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‘Vigil for Democracy’ heads into second week in Front Royal

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On Wednesday, March 15, Len Sherp will hold his second “Vigil for Democracy” near the Town Gazebo at the primary East Main-Chester Street intersection of Front Royal’s Downtown Historic District.  The weekly vigils will occur from noon to 1 p.m. each Wednesday for an indefinite time, and have been permitted by the town government.

The impetus for the vigils is Sherp’s concerns that the newly-elected president and his administration, coupled with a very conservative legislative branch majority and what is likely to be a soon-to-be approved conservative judicial branch majority, are threatening to undermine the ideals upon which the American Republic was founded, and upon which it has evolved over two centuries.

Len Sherp is flanked by Kathleen Roush and Hannah Bement at first Vigil for Democracy – viable affordable health care reform was BIG on the list of concerns, along with Sherp’s concern over the president’s financial connections in other countries. Photos/Roger Bianchini

“The government still works for us – “of the people, for the people” – and just because one Party has achieved a majority doesn’t mean they shouldn’t show the same reverence for the democratic principals and values of honesty, openness and fairness which have made us a beacon for two centuries,” Sherp told us at his first vigil on March 8.  “This administration, in eight weeks, has shown that it doesn’t understand the rule of law; does not respect the separation of powers; and has a Republican Congress that for some reason refuses to stand up and be adult.  There are threats to our democracy when our president lies every day.  And I think there are some underlying issues – I’m holding a sign today that says ‘Show us the Tax Returns’.

“Every president, I believe since Eisenhower if not even earlier, has released their tax returns, so that we can see that they are not indebted to or beholding to other foreign powers.”

We pointed out that Donald Trump has used the fact that his most recent tax return is under audit by the IRS to keep from releasing it.  And while that fact does not appear to present any legal basis to prevent one from making their tax return public*, Sherp pointed out that Trump’s taxes due April 15, 2017 (2016 tax return) “is not under audit yet” so that he could release it when it is ready to be submitted to the IRS.

Sherp’s tax release sign was but one of several on display by about five people who had stopped to join the vigil during our visit to see what was going on at Front Royal‘s Village Commons on March 8.  Sherp had several printed up, and there were blank pieces of cardboard available for people to stop by and add their own specific concerns with the administration or legislative and policy agendas.

Sherp notes you can create your own vigil sign to express personal concerns – here our rivers, mountains and natural environment in general were added to several pre-printed signs regarding the president’s financial ties and voter suppression.

One vigil participant, Hannah Bement, said she had been at that morning’s Sixth District Open Door meeting at Samuels Public Library in Front Royal.  “Someone said Len would be down here, so I came down during my lunch hour to show my support.”

Kathleen Roush said she was there to show support, specifically on the affordable health care issue, as well as “equal education for everyone, especially special needs students – and the environment is a BIG one too.”

And that last one is bound to be a BIG issue on more people’s minds in coming weeks after Trump’s appointee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, made waves over the next week with a public statement that there was no substantive evidence that carbon emissions or human activity had anything to do with climate change.**

A passing citizen joined briefly to express his concern about affordable health care reform – which appeared to draw a honk of support.

Was he concerned with the small turnout – though we did hear a number of horn honks as driver’s passed on East Main Street that appeared supportive – at his inaugural vigil, we asked.  “No,” Sherp replied.

He explained the genesis of the idea for his Vigil for Democracy.  “I got the idea as a replication of a protest movement during the Vietnam War when I was a student at the University of California-Santa Barbra.  A professor, I believe he was a philosophy professor, started a silent vigil on campus in 1966.  He stood there alone at the outset, and by the time I graduated in 1968 he had attracted hundreds of people each week.  I’m going to try and do the same here.”

* FOOTNOTE: During the 2016 presidential campaign, U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett (estimated net worth $78.7 billion) pointed out that his taxes were also under audit but that, that fact did not legally prohibit its release.  In fact, Buffett offered to meet Trump at a NYC street corner and publicly release BOTH their tax returns together.  It was an offer Trump declined.

