Phoenix Street Re-Naming Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Since former Mayor Stanton tossed the community-driven process for changing street names in Phoenix and replaced it with Council authority, current Mayor Kate Gallego and the rest of the Phoenix City Council have been demonstrably and massively complacent – allowing myriad streets throughout Phoenix to retain the names they have carried for decades despite the highly questionable backgrounds of the people they were named after. Taking aim only at Squaw Peak Drive and Robert E. Lee Street doesn’t go far enough.

To honor people who helped guide our nation’s earliest years (and were previously credited with having done so quite well) thousands of streets across the country, including right here in downtown Phoenix, have been named for our first ten Presidents. Unfortunately, as we now know, because these individuals miserably failed to follow to the letter – with all appropriate wailing and self-flagellation – the prescriptions of the Woke Left in 2020, they were irredeemably evil, and nothing they did may be considered in a positive light. Which means we have a LOT of streets that need renamed, because…

At the time of his death, George Washington owned 317 slaves. Clearly, we need to change the name of Washington Street.

The second U.S. President, John Adams, wasn’t a slave owner, but when abolitionists pressed him to oppose the institution, Adams refused, claiming that the lives of poor whites in the South were worse than those of slaves. So, clearly, we need to change Adams Street.

The third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, throughout his life spoke forcefully against slavery. Of course, he also owned hundreds of slaves. So, we need to change Jefferson Street, too.

James Madison, the fourth U.S. President, was a dedicated slave owner who referred to Africans as an “unfortunate race”. Madison Street needs to go.

Fifth in the office was James Monroe. He brought his slaves with him to the White House. Monroe gotta go.

The Sixth President, John Quincy Adams, was the biggest opponent of slavery in congress during his time. So maybe Adams Street is back: at least so long as it is J.Q. Adams Street. We’ll need to change the signs for clarity.

Our seventh President, Andrew Jackson, was also a slave holder, known for his brutal methods in chasing down runaway slaves. Clearly, we need to escape the oppression of Jackson Street.

The Eighth President, Martin Van Buren, owned slaves and staunchly opposed any legislation that threatened the institution of slavery. Van Buren Street is toast.

Ninth President William Henry Harrison also came from a slave-owning family. Harrison Street is out.

Tenth President John Tyler impregnated his slaves and sold his own children. Is there a Tyler Street? Definitely need to get rid of that.

Of course, most reasonable people don’t really believe that we need to change the name of almost every street in downtown Phoenix – and that’s the point. Whether or not a particular name is offensive is an entirely subjective, individual assessment. Was George Washington a hero? Or a tyrant? While my own assessment is clear – Washington was one of the great, forward-thinking leaders of his era – reasonable people, and Britons, can disagree. No matter how desperately the modern left may choose to re-write the past in service to a preferred narrative that casts the U.S. as a global pariah and a singular beacon of oppression, our history isn’t monolithic. Every one of the Presidents listed above was a great, but flawed, man. Judging those flaws in the light of modern, mercurially inconsistent progressive values is the product of the diminution of education, not a growing enlightenment.

There are countries today where Black slavery still exists and is carried out openly with little more than a wink from government authorities. There are countries where children as young as six or seven years-old are forced to work brutally long hours in horrific conditions making sneakers for Nike and fancy pumps for Luis Vuitton. Those countries are not the United States. Our nation failed – for centuries – to live up to the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. We are still failing to live to live up to those ideals, but we’re also making progress, progress the current debate over racial justice chooses to ignore. Want to promote racial harmony and opportunity? Focus on laws, not people. Toss the race-baiters and poverty-pimps driving much of the current debate out on their butts, stop obsessing over statues and street names, and promulgate legislative solutions – like sentencing reform – that are needed to remove the last remaining legal barriers to true equality.