KKK presence at courthouse sparked outrage

The recent demonstration in Hanover County by the KKK (Ku Klux Klan), an extremist white supremacist hate group, triggered the predicted spontaneous outrage that the leadership envisioned. They select locations to make them the center of media attention.

Because Hanover is a conservative county of historical significance and has two schools named after notable Confederates which became a public controversy, it was ripe for the picking.

The KKK also realizes that emotion often trumps reason, and decent-minded people feel compelled to combat them, which ended tragically in Charlottesville.

The reaction against the Hanover demonstration, particularly from African-Americans and those Caucasians who also are KKK targets, is entirely understandable and warranted -- and likewise for others that peacefully oppose human injustices on moral grounds, such as Christians.

That said, any rage should be directed at the KKK, not the citizens of Hanover County or its leadership. The county is not a haven for radicals, and such suggestions or allegations are pure conjecture, not reality.

Racial hatred is a byproduct of a disturbed and/or a preconditioned and/or an irrational psyche, and statistical probability all but guarantees that municipalities such as Hanover County, the City of Richmond, Chicago, New York City, to name a few likely and unavoidably harbor a few KKK sympathizers; this does not mean Hanover County sanctions racism -- nor does the vote against changing the names of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The majority of Hanoverians do not worship defeated Confederates nor do they love Old Southern traditions, nor are they racially prejudiced.

Perhaps some of the many reasons for opposing the name change are: simply objecting to burying county history, even bad history, that if properly used could help deter future anarchy against the government, feeling no guilt for injustices in which they did not participate, disagreeing with the public prosecution and sentencing of combatants Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee who can no longer defend themselves for aligning with the Confederacy, and so forth.

Certainly, the root cause of the War Between the States was the cancer called slavery. And the price tag to abolish it was steep: hundreds of thousands killed, countless others wounded or permanently maimed, and incalculable economic loss and emotional suffering. America’s moral willpower to endure so much in the name of freedom and equality is a great story in the annals of world history.

Regrettably, the end of the Civil War did not prevent continued victimization of African-Americans, many of whom were oppressed long afterwards.

The combined impact of Martin Luther King Jr., Hollywood and a handful of celebrities, and influential politicians like John F. Kennedy gradually dismantled longstanding racial barriers, and the nation began the integration process that continues today.

As for the KKK, this once-powerful organization with millions of members known for intolerance and violence is a mere shadow of its former self now. Unless we empower it, the KKK will continue to shrink into obscurity. Protest and condemn it, for sure, and make sure to hit the target.

Daniel Corso

Mechanicsville

‘The Cause’: Fearful, stupid and angry

When I was a kid in 1962, it was the Centennial of the Civil War. If you look at old toy catalogs, you’ll see a lot of “Rebel” toys. TV and magazines romanticized the Confederacy. I thought it was just innocent fun about a past event.

Though my father was from Louisiana, he was an officer in the U.S. Army and never promoted – “The Cause” or espoused racial bigotry. He was an American and a gentleman.

Today, the issue of “The Cause” is a pathetic, racist push. Like evil, it has persisted. Unlike Evil, it has to be kept alive in each generation by three acts:

Keep ’em fearful.

Keep ’em stupid.

Keep ’em angry.

It started before the “Wah of Nawthun Aggression” when the rich Southerners (like certain rich nowadays) manipulated the uneducated, fearful poor against the black man (like nowadays), warning them that the black man is coming for your money, your “wimmin”, and your liquor. Enter fear.

Did you ever wonder why Southern states are always so down on the Federal government’s control of education? It is simply that they need to keep mis-educating students to believe in “The Cause.” Enter stupid.

Great statues of Confederate “heroes” stand in the South to this day to glorify “The Cause” to remind the black man that this cancer might return someday. But enter the brown man. Not enough wall. Enter angry.

Let’s not mince words; Lee and all his conspirators were traitors to the United States of America. The common soldier was the dupe of his day just as now, fighting to prop up rich people but believing he was fighting for his home and hearth against the scary non-white man. But Putin is PK, huh?

So, in Hanover County, Virginia, the backwater hicks voted to keep the school names of Davis and Jackson and “Keep the Dream Alive”. Let’s ask criminals if we should hire more police. Gee, what would they say?