** FOOTNOTE: As Oklahoma’s AG and a champion of fracking in his state, Pruitt sued the EPA five times.  Coincidently, as fracking gained traction in Oklahoma under Pruitt’s legal stewardship, so did earthquakes which were recorded in the hundreds across the state in areas with little previous history of earthquakes – something else the new EPA chief likely sees no connection between.

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The courthouse soldier’s statue and our history – not as simple as some portray it

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I think Mr. Bianchini’s recent article on the Confederate statue/memorial was well written, even if I didn’t agree with everything in the article. I think I can speak for not just myself, but many others in Warren County, in saying leave our statue and history alone! I am so sick of this “cancel culture” and the current push by some to seemingly try to erase a vast majority of American history. As we have seen in recent months, it was never just about Confederate soldiers, they were just easy targets. But how much does the average American actually know about the Civil War?

There are many facts that either aren’t taught anymore, or have been swept under the rug on purpose. First, the right of secession was a very important topic in the US for the 70 years prior to the Civil War, so much so that New York, Rhode Island and Virginia would not ratify the US Constitution unless the right of secession was included. In fact, several New England states tried at least 4 separate times to secede from the US: 1804, 1814, 1844 and 1848, over everything from the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, to the Mexican War. Soldiers at West Point were even taught in their textbooks up to 1860 that secession was legal.

Also, why is it never discussed that states in the upper south, like Virginia, voted in early 1861 to remain in the Union, and only voted for secession when Lincoln called for 75,000 soldiers to march through the South and put down the “rebellion”? It was even stated in the Virginia Constitution that no army could march through the state without permission from the state, which is why many men joined the southern armies. They took this as an invasion.

The Confederate soldier on the WC Courthouse lawn since 1911. Why did ‘he’, representing this county’s foot soldiers, fight? They aren’t here to answer – but can we be trusted to answer for them, so as to justify their collective image and names removal from our public property? One reader says the answer may not be as simple as some would have us believe. Royal Examiner File Photo/Roger Bianchini

Why is it never discussed anymore that 75% of white men living in the South in 1861 didn’t own any slaves? How ironic is it that the top 2 Union generals in the war, General’s Grant and Sherman, both owned slaves before and during the war, yet there are no records of General Lee or Jackson ever buying a slave! General Lee inherited slaves from his father-in-law in the late 1850s, and they were freed as instructed in the will 5 years later in 1862, right in the middle of the war! Stonewall Jackson’s wife also inherited several slaves who were later freed as well. The vast majority of Union soldiers stated they were fighting to preserve the Union, and not to solely end slavery. General Grant said if he thought the war was fought only to end slavery then he would have taken his sword to the other side.

Statues and memorials, like the one here in Front Royal, weren’t erected for decades after the war for one major reason, money. The South was in ruins after the war, and it took many years to raise the money to construct them. The statue at the courthouse is a memorial to the men from Warren County who fought and died in this terrible war, and not just a Confederate monument.

History is never as simple as black or white. We also as a society cannot look at, and judge people from the 18th and 19th centuries while looking through our 21st century lenses. It is also easy to attack people who have been dead for 100 years and can’t speak for themselves. Are we a perfect nation with a perfect history? No. But we sure have it a lot better than most others.

Billy Robinson
Front Royal, Virginia

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Commentary: Is there a better way than targeting the Courthouse lawn Confederate soldier for removal?

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Let me open by apologizing for the length of this piece – but I feel at a pivotal point in our collective socio-political history both locally and nationally, I need to be precise and clear on my perspective of the issues addressed.

After being told about a month ago by one of the organization’s principals that at the time Front Royal Unites had no design on the removal of the statue on the Warren County Courthouse grounds, that has apparently changed.

A petition posted on the FR Unites website cites a change in state law implemented July 1, authorizing localities to remove or relocate Confederate memorials from public properties and calls for the tall monument dedicated, not to any Confederate military or political leader, but to the average citizen-soldier of Warren County, to be removed and relocated off public property.

As Samuel Porter and colleague led this June 20 FR Unites ‘March for Justice’ the statue commemorating the sacrifice of Confederate soldiers from Warren County in the background was not a matter of concern. Things have changed as the organization has refocused its attention, as have others, on the statue’s removal. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini & 1b from FR Unites website

The Front Royal Unites petition states, “We must support the removal of the Confederate monument at the Warren County Courthouse. Confederate symbols on public land, in effect, endorse a movement founded on white supremacy. If our government continue(s) to pay homage to the Confederacy, people of color can never be sure they will be treated fairly. And we will never solve our community’s problems if an entire group of citizens is alienated or feels targets for discrimination.”

