Randall Seeks ‘Open Dialogue’ on Loudoun’s Confederate Statue

The debate in Charlottesville over whether to remove and sell a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, that culminated in violent clashes Saturday, may surface here in Loudoun.

County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said she has heard concerns about the location of the monument in Leesburg. The statue is a memorial to Loudoun County’s Confederate soldiers and stands tall on the County Courthouse lawn in downtown Leesburg.

“For nearly a decade the question of the appropriateness of the Confederate Statue at the Leesburg Courthouse has arisen,” Loudoun Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) wrote in a press release. “Following the events in Charlottesville that resulted in the tragic death of three people, I know and appreciate that emotions around these issues are high. This is why it is important to have an open, respectful, inclusive dialogue.”

Randall pointed out a Virginia law restricts localities’ ability to taking down war monuments. Charlottesville’s own attempt to remove its statue is currently hung up in court over that law.

“This fall it is my intention to place in Loudoun’s Legislative Agenda an item that allows a locality greater discretion over Monuments and Memorials in its individual jurisdiction,” Randall wrote, pointing out that will need approval from the full Board of Supervisors.

State Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-33) told Loudoun Now this week that she would “absolutely” carry a bill that would give local jurisdictions the right to take down war monuments, if they so desire.

“I always feel it’s better to give more discretion and power to localities,” she said. She added that it is “hypocritical” that Republicans in control of the state legislature often say they want government closer to the people, but don’t follow through when a local government makes a decision they disagree with. “I think local officials are in a better place to decide what’s appropriate on their local property.”

This is far from a new issue in the commonwealth.

Last year, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed a bill that would have made the law on the books stricter. The current law prohibits local governments from removing or modifying war monuments, although a Circuit Court judge in Danville ruled that the law applied only to those that were erected after 1998. Legislation introduced by a delegate from southern Virginia, vetoed by the governor, would have applied to all Virginia monuments, no matter the year they were created.

dnadler@loudounnow.com
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9 thoughts on “Randall Seeks ‘Open Dialogue’ on Loudoun’s Confederate Statue

  • 2017-08-16 at 11:02 pm
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    Interesting how Mrs. Randall wants more control than the State Law, which ironically is the basis of why the Confederacy succeeded from the Union. They were being overpowered by the Federal Government and their ports taxed higher than northern ports. If slavery is the issue that so many want to use for removing Confederate memorial’s then it should be of note to Ms. Randall that at the outbreak of war in 1861 only 11% of the south’s population owned slaves. So that means 89% did not and many did not agree with slavery including Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson who considered the Union “invader’s as they entered Virginia for the first battle of the war in Manassas. This is all history 101.
    If the intent is to bury the truth as referenced above then it should be noted that the U.S. flag’s red color does not just stand for American blood but the blood of countless thousands of Native American’s that were slaughtered much as their food source of the buffalo was in the 1800’s. If the Confederate flag and memorials are to be removed then the U.S. flag must be held just as accountable. For reference Ms. Randall, look up the Massacre of Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota when on winter day over 300 men, women and children were slaughtered by U.S. Army soldiers. Or how about Black Kettle and his village being slaughtered under a flag of truce with the United States. The U.S. flag certainly bears some responsibility for these and many other atrocities however I do not see you, Jennifer Lawrence and so many other’s calling for justice here…. What really is your agenda Ms. Randall… please explain ?

    • 2017-08-18 at 11:31 pm
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      1. American Citizen says: “…Mrs. Randall wants more control than the State Law, which ironically is the basis of why the Confederacy succeeded from the Union.” Indicative of the South’s general thinking at the time, South Carolina’s Secession Convention document, “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union” is instructive. The Declaration asserted that the Northern states had combined in league to subvert the original scope of the Constitution — namely that:
      a. the Northern states were failing to return fugitive slaves, in violation of their obligations under Article Four of the Constitution.
      b. the Northern states tolerated abolitionists and insurrectionists (such as John Brown) who incited slaves in the South to rebel.
      c. misguided political and religious beliefs in the North made future sectional unity impossible.
      some states were elevating persons “incapable of becoming citizens” (i.e. free blacks) and using their votes to support anti-slavery policies, and
      d. the Republican Party was planning to wage a war against slavery upon taking office in March 1861. — sounds a lot like slavery was an important driver of war. Your Federal tax red herring is 30 years too early in the timeline to be the sole causation of the Civil War.

