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Life Arts    H1'ed 1/19/20

Virginia: Where Tradition and Terror Intersect

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What the heck is going on in Virginia?!

Virginia is known as "the birthplace of a nation" and the "Mother of Presidents" - eight presidents were born in the state, including Washington and Jefferson. Jamestown was the first English settlement in the United States. General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown, effectively ending the Revolutionary War. It is also home to tragedies, including the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007, domestic terrorism in Charlottesville in August 2017, and the more recent Virginia Beach massacre on May 31, 2019.

My guest today is Meryl Ann Butler, artist, author, activist and Managing Editor of OpEdNews.


Joan Brunwasser: Welcome, Meryl Ann. Your many talents and interests aside, you are also a Virginia resident and that's what I'd like to focus on right now. There is a lot going on in your state, some of it surrounding this weekend. Most of us have not kept up with it, so can you please get the ball rolling?

Meryl Ann Butler
Meryl Ann Butler
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MAB: Sure, thanks, Joan! Our Governor, Ralph Northam, declared a state of emergency in our capitol last week when it became apparent that a host of gun rights advocates were planning to descend on Richmond during the annual Martin Luther King Day Vigil and Day of Advocacy. This is an event that the Virginia Center for Public Safety, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence have hosted for the last 28 years.

JB: I didn't realize that this event is not a new one or even of recent vintage. And it's gone off without a hitch all these years?

MAB: I live a couple of hours from Richmond, so the annual event hasn't been a big blip on my radar in previous years. But the fact that we didn't hear too much about it in the past leads me to believe it has been peaceful. I certainly don't think that in the past, gun advocates from around the country were lured in with free ammo! Can you believe it? The NRA has actually offered to hand out free 30-round magazines to the counter protesters who show up! (A 30-round magazine was what was used to kill six people and injure 13 others, including Rep. Gabby Giffords, in Tucson on January 8, 2011.)

Gabrielle Giffords shooting scene.
Gabrielle Giffords shooting scene.
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Of course, the memory of the deaths, injuries and terror in our quiet city of Charlottesville at the hands of a similar group just a couple of years ago is still reverberating in the minds and hearts of Virginians.

JB: Please remind us what happened in Charlottesville, Meryl Ann.

MAB: In August 2017, there was a white supremacist rally in our normally quiet college town of Charlottesville. In the previous February, the Charlottesville City Council had voted to remove a statue of Confederate war hero, Robert E. Lee.

Lee Park%2C Charlottesville%2C VA.
Lee Park%2C Charlottesville%2C VA.
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At that time, similar decisions were being made by a number of communities in the South following the Charleston church shooting in 2015. That massacre occurred at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church - the oldest AME church in the South, well known for its civil rights activism, which was one of the reasons it was targeted. Twelve black members of the church, including the minister (who was also a state senator) were shot during their Bible study meeting by 21-year-old white supremacist, Dylann Roof. Nine of them died. Roof had previously posted an internet manifesto of racial hatred and included the Confederate flag in his posts, so after the massacre, many Southern locations removed the Confederate flag and began to look at removing Confederate monuments. (Roof was sentenced to death for his crimes, and while he waits, is serving nine consecutive life sentences.)

The steeple of Emanuel African Methodist Church%2C Charleston%2C SC.
The steeple of Emanuel African Methodist Church%2C Charleston%2C SC.
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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

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Marta Steele

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Joan, a great portrayal of a great person who's comprehensive grasp of the arts and politics is most apparent in the important information you shared in this article. Great job!

Submitted on Monday, Jan 20, 2020 at 3:18:02 AM

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Meryl Ann was definitely crucial for helping me to understand what's going on in her backyard. I'm grateful for that.


Thanks, Marta.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 20, 2020 at 5:27:56 AM

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Thanks, Marta ;-)

Submitted on Monday, Jan 20, 2020 at 4:14:36 PM

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PS- OneVirginia2021, the organization that is trying to undo the longstanding GOP gerrymandering fiasco in Virginia, cancelled their redistricting reform Lobby Day tomorrow, Jan 21, due to the state of emergency declared by the Governor for both today and Tuesday. So, Hampton Roads Lobby Day is postponed to Feb. 18. My OpEdNews series on gerrymandering and OneVirginia2021 is here.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 20, 2020 at 4:27:14 PM

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Well, it's Monday evening and thousands of armed protesters peacefully rallied against Gov. Northam and his totalitarian Democrats in the legislature with no violence. Seems like the governor and his media apologists used the gathering to smear and defame patriotic citizens with the left's own form of hate speech.

The rally was part of Lobby Day, which the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) has sponsored every year since 2003. The group has been coming to the state Capitol every January since 2003 without incident. You ignore the 16-year history of peaceful assembly and instead try to connect it to the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. You assume the public will have swallowed the media narrative that conservative protesters precipitated the trouble there. The truth is that the police deliberately created a confrontation between the people protesting the removal of the statue (who had a legitimate permit to gather) and Antifa hoodlums bussed in to counter protest and then used the inevitable fights to cancel the rally.

Northam seems to be using the same m.o. in Richmond.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020 at 3:06:58 AM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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The thousands of armed protesters who rallied so-called, "peacefully," are the same ones who made threats serious enough for the governor to call a state of emergency and for the event coordinators to cancel the annual event.

When free ammo is promised to these counter protesters, what do you expect the governor to do to protect the community?

Lack of physical violence does not constitute "peaceful." Were they "peaceful" because, since the traditional rally was cancelled, there simply was no one there for them to shoot?

The threat of violence is, itself, a form of violence.

In any event, they interfered with other Americans' right to free speech by their threats before the event. The people with the guns - as the VCPS stated - absolutely promoted the message that "the people with the guns make the rules."

Because of their actions and threats of violence, the right to peaceful protest was denied to a large group of Americans, and that does not constitute "peaceful."

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020 at 11:27:40 AM

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Years ago when I lived in VA, I traveled many times on the old roads to Richmond that were north and south of I-64. Many of the houses along those roads had confederate flags flying. I remember attending photography meetings and hearing jokes about black people. In 1998 I moved to New Mexico for a photography job. What I find interesting is I have yet to hear black jokes or Indian jokes and with all my travels here I find the people to be very friendly. My sister came to visit me one time and I had a football game to photograph and she came with me. It was at a homecoming football game in a small town south of Albuquerque named Belen and my sister listened to and watched the crowd. What she found amazing was how very well everybody got along and had fun! In the crown, there were white, black, Mexican and Indians all enjoying the fun together! When I lived in Va. and photographed school games black and white people usually stayed separate. By the way, I love the people here in NM, yes, we have problems too but over all we do not seem to have the racial hate Virginia has.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020 at 6:02:11 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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I lived in NM for a couple of years, and it was lovely. Ijust saw a map of all US states listing how many hate groups were in each state, NM was the only state with zero!

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020 at 2:42:01 AM

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Yes, people here in New Mexico have more important things to do other than make hate groups!

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 at 1:42:39 AM

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Please give us a break. Antifa has been using the threat of violence to shut down Consecutive gatherings on campuses and public venues everywhere.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020 at 6:24:59 PM

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