Front Royal Unites Vice President and Director of Communications Samuel Porter authored the petition, adding of its impetus, “We must show other citizens of not only Warren County … and the nation at large that we give no safe harbor to such hatred … I urge you to support this petition because one day in the future they’ll look back to see what we did – the time to act is now, not later. Will you help bring about good and positive change? Let’s do it together. Together we are united. Together we are Front Royal.”

But will those looking back from a future perspective actually see a positive, uniting move toward justice for all in this specific effort in one small Virginia community, or will they see something, while unintended, very different?

I have spoken with a few county residents, white county residents, who can trace their lineage in this county and region back to the Civil War era, about the potential of the Courthouse lawn Confederate Soldier Memorial becoming a target for removal. Pointing to the “average man” nature of the statue, they have generally taken a hardline stance against its removal. They feel a personal connection to the statue unveiled at its current Warren County Courthouse site in 1911 to honor locals who fought in a brutal war that left more Americans dead than any fought with a foreign adversary.

They are not history’s heroes – but can their collective experience of the 1860’s war teach us anything of worth in the 21st Century – perhaps pointing two opposing perspectives toward compromise for a common good? Below, the known names commemorated on the monument’s west side.

From those conversations, while admittedly a limited number, I fear that moving locally against this particular monument may do more to divide this community than unite it. I believe it could lead to an aggressive counter-movement to defend the statue at its site, leading some who have stayed as observers of the “Black Lives Matter” movement and push back to it, to come out in stark opposition over this one symbol.

In fact, on Sunday, July 26, I was made aware of a counter online petition titled “Act Now: Save Warren County’s Civil War Statue” with 736 supporting signatures by the time I visited the website.

As of the same time late afternoon Sunday, the FR Unites petition had 719 signed on in support of removing the statue. I was also pointed to a concurrent remove the statue petition titled “Warren County United to Remove Confederate Statue” sporting 573 signatures.

Okay, it’s sideways and the wrong statue (I think). But the ‘Save Warren County’s Civil War Statue’ website petition has taken on a public opposition role to petitions in favor of moving the statue honoring the service and sacrifice of Warren County’s Civil War soldiers.

So, here we go – but what are we fighting about?

Unlike the vast majority of Confederate statues targeted in the anti-racism, equal justice for all Americans movement, those honored by the Confederate statue at the Warren County Courthouse are not major players in the Civil War. Other than locally they are historically anonymous figures. Even with most, if not all, their names attached what is really known about the average Warren County citizen-soldier of the 1860s?

To this observer’s knowledge, none memorialized on that statue left any historically documented messages in support of the root cause of the Civil War – secession from the Union over a state’s right to maintain slaves as free labor to prop up the Confederate states’ economies.

One is left to wonder how many named and unnamed on that statue left their homes and families voluntarily to go to war, or may have been conscripted into the Confederate military as were a large proportion of that army’s soldiers? Would any have actually been from slave-owning families or grasped the political impetus that set their state against other states militarily in a non-24×7 news cycle era where information, accurately reported or not, was NOT available at the flip of a switch at everyone’s fingertips??

I do sympathize with the impulse to want to remove ANY symbol glorifying the dehumanizing and amoral policy of defining any group, much less an entire race of people, as fundamentally inferior to one’s own in order to justify the use of free, slave labor for self-enrichment. However, I find myself wondering at the wisdom of including this particular statue in this particular community as part of that effort.

Could a community’s sons sacrifices, even on the wrong side of history, become a positive teaching tool for us all?

No, we do NOT want symbols of a “wink, wink” acceptance of continued racism in our nation, states and communities to continue to stand. But as I noted above, those I spoke to with an emotional attachment to the statue, appeared attached to honoring one’s predecessors, one’s ancestors who fought in a war – on the wrong side of history or not. Absent was any expressed emotional attachment to slavery or argument that in the long run slavery’s end as an economic-cultural institution was a bad thing.