      2. American Citizen says: “…in 1861 only 11% of the south’s population owned slaves.” University of VA archive data as of 1860 says something different: Almost one-third of all Southern families owned slaves. In Mississippi and South Carolina it approached one half. (ref. http://civilwarcauses.org/stat.htm) — you should check your statistics again.

      3. American Citizen says: “…many did not agree with slavery including Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson…” James I. Robertson, in his biography, Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend (1997), p. 91 says, “Jackson neither apologized for nor spoke in favor of the practice of slavery. Yet in his mind the Creator had sanctioned slavery, and man had no moral right to challenge its existence. The good Christian slaveholder was one who treated his servants fairly and humanely at all times.” — Slave-holder Jackson sounds like a willing participant — not like a man who didn’t agree with slavery as you say.

      4. American Citizen says, “…it should be noted that the U.S. flag’s red color does not just stand for American blood but the blood of countless thousands of Native American’s that were slaughtered…” Since 1782, the color Red on the American flag has symbolized valor and bravery. Blood from Americana or Native Americans or Confederates? Not really. Children learn that in 2nd grade using any legitimate “history 101” book. Get yourself one and read it.

      5. American Citizen says, “…the U.S. flag must be held just as accountable.” You draw a false equivalence between the U.S. flag (an inanimate object) and the atrocities of flesh and blood soldiers carried out under the U.S. flag. This makes no more sense than to argue that the Confederate battle flag carried out and should be held accountable for the KKK and white supremacist atrocities perpetrated on US. people of color for the past 150+ years. To be clear, it is people, not flags that are “responsible.”

      Most egregious, American Citizen, is your baseless attempt to intimate that those speaking out against the glorification (by way of statues/memorials) of men who perpetrated horrific sustained prejudice and racism against other human beings for no other reason than the color of their skin are somehow working to some secret agenda. There is no conspiracy here — just uniformed thinking by people too ensconced in past beliefs to see the big picture.

      • 2017-08-23 at 5:44 pm
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        It is sad when you distort the truth as generally accepted as fact in American History and you really miss the point here Neanderthal. If you argue that 1/2 were slave holders in the south at the outbreak which is without question exaggerated then consider this as fact by your statement. At least 1/2 the population in the south did not own slaves and many did not agree with slavery. These facts you certainly can not dispute with integrity.

        The point is this and one that you clearly miss in your misguided view. It Confederate memorials are to be held accountable for all the wrong that slavery was either at 11% or 1/2 the population then the American Flag bears a lot more responsibility. It seems some want to pick an easy target and then disregard facts. Research the massacre at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota of 100’s of Lakota or the slaughter of Black Kettle’s village under a flag of truce. These are easy for you or anyone who cares to look at the full truth and not just cherry pick the truth. The American flag bears responsibility however you completely ignore the point and the full truth of the comments above. This is undisputed by your lack of credible comments.

        Lastly, why not remove the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC as well as all American flags for the fact that Lincoln while President signed the largest execution order in American history of nearly 40 Santee Sioux who were doing nothing more than fighting for their lands that were being taken in Minnesota territory ? The Minnesota Governor at the time was brutally ruling over the confiscation of Sioux land and wanted Lincoln to execute nearly 400 Santee. Lincoln felt that a mass murder of the “half breeds” would result in a European backlash and asked that the number to be pared down to 40. Lincoln then signed an execution order of the “half breeds” and they were summarily hung. It seems that neither you nor anyone asking for the removal of Confederate memorials are asking for the removal of US Monuments or flags.. These facts are undisputed as you can freely look them up on the internet for a full accounting. That is if you truly care for the whole truth on this issue.

  • 2017-08-17 at 9:00 am
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    Since when has an honorary statue represented racism and hatred? I wish people would actually learn the true history, and why the civil war came about, and what the confederates were truly fighting for! It would amaze most people how most of the same issues are still relevant today…. Just a hint… it wasn’t all about slavery!
    Even if a statue does represent a negative in our history, it is still our history. learn about it so it is not repeated, that’s the point of keeping a history! Learning about the good and the bad, what worked well and what did not. If we remove all traces it becomes too easy to”re-write” history to justify these idiotic political decisions!

    • 2017-08-20 at 10:59 am
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      downtowners,
      Confederate monuments and statues are not about history. To quote an 1861 speech by Alexander Stephens, who would go on to become vice president of the Confederacy.

      “[Our new government’s] foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man,” Stevens said, in Savannah, Ga. “That slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

      Building Confederate monuments and statues in public spaces, near government buildings, and especially in front of court houses, is a power-play meant to intimidate those looking to come to the “seat of justice or the seat of the law.” Loudoun County is no exception.

