Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

No King Holiday, Arizona Is Scorned

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

No King Holiday, Arizona Is Scorned

Article excerpt

ARIZONA was finally beginning to recover from the Evan Mecham fiasco, and now this.

Reaction to voters' failure to approve a paid state holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been swift and strong. The day after the election, National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that he would recommend that the 1993 Super Bowl be moved from Tempe, at an estimated loss to the state of at least $200 million. Phoenix lost its bid for the 1994 National Basketball Association all-star game (estimated loss: $100 million), and all 1991 appearances by the Harlem Globetrotters have been cancelled. The University of Virginia and Notre Dame pulled out of the Fiesta Bowl, and the game itself was almost moved to San Diego until sponsors agreed to set up scholarships and hold half-time ceremonies honoring King. The University of California at Berkeley was censured by the NAACP for deciding to play in the Copper Bowl in Tucson; the Cal-Berkeley team, which hasn't been invited to a bowl game in 11 years, will wear special patches on its uniforms.

The Episcopal Church will still hold its convention here next June, but Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been invited to come lecture the state about civil rights. A white-supremacist group from Mississippi commended the state for the vote and announced plans to air some of its shows on Arizona cable-television stations. The loss to the state, both in terms of economics and prestige, is already enormous.

The Grand Canyon state, like any other, has its share of boors and bigots, but it doesn't deserve censure by the rest of America. The MLK-holiday vote was close - 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent - and in Phoenix and Tucson, where three out of four Arizonans reside, the measure passed easily. It was only in the rural counties, like Mojave and Yavapai, where the King holiday went down by a two-to-one margin. Why should the residents of Phoenix and Tucson, the two cities that must bear the cost of the defeat, suffer for the actions of a few thousand yahoos out in Bullhead City? Those people probably just retired there from Montana or New Hampshire (the only other states without a holiday honoring King). …

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