Richmond Hill is a little town north of Savannah that’s nice enough, I suppose. From my few visits, it seems like your typically white, churchy Southern enclave where people move to get away from the crime and bad schools in the city. All I really know about it is that there are lots of golf courses and that rock star Gregg Allman lives there.Oh, and I’ve seen the sign on the way in that says “Richmond Hill: A Henry Ford City” and yes, it gives me the creeps. But I figure if people want to name their town after a rabid anti-Semite that‘s their business, and I simply take mine elsewhere — I’ve got enough problems. Henry Ford spent a lot of time in coastal Georgia and helped develop the economy back when jobs were scarce, and I’m not going to pick a fight trying to convince this particular population of people that his deep-seated hatred for Jews is a valid reason to revoke his hero status.
But Richmond Hill is Dick Kent’s neighborhood, and the Jewish, West Point-educated former Marine has been campaigning for years to remove Ford’s name from the sign. He hasn’t had much success in rallying city council members to his cause, even though his point is sound. “To call Richmond Hill a ‘Henry Ford City’ implies endorsement from the city government of a man who had a very dark side to his personal history,” he told the local press this week.
Kent’s ten years of polite relentlessness has paid off: Both the Savannah Morning News and the Bryant County News ran stories this week about how Richmond Hill mayor Harold Fowler is “entertaining the notion to come up with a slogan that is acceptable to all the citizens” of his town. Not that it means Fowler will be handing Kent the sledgehammer, but if you know anything about local Georgia politics, this is a tremendous step forward.
What surprised the snot out of me was SMN editor Tom Barton’s op-ed lauding Kent’s position and lambasting Richmond Hill’s backasswardness by still hanging on to the idea that having Henry Ford on its sign is a good and decent thing.
“A Henry Ford City”? What does that mean? If you know U.S. history, it could appear to mean, “No Jews or dogs allowed.”
Not that I don’t feel the same way, but it’s just weird to agree with the newspaper for once.