The results of Question 3 mark the beginning—not the end—of the debate on Front Royal’s Confederate statue. They do not give us a decision; rather, they tell us what we knew all along upon founding Front Royal Unites: that the time is ripe for a challenging but crucial conversation about our grim history of racial inequality.
And they remind us that what we need right now from our elected officials is for them to do their job: to serve as leaders for all of our residents, especially those most affected by this harrowing history and its devastating effects, which linger to this day. The Founding Fathers created a representative democracy, rather than a direct democracy, for a reason: for elected officials to exercise their wisdom and experience to legislate for the benefit of all citizens, even when those decisions conflict with the majority opinion; otherwise, why have elected officials like our Board of Supervisors at all? Let us note that this referendum was no consensus, and the Board has a duty not to turn its back on the almost one quarter of our citizens who are calling for change, many of whom have long been marginalized and ignored.
At this moment, it is worth reflecting that our greatest moments of progress for justice and equality came not through “nonbinding referendums,” but only after long struggles undertaken by committed groups of citizens—often in the minority—to hold their representatives accountable, from marching in the streets to testifying in Congress and, when all else failed, even litigating in the Supreme Court.
Perhaps one might call these trailblazers “troublemakers,” but we know that had Rosa Parks simply given up her bus seat that fateful day, or had Martin Luther King, Jr. wrung his hands instead of marching in the streets of Washington and sharing his Dream with the world, we might not have the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and now sexual orientation. Had 300 people not gathered at the Seneca Falls Convention to kick off a decades-long crusade for women’s right to vote in 1848, and then persisted despite failed congressional proposals, many of us might still be relegated to the kitchen instead of heading to the ballot box with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. And after white leaders in the women’s suffrage movement refused to incorporate Black women into their fight, had Ida B. Wells just accepted her place at the back of the nation’s first-ever women’s suffrage parade, perhaps Black women would have been left behind.
Had these historical heroes acquiesced to a simple majority vote, we’d have quietly given in to the status quo—slavery, disenfranchisement, segregation—time and time again. Without such perseverance by the few to keep the government working for all, democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people” will fail.
We know from our own harrowing history that Warren County has left its Black citizens behind before, being one of the last localities in the entire state to desegregate during Massive Resistance. When one searches online for “Massive Resistance,” Warren County appears at the top of the Wikipedia page, forever cementing our reputation for the world. Across the country, more than 100 Confederate statues have been taken down or moved since the 2015 Charleston church massacre. In another 50 years, does Warren County want to be remembered as a champion of civil rights, or yet again as the lone holdout that refused to recognize the damage inflicted by the institution of slavery and the Civil War?
Proponents of the statue remaining in place have attempted to rewrite history to conform to their idyllic fantasies of the Confederacy. However, there is no denying the true history of the Confederate States, which waged their war against the United States for the express purpose of preserving slavery. This disturbing truth resounds in the words of Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens in his “Cornerstone” speech: “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”
Like hundreds of other Confederate monuments located on public property such as town squares and courthouse lawns throughout the South, Warren County’s statue was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). Despite its assertions that it has “stayed quietly in the background,” the UDC has a long history of promulgating the dangerous “Lost Cause” ideology that downplays slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War, leaving more than 42 percent of Americans believing this false narrative. The UDC’s disinformation campaigning played a major role in thwarting even meager protections for Black Americans during Reconstruction. In the early 1900s, the UDC continued to assert white supremacy and terrorize Black people during the Jim Crow era through the construction of Confederate statues and, dissatisfied with their success, actually put up a monument to commemorate the KKK in 1926.
Thus, despite claims to the contrary, Front Royal’s statue isn’t serving to enlighten anyone on the Confederacy’s dark history. In its more than 100 years of existence, it has only further obfuscated the reality that the Civil War was fought for the South’s quest to uphold the institution of slavery.
Further, our courthouse is our County’s seat of justice, yet the statue celebrates the so-called patriotism of the Confederacy—whose existence, by its very nature, was an act of treachery—through the lettering on its base. The statue supposedly honors veterans, yet its prominence at our courthouse insults the memory of the other veterans honored there, who fought for the United States of America while the Confederacy fought against it. Though many of the names on the statue were unlikely slave owners themselves, America’s unique outlook is one of aspiration. Countless soldiers fought for the Confederacy not because they owned slaves, but because they supported the institution of chattel slavery, hoping one day to be prosperous enough to have their own plantation that would have required slave labor.
