Thursday, June 02, 2005

What Heineman will be remembered for....

by Kyle Michaelis

Nebraska's state quarter has been selected and will go into circulation in spring of 2006. Gov. Dave Heineman's choice is the culmination of a selection process that has taken longer than two years.

Much is being made of the political motivations behind Heineman's selection as he fights for election in his own right against Rep. Tom Osborne. The Chiney Rock image obviously appealed most to Osborne's constituents in Western Nebraskan and the frontier history of which they are so proud.

While State Sen. Adrian Smith of Gering was quoted in response saying, "Any decision that the governor makes is political," the Lincoln Journal-Star wrote:
Heineman denied his choice was an attempt to get votes from western Nebraska. "Absolutely not," he said in response to the "is it political?" question. "I think that's preposterous."

There had been something of a grassroots movement in support of the "Chief Standing Bear" design with the state motto of "Equality Before the Law" underneath his portrait. Both the Omaha World-Herald's and Lincoln Journal-Star's Editorial Boards wrote in favor of it, along with yours truly. Many are disappointed, especially, as this article shows, those in Nebraska's native community. One native woman says, "My heart is broken," while another called Heineman's choice an unconscionable "insult to Nebraska's first citizens."

I appreciate that sort of passion but some of it's getting a little bit out of hand and theatrical. This is, after all, just an image on a quarter. As Heineman told the World-Herald:
"I don't want to downplay it - it's an important decision," he said. "But I hope we put it in perspective. . . . There are far more important choices we have to make for Nebraska."

And, despite this writer's previously stated support, Heineman may ultimately have made the right decision since the blatant hypocrisy of advertising Nebraska's "Equality Before the Law" is too much for an honest man to bear when 70% of its citizens supported a blatantly discriminatory amendment to the state constitution in 2000 stripping homosexuals of basic democratic freedoms that didn't have a damn thing to do with marriage. Standing Bear's fight for dignity and equality continues, but we're no longer leading the way. Instead, we are shaming his memory.


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