Wouldn’t it be nice to have one, big place to house the entirety of women’s history? A place to visit to learn about women working in organizing in textile mills, earning the right to vote, first becoming doctors, lawyers, and even supreme court justices?
Well, you don’t need to go to any place like that. After all, you can always visit a quilting museum. That’s practically the same thing, right?
Or so Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) proclaimed when he put a bill on hold for a proposed Museum of Women’s History that would have cost…nothing.
Via the New York Times:
…Washington already has a postal museum, a textile museum, a spy museum and the Newseum. You may be wondering why there is any problem getting Congressional support for a women’s history museum. Especially since the bill has already passed the House unanimously and come out of its Senate committee with unanimous approval. And since the bill, which is sponsored in the Senate by Susan Collins of Maine, has 23 co-sponsors from both parties. The Senate itself passed a different version of the plan unanimously a few years ago when the museum people were hoping to lease a government building rather than construct a new one.
The answer — and, people, how many times have you heard this story? — is that two senators, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, have put holds on the bill. A hold is one of those quaint Senate traditions that ensures that each individual member of the chamber will have the power to bring all activity to a screeching and permanent halt.
The bill’s supporters seem to feel that DeMint, who is now famous as a leader of the new Republican far right, is the chief obstacle to getting the project sprung. He was raised by a single mother who helped support her family by running a dance studio. He also has daughters. Perhaps he just puts holds on things as a matter of habit, like a compulsive twitch, and does not have any actual objection to celebrating the American women’s story in the nation’s capital. Perhaps he will call up Collins on Monday and tell her it was all a terrible mistake.
Coburn’s office said the senator was concerned that taxpayers might be asked to chip in later and also felt that the museum was unnecessary since “it duplicates more than 100 existing entities that have a similar mission.”
The office sent me a list of the entities in question. They include the Quilters Hall of Fame in Indiana, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Texas and the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Washington.
There also were a number of homes of famous women and some fine small collections of exhibits about a particular locality or subject. But, really, Senator Coburn’s list pretty much proved the point that this country really needs one great museum that can chart the whole, big amazing story.
So there you go. The next time you want to have a place to access women’s history in its glory, go visit the Lilac Gardens. It’s exactly the same thing.
And be sure to tell them DeMint sent you.
(Hat Tip Media Matters)