Importantly, advocates for the statue remaining in place have failed to demonstrate that they would face real harm from its relocation to a more suitable location, such as a museum or Confederate graveyard, where they could continue to visit it as often as they desire. Rather, they have relied on the argumentum ad antiquitatem fallacy that the statue has stood at our courthouse for over 100 years and therefore should remain, which is not an argument at all, but the absence of one. Would they say the same of slavery?
The costs of the statue remaining on public land, on the other hand, are clear. Every day that it stands, it serves as a perpetual reminder to Black folks that they were once considered mere property themselves. Just recently, a Richmond circuit court even declared that efforts to stop the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument there actually conflict with our state’s current public policy, recognizing that “testimony overwhelmingly established the need of the southern citizenry to establish a monument to their ‘Lost Cause,’ and to some degree their whole way of life, including slavery.” Yet Virginia continues to spend up to 9 million in taxpayer dollars maintaining Confederate graves, including hundreds of thousands being funneled directly to the UDC. The danger of the UDC, and our government’s funding of them, are elucidated by Professor Jalane Schmidt of the University of Virginia: “They created an ideology which glorified the ‘Old South,’ and dressed this up in seemingly harmless cotillion balls and bake sales. What is harmful about them is that for generations, they vetted textbooks, which were adopted into Southern public schools. These books promoted a false Lost Cause version of history to impressionable young white students, who then grew up to enforce segregation.”
We now turn to present-day Warren County to address the false notion that racism, like slavery, is a relic of our past. Take, for example, the case of former Warren-Page NAACP President Suetta Freeman who, even after surmounting being locked out of schooling by Massive Resistance at Warren County High in 1958, went on to graduate here and embark on a career in auditing, yet had to commute for decades to Northern Virginia because she was unable to secure fair and equal employment in Front Royal. Her experience illustrates the racial inequality that is endemic nationally: on average, Black people only make 62 percent of white people’s salary. Or this year, when a truck drove past the home of a prominent member of our Black community and its driver shouted, “White power!” Or this summer, when a mixed-race child accidentally dropped a hand wipe at Applebee’s and her mother found it returned to their car with the writing, “You asked for this wipe, then left it laying (sic) right where that little peckerhead half-breed dropped it so everyone else could step on it. Though I’m sure your home is filthy and cluttered, we try to keep our town clean.” Or the people of color who visited our town for a work retreat in 2017 and awoke to an effigy of a lynching in their rental’s yard. Or the possibility that if we don’t take action to address injustice now, a name like George Floyd’s could someday be ringing from our own Blue Ridge Mountains.
Now it is time for a decision. Will the Board simply concede to the bandwagon fallacy promulgated by the statue’s defenders, or will it stand up for the marginalized and oppressed? If the latter, it must decide to relocate the Confederate monument to a more appropriate venue, and perhaps replace it with a monument that instead honors the resiliency and contribution of the slaves whose stolen labor drove economic growth in Virginia, as our neighbor Manassas has done. Front Royal Unites urges the Board to take this immediate step for a more inclusive, equitable, and just Front Royal.
Front Royal Unites is a social activist organization dedicated to making sure that regardless of one’s complexion, you aren’t feared, you feel safe, and you get an equal footing. Together we are United. Together we are Front Royal. For more information, visit FrontRoyalUnites.org.
The Town Council appointment game analyzed
Wait a minute! What’s that you say? Controversy in the Town Council? That’s hard to believe. Cronyism? Charging the Town Council with cronyism is like charging the Indy 500 with speeding. Who could it be? Mr. warmth and personality himself Jacob Meza. Foregoing the opinions of lawyers, why would they select Mr. Meza in a closed-door meeting (aren’t they all)?
His charisma – umm nope; style (GQ magazine has called and wants their “unshaven terrorist look” back); I know, maybe it’s his diligence in supporting Valley Health’s financial and policy interests. What’s that you say – Valley Health is his employer. No problem, he will just recuse himself from votes regarding his employer until that vote is needed. Oh, I see, well, I guess if you are having a baby and have to drive to Kalamazoo to have it, you could thank him.
Ahh Jacob Meza, Town Councilman for life. Here’s how the scam works; you don’t run for re-election, but you are appointed anyway. Then another Council member who has PO’ed town voters doesn’t want to bother with all that noisy campaigning – no problem, appoint him too. Well, at least we know Matthew Tederick will always have a job waiting.
