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Congresswoman and 30-year UNLV Professor Dina Titus D-NV., said today’s unsettled racial climate should prompt discussion at the university on whether to keep its Rebel mascot.
Her remarks during a wide-ranging interview on KNPR's State of Nevada came days after a woman was killed in Charlottesville, Va., while protesting white nationalists who oppose the city’s removal of a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“In light of some of the sensitivities now, and the new push to kind of move forward and take away some of those symbols that are very offensive, I would certainly support looking at that again,” Titus said.
Since 1982, Hey Reb!, a man in a gray cavalry hat and sporting a dramatic handlebar mustache, has served as UNLV’s mascot. A new logo tones down some of the anachronistic elements.
Titus said her definition of a UNLV Rebel is more akin to an iconoclast or independent thinker than a supporter of the South in the Civil War. In 2015, then-Sen. Harry Reid D-NV., suggested dropping the Rebel moniker.
Hey Reb! is up for debate, but Titus doesn't believe changing the name of Nevada's third highest peak should stay the same. Jeff Davis Peak near Ely was named after the president of the Confederacy.
"Jefferson Davis has very little to do with Nevada," Titus said, "I think you should name things in Nevada after Nevadans."
Titus also didn't mince words when it came to President Donald Trump's reaction to the violence in Charlottesville.
“I was just appalled and stunned when our president made the statement on Saturday that there is trouble on both sides," she said, "When you’re talking about neo-Nazis and white supremacists there is no other side to place blame on. They deserve and should get the blame.”
She doesn't believe all statues and monuments to the Confederacy should be removed because she doesn't want people to forget the ugly parts of history and risk repeating it. But she does point out that many of the monuments were put up years after the Civil War as a symbol of power.
It wasn't just the Charlottesville violence or the continuing debate about symbols of the Confederacy that Titus had strong opinions about. She reacted strongly to the conversation KNPR's State of Nevada had with Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill. Shimkus is a supporter of moving ahead with the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.
“The industry certainly wants to get rid of the liability and Shimkus is their stalking horse,” she said.
Shimkus told KNPR's State of Nevada that waste is transported throughout the United States now and there has never been a problem. However, Titus said that is not entirely true because the amount of waste that is currently moved is a small amount and the new plan pushed by Shimkus would bring a lot more through the "backyards" of many districts.
“He likes to claim that this is the most studied area ever but it hasn’t been studied for this amount of waste so that’s the difference,” she said.
On top of that, Titus said the bill Shimkus is backing on the issue prohibits the waste from being stored near the Great Lakes.
"Well, if it's not safe for the Great Lakes, why is it safe for Nevada?" Titus asked.
Titus believes Nevada should fight the waste repository with every issue it can from clean water to geological concerns.
“I think we should sue every single case to make this last as long as possible so it doesn’t get rammed and jammed down our throat until perhaps the administration changes or the partisan divide in Congress changes and we can stop it legislatively”
Also during the interview, Titus praised lawmakers for bipartisan support of legislation that cuts red tape for veterans appealing decisions by the VA. She worked for four years on the measure, which passed the House last week and awaits President Donald Trump’s expected signature.
“With the passage of this bill, our nation will finally modernize a snarled system that’s only had one major update since it was first developed in 1933,” she said after the bill was approved.
Titus lamented that the spirit of cooperation surrounding the veterans legislation does not extend to other areas of Congress.
“Things have gotten so divided that it’s hard to even talk to someone across the aisle,” she said.
Titus cited a recent opinion piece she wrote on possible fixes for the Affordable Care Act that once received bipartisan support but no longer do.
Dina Titus, Congresswoman