Confederate Statue protest

Protesters surround the Confederate statue on the grounds of the Loudoun County Courthouse May 31 in honor of George Floyd, a black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer earlier in the month.

Indeed, a reckoning is here. Thank God.

From international matters of systemic racism in the arenas of law enforcement, criminal justice and equal education to local-specific items like outdated mascots, monuments and money managers, no facet of our daily lives is going to go unchecked. Not anytime soon, anyway, and hopefully never again.

That’s as it should be. It can be painful. It’s often uncomfortable. But these conversations and conversions are called for, and they’re long overdue.

Of course a name like Raiders has no business being tagged to Loudoun County High School students. Generically, perhaps raiders isn’t offensive. But here in Loudoun, as School Board member Ian Serotkin noted, the moniker is a reference to the infamous Civil War battalion led by Confederate commander John S. Mosby, often referred to as Mosby’s Raiders or Mosby’s Rangers.

Andrew Jelonek, a Loudoun County High School alumnus, addressed the School Board Tuesday with these impressions. “No matter what modifications are made to it, the Raiders will always stand for slavery, white supremacy and racism,” Jelonek said. “We believe Loudoun County should no longer glorify this mascot and its ideals.”

Loudoun County Class of 2009 graduate Deirdre Dillon noted, “To be honest, upon learning [the mascot’s basis], it changed my perspective on the school. It caused me to look at it as something that was backwards, old-fashioned and, to be honest, racist.”

It’s important to note an all-white student body selected Raiders as the school’s mascot in 1954 before integration. That alone calls for a reexamination and update from contemporary students and staff at the school.

And then there’s that long-looming, out-of-place Confederate statue in the center of downtown Leesburg, at the steps of the Loudoun County courthouse. We’ve weighed in on the monument on several occasions, but these pages are the place for emphasis: A circa 1908 Confederate statue — a symbol of slavery, of oppression and of, yes, white supremacy — should not be in front of a courthouse, a place that should be unassailable in its cause for justice and equality.

Put it in a museum. Put it in a battlefield with proper context. Be done with this decades-long debate.

We know there will be critics with the familiar refrain that these calls for change amount to erasing history. That rebuttal has never really carried any weight. Just because tokens of the past don’t appear in the plain view of the public doesn’t mean students and historians won’t continue to study, teach and examine the defining moments of civilization.

And as the past few months have hopefully hammered into the heads of many Americans — notably some older white men — simply because something doesn’t offend you doesn’t mean you can roundly declare it inoffensive to society at large.

As we said, it’s not always going to be easy, but we must endure heavy conversations and hard conflicts to see a better, more unified tomorrow.

(32) comments

LongtimeLoudouner

In 1968, Loudoun was one of the last school systems in the nation to desegregate their schools, 14 years after the Supreme Court ruled separate schools based on race unconstitutional. Also, in ‘68, certain white Loudouners chose to do away with having a community pool at all rather than allow blacks in when the laws changed to allow them. So don’t tell me the confederate soldier placed in front of the courthouse in 1908 is not a reflection of the prejudiced attitude of many at the time.

When I became a middle school teacher here in ‘77, some of the white kids’ prejudice towards blacks was quite noticeable and bothersome to me. And I’ll never forget the dirty looks a black teacher friend and I got when we walked into the Red Horse Inn in Leesburg one night. It was obvious we weren’t welcome there because of my friend, so we left.

As Loudoun became more diverse through the years, I started noticing a difference in the kids’ overall acceptance of each other. It pleased me to see White, Indian, Hispanic and Middle Eastern kids just getting along totally oblivious of the differences between them, which is the way things should be! This is not and shouldn’t be political one way or another. You know Leesburg, prior to its establishment, borne the name Georgetown in honor of the then reigning English monarch and was renamed Leesburg in 1758, derived from Lees, after some of the county’s early settlers. I assume because they no longer wanted to be tied to the US’s monarch past via its name. So let’s do our kids future a favor and honor our diversity and unity, not our divisive past. It’s time for our not so nice history be remembered in history classes, books, museums and documentaries where they belong.

