Barry Goldwater in 1941.
Phoenix would benefit from some heroic statues to enrich the streetscape. It's not as if we're lacking in heroes and audacious history. Instead, we get a dreary bronze of Barry Goldwater in Paradise Valley, unreachable by pedestrians but with an adjacent holy parking lot. Then there's the bleak terminal four at Sky Harbor named after Goldwater. And a street in Scottsdale. A newcomer might think the only history worth remembering, if badly painted, concerns the long-serving senator and 1964 presidential candidate.
Readers of this blog know better. But understanding Goldwater's place in Arizona is a daunting challenge. The magisterial biography remains to be written. And for most of his public career, Goldwater was a national figure. We must also contend with a good deal of nostalgia and hagiography concerning the hero. An example of the latter was a recent article in National Review about how Barry was a leader in Phoenix's school desegregation before the Brown decision. The former goes something like this: Barry was no Kook, he fought the religious right and one shouldn't conflate today's conservatism with that of Goldwater. Even I have been guilty. But the reality is more complex and interesting.