      Take a look at when the majority of Confederate monuments and statues were erected in the following graph illustrating their construction was not as pure as you suggest.

      http://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/544266880/confederate-statues-were-built-to-further-a-white-supremacist-future

      • 2017-08-24 at 8:56 pm
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        Neanderthal, the plain and simple fact that you omit is that for many, the Confederate Memorials do not stand for slavery. My Great Great Great Grandfather fought in the 1st and 15th Virginia Infantry which is documented by the field rosters and draft orders. His name also appears on the surrender roster at Appomattox Court House and has been confirmed by the National Park Service for the record. He did not own slaves nor believe in the institution of slavery. He did believe in his native (Virginia) state’s right’s and accepted two draft orders to serve in the Confederacy. His diary entries confirm that he was among many in both regiments who were fighting for their State’s rights and not to preserve slavery. Even referencing multiple times in his diary that there was hope among those in the ranks that slavery would be removed as an institution by the Confederate Congress. Robert E. Lee himself even lobbied for freedom to be granted to any slave that would take up arms against the North near the end of the conflict and many did, even though the Confederate Congress was in disarray and unable to pass Lee’s request.
        If you draw the biased conclusion as you have above that they (Confederate Memorials) are a “power play”, it says more about your belief’s than what the full accounting of the facts would bear out as the truth. Slavery was an accepted institution at the time by far to many and one that needed to end, but not at the expense of 600,000. Now you as many other’s attempt to rewrite the history books with your twisted version of the facts to somehow insinuate that Confederate Memorials are erected to intimidate others, when any reasonable and sane person would believe otherwise. It is an agenda to do just what you say is being done to you “intimidate” others.
        If these “memorials” are to be removed then we must look at many U.S. Memorial’s as mentioned above and hold every memorial “fully” accountable. Lincoln comes to light with blood on his hands for the execution order of so called “half breeds” that resulted in the senseless murder of many Santee Sioux. It seems the Great “Emancipator” did not convey to all people at the time and was perpetuated for the next several decades, as the U.S. Government systematically began the extermination of the Native American food source (the American Bison) and many of their people as they were either forced onto reservation’s with deplorable conditions or if not “exterminated” in the process. This was a Government’s direction carried out by their military under orders. It seems you and other’s who proclaim their version for removal of “Confederate Memorials” with limited facts that you so articulately take time to convey have a biased agenda that needs to be addressed.

        If in fact you doubt the reference’s above, I suggest the book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by famed author Dee Brown, that best chronicles these atrocities under the American Flag by our own United States Government. Neither Slavery nor the annihilation of a race as with the Native Americans is pretty, however it is not the full accounting for either the Confederacy or the United States of America.

  • 2017-08-20 at 6:45 am
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    As a historian, I think we are overlooking an important teaching moment in the fight over Confederate Statutes. More than anything else; they serve as a warning to us – and future generations – of how easy it is to blind oneself to evil. I fear that we have lost sight of this fact in our own prideful and arrogant comments of today denouncing those of long ago – as though we are incapable of choosing such evil ourselves.

    Slavery is nothing more than those in power using that power over other lives to redefine those lives to be less important than their own. Once that step is taken; then it is quite easy to delude oneself into committing evil against those less powerful lives. We somehow think we are ‘above’ that happening to us; but we are ever so willing to condemn others for it. This pridefulness is a great danger.

    In the 350 years that slavery existed in America, 12.5 million African lives were ripped from their homes and brought here in bondage. Surely WE more civilized Americans of today would NEVER dehumanize an entire group of people and treat them like nothing more than property. Or would we? Since the passage of Roe v. Wade, 58.5 million lives have been ripped from their mother’s womb and tossed out with the trash. (In fact, using the same logic that justifies abortion, there are some individuals who are beginning to argue for the rights of parents to kill their newborns if – after getting a good look at them – they decide they no longer “want” the child.) After all, we – a more powerful people than an infant – have determined that THEIR lives are not as important as our own. Hence, 58.5 million of them have been lost over the course of 45 years – not 350 years.

    100 years from now, how will a more ‘civilized’ people judge US? Will they be insisting that statutes of leading politicians today be taken down? Will Supreme Court Justices have their photos removed in shame?