Another way?

So, I had a thought – why not approach Front Royal Unites leadership, and other like-minded groups, and supporters of the Warren County Courthouse site of the Confederate Soldier Memorial about a compromise solution – a solution that perhaps has more potential for uniting this community than simply lumping this one statue in with all the others earmarked for removal efforts.

Yes, Front Royal Unites and others aligned with the “Black Lives Matter” and equal-justice movement, keep your sights set on those monuments or boulevards erected or named for those who are documented for their blatant racism, aggressively cruel slaveholding, belief in the preservation of slavery or more recently, efforts to preserve racial segregation in American society into the late 20th Century.

But is a blanket assault on historical markings and personages born into a different era going to teach us any more about who we were, and who we WANT to be as a people moving forward, than is the close-minded stance of those who don’t accept that institutional racism continues to be an issue in American society or worse are perfectly comfortable with institutionalized racism?

If we want to advance and truly unite to the common cause of human equality and balanced economic opportunity for all, don’t we have to be better than our opponents on the other side of our own historical epoch?

Could we as a community unite across racial, philosophical, even political boundaries and leave the statue where it is – BUT use it as a tool of education for the entire community and those who visit us? Yes, the statue at another location as proposed in the Front Royal Unites petition – Prospect Hill Cemetery, the Daughters of the Confederacy, or Warren Rifles Confederate Museum property – could be used as an educational tool. But once moved, how many on the “get the thing out my sight” side would actually remain engaged in such an effort to teach and learn from that statue?

The county’s Confederate soldier gazes north, most directly at the Afton Inn, the shadow of which is visible at the bottom of the FR Town Hall’s Crescent St. wall. Perhaps a citizen compromise on the monument might point the town government toward compromise on its Afton, EDA issues, or propel a November election result that would promote such compromise.

However, if those from BOTH sides of the debate had to explain why they agreed to leave a Confederate statue on the Warren County Courthouse property, that might lead to some serious background research, conversation – and UNITY. But what could that statue, remaining in the center of Historic Downtown Front Royal on public property, teach us all, you might ask.

NOT that “wink, wink” racism is acceptable here!

Rather, perhaps the Confederate Soldier Memorial remaining ON our historic courthouse lawn could serve as a timeless lesson and warning to all Americans. I say “all” because I believe this community will get a LOT MORE national attention if such a compromise is reached than it will if another Confederate statue is removed from a small, southern town’s public property – unless of course, that removal brings violence here from either or both sides of the issue. But I am talking about POSITIVE attention.

What lesson, what warning so timely at this very moment in our collective history could Front Royal and Warren County’s citizens, AND our long-dead Confederate citizen-soldiers, teach this nation, and perhaps the world?

The lesson would be: DON’T get lost in your own worldview to the exclusion of all others. Talk to, listen to those whose perspective is not identical to your own – maybe they are NOT the enemy; maybe there is common ground for meaningful discourse and compromise.

The warning would be: NOT to enlist, NOT to submit to conscription, or if already enlisted, NOT to simply follow orders to implement things that upon closer, objective examination are not in the best interest of your community, your state, your nation, or for that matter, NOT in the best interest of the human race of which we are all a part.

Perhaps an addition to the monument explaining this “Compromise of 2020”, including the names of the principal negotiators and their organizations, could be locally funded by the County and Town and added to the memorial display for future generations to read about and be inspired by.

‘We believe’ – a message worth sharing found in a local yard. This writer also ‘believes’ there is a better way than demanding public site removal of all Civil War markers without acknowledging specific differences in Civil War and historic personage displays.

If not now, when?

When, better than now for us to talk WITH each other, rather than AT each other about our varying social and cultural perspectives? We find ourselves at a point of aggressive partisan political hostility some historians have described as the greatest in this nation since the run-up to the Civil War. It is a time we now see militarily clad, unidentified federal agents deployed to U.S. cities in a partisan political show of extra-legal force, against the will of state and local elected officials from the opposition political party.

