weather icon Clear

VICTOR JOECKS: Don’t rename McCarran airport after Harry Reid

Don’t fret if the Clark County Commission renames McCarran International Airport after Harry Reid. If the late Sen. Pat McCarran’s accomplishments don’t spare him from cancellation, one day, Reid’s won’t either.

Commissioner Tick Segerblom is once again driving the renaming bandwagon. It may happen this time. Three of the seven members on the commission seem supportive.

“Sen. McCarran, who at the time was probably a nice man, really is passed in history,” Segerblom said. “If you look back at his record, it was not good. The name doesn’t represent the diversity of our community.”

In one sense, Segerblom is obviously right. There’s much evidence that McCarran held repugnant anti-Semitic sentiments. Those beliefs are widely repudiated today, and rightfully so.

But McCarran’s record features much more than those vile views. McCarran, a Democrat, was responsible for shaping modern aviation. He wrote the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 and the Federal Airport Act. He played a large part in the creation of Nellis Air Force Base. He was also a central figure in Nevada political history. He and his protégés dominated the state for decades. He worked to bring war industries to what became Henderson. He spent his political capital to defeat a federal gaming tax that would have destroyed Nevada casinos.

Those are state- and nation-altering achievements.

There’s a deeper question here, applicable to figures from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln. Is it appropriate to honor someone for their accomplishments if he or she has also done or said things that are now considered morally wrong or abhorrent?

Before you answer, consider what your response may mean for Reid in the coming decades. Some of his past comments and actions on topics such as illegal immigration, are now far outside the current progressive orthodoxy.

“If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn’t enough, how about offering a reward for being an illegal immigrant,” Reid said while arguing against birthright citizenship, which he proposed eliminating. “No sane country would do that, right? Guess again.”

A Republican who gave that speech now would be smeared as a racist.

Reid also once described Barack Obama as a “light-skinned” African-American who had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” He later apologized.

This isn’t an attempt to draw a moral equivalence between the words and beliefs of Reid and McCarran. But it does suggest that erasing recognition of someone for his accomplishments over controversy involving something he wasn’t honored for could have unintended consequences.

That’s not just idle speculation. Last month, the San Francisco Board of Education voted to take the name of liberal icon Sen. Dianne Feinstein off a school.

There’s an easy compromise available. County officials are working on a new airport in Ivanpah Valley, around 30 miles south of Las Vegas. If commissioners want to recognize Reid, they should name the new airport after him.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Cortez Masto, Titus sponsor lands bill for Southern Nevada

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, introduced the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act, which will protect more than 2 million acres of public land for conservation and recreation while allowing Clark County to develop affordable housing and responsibly plan for population growth projections.

Two-vehicle crash sends one driver to DVH

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services crews transported one person to Desert View Hospital after responding to a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Floyd Street and Basin Avenue just before 12 p.m. on Wednesday March 3rd.

Spring Mountain racing facility hosts a job fair

Expansion plans are again underway at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club on the far south end of Pahrump.

Fire destroys outbuilding, personal property

A structure fire in a non-hydrant neighborhood, created a few challenges for Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services crews last week.

Report reflects measures to boost in-person schools

The Nevada Health Response Center highlighted support provided by the Nevada Department of Education, Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health and other state agencies to ensure that Nevada students and educators can have access to in-person education in as safe a manner as possible.

Extension programs will focus on human resources

University of Nevada, Reno Extension will hold two online town halls to help small businesses with current human resources issues and give tips on how to better use technology to help with human resources tasks.

Group holds event to raise awareness of proposed solar projects

Basin and Range Watch, a nonprofit that advocates for conservation of deserts across California and Nevada, recently held a socially distanced rally against solar projects in the desert. The event was also broadcast via Zoom for those unable to attend.