Pre-yuppieLoudouner

Change the name of the Raiders to Butthurt Bandits.I wonder what the mascot will look like...

northernobserver

Wouldn't it be something if we could make these progressive changes without any destruction and violence? To move forward, without erasing the past. what a great example that would set for the rest of the nation. I'm in complete agreement with removal of the confederate statue- to a museum. That which it represents- has no place near a building where citizens go to receive equal justice under the law. But, it shouldn't be erased. People need to remember. History is important. Good and bad. The issue with the mascot should be a no-brainer. Give the principle a semester to come up with a new name. Have a contest to let the kids name it. Essay contest , whole nine yards. A lot of schools change mascots every few years.. It's a great creative exercise.

LC88

After the war, Mosby became a campaign manager for President Grant. The two men became great friends. In 1878, Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Mosby as the U.S. Consul to Hong Kong. Later he worked for the Department of the Interior and as assistant Attorney General.

John Mosby died in 1916 at the age of 82. Of his exploits in the war, he wrote "It is a classical maxim that it is sweet and becoming to die for one's country; but whoever has seen the horrors of a battlefield feels that it is far sweeter to live for it."

Now that he is erased from our history, this will be soon forgotten! The men of his time and opposing sides all forgave and moved on - why do we continue to go backwards?

Voltaire

LC88--thank you for the historical information. Unfortunately, many people don't want to understand the complete picture of John Mosby but rather obsess over his role with the "evil" Confederate States of America. People seem to forget that he was responsible for the working with the Union Army during the Civil War on the better treatment of prisoners and, after the war, bringing back a lot of Federal jobs to Virginia thanks to his relationship with President Grant. You are also right in that history has recognized that the Union and Confederate did what you said.

RoundHillGuy

LC88, Erased from history? Mosby, Clausewitz , Sun Tzu, Musashi, Wellington, have nothing to teach, they lived in the past. move on, forget them. no need to learn their teachings and go backwards in history. it's for old white Boomers and we are so progressive... Studying Marx however is perfectly acceptable. He's the only dead white man that is acceptable to memorialize and learn about. Even though he was the spoiled brat son of a rich guy and never really did anything, but lets venerate him, but not those other guys. They stink and should be in the dustbin of history where they belong. said no one with a brain.

Jayhawk

The name honors the members of his battalion, who fought to maintain the enslavement of human beings. It is a completely inappropriate name for a public school in the 21st century.

No one is erasing anything about Mosby’s history, what a stupid, hysterical comment.

RHLC

Sigh...

Charles Houston

I'm afraid PC thinking is a terminal illness - for our country.

CitizensFirstLoudoun

Facts and law change daily regarding memorials, statues and federal funding. Community involvement regarding changes in social history like the high school mascot would be the productive step forward. Citizens who have been paying years of taxes for school budgets, not to mention personal involvement in fundraising, volunteering, supporting sports and school activities, is a critical fact as well. The SB would be wise to acknowledge sensitivity to the issue of making changes to the mascot now and instead show leadership by listening to their constituents and particularly those who attended and supported LCHS. This is a Code of Conduct opportunity with goals and resolution to move forward.

RoundHillGuy

If all these Liberals cry and wet their pants when they see statues, maybe we do need to remove them so they don't get triggered. I don't want anyone developing PTSD or have to increase their xanax because they saw a statue that frightened them. #removescarystatues

Jayhawk

Um, actually you’re sounding pretty hysterical about losing your little racist memorial. Have a cookie.

RandomName2019

Perhaps people who sympathize with Confederate imagery should examine exactly why they hold icons and relics from a five year period in our nation's history so dear.

