Flyer InteractiveEditorial

A One-Sided Split?

The debate over the location of a proposed north-south road through Shelby Farms has escalated in recent weeks, as well-intentioned groups of citizens and Mayor Rout have suggested alternatives to the state of Tennessee’s originally proposed route bisecting the park. Bumper stickers have begun to blossom on cars around town, urging us not to “Split Shelby Farms,” or to “Keep Shelby Farms Green.” We have, it seems, the makings of a major controversy brewing. Except for one thing: All the arguments are coming from one side, from those wishing to minimize the impact of such a road, or alter its course. What no one seems to be addressing is the necessity for such a north-south road in the first place.

The state of Tennessee’s original plan, laid out many years ago, was an invasive concept with a large elevated interchange, since rejected by almost everyone. Before committing to building a larger north-south road through the park, shouldn’t we take some time to examine whether the logic for this thoroughfare is still valid in 1998? Is there really a crush of traffic needing to get from Sycamore View to Walnut Grove? What are the statistics? Where are the numbers?

We’d like to hear from those Shelby Countians – commuters, developers, politicians – who would step forward and make the basic case for a new road linking Walnut Grove and Sycamore View. In short, let’s find out who wants or needs this road, and why. Failing a convincing (and up-to-date) demonstration by somebody authoritative that a major new thoroughfare through Shelby Farms actually serves a purpose, we are disinclined to regard it as a given.

A Study in Contrition

Despite some of the irreponsible rhetoric that Clinton-haters have engaged in during the current debate on impeachment, the president has not transgressed against the Republic on anything like the scale of some of his predecessors in politics. Like, say, George Corley Wallace, the onetime segregationist demagogue and four-time governor of Alabama who died recently at the age of 79.

For those who believe in karma, Wallace had been carrying his punishment around with him for more than a quarter-century. Shot and critically wounded at a campaign rally in 1972, as he was about to carry presidential primaries in both Maryland and Michigan, Wallace was doomed to a lifetime of physical torment and emotional pain at the very moment of his greatest political triumph.

During his convalescence and eventual return to political activity, Wallace was able to garner not only the nation’s sympathy but its respectful attention to the redeeming populist aspects of his message. During his last campaign for the governorship, he had not only renounced segregation but confessed his error in unequivocal terms. After his election, he went so far as to publicly beg the forgiveness of those whom he had injured through his earlier firebrand rhetoric and through some of his prior actions as governor. It is a mark both of the genuineness of Wallace’s conversion and of the remarkable charity of his victims that he was largely granted the absolution he sought. Three black state troopers served as pallbearers for Wallace, and Congressman John Lewis was among those who, in one form or another, rendered eulogies for him. We’re not naming names, but there are those among us – on both sides of the current national controversy – who could study the Wallace example for what it tells us about the nature of true contrition.

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