Thursday, February 25, 2010

PARTY LINES: Should there be a ‘John Browning’ holiday in Utah? By Todd Weiler, Republican

Like most Americans, I enjoy a good holiday. Especially those of the three-day weekend variety. Last week, Sen. Mark Madsen briefly vetted a proposal to have the state commemorate gun-maker John Browning on Martin Luther King Day. Madsen’s proposal didn’t exactly get off the ground. (It was a lead balloon.)

Even a legislature that has never quite embraced the civil rights holiday thought it was a dumb idea. Utah finished 50th in the race to name a state holiday after King, after initially snubbing him in favor of a generic Human Rights Day. After finally relenting in 2000, the Legislature began its work on the holiday each year.

Madsen’s idea to honor a gun maker in conjunction with King was in poor taste considering the civil rights leader was shot and killed by an assassin. In his defense, Madsen thought Browning would be a good fit since he was born in January and his automatic pistol design helped America win World War I.

Not quite ready to let this one go, Madsen said that since the Brownings were Mormon pioneers, he will consider July 24th for a joint celebration. In our current political climate, I would not support any legislation to create a state holiday to honor Browning.

At the risk of being labeled a racist, I will admit that it has always struck me as odd that our former presidents collectively share one single holiday — while King has been awarded his own.

As significant as the civil rights movement is, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Reagan, etc. have each respectively merited less than 3 percent of President’s Day.

Although King was far from perfect (like the rest of us), he has become a symbol of something much greater than any single life. In a very real sense, MLK Day has become a part of this nation’s penitence of its past sins.

But I have to admit that Madsen has got me thinking. Who else deserves a holiday? As I type this column on my computer, I am thinking that “Bill Gates Day” has a nice ring. But that wouldn’t be fair to the iPod or the iPhone, would it?

More close to home, maybe we could celebrate Philo Farnsworth on Superbowl Sunday? How ‘bout an Eliza R. Snow Day whenever school is cancelled after a big storm.

Larry Miller and Steve Young could be candidates. What about an “Osmond Day” to correspond with each season premier of American Idol? OK, that may be stretching it a bit far.

I have never been a fan of the so-called message bills.

In these trying times, we need our elected officials to focus on what matters most: balancing the budget, educating our children, and developing the economy.

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