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The Great State of the Islands of Columbia
Written March 9, 1965

Congressman Charles E. Bennett, a Democrat from Florida, recently proposed in the House of Representatives that a fifty-first state be created.

Bennett is an opponent of the plans now before Congress calling for home rule for the District of Columbia.  As an alternative, he suggested that the District be combined with the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa as a new state.

The plan is obviously ridiculous.  It is absurd to think of combining into one governmental unit 484 square miles of territory from four little areas scattered all over the world.

It is equally absurd to think of governing under the same laws some 60 tropical islands and one city whose major industry is government.  How could workable laws be made to fit all the people of the state?  How could the United States senators, chosen from the state at large, and the one representative to Congress hope to represent all their constituents fairly?

It seems to us that even Congressman Bennett himself could not be taking his plan too seriously.  It was presented as a counterproposal to a bill which would allow District of Columbia residents to run their own city government, rather than having Congress do it.  The honorable representative from Florida must have thought, "Well, if they're going to do that, they might as well give the District complete home rule by making it a state.  Of course, it would be rather small in area, but they could tack on some other territories to make it big enough."  And thus the great idea was born.

There are many times when our Congress seems merely to be wasting its time in considering such proposals, but we feel that this is a natural outgrowth of the right to freedom of expression.  In a situation in which any idea may be presented, there are bound to be a few oddball ones.  And this is good.

Think how nervous the people of the Pacific Northwest would be today if, back in 1867, Secretary of State Seward had not decided that he wanted to buy Alaska from the Russians.  Occasionally the oddball ideas work out.  We wouldn't want to stifle one that was good, so we must bear with the sometimes-outlandish proposals of men like Congressman Bennett.

But a state made up of—  oh, now, really, Congressman, you've got to be kidding!



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