Virginia Is for Lovers, Not Bigots and Racists

 

corey-stewartt

As we approach the anniversary of the horrific events in Charlottesville, it’s important for us to know one thing: Corey Stewart does not reflect the values of the Commonwealth and it would be a mistake to send him to Capitol Hill.

I was born and raised in southern Virginia, and left only for a few years to finish college in North Carolina (go Seahawks!) and begin my career as a journalist in South Carolina. My family’s roots in the Commonwealth can be traced back as far back as 1640 that I’ve been able to find, and it’s likely another ancestor was part of the “Great Migration” to Jamestown from England, which began in 1618. I’m what some of us in the area jokingly refer to as “17th-century Virginians,” and I love to gloat that my family has been here longer than George Washington’s.

My ancestors fought for the Confederacy, obviously—this is Virginia after all—and my family lived in Southampton County during the Nat Turner rebellion, likely spared only because they happened to live in the part of the county he was trying to reach and was unsuccessful. Despite these dark spots in my ancestry, I am proud to be a Virginian.

And I won’t be embarrassed by the likes of Corey Stewart.

Virginia’s tagline for tourism has been “Virginia is for Lovers” as long as I can remember. You can find the “LOVE” signs across the Commonwealth and tourists and locals alike can’t resist snapshots with them.

Corey Stewart doesn’t seem to understand what this tagline means.

He has aligned himself with some of the worst people imaginable, including the “Unite the Right” rally organizer Jason Kessler, who called Heather Heyer a “fat, disgusting Communist” after she was murdered by a racist scumbag who, on top of his murder charge, is facing dozens of counts of hate crimes in relation to the men and women injured as he mowed them down with his car on the streets of Charlottesville. Stewart once said Paul Nehlen was one of his personal heroes. Let that sink in. Paul Nehlen, a man who was once so offensive he was banned from Twitter for his racist and anti-Semitic comments, is Stewart’s personal hero.

Oh, by the way, Nehlen also describes himself as “pro white.”

Corey Stewart once said the Confederate flag is “our heritage, it’s what makes us Virginia, and if you take that away, we lose our identity.”

Mr. Stewart, the flag as we know it today is a bastardized version of the flag my ancestors fought for 160 years ago—and it was wrong even then. Today, it is a symbol of hatred, used by racists who shout horrific and offensive things at and about people of color, as if the white skin they happened to be born with makes them superior. The white skin of slaveowners who raped the black women they enslaved, forcing children from those disgusting acts to be raised as slaves and given no basic human rights, treated as dogs while the white children born of ‘natural unions’ ran free.

That flag, that horribly offensive piece of fabric, is not Virginia’s identity. Virginia is about hope and promise. Despite the atrocities committed against Native peoples and the enslaved, Virginia is for lovers. Virginia is working to right those wrongs.

Corey Stewart is wrong for Virginia.

This isn’t a story of politics. This is a story of common decency.

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