Don Ducote

Mechanicsville

Responding to letters; opinion on socialism

I am compelled to respond to the editor by Sandra Howard and Pat Jordan that appeared in the July 17, 2019, edition of The Mechanicsville Local.

I join Ms. Howard in calling for condemnation of the NAACP. While these two organizations once occupied opposite ends of the good/evil spectrum, over the past 75 years, they have moved much closer together such that the NAACP now joins the KKK in deserving condemnation. Moreoever, today we have hate groups on both the right and left, and all have groups should be condemned.

Regarding changing the names of schools named for Confederates as demanded by Ms. Jordan, I wonder if she was pleased with Richmond’s decision to rename J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School as Barack Obama Elementary School. I guess that honoring a closet socialist is a good way to promote unity.

Would a Libertarian be comfortable applying for a teaching position at a school named for a socialist? I wonder how many schools are named for Abe Lincoln.

Just as Ms. Jordan’s ancestors “were on the right side of history,” so were my ancestors. Slavery did not end as a result of the “Civil” War. The resulting transfer of power to the presidency and the federal government was a huge step toward ensuring that no American (regardless of ethnicity) would ever be able to realize the freedom envisioned by Thomas Jefferson.

Indeed, the transformation of America from old style slavery to new style slavery will be complete once America fully embraces socialism. Moreover, today’s socialists are no better than 18th century slave traders.

I’m not opposed to renaming schools, but it if remains OK for schools to be named for dear ol’ Abe, Obama, or some future socialist president, then there is no rationale for renaming schools currently named for Confederates.

Of course, the left does not operate based on rationale or logic, just hypocrisy. Perhaps they might “get it” should Barack Obama Elementary School one day be renamed Donald Trump Elementary School. (So far as I am concerned, both names are divisive.)

Lee Turner

Mechanicsville

KKK incident was hate not free speech

The recent KKK (Ku Klux Klan) rally at the Hanover County Courthouse, as well as the official response, and other happenings has me deeply disturbed.

First, not all speech is covered by the First Amendment. Hate speech falls into this category.

While the specific lines of hate speech may be debated, as we saw in Charlottesville and Richmond over the past two years, localities have to move forward cautiously with when, where and what groups are allowed to “freely’ and ‘peacefully” assemble.

When it comes to groups such as the KKK that are readily identified as deemed a “hate group,” falling back to “just folks freely exercising their first amendment rights” and “that’s not a reflection of Hanover” are inappropriate, disheartening responses.

The reality is that what happened, both the rally and the official response *is* a reflection of the darker side of what is happening in Hanover. You, as county leaders, have the ability and responsibility to enact change.

We have a middle and high school whose names are lighting rods. When Marla Coleman [former Henry District representative on the Hanover County School Board] voted to change the names, the hateful things that were yelled at her when she went on evening walks in her neighborhood *were* from Hanoverians.

The fact that the Henry seat, once occupied by an African-American, and then a woman, is now a European-American, middle-aged man is directly controlled by the Hanover County Board of Supervisors.

Our school board now has six middle-aged, European-American members and one African-American woman.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love middle-aged European-American men -- I’m married to one.

Our government agencies and schools have to serve and represent all community members.

No one gets to choose our ethnic background, which shapes our world-view and experiences. Thus, a board with differing world views strengthens a system. Hanover schools have created a community equity advisory board to get that input as this board of supervisors has failed to seat a diverse school board.

This board of supervisors has a similar limitation: Have you all sought out a similar advisory group? Beyond assembling a diverse advisory group, the second step to that approach is to really listen to their input.

Additionally, this board of supervisors has the ability to fast-track the funding for a new middle and high school complex. Until this happens, Hanover will continue to receive press coverage about Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School – news is being different and we *are* outliers; they *are* lightning rods, and they *are* liabilities. I sincerely hope that it will not take a lawsuit to motivate movement in this area as I think court costs associated with litigation are a poor choice for use of county funds.

The Hanover County Black Heritage Society and Ashland Museum and other groups in Hanover hold discussions about experiences in Hanover by European and African-American citizens. If you each have never attended, I highly encourage it.

Going forward, I believe a member of the board of supervisors, as well as Hanover county government employees, should be present at each and every one of these. Your leadership via your presence is more powerful than what you say.

