June 29, 2009

Who's Working the Plantation, Now?

Justin Katz

Being neither a native nor a linguistic pro forma traditionalist, I'm in the "who cares" camp when it comes to the excision of the word "plantations" in the official full name of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The change would affirm a detrimental and immature impulse that's pervasive in modern society and should, itself, be excised, but ailments are so prevalent in the culture that one must sometimes let the disease eat a bit of loose flesh so as to better address the causes.

As if my metaphor had peculiar accuracy, however, the agreement-fest in the RI House over putting the question of the offending word on the ballot exposed a pair of ugly lesions that ought to concern Rhode Islanders a great deal:

State Rep. Doug Gablinske, D-Bristol, said that when he spoke out in March in favor of the bill, and said he was not proud of his community's involvement in the slave trade hundreds of years ago, he got more flack from his constituents than he has on any other issue.

But he said he believes it's much easier for white men and women to "enjoy this country's bounty" and people should try walking "in the shoes of a black man." He said he was backing Almeida. ...

The word plantation is hurtful to his 83-year-old father, [Rep. Joseph] Almeida[, D- Providence] said. He's watching now, he said. And why, he asked, are Gablinske's constituents so upset over his support of the bill? "That should tell you something."

Here we have one "representative" — Gablinske — making the casually paternalistic declaration that he will not represent his constituents on a matter that drew more passion from them than any other (or so he professes). That spurt of moral superiority served to lob a softball to another "representative" — Almeida — to slur the people of Bristol as racists because, for whatever reason, they like the name of the state just the way it is.

Not fully indentured, as yet, the people of RI&PP will have the final say on the matter, and I'd wager that they'll vote the change down. As I said, it won't bother me in the least to be proven wrong, on that, but if the vote goes the way I expect, I'll smile at the implicit rebuke of our State House masters.

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Probably the funniest part of this bill is in a year where the state is a half billion dollars short, this is Gablinske and Almeida's priority. Unreal. I wonder what their constituents think about their elected representatives focusing on this as taxes and fees get raised.

Posted by: Patrick at June 29, 2009 4:57 PM

Keep it. “Providence Plantations” is more appropriate than ever.

Those of us who live in Rhode Island are slaving away, our labors involuntarily taken to keep Massuh’ Union and Missus’ Poverty Industry livin’ in high cotton and high style up there in that big white house on Smith Hill!

(Note to you politically correct types. I'm being sarcastic here. Please look up "sarcastic" in the dictionary before you accuse me of being ...)

Posted by: Sick of Rhode Island at June 29, 2009 5:04 PM

I care, that's who cares, I do. I care about letting unproductive representatives using the only issue that is apropos to their own makeup.

I care. Because there will be illegals galore voting on this issue if Voter ID and eVerify is not approved next year BEFORE this racebating bill comes to vote.

Can you imagine what this state will be called if every single sore loser group wants a name change and uses this stupid bill as a precedent?

Our state's name may just be called, oh, MexiDominiGuatamaNicaraBrazilia of the ACLU.

Posted by: Roland at June 29, 2009 8:19 PM

I will be voting to rename it the "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantains" in honor of the bananas we have in the General ASSembly.

Posted by: John at June 29, 2009 9:03 PM

As someone who lives in Rep. Gablinske's district, I'm not surprised he could care less what I think. I sent him a detailed email listing the reasons why I didn't support the budget bill and hoped he wouldn't either while also including the things I thought the House should be doing to curb spending. I never received a reply. Not a thank you, an agreement, a disagreement with counterpoints...nothing.

I can't wait for him to come to my door next year.

Posted by: Steve A. at June 29, 2009 11:54 PM

You say, "I care". You mean, "I scare".

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 5, 2009 11:00 PM
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