Keep Fulbright there
In my opinion it would be a major mistake to remove the statue of the late Sen. J.W. Fulbright from the University of Arkansas campus along with his name from the U of A Fulbright College.
I personally knew Senator Fulbright, and I do not believe there was anything about him that was racist. Yes, I know he did not vote for the Civil Rights Act, but he was at the time reflecting the views of the overwhelming majority of his constituents. I believe if he was alive today he would openly admit he made a mistake.
Senator Fulbright was the youngest U of A president ever and, later, while in Congress, probably did as much or more to enhance the image of Arkansas than any other state leader. The Fulbright Scholar program is known and respected throughout the world. Thousands of our best students have benefited from it. If Senator Fulbright was alive today, I believe he would strongly support civil rights for all people.
The U of A Board of Trustees would in my opinion be wise to reject the recommendation of a special committee to remove the Fulbright statue and name from the Fayetteville campus.
Principle not involved
Senator Garner, I read your "Change is here: The squealers don't like it" response to Rex Nelson with some dismay, partially because it contained the sort of schoolboy name-calling that you ascribed to him and targeted corruption in past legislatures that he did not, and would not, defend.
My primary concern, though, is your acknowledgement of following your constituents in pursuing an agenda which Nelson and others label "extreme" but you prefer to call "principled."
How are principles involved when a legislator decides, for example, to ignore urgings of medical and educational experts regarding young people with gender-identity issues? Are there no accidents of birth, no abnormalities, no congenital issues that should be addressed by medical care? Is this the purview of the public at large, or of those trained in medical fields?
In this matter, and others, does the election process automatically confer wisdom and knowledge upon successful candidates and reduce opponents to the Squealer class? The phrase "smart elected officials took notice" suggests that the bright senator follows the inclinations of his folk. That is not necessarily true in a representative democracy.
How do your constituents develop their understandings regarding the issues addressed in the recent legislative session? Do they gather information, consult experts, listen to opposing views, and carefully weigh the issues? If so, then you are right to follow their lead. If not, then the burden falls to you. It's a matter of principle. The legislator with a weather-vane voting record is neglecting his responsibility to represent, to educate, and to lead his district rather than to follow it.
It may be true that "to weak men, principles look like extremism." It may also be true that those who fight extremism in favor of educated principles are the strong ones.
The state of the party
Rex Nelson's recent columns give me a glimmer of hope for the Republican Party in Arkansas. I now know there are at least two thoughtful Republicans in Arkansas, Rex and Asa, who have the perspective of history and can see the cliff our local legislatures have driven us to and over: the (Republican) legislators' rabid focus on abortion, transgendered people, gun sovereignty and voting fraud we have not seen in this state.
Rex, perhaps the Know Nothings and the Cowards will some day look in the mirror.
Of strained analogies
Fans of classic literature are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at Sen. Trent Garner's sad attempt to analogize the character Squealer in "Animal Farm" to an Afghan warlord, Rex Nelson and Democrats. If comparisons are to be drawn, the warlord would be the large, fierce-looking Berkshire boar Napoleon, who came to be the strong-man self-serving dictator. Employing intimidation and propaganda, he convinced the other animals that his leadership was essential to their very existence. One might think of Donald Trump, Mr. Garner and other GOP legislators. Mr. Garner implies that Republican leadership is necessary to move Arkansas forward when in fact they focus on nanny-state cultural and unconstitutional legislation that only divides us.
Anyway, back to Squealer, the character that became Napoleon's spokesperson/pig. That is not a logical comparison to a warlord or to political adversaries as Garner implies. Squealer is described as a small, brilliant-talking pig with a shrill voice and a habit of skipping from side to side as he spoke. It was said of him that he could turn black into white. When the animals complained that Napoleon's harsh policies increased their work and lessened their rations, Squealer explained that sacrifices were good for them and the policies were essential to their well-being, and further that they wouldn't be free of human bondage were it not for Napoleon's leadership. Anyone else thinking Sarah H. Sanders?
If Mr. Garner understood the book, he is taking titanic liberties with the meanings therein to make a contorted point. If he is lacking the requisite comprehension skills in drawing analogies, he shouldn't be trying to over-reach.