    We forget that the same arguments used for abortion rights today were used for slavery in the past. The exact same arguments. And just as all those who support abortion rights today see their actions as good – so did those who supported slavery. And just as those who spoke out loudest against slavery were ridiculed, abused, and harassed by those in power back then; so too are the people who speak out loudest against abortion today. And just as there are good and well meaning people on both sides of the abortion debate today – there were good and well meaning people on both sides back then. For slavery, like abortion, was a well-entrenched industry that profited not just southern landowners – but EVERYONE in America. Like abortion, no one could conceive of a way out of it. Northern textile mills, Wall Street bankers, small New England sea-going and shipbuilding towns, Western farmers, and on and on and on – they ALL depended on slavery. This was not just a Confederate thing – this was a National thing. We were all guilty; but too busy pointing self-righteous fingers at others to see our own sins. Just like today.

    We forget these things to our peril. Hence, my suggestion would be to leave the statutes wherever they are – but to add a plaque beside each one. That plaque would say:

    “As you gaze upon this individual, realize the danger of power and pride to blind even good people to evil. This person did not have the benefit of history to point that out so vividly – but you do. Examine your own heart today; if you feel that your own life is worth more than someone else’s – then you are on the same path as the person you gaze at here. Take action to get off it.”

  • 2017-08-24 at 4:06 pm
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    August 24, 2017* Thanks, Dick Black!
    The Virginia General Assembly wisely enacted Va. Code Section 15.2-1812 to protect war memorials from destruction for political reasons. It provides: “If such [war memorials] are erected, it shall be unlawful to disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials so erected.”
    Localities erected monuments to those who fought in the War Between the States several decades after the war, while millions of those veterans were still living. The Confederate soldier monument, at the Old Courthouse in Leesburg, was erected in 1908, roughly 43 years after the war ended. Most Confederate veterans would have been in their 60s by then, and many had befriended old adversaries.
    In Northern Virginia, John Mosby, the famed “Gray Ghost,” had bedeviled the Union armies with hit-and-run cavalry tactics that earned him a prominent place in Civil War history. After the war, he befriended his old nemesis, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Their friendship began in 1866, when Grant issued him a handwritten safe-conduct pass. Later, Mosby became President Grant’s Republican campaign manager for Virginia, and he was fondly remembered in Grant’s memoirs. In such ways did our nation gradually bind the terrible wounds of our most tragic war.

    Millions of good people, North and South, endured great suffering. In Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, he set forth his postwar goals: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”
    When the Courthouse Statue was erected, it was “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.” The statue is a quiet, reflective image of the men who fought that war. One can imagine those who attended when it was erected in 1908. No doubt they included veterans, widows, and those for whom the statue was a solemn memorial to long-lost friends; to fathers, husbands or brothers. It was not a political statement any more than the Vietnam War Memorial is a political statement about that war.
    The Virginia Code protects war memorials because they record our history. The purpose of the law prohibiting the removal of war memorials is to avoid the type of conflict that occurred in Charlottesville.

    Troublemakers rip down historically significant statues for political reasons. The Islamic State employed cultural destruction as a weapon of terror in Iraq and Syria; we mustn’t follow suit in Virginia.
    The chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors proposed a change to the Virginia Code making it easier to tear down war memorials. Attempts to remove Loudoun County’s Confederate Statue would harm our image and divide our community. The board should be calming racial tensions — not inflaming them.
    As senator for the 13th District, I represent the Manassas National Battlefield and Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park. Visitors quietly walk those hallowed grounds with a sense of reverence that honors fallen heroes of both sides; political leaders should approach them with that same respect.
    On the 106th anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis, the Arlington Cemetery Confederate Monument was unveiled before a large crowd of Northerners and Southerners on June 4, 1914. President Woodrow Wilson addressed a large crowd of Union and Confederate veterans, who placed wreaths on the graves of their former foes, symbolizing reconciliation between North and South — the memorial’s central theme. Those who paid the price in blood formed bonds of brotherhood for the benefit of America. We do them a disservice when we reverse those magnanimous acts of love and mercy.
    I have no doubt that statue removal would eventually invite removal of headstones from Confederate gravesites; there is always some new tool to perpetuate division and hatred. We should have the wisdom to respect our history and draw lessons from it.
    I oppose weakening the Virginia statute protecting war memorials. If bills attacking war monuments are introduced in the Senate, I will vote against them.
    • Richard H. Black, a member of the Senate of Virginia, is a former U.S. Marine pilot and Vietnam War veteran. He is a member of the Virginia War Memorial Commission.
    *This article originally appeared in the Washington Times.

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