Sunday, January 23, 2005

Remove Rowland's Name?

State Senator Edith Prague (D-Columbia) has been calling for the removal of John Rowland's name from the various state buildings on which it currently resides.

This reminds me of the ancient practice of obliterating from the historical record those kings who did not meet with the approval of their successors, or of the populace at large. A notable example would be the Pharoah Ahkenaten, a religious zealot who tried to overthrow the established religious order of Egypt and replace it with his own. After his death, his monuments were destroyed or damaged, and his name crossed off the roll of pharoahs in many places. Not to compare John Rowland with an ancient Egyptian pharoah with whom he had nothing in common, but the reactions to the ignoble ends of the reigns of both men are similar:

Let us have our vengeance on him! We shall cross his name out from the record, obliterating him from our history. It will be as if he never were.

I understand Sen. Prague's wish to rid the state of Rowland's taint. His name on various state buildings is going to remind everyone of what a lousy crook he was, and it has to be a blow to morale to have to work in a building named for a felon.

But perhaps now, during the emotional frenzy to try to purify everything Rowland touched, is not the best time. Let's weigh the decision rationally, not emotionally, and see if perhaps the benefits of removing the name outweigh the damage to the public record. Did Rowland deserve to have his name on that building? Do his moral failings outweigh his achievements in office? I don't know the answer right now, since I, too, react to Rowland more with my emotions than my rational mind.

Therefore, I would encourage Sen. Prague to table this for the time being. Let's come back to it in a year, when we've had a little more time to digest Rowland's reign and fall, and to evaluate his decidedly mixed, Nixonian legacy.

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