It is a show of force targeting this very anti-racism, equal-justice-for-all movement, aimed not only at sporadic vandalism or graffiti writing at federal buildings or statues but at peaceful protesters against racism, murder, and hypocrisy. One peaceful demonstrator in Portland, Oregon was nearly killed when shot in the head with a so-called “non-lethal” projectile. Others have been seized into federal custody with no due process, no explanation, even to local officials and law enforcement.

But back on our courthouse lawn, it is a different response we must worry about. That is the response of our neighbors, our fellow citizens who may trace their family heritage, not to the ownership of slaves, but just to a walk-on roll in a war the average foot soldier may not have completely understood the reason for.

Will some racists, some with neo-fascist sympathies embrace a “save the statue” movement? Surely, but it is NOT them I am urging to the table for discussion. And it is that discussion between differing but well-meaning perspectives that has the potential of, not only truly UNITING us, but also of disarming the opposition of those of a less wholesome perspective on the issue.

Front Royal Unites wants to be a uniting community force. But is it running the risk of creating a new “group of citizens” feeling “targeted” and “alienated” – NOT for being modern-day racists or supporters of slavery, but for simply wanting their predecessors, their ancestors who fought, were wounded or died in America’s Civil War to be remembered for their sacrifice?

A photo of the Confederate soldier statue from a 1956 publication by local historian Laura Virginia Hale, sponsored by the Warren Rifles United Daughters of the Confederacy, acknowledging the developmental history of this community’s four primary Civil War monuments. Those include the pictured Confederate soldier statue now under scrutiny (1911), as well as Soldiers Circle (1882) and Mosby’s Monument (1899) at Prospect Hill Cemetery, and the Battle of Front Royal marker placed at the intersection of Chester St. and N. Royal Ave. (1927).

Yes, those ancestors fought on the wrong side of history. But as stated above, most, if not all, were not slave owners. And little may be known of their thoughts as to why, when called, they chose to fight for their state amongst a confederacy of states against an American Union viewed by many at the time more like Europeans view the European Union today.

So, can we all just step back and take a deep breath? – Look at it as THAT breath George Floyd was not allowed to take. And if not Floyd’s life, maybe that breath can save OUR unity of purpose in moving this community forward as an example for others.

For if those who want to see equal justice and opportunity for all in this nation begin taking on the same sort of uncompromising, hardline stances as those who harbor racist, neo-fascist totalitarian tendencies, then what chance as a nation do we have to survive as the Founding Fathers envisioned? That vision was of an imperfect, but constantly improving nation and people – people capable of learning, evolving, of uniting over false barriers created by those who would divide to suppress, control, and dominate.

United we are stronger!

So, let’s stay united across the broadest spectrum of people in this community that we can. Because outside its active membership and support base, I fear that Front Royal Unites and any other associated group’s move on the Confederate soldier statue’s place on the Warren County Courthouse grounds has the potential to create a level of division in our community that has not thus far been apparent. I said I had the idea of approaching the leadership of Front Royal Unites and others wanting the statue moved and locals opposing that move, about a compromise resolution.
I guess this commentary is that approach.

So what do you think people, is there room for meaningful conversation about this statue, its location, and preservation as a timeless warning and teaching tool for us all? Can we just take that deep breath George Floyd never got to take in Minneapolis, and move forward together rather than at each other’s throats, figuratively or literally?

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‘Drain the Swamp’?

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I watched a 32+ minute video of the 21 July Board of Supervisors meeting and was appalled. Many tried and true clichés and comments came to mind: “blind leading the blind”, “drain the swamp”, “back room deals”, “good faith”, “transparency”, etc.

As an observer, it is difficult to understand all the issues and it was pretty apparent that board members did not understand them either. Is this the same team that campaigned on transparency and draining the swamp? Where is the strength of their convictions? Well unfortunately, the citizens have voted in a team of uninformed supervisors to occupy the swamp who in this early stage of their term had the audacity to form a private team of two people without the Supervisor’s knowledge or consent to negotiate the settlement of an apparently complex legal/financial issue between the Town of Front Royal, Warren County and the EDA. It sounds like they agreed to pay half of a bill leaving the other half blowing in the wind. Additionally, obviously to divert attention, Delores (Oates) demonstrated significant disrespect of Tony (Carter) by accusing him without any specifics of “back room deals”.