Council members are NOT “under the jurisdiction of the council” states their own long-time town lawyer. Wow, I guess he is the same lawyer that gave half my boat to my ex-wife (I gave her the underwater half). So, I wonder who the council, or the town attorney for that matter, comes under the jurisdiction of?
What to do? Well, the lawyers could take it to court thus ensuring more legal fees for everyone. OR (and I say this with tongue in cheek), Mr. Meza could just honorably step down saving the Council from further stress or embarrassment.
Oh man, I crack myself up sometimes.
Warren County, Virginia
PS: since I wrote this letter prior to Monday’s first meeting with their appointed member, sure enough, this is headed to court.
Commentary: Another perspective on election fraud claims and the Capitol riot
For the past week, the nation has been absorbed by the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol housing one of the three branches of the federal government. The debate over what it meant and may continue to mean, has been joined.
What has led to this commentary is the rise of theories that what we saw on myriad news video footage isn’t really what we saw. That despite the “Stop the Steal” rally earlier that day addressed by President Trump, among others promoting the notion that Joe Biden’s 7-million popular vote and decisive 306-232 Electoral College, 74-vote margin of victory is a hoax perpetrated on the American public – that somehow the violence and anarchy displayed by the crowd urged to the Capitol by President Trump, wasn’t the work of Trump supporters and more radical elements of the “Stop the Steal” crowd.
Assertions have been made that the huge pro-Trump crowd was not one prone to violence and social media “rumors” and other Internet “theories” have been forwarded to shift blame to the political right’s boogeyman – ANTIFA (acronym for Anti-Fascist) infiltrators – as responsible for the violence and subversive invasion of the U.S. Capitol building leading to five deaths, including one Capitol Policeman reportedly beaten to death with a fire extinguisher.
Before I continue, let me say that from the extensive amount of video news footage I have watched over the past days, I believe there were good people in the crowd who descended on Capitol Hill on January 6. Associated Press (AP) footage of one of its cameramen being assaulted by a portion of the mob near the Capitol building showed one man outside the Capitol building porchway wall protecting the newsman from that mob after they had tossed him over the concrete wall. Others outside the Capitol building stairway also appeared to help move the AP photographer away from the rioters that had been roughing him up and initially began climbing over the wall to continue their assault. And let me add that I am not a fan of America’s two-party system. I believe it is too prone to corruption from either side, without the check of multiple viable parties to challenge for Congressional seats to keep clear majorities harder to come by.
That said, as with the repeated court rulings dismissing Trump state vote count challenges around the country as not supported by ANY factual evidence, including without dissent by the Trump multi-member-appointed and conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court, the idea that leftist radicals were somehow responsible for the violence and rioting at the U.S. Capitol appears to have NO basis in factual evidence. As noted above, the source of this idea is social media “rumors” or “articles on the Internet” making claims without fact-checking or editorial oversight.
But we have not heard specifics on the Internet sources of those rumors and articles. For if we had, one might wonder if they would have been from the same right-wing blogs that have been reported rallying neo-fascist, Q-Anon, and racist elements of the extreme American right-wing toward D.C. for the pro-Trump rally and move against the January 6th certification of the Electoral College count by Congress for weeks.
And while the initial video seemed to show a disorderly mob entering the Capitol, some chasing an isolated Capitol Policeman upstairs, others occupying podiums, carrying them away, and relaxing in Nancy Pelosi’s office, feet on the desk, the overall mood while somewhat riotous, didn’t seem horribly malevolent.
However, that changed with the release of additional video, including security footage, several days later indicating a more aggressive and violent mob assault on the Legislative Branch of the U.S. government, perhaps explaining the immediate moving of Vice President Mike Pence, now labeled a traitor by some Trump supporters, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and numerous other Congressional members to undisclosed safe locations at the Capitol for their safety. The threat was taken so seriously that Capitol security shot and killed a woman as she attempted to breach a barricaded secure location with a window-smashing mob inside the Capitol.
Videos I have seen over the weekend have shown people with anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans emblazoned T-shirts and at least one with a string of plastic hand restraints used by police for large crowd control arrests roaming the halls of Congress. Security and news video, as well as self-posted social media images, have been used to identify people around the nation known to be right-wing supporters of President Trump, including a West Virginia Republican state assemblyman who resigned after being charged with criminal conduct at the Capitol. As of Sunday evening, 70 people had been reported arrested on charges related to their videotaped actions inside the U.S. Capitol.
None, to my knowledge, have been identified as ANTIFA or any other leftist group members.
