Maryland State Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s County) has introduced a bill to designate state funds to erect a statue of Len Bias, a former University of Maryland basketball star, at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Md. Bias, a graduate of the school, died in 1986 of cocaine intoxication less than two days after he was drafted s by the NBA’s Boston Celtics, shocking the area and the nation. Ramirez’s efforts, as well as a recent decision to name another local high school after President Obama, is causing the Prince George’s County Education Board to revise and formalize its policy for such honors as statues and building names. Will an African-American kid who cut off his promising life as it was just beginning with a self-administered drug overdose be deemed worthy of immortalization, to serve as inspiration for future generations of black youth? Stay tuned.
The Stupid is strong in this one...
“Len Bias was a student athlete in Prince George’s,” Sen. Ramirez argues. “He moved the University of Maryland basketball program to new heights. He and Michael Jordan were the two best college players at that time, until he tragically died. . . . We can learn something from everything. The nation learned a lot from this unfortunate incident.” Well, if learning “a lot” from someone’s demise is the criteria for honoring them with a heroic statue, that opens up all kinds of possibilities. Good thinking, Senator! A statue of Richard Nixon reminds us that power corrupts, certainly a valuable lesson for all. A statue of Benedict Arnold teaches us the dangers of pride, and how a sense of entitlement can lead to tragic choices. And what could be more illuminating than a statue of Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter? Maybe even one showing him mowing down those kids—such a powerful statement about gun abuse, and the failures of the mental health system! In fact, what would really be appropriate is naming a public school after him.
By the end of his life, Len Bias was no hero or role model, and he deserves no honor for knowingly breaking drug laws and getting himself killed while disappointing legions of fans and supporters. Erecting a statue to Bias would be just one more step in society’s capitulation to the seductive, and destructive, appeal of the drug culture, and the elimination of the vitally important societal stigma attached to recreational drug use. What Bias did was willful, ignorant, irresponsible and illegal, and even if that last is removed for his young admirers, the first three remain.
The County Board of Education is now going to debate the appropriateness of making a hero out of a drug abuser and a 21 year old cocaine casualty. If they have to discuss it to answer that question, they all need to be replaced, not that the pathetic performance of their schools isn’t reason enough for that. Len Bias’s death wasn’t “a tragic incident.” A car crash is a tragic incident. Bias died because, like so many young people in Prince George’s County and elsewhere, he deliberately engaged in dangerous conduct that he knew was forbidden, and learned, the hard way, why.
Placing a triumphal statue in front of a high school is no way to discourage deadly attitudes like the one that got Bias killed…unless the design of the proposed statue shows the young man at the exact moment his heart seized and his eyes rolled back in his head.
Facts and Graphic: Washington Post
Source: The Nation