It is obvious to the most casual observer that there needs to be a sanctioned committee formed with knowledgeable members from WC, FR and the EDA to meet in a publicly announced, yet private meeting to search for a resolution that will satisfy the legal responsibilities of each party. The output of the meeting needs to be presented to the citizens.

I am not sure how this happened. The two participating board members were obviously grandstanding for self-promotion. How did they get elected? PT Barnum said, “Nothing draws a crowd quite like a crowd.” I expect “mob-rule” put these people in office and now the rest of the citizens must endure.

I wonder if there is any kind of training available to new board members addressing their legal and ethical responsibilities.

Robert Turner
Chesapeake, Virginia

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Revolutions are messy

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historically speaking

There are many sayings about revolutions, but my favorite is simply, “Revolutions are messy.” This seems to sum up the majority of the world’s revolutions, despite who wins or loses. The problem for Americans is that our Revolution was easy compared to most, so we tend to think all revolutions are as easy. If you lined up all the world’s revolutions in order from most radical to least, America would be pretty close to the least radical side. How much did we really change? We replaced the British aristocracy with American aristocracy. The Constitution allowed for representation, but only for white men with property who voted only for the House of Representatives. The British had the same right with the House of Commons.

Now the French and the Russians, they know how to throw a revolution. Whereas our Revolution was really top down, the French and Russian revolutions were bottom up. They turned everything on its head, getting rid of every type of institution imaginable, even religion. The masses took to the streets in what became more mob actions than political movements. It is telling that the symbol of the French Revolution became the guillotine, which was actually invented during the revolt to speed up the process of decapitating the rich and noble. Basically everyone associated with the crown was rounded up and separated from their heads. The royal families in both the French and the Russian revolutions were all assassinated quite violently. There is no such example in the American Revolution.

The other problem with most revolutions is they do not end with just one revolution, but instead spin off counter-revolutions or even more revolutionary movements. The Russians had a revolution in February 1917 which overthrew the Czar but was followed up with a second revolution in October of the same year that brought the Bolsheviks to power. They then fought a bloody civil war between the Whites and the Reds until 1923. As for the French, their first government of the Revolution was the National Assembly, created in 1789 and followed by the Legislative Assembly in 1791. The First Republic took power in 1793 and instituted the Reign of Terror only to be ousted by The Directory in 1795. Finally, Napoleon took over in 1799, bringing some stability. With both the Russians and the French, each regime change brought a great deal of bloodshed.

Finally, revolutions eat their young. They have a tendency to turn on their creators and their ideas. Once a revolution is started, it can easily spin out of control. Revolutions go well as long as the mobs are for you, but what happens when they turn on what you believe? In order to protect a revolution, leaders must either contain it or be prepared for leaders and goals to be attacked. We see this with key leaders of both the French and Russian revolutions. Leon Trotsky was a vital figure in the Russian Revolution and number two behind Lenin. He helped start the October Revolution and led the Red Army to victory over the Whites. Yet when Lenin died, Joseph Stalin took control of the country, forcing Trotsky to flee to Mexico where he is later assassinated. The name and image of Trotsky was erased from Russian history books and memorials. For the French, the great figure was Maximilien Robespierre. Not only did he help start the agitation that led to the Revolution, he also became the leader of the government and key player in the Reign of Terror. However, when the tide shifted, he found his head on the chopping block to which he had sent so many before him.

As we are in the midst of a cultural revolution in America, it seems inevitable that this revolution will get messy. As with the French Revolution, the people only tend to tolerate so much before either the revolution is contained or it turns on its own. I have two examples. A few weeks back, activist Shaun King in support of Black Lives Matter tweeted that all images of a white Jesus and the Virgin Mary should be removed. Initially it made a big splash, but then faded away. I can only speculate that leaders of the movement recognized that he had gone too far. There are many liberal Christians who support this movement who may find the removal of Jesus in any color too radical. Not to mention a large Hispanic community that puts a great value on the Virgin Mary. The movement may have pulled back, but I suspect the Republicans will try to remind everyone come November.