But the Trump base continues to believe what it wants, regardless of the questionable nature of sources or any factual evidence to the contrary. Many in that base suggest an ongoing “establishment” and “media” conspiracy to unseat Donald Trump. The formation of committees to study the notion of election fraud already rejected as absent of ANY supporting factual evidence in, I believe the last count was 60 courts around the nation, are demanded by some. How much of their own and fellow citizens’ federal tax revenue do they want spent to overturn a “conspiracy” two of the three branches of the federal government, Legislative and Judicial, have determined exists only in an “alternate fact” universe of the Executive Branch’s creation?
Let me suggest an alternative election scenario which even conservative court after conservative state legislature has ruled is based in real-world facts, as opposed to one simply repeated over and over by a desperate, deposed would-be “president for life” and echoed back by his either horribly naïve or complicity corrupt, bigoted, anti-democratic cult-of-personality base:
Donald Trump was honestly and decisively defeated in the 2020 election because outside of his 35% hardcore base, it has been apparent to the majority of the American public that his has been a failed, inept and destructive to the American brand presidency. In the wake of the insurrectionist siege of the Capitol and apparent physical threat to the legislators inside, even former California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has felt compelled to go online from his own website to call Trump “without competition” the worst president in American history, one who should be relegated to its dustbin as soon as possible.
Really, the Trump base may ask, “Arnie’s turned on us?!?”
Yes, despite his success in several science-fiction epochal films, it seems Schwarzenegger has publicly thrown in with a decisive American majority who do believe in facts and scientific inquiry and do NOT believe in “alternate facts”. This is likely a non-evangelical majority that also believes in maintaining the separation of church and state, not permitting any religious group, even the nation’s dominant one, of dictating all Americans’ moral, sexual, or lifestyle choices. And I would suggest, it is a majority that doesn’t arbitrarily dismiss the history of a Trump presidency marked by a daily accumulation of documentable “false or misleading claims” now chronicled by “Fact Checker” on the Washington Post website at over 20,000, what some less kind might term, “lies” told by the president in office.
And the anti-Trump voters’ number may be buoyed by others who just believe the president has failed miserably to act proactively to deal with the most dangerous worldwide health crisis in decades, if not a century, directly leading to the death of over 350,000 Americans in one year – over 20% of the world’s Coronavirus pandemic deaths with 4% of the world’s population despite the resources available to the most advanced nation on the planet.
Not everyone in America believes COVID-19 is an international Q-Anon style hoax perpetrated to discredit Donald Trump. – Trust me, for those whose eyes aren’t “wide shut”, he doesn’t need the help.
Not everyone in America believes everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.
Not everyone in America believes even Republican state officials in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere Joe Biden won the popular vote, are traitorous liars because their recounts maintained what their initial counts had shown – Donald Trump lost their state, not by fraud, but rather by a majority of those states’ voters’ awareness of the relentless failures of the Trump presidency. Internationally perhaps most tellingly, America’s distancing itself from the post-World War II Western alliance that has kept post-Soviet Russian expansionism into Europe in check.
I might suggest an alternate Commission or two be formed to those some suggest to chase the election fraud phantom: One to ascertain the psychological makeup of Americans who continue to believe something simply because Donald Trump says it’s true, despite overwhelming evidence reviewed by both Democrat and Republican legislators and judges, that it is not.
And a second to ascertain why the Capitol Police were not more prepared for the right-wing onslaught radical social media sites had been promoting for weeks; and why the necessary federal authority emanating from the Oval Office didn’t deploy D.C. National Guard immediately after the Capitol was breached by a mob disrupting the function of the Legislative Branch of the American government.
(The is the opinion of the writer.)
Attorney request Council’s consideration of memorandum regarding appointment of Jacob Meza
MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN SUPPORT OF THE TOWN CHARTER
Was the appointment of a former councilman, defined by the Town Charter as a municipal officer, four days after he held that same office, unlawful where the same charter prohibits the appointment or election of a member of council to an office under the jurisdiction of the council within one year?
