A couple of weeks ago I flagged a movement to rename Las Vegas airport, ditching former Senator Pat McCarran’s name and replacing it with former Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s. Things have moved quickly, and Clark County voted to move forward and ask the FAA for its blessing to honor the retired Senate Democrat.
It is with humility that I express my appreciation for the recognition today. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Commissioner Segerblom, the entire Clark County Commission, and the many others who have played a part in this renaming.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) February 16, 2021
The strange predilection towards naming things for politicians – and living ones, no less – aside this is less about the powerful former legislator Reid and more about cancelling Pat McCarren for whom the airport is currently named.
McCarren was a Democratic U.S. Senator from Nevada between 1933 and 1954. He was the first U.S. Senator born in Nevada and served as the state’s former Chief Justice. He sponsored the 1938 Civil Aeronautics Act which created federal regulation of airline prices and routes (which lasted until the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act). In addition to Las Vegas’ McCarren airport there’s McCarran Street in northern Vegas and a McCarren Boulevard in Reno.
Though a Democrat, he was an opponent of Roosevelt’s New Deal. He was an admirer of Spanish fascists. And he was an anti-communist. He’s also one of the father’s of modern U.S. immigration law. Nevada’s Democratic U.S. House members have called McCarren’s legacy that “of racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 2, 2021
Harry Reid has been perhaps best known in his post-Senate life for sharing that he believes in UFOs. And as Senator Majority Leader he got the highest-level classified briefings. Renaming the airport for him will not change its 3-letter code (LAS), but will incur expenses for rebranding and new signage, projected at $2 million to be covered by private donors.
Ultimately I’m not sure how much it matters, does anyone call Atlanta’s airport Hartsfield–Jackson? And how many of you know who they were without Googling? On a major news network this website was once referred to as View From The Right Wing yet I won’t call Washington’s National Airport ‘Reagan National’ (I lived in DC long before they renamed the airport for the nation’s 40th President).
I certainly don’t call airports by their full name, will always say I’m flying to or out of Las Vegas, and never refer to it as ‘Harry Reid airport.’ Will you?