Arguments for King Memorial in Largo Stir Racial Strife
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - The logic of the chief proponent of the Martin Luther King statue (an issue now dead but not quite buried) is that he and his family were once allegedly the victim of a racial incident, so Largo should honor the great civil rights leader.
Those who follow the "Alice in Wonderland" wonderments in Largo with no small amount of merriment had to have pain medicine administered as their sides ached with laughter at this latest attempt to foil the public will.
Commissioner Rodney Woods, who has done nothing on the commission during his tenure except push for a King statue, claims he was the victim of a hate crime in Metairie, La., 30 years or so ago.
If true, this is horrifying and makes every decent person's e skin crawl.
But the trouble is that Woods, in relating this, never even offered a newspaper clipping or old scrapbook keepsake to back up the claim.
Of course, the county's only daily newspaper - homegrown carpetbagger as it is - backs Woods's Quixotic quest to memorialize a man who needs no memorial in Largo.
In support of the project, the Big Paper tried to create a heart-warming, emotional twist bringing together black and white (funny how it is only the BP that brings color and race into these things) and threw in the idea, very disrespectful to Largo folks, that the city has had racial incidents recently (not true) and is "known as unwelcoming to people of color" (absolutely untrue and a libel on the people of Largo).
In effect, the BP says, the stupid people of Largo "still don't understand why the city needs" a King memorial. It is for those wretched reasons as described above.
Even if one were to stipulate that Largo is seething with racists it is totally specious to suggest that a statue would solve all these supposed shortcomings. These are the rantings of a writer whose head is firmly implanted in the nether region.
As to the claim by Woods that he and his family were victims of a hate crime, investigators have been unable to find any mention of this and one observer opined, "It would be great and helpful if Commissioner Woods would come forward with documentation."
Even at that, how does a terrible personal experience like this have anything to do with building a statue of King in Largo?
On that subject, one Largo citizen spoke out against the King memorial in very strong, stark and frank terms. This represents, perhaps, the voice and sentiment of the people and counters the persistent campaign by the county's only daily newspaper to override what Largo citizens have said they don't want.
"My family does not support the efforts directed towards the construction of a (King memorial) in Largo," Brian Rathert wrote in an e-mail to City Hall.
E-mails from the citizens are a rich source of finding how an often Largo apathetic citizenry feels about public issues.
Rathert went on - "The cult surrounding Dr. King is farcical and is essentially dependent on a mythologized image of the man. In truth, he is far less significant to the nation than other men of far greater significance."
And more - "This notion that the city of Largo is guilty of some form of racial sin and that the city (and by implication, its residents) owes an apology is nonsense. It is worse than nonsense. It is a blanket slander on an entire community of people."
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