Voltaire

RandomName2019--maybe there are people, myself included, who appreciate this country's history and would like to enjoy it without being lectured by the "moral majority"? Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is.

stopit

thank you! it is time to create a culture that respects everyone, not just old white men. so, thank you again!

jke

Rangers in every history book I have read. maybe you need some big boy pants to pit on instead of the teething ring you suck.

Accountability

Simply because something offends you doesn’t mean you can roundly declare it offensive to society at large.

Voltaire

Accountability--very good point. However, that appears to the majority opinion.

darth

The majority opinion *is* society at large, isn't it?

Voltaire

Darth--actually, no it is not. Are you then saying that those in the minority are not part of society too? That is wrong.

DavisB

Have you not been paying attention to the news?

Voltaire

DavisB--yes, I have but the action of watching the news does nothing to negate Accountability's central point.

DavisB

Accountability said that just because the write did not like something, it does not mean that anyone else support the viewpoint - well, there are plenty who support this view and have deemed monuments celebrating the confederacy to be wrong and should be removed - watching the news is a great way to see what others think

Voltaire

DavisB--yes, you are correct, Accountability did say that just because the write did not like something, it does not mean that anyone else support the viewpoint. That is a true statement. Not everyone in this nation supports the viewpoint that Confederate monuments are wrong and should be removed. Further, apparently these vandals who destroy Confederate monuments now don't even care which monuments they want to destroy. Now, they are starting to vandalize/destroy Abe Lincoln, U.S. Grant, and Union Officer statues too, even though they WON the war. Maybe, the popular opinion needs to get a clue and learn some history because it is becoming more and more clear to me that they don't have a clue what they are protesting but it is okay to simply destroy and that is wrong. Oh, if you think that the national media is "objectively" showing the news and what the nation thinks, then you are sadly mistaken because they have their own agenda, been that way for decades.

DavisB

Volt - so, the writer is completely justified here - as you acknowledged -thanks

Accountability

DavisB - watching the news is a great way to see people that don't think.

I made only 2 changes to a sentence straight out of the editorial to highlight how weak the point is. It's another bad piece that was probably written to impress someone at the NY Times... try connecting some dots on that..

DavisB

accountability - you question the idea that there are many people who want these monuments to confederate soldier removed - I suggested you look at the news - you might see a few protest going on around the country - but you are free to hole up in your bunker and ignore what is going on around you

Voltaire

DavisB--are you telling me that all these "protesters" shown on the news are only interested in taking down Confederate monuments? Really? No, these vandals are interested in creating chaos and wanted an opportunity to do so and found it.

Come on, how does Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Grant, and Union soldiers fit into this popular narrative concerning removing Confederate statues and racism? It doesn't. But it does fit into "let's cause as much pandamonium as possible and destroy stuff. That is the tactics of vandals and anarchists and they should be put down by the authorities with the maximum force authorized. For example, Napoleon, when he dealt with riots, used field artillery and fired into the crowd and that stopped the riots. Be glad that you live in the USA and law enforcement is more restrained.

Accountability

Davis - please copy paste where I questioned anything related to the monument. My critique is towards the weakness of the point, something that can be applied to any argument. If the editorial board wants to lay down some good logic, you shouldn't be able to flip a sentence that they wrote that invalidates the entire premise.

The fact that you came out swinging from your partisan corner is your problem, and maybe you should take some time to figure out if you're contributing to the healing this nation needs or just another loud voice that still thinks we're playing team sports.

DavisB

wait, you are not talking about monuments -this is what this editorial is all about - your recent premise that you are a better writer is flawed as evidence by your shifting position and confusing wording - but semantics and writing arguments are not the best use of this space - so, the fact remains that there are many in our community who want to see monuments removed - how about you?

CitizensFirstLoudoun

Agreed -- add more classes to the schools that educate how to get along. This is the change that needs to occur and where SB money needs to be spent.

Voltaire

CitizensFirstLoudoun--that all wonderful and nice. But, the problem isn't really with the kids but with the "adults". So, how is the spending on school budget funds going to solve that problem? The answer is that it won't.

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