“No member of the council of the Town of Front Royal shall be appointed or elected to any office under the jurisdiction of the council while he is a member of the council, or for one year thereafter, except that the council may appoint one of the members of the council as town treasurer with all or any part of the duties, powers, obligations and responsibilities of the town treasurer provided by this act. ” Front Royal Town Charter § 47
Virginia statutory interpretation is governed by the following well-established principle:
If [a statute’s] language is clear and unambiguous, there is no need for construction by the court; the plain meaning and intent of the enactment will be given it. When an enactment is clear and unequivocal, general rules for construction of statutes of doubtful meaning do not apply. Therefore, when the language of an enactment is free from ambiguity, resort to legislative history and extrinsic facts is not permitted because we take the words as written to determine their meaning. And, when an enactment is unambiguous, extrinsic legislative history may not be used to create an ambiguity, and then remove it, where none otherwise exists. Brown v. Lukhard, 229 Va. 316, 321, 330 S.E.2d 84, 87 (1985)(citations omitted).
The phrase, “under the jurisdiction of the council”, in this context clearly and unambiguously refers to and modifies “any office” that the Town Council may appoint or elect.
Town Charter § 6(D) specifically grants the Town Council the jurisdiction to appoint councilman: “The council may fill any vacancy that occurs in the membership of the council for the unexpired term”, provided the appointment is not for one year thereafter holding his office.
In fact, § 9 of Town Charter specifically grants the jurisdiction to the Town Council to fill the vacancy created when a member of council is chosen to serve as mayor. “Should a member of the council be chosen to serve as mayor until the next municipal election such councilman shall be deemed to have surrendered his office as councilman forthwith upon his qualification as mayor and his office of councilman shall thereupon be vacant. The vacancy thereby created in the council shall be filled by the council as provided in § 6 hereof.” (emphasis added).
Section 11 of the Town Charter also makes it clear that the office of councilman is under the jurisdiction of the Town Council where it states, “If any member of the said council shall be voluntarily absent from three regular meetings of the council consecutively, his seat may be deemed vacant by resolution of the council and thereupon his unexpired term shall be filled according to the provisions of this act.” (emphasis added)
Furthermore, the Town Charter grants the Town Council jurisdiction over itself!
‘[E]xcept as prohibited by the Constitution of Virginia or restricted by this charter, the Town of Front Royal shall have and may exercise all municipal powers, functions, rights, privileges and immunities which are now, or may be hereafter, conferred upon or delegated to incorporated towns under the constitution and laws of Virginia, as fully and completely as if herein enumerated in detail, and no enumeration of particular powers in this charter shall be held exclusive.” Front Royal Town Charter § 1
The Town Charter specifically creates the Town and enables the Town Council the authority to create its own unique rules and laws that are granted to towns as a whole in Virginia.
Perhaps the most self-evident argument is that IF the appointment of the office of town councilman was NOT under the jurisdiction of the Town Council, we would not be having this discussion because the appointment by the Town Council of a councilman on January 4, 2021, would be null and void because the appointment would be ultra virus, or outside of the jurisdiction, for the Town Council to make such an appointment regardless of the one-year rule.
The only remaining question is whether the position of “town council” is an “office” in the context of Section 47 of the Town Charter. Not only does Section 9 of the Town Charter specifically refer to the “office” as councilman, the Charter defines the councilmen as “officers”:
“The municipal officers of said town shall, beginning with the effective date of this act and thereafter, consist of a mayor, four councilmen, a town manager, a town treasurer, and a town clerk, who shall also serve as the clerk of town council, and such other officers as may be designated by ordinance duly enacted from time to time. The town treasurer may additionally, by ordinance duly enacted, serve as the town’s finance director. Beginning July 1, 1994, and thereafter, the number of councilmen shall be six.” Front Royal Town Charter § 4
The press release of the Town Attorney claiming that Front Royal Town Charter § 47 does not apply to the appointment of councilman because it is found under the caption “Chapter 6 Town Officers” is misplaced. “Captions are intended as mere catchwords to indicate the contents of the subtitles”, Virginia Code § 1-244, Jones v. DCSE, 19 Va. App. 184, 450 S.E.2d 172 (1994). In Foster v. Commonwealth, the Virginia Court of Appeals rejected defendant’s argument that Virginia Code § 18.2-96 did not define “petit larceny” even though the caption to the Virginia Code section specifically stated, “Petit larceny defined ”. 44 Va.App. 574, 606 S.E.2d 518 (2004), affirmed 271 Va 235, 623 S.E.2d 902 (2006).
There is no ambiguity in the phrase, “or for one year thereafter” in the Town Charter. This is a period of time that councilmen are prohibited from appointment or election by the town council to an office under their jurisdiction. Four days is less than one year. The legislative intent, while unnecessary to interpret this section, is furthered by prohibiting a councilman’s appointment within one year of holding the office as councilman by minimizing nepotism and appearances of impropriety. The argument that the statute was only to avoid “double dipping” or a “conflict of interest” is misplaced since there would be no “double dipping” if the councilman is a former councilman. The “conflict of interest” remains applicable due to the recent appointment by his colleagues.
