A Mississippi legislator was channeling his very best Stephen Colbert when he introduced a bill that would rename Gulf of Mexico the “Gulf of America.”
Democratic state representative Steve Holland told the Associated Press he was “tickled” that several news outlets initially took his bill seriously. Holland, however, does not actually want House Bill 150 to pass. It was instead, in the words of Alex Woodward of the Gambit, a “tongue-in-cheek single-finger salute to mock his Republican peers obsessed with illegal immigration.” Holland said he was tired of his colleagues’ focus on “running illegal immigrants out, and drug testing welfare and Medicaid recipients.”
A reporter from Mississippi Public Broadcasting tracked down Holland, who said, “I’m trying to get in with the swing of the majority and in with the tenor of what Mississippians think they want in their government.”
“I just thought I’d give them some more red meat to throw at their base,” Holland told Dennis Pillion of Al.com.
But, before the satirical nature of the bill came to light, it raised the hackles of one Latino GOP organization, Café Con Leche, which sent Holland a letter demanding that he withdraw the bill because it was anti-Mexican, according to Elizabeth Llorente of Fox News Latino.
“If this bill passes the legislature and is signed into law, perhaps it is time to rename the Mississippi River,” Bob Quasius, Café Con Leche’s president, wrote in a letter to Holland. “After all, sharing a name with a state that wants to rewrite maps out of disdain for Mexicans would be a disgrace to the rest of the nation.”
The question that remains is, will legislators from other states of America’s Third Coast find something to like in this bill? Place names, after all, carry considerable symbolic weight. (Iran and the Arab states have long argued whether the body of water separating them should be called the Arabian Gulf or the Persian Gulf.) It perhaps is not far-fetched to say that a legislative body that argued late into the night about the nature of Western Civilization last session could find something to like about this bill. (Calling Wayne Christian?)