Virginia County Considers Making Schools Celebrate Slavery, Confederate Generals Again
Two years ago, in response to the murder of George Floyd, the Shenandoah County School Board in Virginia voted to change the name of two schools named to honor Confederate generals. You know, because they realized that perhaps celebrating people who fought to keep Black people enslaved perhaps sent the wrong message. Stonewall Jackson High School was changed to Mountain View High School, while Ashby-Lee Elementary School to Honey Run Elementary School.
This was the right move, but it upset a lot of very racist people who now want the names changed back to honor the losers of the Civil War, and the new Vice Chair of the board agrees with them. Because apparently it is very "elitist" to believe that it is bad to honor people who fought to own Black people by naming schools after them. .
More than 4,000 people have signed a petition to change the names back, Vice Chair Dennis Barlow said at a board meeting, where the issue was discussed at length last week.
Some new board members say they feel the decision to change the names was rushed and that it did not consider the opinion of the community.
Barlow — who characterized those who were in favor of changing the names as outsiders who are "creepy," "elitist" and from "the dark side" — said the school board's decision was "undemocratic and unfair."
He added that he regards Jackson as a "gallant commander."
He was also a traitor who killed people defending the "right" of some other people to own people. I don't know what to call that but it does seem like the kind of thing that would get you sent to prison these days, rather than having a school named after you.
During the board meeting, community members got three minutes each to say why they supported or opposed bringing the names back. S. John Massoud, a member of the Town Council of Strasburg and Chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party of Virginia got up in front of the board and talked about how his great-grand-daddy was a union soldier killed by Stonewall Jackson but he supported reverting back to the name because you can't talk about his great-grand-daddy and people like him without talking about Stonewall Jackson. Because the only way to do that is to name a school after him.
Massoud was followed by several women and a young man from the high school — all of whom supported the change. And then those people were followed by two older white guys, one talking about how men from Shenandoah County were with Stonewall Jackson when he got his nickname "Stonewall" and another with whining about how changing the name in the first place was a "dirty underhanded trick."
Then, a female minister talked about tolerance, a lady with Can I Speak To Your Manager hair talked about how she went to Stonewall Jackson high and had a good time there and if you change the name her memories will be murdered, followed by another grey-haired white dude who opposed the name change and wanted everyone to vote on it. And the next old guy talked about how his family served in "The War of Northern Aggression" and you can imagine how that went.
It continued for over an hour.
Unsurprisingly, Marjorie Taylor Greene was very excited about the idea of changing the name back. She tweeted the Daily Mail's story on the issue with "Wonderful news. We should always preserve our history," because of how she loves history, so long as it is never discussed more deeply than "Hey, look at that statue of a guy/school named after a guy who fought to own slaves! Wasn't he great?"
Wonderful news. We should always preserve our history.https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10835551/Virginia-board-rename-schools-Confederate-generals-dropping-titles-George-Floyd-murder.html\u00a0\u2026— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1653142080
Given the arguments we've been having over education lately, none of this is particularly shocking. This isn't about actually caring about children, it's not about school names, it's about these people "wanting their country back." Trump failed to give it back to them, seeing as how the rest of us all still exist, so now they're going after the kids. To do that, they need to be sure that kids are being raised the same way they were — scared of LGBTQ folks and very sure that the "War of Northern Aggression" was about "states rights" and had nothing to do with slavery.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse