Editor: Racism is alive and well in western Loudoun County, and is openly rewarded by the Lovettsville Town Council.
On June 11, 2020, the Lovettsville Town Council met in closed session to consider the social media behavior of Oktoberfest committee member Andru Scot Spangler. Mr. Spangler had recently posted a comment on the Facebook page of The Shelby Star, a newspaper in North Carolina. On an article titled “Confederate battle flags removed from graves,” Mr. Spangler posted the comment “That’s not hate. Blacks are filled with more hate, than any other race in America.” While the council’s June 11 session was closed, debate in later open council sessions shows that the council voted unanimously to remove Mr. Spangler from the Oktoberfest committee.
On Oct. 8, 2020, the council met in closed session to consider the social media behavior of Town Planning Commissioner Kris Consaul. Ms. Consaul had recently posted an image on her social media of the town’s “Love” sculpture. She had modified the image to add a speech bubble to the town’s emblematic distelfink bird, saying “Nazi Punks F*** Off.” Ms. Consaul apologized in person to the council, and also apologized for misappropriating town imagery in a letter to the editor in the Loudoun Now newspaper. Council voted to censure Ms. Consaul but to leave her in her Planning Commissioner position.
On Nov.11, 2020, the council met to consider Ms. Consaul’s appointment to the Love Winter committee. When council voted to approve her appointment, Councilman Hornbaker proposed a motion to re-appoint Mr. Spangler to the Oktoberfest Committee. Councilman Hornbaker justified his actions by claiming that the council, in closed session on Oct. 8, agreed that Ms. Consaul would not be removed from the Planning Commission, but would not be appointed to any other town positions. Further, Mr. Hornbaker justified his motion to reappoint Mr. Spangler by claiming that Ms. Consaul and Mr. Spangler’s social media behaviors are equivalent. Mr. Hornbaker even implied that Mr. Spangler’s behavior was less egregious than Ms. Consaul’s behavior: “Since, again, I don’t see how you see this any different, someone embarrasses the town, in a posting online 200 miles away, and we dismiss that person. Someone utilizes town resources in an appointed capacity and embarrasses the town at home, and we’re saying that we’re allowing them, allowing that person to serve in additional capacities to the town? We could have dismissed her that evening, we didn’t, and what was stated was, we censure her, she remains on the planning commission, but we do not give her the privilege of expanding her commission committee roles.”
Council members, especially Councilman Hornbaker, you are all deeply, fundamentally in the wrong.
Most of the Council members missed the forest for the trees. Mr. Mayor, you argued procedure and precedent. You argued against Councilman Hornbaker’s objections to Ms. Consaul’s appointment because it is precedent that Planning Commissions also serve as committee members. You argued against Mr. Spangler’s appointment because the council previously voted unanimously to dismiss him and because he had not officially re-applied. Vice Mayor Steadman, you argued that “social media can be a problem, everyone can get caught,” and you advocated that “we give folks second chances” in our small town. Councilwoman Edmonston, you claimed that “we have a responsibility to be consistent in the way we apply this scenario” and that the actions of Mr. Spangler and Ms. Consaul “are very similar.”
I count Ms. Consaul as a friend. Nonetheless, I agree that in her position as a planning commissioner, Ms. Consaul should not have misappropriated town imagery to quote lyrics from the American punk rock band Dead Kennedys. I believe that the council was correct to censure her. I believe that her multiple apologies and council’s action closed that matter.
I have volunteered with Mr. Spangler during Oktoberfest. I appreciate the time and effort he has contributed to make that town event the roaring success it has become. I also know that his statement “Blacks are filled with more hate, than any other race in America,” assigns a specific behavioral characteristic to an entire race. This particular flavor of racism comes from an insidious line of thought descended directly from the eugenics movement, popular in America in the first half of the 20th century. The Nazi Party referenced this debunked pseudoscience in their efforts to raise the “Master Race” to power and to perpetrate their “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Mr. Spangler’s speech is flatly racist with directly Nazi overtones. Such speech cannot be left unanswered in any civilized society in any form, at any time. Even if I had seen a public apology from Mr. Spangler, which I have not, his actions might be forgiven but they must never be forgotten.
Councilman Hornbaker, you have used Mr. Spangler’s initial dismissal as a whetstone, where you are grinding your personal axe against Ms. Consaul. You believe that because Ms. Consaul offended your personal honor, that she failed to “respect all members of the Town of Lovettsville, its officers, its staff, and everybody else,” that your individual embarrassment is a higher cause than standing up to blatant racism and creeping fascism. Do you believe that “Nazi Punks F*** Off” is a direct reference to you personally? Or is it simply that the profanity offends your sensibilities? Your personal priorities are deeply out of order, Sir. I urge you to respect ALL “the members of the Town of Lovettsville” by recognizing that we are not all Caucasian, cisgendered, heterosexual, mongamous, middle-class men as you yourself appear to be. Know now that many of us take a far dimmer view of racist and Nazi speech than you.
As for the rest of the council: you missed a clear opportunity to take a stand on the true moral issue. Does the Town Council view anti-Nazi sentiments to be equivalent to Nazi sentiments? Councilwoman Edmonston, does treating anti-racist and racist statements as equally offensive fulfill your desire to “[dot] our ‘i’s and crossing our ‘t’s on consistency?” Vice Mayor Steadman, will you throw in your lot with Neville Chamberlain to appease fascism with your “second chances?” Will you advocate a forgive-and-forget approach whenever people “get caught” being racist online? Mayor Fontaine, will you stand on procedure and precedent alone while the Town Council endorses racism on your watch?
The Lovettsville Town Council must immediately rectify this abhorrent wrong. Rescind Mr. Spangler’s reappointment at once. State loudly and unequivocally that racism is unacceptable in any form by any citizen in the town that begins with Love.
Brian C. Stearns,Lovettsville