Well, America's Finest City made a very explicit symbolic gesture at the polls and it made the national news. On Nov. 4, network anchorman Peter Jennings broadcast San Diego voters' rejection of last year's City Council decision to change the name of Market Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Way, in honor of the globally acclaimed, assassinated civil rights leader.
Local newspapers reported "Keep Market Street" campaign organizer Tod Firotto's denial that the issue carried racial overtones. Firotto claimed, rather, that election results clearly demonstrate San Diegans' respect for our city's "tradition."
Who could argue with the latter accurate assertion? San Diego's democratic gesture is merely consistent with a longstanding American tradition: that of racial bigotry. The institution of slavery, the genocide of American Indians, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the systematic exploitation by U.S. industry and selective deportation of illegal aliens--mainstream white America has a noble history of racism to defend and maintain.
San Diegans who warm to the concept of commerce, symbolized in the name of Market Street, rather than the way of a contemporary spiritual martyr, deserve the term they have so conscientiously earned at the polls. Racial insensitivity and parochial narrowness of sentiment comprise the bedrock of a racist mentality. It's reassuring to know that such a thoroughly American tradition is alive and well in America's Finest City.
REBECCA D. HERTZLER