The Town Attorney’s reliance on Virginia Code § 15.2-1535 to assert that there is no time restriction on appointments is misplaced. Virginia Code § 15.2-1535(A) enables appointment to Town Council of a previous Town Council member. This is a correct, but incomplete, statement of law. The Virginia General Assembly permits “a member of a governing body may be named a member of such other boards, commissions, and bodies as may be permitted by general law”. Where the Town Charter precludes appointment for one year after serving as councilman, the Virginia Code does NOT permit appointment by general law. Consequently, the Town’s assertion the Code allows appointment “without any time restrictions” is contradicted by the statute which the Town relies upon.
Where the appointment of council members is under the jurisdiction of the Front Royal Town Council and the Town Charter specifically precludes appointment or election of a council member to an office under the jurisdiction of the Town Council for one year, except for the office of Town Treasurer, any appointment by the Town Council of a councilman having held the office of councilman within one year of his appointment would be an ultra virus act, specifically prohibited under the Town Charter, unlawful and null and void. The remedy would be to so find and vacate the appointment by proclamation of the Town Council unless Mr. Meza should decline the appointment. This clear meaning of Section 47 was also followed by former Town Attorneys when former Mayor James Eastham was found ineligible for appointment to the EDA (2009), when Councilman Bret Hrbek was found ineligible for appointment for committee appointment (2011), and when the current Town Attorney distinguished the interim Town Mayor as not a member of Town Council to enable him to serve in the office of interim town manager (2019) within one year after their respective terms of office.
David A. Downes, Esquire
Front Royal, Virginia
America on the Brink
More than a dozen Warren County citizens and I attended the ‘Stop the Steal’ protest in D.C. on January 6 along with hundreds of thousands of citizens from across the country. There were families with babies and toddlers, senior citizens, and representatives from all age groups and races. They were not ‘kooks’, ‘Trump cultists’, or ‘Deplorables. They were a melting pot of citizens that fervently believe there were election irregularities that diminished their votes and affected the election results. They represented a mere fraction of citizens that have lost their trust that a fair election occurred. They believe their concerns have not received a thorough judicial review but that most legal cases were dismissed due to political bias, procedural issues, or technicalities.
I did not interpret President Trump’s address to the crowd as an incitement to violence. What I heard was an urging to go to the Capitol, where Congress was addressing the Certification of Electoral votes, and let our Representatives see that much of the country believes the election was unfair and that efforts are necessary to investigate what happened and initiate action to correct any problems found. The Capitol march was a pre-planned goal not a last-minute idea of the President. The Capitol riot actually only involved a small percentage of protestors.
Articles on the internet indicated that ANTIFA wouldn’t mount a directed counter-protest but there were rumors that they planned to infiltrate the crowd with imposters and initiate trouble with the explicit goal of discrediting the peaceful protest. With the help of a small contingent of frustrated, misguided criminal protestors they clearly were successful.
After walking to the Capitol I witnessed several solid black flags that concerned me and were in contrast to the sea of Trump and American flags. I saw and heard several men yell that VP Pence was at that moment supporting the certification and urged the crowd to move forward and let their opposition be known. Police flash-bang devices could be heard and clouds of pepper spray were visible. I believe now that those were ANTIFA provocateurs and that their cohorts were leading the violence against law enforcement. Being concerned that the situation was changing into something more than a peaceful demonstration, plus the fact that my feet were frozen, I began my return home at around 2:45 PM.
The Establishment and the biased media are using the Capitol incident to further criticize and unfairly blame the President to divert attention from the election controversy and for political purposes. The intense response from the political Establishment is a reflection of their realization that they could actually be directly challenged by the American public
This Summer America witnessed ANTIFA and BLM, (Black Lives Matter, another socialist group), involved with the mayhem and destructive riots. Democrats refused to strongly condemn that criminal behavior and even supported it by falsely labeling it peaceful protest. Some Democrat leaders actually directed law enforcement to stand-down and permitted the criminality, and they even raised money to bail out arrested rioters. Some democrat governments refused to prosecute lawbreakers. The rule of law, one of the basic concepts of our democracy was abandoned.
America’s eyes and ears witnessed this reality regardless that social media and the mainstream media refused to report the truth to the American people and even censored First Amendment rights to free speech.