The second example I wrote about in one of my daily Class Notes and received some interesting reaction. Over the 4th of July weekend, I was struck by the oddity of names and monuments of historical slave holders being removed while at the same time the nation celebrated the story of another slaveholder. The cultural phenomenon that is “Hamilton” is a celebration of diversity as the all-white characters are played by people of color. However, just because the play claims Hamilton and his friends were anti-slavery did not make it so. According to Harvard Professor Annette Gordon-Reed, Hamilton at best only bought and sold slaves for his family and at worse owned them himself. Every principle character in the play owned slaves except for John Laurens, who did oppose slavery but used his father’s slaves for his valets during the war.

So as I started this piece, revolutions are messy. I love “Hamilton.” I have enjoyed the play since the first time I saw it live. But is it okay to celebrate and honor his life? Hamilton betrayed his country, fought to establish a slave nation, and participated in the slave trade. How can we justify forgiving the sins of some historical figures, if they sing catchy songs, and yet condemn others for the same sins. Historically speaking, it seems like it has to be one or the other. Will this revolution have to be reined in or will Hamilton become our Robespierre, sacrificed on the altar of the revolution?


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.

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Paul Gabbert apologizes for his miss-speak at last week’s board meeting

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To be an idiot or not to be an idiot – That is the proverbial statement I am facing. At last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ work session I went to the podium without a script. Unfortunately, that was not a good idea. So I will confess to being an idiot. While at the podium, I blurted out a two hundred thousand dollar figure when it should have been seventeen thousand dollars; although to finish the project, more than seventeen thousand dollars, though not likely $183,000 more, would be spent.

When I returned home that night, I told my wife I had made myself look like an idiot. As the loving and devoted wife she is, she said and I quote, “That is your problem.” A few days later she said, “By the way, the Royal Examiner made you look like an idiot also. Roger never lets a chance like that go by.”

That is okay Roger, I deserved it. When you go to the podium to speak you are free game. I want to apologize to the Board of Supervisors, the County Administrator, and the citizens of Warren County for this inexcusable mistake. This kind of mistake is what causes mistrust, accountability problems, and an overall unfairness to the County Government. Only facts and one’s opinion should be stated at the podium. This mistake I promise will not happen again.

Paul Gabbert
Front Royal, Virginia

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Conflict Resolution – 101: There is a lesson here

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The good news for me is that my little book: Ironing It Out: Seven Simple Steps for Resolving Conflict has been updated and is available again through Amazon and the publisher: www.lalopublishing.com. The bad news is that the writer, me – someone who is supposedly knowledgeable about conflict and resolution – happens to live in an area that is rife with conflict and lawsuits and legal fees and court expenses, etc. Personally, I have come to peace with the fact that there are some disputes which just cannot be resolved peaceably. There are some disputes where the parties have to be told what to do (by a judge or jury). I guess these pending civil cases which dominate our legal system cannot be fairly settled.

Fortunately, not everybody or every firm or every government organization at all levels agrees that conflicts cannot be resolved without the expense and the trauma that litigation brings. My little book on conflict resolution has sold thousands of copies worldwide – as reasonable people seem to want an alternative way of making troublesome problems go away. The first published edition of Ironing it Out was dated 1992. The most recent, fully updated edition (the 5th) came out in June and is dated 2020.

And, wow, do we have conflict rampant among many crises now facing the world (and our region). Litigation doesn’t seem that important when compared to life and death. I don’t presume that I am qualified to do too much about the Pandemic, or fairness in law enforcement or fairness in the administration of justice, but I do feel qualified to help lessen unnecessary conflict (destructive in its own way) lessen.

Sometimes I wish folks would follow the seven simple steps: “Remove their masks, identify the real problem(s), give up a “must-win” attitude, develop possible options for resolution, select one, powerfully communicate, and finally acknowledge and preserve the value in the relationship”.

It might work here. It has worked most of the time it has been tried. It sure doesn’t cost much to try it.

I hope we can all be safe and, while we worry about getting sick, maybe we can worry a bit less about the conflict.

Charles P. Lickson
Front Royal, Virginia

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
70°
Cloudy
6:17am8:20pm EDT
Feels like: 70°F
Wind: 6mph NW
Humidity: 96%
Pressure: 29.77"Hg
UV index: 1
TueWedThu
86/63°F
84/66°F
81/66°F