The vast majority of European-Americans, just like African-Americans, Latino-Americans and Asian-Americans are good people. Those of us raised in the U.S. have all been raised in a racially-biased society – not our choice.

What is our choice now is to individually and actively look at each of our own implicit biases. If you’re not familiar with the term “implicit bias,” there is another indicator of an issue. If the county has not commenced formal trainings for all employees examining implicit biases, I strongly encourage it. I’m happy to serve as a resource. I’m easy to find at VCU, but my time speaking in this space is limited.

It was difficult for me to explain the KKK to my children the day after teaching the parable of the Good Samaritan in Vacation Bible School. Discomfort is good when it prompts change.

We live in a global society. Our children and youth are at a disadvantage if they are only educated to interact positively with those who look like them and live near them; each and every one of us needs to develop cultural humility.

Biological anthropologists have “scienced” out skin color. It has everything to do with latitude and altitude. I’m happy to share that resource as well. None of us got to choose our own ethnic heritage, nor the society in which we were raised. However, we are creating what our children experience. As leaders, I implore you act, and lead, through the discomfort, for a better Hanover for everyone, and inclusive of everyone. Thank you.

Dr. Michelle Schmitt, Ph.D.

Mechanicsville

1st District vote adds to demise of the GOP

I would like to add to Ray Alexander’s letter in the July 24 edition. I truly believe that with the decision the SCC (State Central Committee) made in upholding the 1st Congressional District vote we are witnessing the demise of the Republican Party in Virginia.

When 56 individuals get to speak for the masses, disregard laws and rules and are not challenged, democracy will slowly turn to a dictatorship and the citizens will lose all rights granted to them in the constitution. What will you do then?

I first learned of a convention style primary, of which I had never heard of before, as every election I’ve ever voted in had a regular primary where everyone had an opportunity to have their voices heard. I filed my paperwork to become a delegate and then the chaotic confusion hit.

I attended three meetings, the first was the mass meeting at Stonewall, where I was stripped of my constitutional right to vote by being slated as an alternate and witnessing the most biased one sided meeting I’ve ever attended.

The second, in Ashland, which was where I saw first-hand how dictatorships operate (led by Tom Miller), and the last one in the courthouse complex, where it was apparent that the political behavior and incompetence we are witnessing in Washington, D.C., has infiltrated our local government. It is very disheartening and shameful that some in the Republican Party have adopted the same greedy, power-hungry and self-serving beliefs of those in the federal realm and the constituents are being used as pawns in their power struggle.

Yes, voters of the 97th, you were used as a political stepping stone then tossed across the water to sink. They are hoping that you forgot the way in which the nomination was handled, hoping that you will follow the Pied Piper, but, beware, he led them to their demise.

The infamous convention of May 4, where it was stated it would not count and was nothing more than a “[Scott] Wyatt Rally”, per an email from the RPV (Republican Party of Virginia), so, if one was not a supporter of this candidate, why would they attend?

Then the June 1 Firehouse Primary was announced, where everyone had an opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice. I actually drove three hours round trip from vacation to exercise my constitutional right. This primary showed the true power of democracy. However the decision of the SCC tossed these ballots out of the window because it didn’t suit the 1st congressional districts agenda.

But what I find most interesting is the platform that Wyatt ran on was one piece of legislation that our current delegate voted on, accusing him of voting with the Democrats, yet the very senator, Tommy Norment, who supported Wyatt during the entire fiasco of a campaign recently sided and worked with the lead democrat in Virginia, Governor Northam, to strip you of your right to bear arms. Yep, then he backed away from his own bill until after the election in November, coincidence? Food for thought, get the cronies elected first, then strip the pawns of their rights!

I understand that we may not all agree on certain issues, but, my friends, when you divide the entire party that you represent, there is a problem with that and it’s bigger than you know.

This committee will have the sole responsibility on their shoulders when the district turns blue. They have stripped us of our right to vote what’s next, remove our right to free speech, the right to bear arms?

In 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified giving me the right to vote, and if they think I’m going to sit back and let 56 individuals speak for me, vote and stole my voice, they violated my constitutional right!

My voice matters, does yours?

Debbie Kast

Mechanicsville

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