Heard the joke about the Redskins? Evidently the team, due to the hatred, violence and hostility tied to its name, is dropping the word “Washington.”
That of course would leave only “Redskins,” a name reviled by Native Americans and many others, but not nearly as many as remain disgusted by “Washington” in the wake of an exasperating 16-day government shutdown.
The nation’s capital is a little down. Besides the name controversy, the Redskins are finding victories as elusive as budget deals, and no one thinks the basketball Wizards will be much better. Going to games and to work, the most frequent thing you hear on the subway is, “We’ll be moving momentarily.”
Washington has become synonymous with words like inept and indecisive, even though everyone has conveniently forgotten it was Americans elsewhere who sent this crew of lawmakers to town.
Congress recently scored an all-time low approval rating of 10 percent in an Associated Press poll. The news wasn’t much better for President Obama – 53 percent disapproved of his work on the budget crisis, according to ABC News.
So what’s going to pull DC out of the doldrums?
Not the news, and certainly not the news shows, where hosts can’t figure out if they’re journalists or entertainers, politicians only answer questions they like, and everyone interrupts and shouts until you can’t watch anymore.
One unexpected bright spot throughout the shutdown was the city itself. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray declared city workers essential and paid them out of reserve funds. The District government stayed open while all feds were sent home.
Local TV stations are reporting that tourists are back, lines have returned to the food trucks, and Gray is looking good. As well, the museums have reopened, the Panda Cam is back on, and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which draws thousands of visitors from around the world, is only five months away.
Until then, here’s another idea for locals and visitors alike, especially those with kids. Drop by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Stand beside the awesome Stone of Hope. Read King’s words, think about their meaning.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits, one inscription reads.
After that, take a short walk to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Stand where Dr. King stood 50 years ago when he delivered his, “I Have a Dream Speech.” Imagine what he saw and felt.
You’ll not only be inspired, you’ll see what’s been missing in Washington.
Read more posts by Steve Piacente, a former print journalist and correspondent.
National Park Service MLK site: http://www.nps.gov/mlkm/index.htm