved for individuals and businesses who are affected by the decision. It does not seem that the city council is seeking input from all those involved in this process, even though the city says it will seek input from its citizens.
The most head-scratching part about all of this is that Austin’s Equity Office is also recommending that the city of Austin itself be renamed. There are no suggestions for what the new name for Texas’ capital city would be, and the Equity Office has defended its recommendation by stating that the idea to rename the city is listed as being up for review, which means that no decision would be taken in the immediate future. However, the decision to rename the city would be a monumental one, as it would affect people living throughout the United States.
Anyone who was born, married or divorced in Austin would likely need to update their paperwork, as would those who graduated from colleges and universities in the city. Maps would need to be redrawn, and textbooks throughout the country would need to be revised. What is more, the move would drastically affect any business that uses the city’s name as part of its own business name.
The fact that slavery was abhorrent and a gross violation of basic human decency and human rights should not necessarily cause cities throughout the country to take drastic measures to rename themselves and their streets, parks, neighborhoods and landmarks. The renaming process is not only a waste of funds that could be put to better use, but also causes hardship for tens of thousands of people whose lives are affected by the name changes.
If the city is indeed concerned about the spirit of segregation, racism and slavery, it could look for ways to end these actions today by promoting tolerance and ensuring that everyone in the community has their basic needs met. Unfortunately, it seems that being politically correct is being put as a higher priority than taking practical actions that would benefit people in the real world.
~ Liberty Planet