The bottom line is that our country is divided and in serious trouble. On one side are liberals who have attained total control of the government. They have openly advertised their intent to expand government, promote socialist policies, and globalism that would diminish individual liberty. Democrats have openly announced plans to ignore the conservative minority. So much for bi-partisanship and representation of all of our citizens! On the other side is the half of America who is in disagreement with that plan, and I am doubtful they will simply give up liberty and submit.
The peaceful protest and Capitol rioters should have affirmed that.
President-elect Biden has called for coming together and unity regardless that Democrats only focused on opposing President Trump the last 4 years. The only way for President-elect Biden and Democrats to walk the ‘UNITY’ talk is to support an independent bipartisan commission to study the 2020 election and report to the American people what really happened. Limiting the participants on such a commission to non-politicians would be a wise consideration. If the Democrats are certain that Biden and Harris were fairly chosen and are sincere in wanting a peaceful country in the future, why would they not support such an effort?
As the Capitol was being breached, grassroots anti-government demonstrations were happening in other cities across the country. Should the concerns of half of America not be addressed there is an increasing possibility that future protestors will leave their flags at home and instead carry weapons. In actuality, a second revolution would not mirror the organized red and blue army lines of 1776 but would be an insurgency of lone wolves. Over 240 years ago Americans resisted government tyranny at Concord and Lexington and secured the liberties we have enjoyed since. Let’s hope all are wise enough to avoid a repeat of that history.
An alternative to that bleak possibility would be to pursue a Convention of the States as referenced in Article V of the Constitution. That avenue would enable a peaceful solution to the inappropriate expansion of the Federal government that many believe has occurred, and the potential transformation towards socialism, which conflicts with the original intent of the Framers. At that event, Amendments could be considered such as:
- term limits for Congress, Federal and Supreme Court judges;
- freezing the size of the Supreme Court to limit its politicization;
- ensuring the permanency of the Senate filibuster to protect the minority;
- campaign finance reform;
- eliminating the ability of private social media companies or oligarchs to restrict first amendment rights;
- establish a requirement for a balanced Federal budget;
- establish fair and incorruptible election procedures;
- and return full power to the States.
Those ideas could have substantial support from the populace. This effort is necessary because we could never expect that elected Representatives would support change that would keep their power in check.
The time for apathy, dialogue, and half measures has passed. All Warren County residents and U.S. citizens need to act or peace and the most successful and just country on the planet could descend into unimaginable chaos.
I urge all Warren County and American citizens to contact their Federal and State Representatives and seek an Election Study Commission and support for a Constitutional Convention. I know that there are those who would argue that the prospect of a second American revolution is absurd, but who would have entertained the thought that our Capitol could be breached by a handful of flag-bearing, unorganized protestors? Is it asking too much that we safeguard the security and liberty of our children and grandchildren?
2020: A Year of Years
2020 has certainty been a year of years. I do not need to recount the events of this year; we all know them too well. It is just strange to think that it was less than a year ago since we impeached the president, yet it seems more like a decade. As we think back over the events of the past 12 months, it may be helpful to know that 2020 is not unique. We have had other years in which we did not know if we would survive, especially years in the middle of wars. Yet we always did. One year in particular has come to my mind. As crazy as 2020 was, 1919 gave it a run for its money, and, like always, we endured and overcame.
The biggest problem in both years was the same, a nationwide pandemic. Though the outfits we wore looked completely different, one style was the same: facemasks. 1919 was not the worst year for the Spanish Flu but it did see a deadly third wave that caused businesses to close and social activities to end. If anything, technology has made 2020 easier than 2019. Going online was not an option then.
As with 2020, the biggest consequence of the pandemic was the death toll, but it also was a massive hit to the economy. Families had the same concerns of watching businesses collapse. Yet in 1919 they had the added burden of the effects of the de-escalation of WWI. As crazy as this sounds, WWI was good for our economy. During the war, we fed the world while most of the men were fighting. When the soldiers all returned to their own nations, American farmers took a hit.
At the same time, the economy was suffering from major labor issues. With the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, all labor strikes now looked like communist revolutions, throwing the nation into a “Red Scare.” Dozens of major strikes and riots occurred in cities, ending in the November Centralia Massacre that left six dead. In April and May, bombs mailed to important business leaders and politicians, killing two. The government’s answer was the J. Mitchell Palmer raids, where more than 300 suspects were either arrested or deported. All the labor unrest hurt the stock market. In many ways 1919 was harder on the economy than 2020 has been.
