Letters to the editor reflect the opinion of the writer, not the Rapp News. Comment below or by writing a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given the momentous events of the past few months, it behooves us all to examine the ways in which we perpetuate racist institutions and ideas, whether consciously or not.
Even here in “idyllic” Rappahannock County, we are surrounded by emblems of the Confederacy — a monument on the courthouse lawn, portraits of Confederate generals in county offices, and battle flags, which — whatever their value as historical information — encode ideas of white supremacy.
As sociologist and historian W.E.B. Du Bois observed nearly a century ago, “The plain truth of the matter would be an inscription something like this: ‘sacred to the memory of those who fought to Perpetuate Human Slavery.’”
With this in mind, the allegations that the commonwealth’s attorney, Art Goff, was or is displaying at his home the Confederate flag is of concern. The flag represents de jure discrimination against people of color. While Mr. Goff has a First Amendment right to display the Confederate flag at his home, doing so casts doubt on his ability to represent all members of this community fairly and without prejudice.
This concern is intensified by his recent Facebook post disparaging the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia in his efforts to remove statues that were erected in support of white supremacy and Jim Crow laws.
The issue is not whether Mr. Goff shares these beliefs, or was intending to express racist views, but whether or not he is aware that others will view it this way — people he has sworn an oath to protect and defend as the commonwealth’s attorney. Fairness and equality matter and all citizens of the county have a right to expect this from their elected officials.
Jim Dennis, Melissa Rose Dennis, John Beardsley, Steph Ridder — et al.
Editor’s note: There are 73 signatories to the above letter from all corners of Rappahannock County. At least 10 of the signatories, according to the writers, have ancestors who fought for the South.
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