Name change not needed

The Clark County Commission did the right thing Sept. 4 upon hearing a proposal to change the name of McCarran International Airport: Nothing.

Two commissioners openly opposed the idea; none offered support.

Such a name change would have imposed considerable costs, primarily on private airlines and vendors who would have had to change signs, documents, computer programs and who knows what else.

There's only one rationale that would justify imposing those costs, at a time when many of those firms are already struggling: If there were substantial evidence that this town is losing tourist bookings because anyone, anywhere, has trouble figuring out where "McCarran" is.

The problem simply doesn't arise, because airlines and passengers book passage to "Las Vegas," as they always have. From a strictly pragmatic point of view, it wouldn't matter if our airport were officially named for Larry, Curly and Moe.

Discussions of the name change were quickly sidetracked into whether the late U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran was a sufficiently upstanding fellow. Why, he joined with the late Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy in claiming there were communist spies in the Truman administration, some said. Others complained Sen. McCarran was a racist and an anti-Semite.

In fact, the Venona cables confirm the Roosevelt and Truman administrations were indeed infested with Soviet agents at high levels. Compromising American security and aiding a hostile foreign power still constitute treason - no small matter when it ended up costing American lives in Korea. And it's puzzling to hear dismissive comments today about the threat of communist expansion in that era, from those who never witnessed the wonders of that totalitarian system, first-hand.

As to the complaints about the reported bigotry of Sen. McCarran, who died in 1954 and did a lot for Nevada in his day: Fine.

But if we're going to start stripping off our public buildings and institutions the names of statesmen of the 20th and even the 19th centuries, because they don't perfectly match up with today's standards of tolerance and political correctness, we're going to have quite a scrap heap of bronze plaques to deal with.