This past year has seen what seems like an unprecedented number of natural disasters, yet 1919 had its own share. In July a coal mine collapsed in West Virginia, trapping 221 men and capturing the nation’s attention. None were expected to make it out alive but, in the end, only six perished. Two months later in Corpus Christi, Texas, one of the largest hurricanes to hit the area came ashore and killed 700 people. 2020 may have had more disasters, but in terms of loss of life it did not beat 1919.
It’s hard to top an impeachment and the contested election of 2020, but 1919 did have issues. President Wilson was in the biggest fight of his life with Congress, which refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles and join the League of Nations. Instead of working with Congress, Wilson stubbornly insisted it step in line and began a whistle stop tour of the nation to convince the American people to support his cause. In the end, he did not get the support he wanted and instead suffered a debilitating stroke, leaving him unable to function as the president and leaving the U.S. leaderless.
For many, dealing with these issues and quarantine would have been easier with sports. It seemed bad enough when 2020 started with the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, but then in March, right before an Oklahoma City Thunder game, sports was canceled. Sports may not have shut down in 1919, but it had an even worse sports scandal. In October eight players on the Chicago White Sox were found to have accepted money to lose the World Series. Americans were crushed. With the sanctity of baseball now questioned, what, if anything, was sacred? Then that same year the Red Sox traded pitcher Babe Ruth to the Yankees, beginning the curse of the Bambino which lasted for 86 years. Sports has come back for us in 2020, but the Black Socks scandal took some time to get over.
Finally, to really understand how hard 1919 was, in October of that year Congress passed the Volstead Act outlawing alcohol. I myself am not a drinker, but from close friends it sounds like alcohol may have been 2020’s only saving grace. Whereas 1919 outlawed drinking, in 2020 we deemed it an essential business and even created home delivery. I guess for some at least, 2020 may have been better than 1919. I am just glad I will not be around for 2121.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog.
A Christmas stroll up Happy Creek
I’m taking this opportunity to share a Christmas walk along Happy Creek with my fellow residents. After two inches of rain, added to snowmelt, my husband and I wanted to see how the Front Street clear-cut and 8th Street riprap had held up. We also checked in on Lions Park and wandered up the stream to the Norfolk Southern crossing just south of 6th Street.
As you can see, Front Street was not at its best: silt fence and other Erosion & Sediment Control awry, a layer of sediment scrubbed from the shelf. And did you know that the project is to be completed by midnight December 31, 2020? If that’s not possible, Town Council can apply for a project extension before then or pay $34,700 to the Department of Environmental Quality in fines out of our tax dollars.
Evidently, the project budget we’ve all been asking for does not exist. Town Finance Director B.J. Wilson informed a Save Happy Creek Facebook follower that most expenses (personnel, etc) are coming out of the town operating budget. Technically there’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it does make it hard to determine how much of our taxes were actually spent on this unnecessary project. If the Town files for an extension, the $34,700 can be used to cover other project expenses. Since CHA Consulting was paid $8500 for plans that have now been revised twice (still no construction plan), that would leave $26,200. The Save Happy Creek Coalition figures that riprap alone will run about $100K, but since $34,700 may be going to pay the fine, how does that compute?
Heading down to the 8th Street site, we found the flood pictured below. (The Town Council apparently never applied for the Land Disturbance permit required for that project.) Unfortunately, until the low-water bridge is replaced, that “flood mitigation” project will remain dollars-and-water over the dam. Riprap attempted to address a symptom rather than the cause of the problem here. Why not do the right thing the first time around instead of paying more to fix it again later?
Pictured below, we spotted the Rosgen structures beautifully performing their function at Lions Park. Installed in 2006-07, Rosgens are monster-size boulders strategically placed in a stream to slow the water along the banks, channeling it toward the center to prevent erosion. They’re effective, natural, attractive, and good for you and the stream.
Unfortunately, we also spotted this manhole spouting sewage and stormwater into the stream where children play and trout are released. Taken a couple of days later, the second picture reveals encrustation along the sewer water’s path, a sign of persistent leakage into Happy Creek. Tax dollars allocated to Inflow & Infiltration by the Town over the past two years were intended to correct problems like this.
We were unprepared for what we discovered upstream, making us wonder all over again, why was a lovely functioning riparian buffer destroyed along Front Street when these problems could have been addressed instead?
Anyway, here’s wishing you clean streams in 2021! One can always hope.
Front Royal, Virginia