I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I didn’t know Rhode Island’s full name, so while I would support efforts by states to make their names longer and goofier, I guess don’t especially care if the Ocean State decides to change it based on flimsy historical interpretations of the term “plantation.” The broad argument made by the bill’s sponsors and advocates are reasonable enough; apparently, it’s possible to get an education in Rhode Island and not learn much about the significant role it played in the colonial slave trade. I doubt that altering the state’s official letterhead will do much to correct the problem, but Rhode Islanders — unlike the supporters of the Honduran coup — don’t seem to be especially threatened by the notion of a public referendum, so more power to them.
It would certainly be nice if the debate in Rhode Island were to spur similar reflections in certain other states — say, those of the defeated Confederacy — where the public landscape is littered with memorials to actual slaveholders and their political and military defenders, all of which would serve a more useful purpose if they were hauled away by
crackheads meth addicts and sold as scrap metal. I suppose I shouldn’t hold my breath on that one.