A Republican state legislator in Virginia got a wakeup call last week when, on Friday, the Democratic majority on the House Rules Committee flatly rejected his request to cancel a bill that he had filed to demand the removal of a statue of Democrat Harry Byrd, who served as both a U.S. Senator and a governor of the state and was a segregationist who fought against racial integration in schools.
The Republican legislator, Wendell Walker, says that he originally introduced the bill demanding his statue’s removal out of political animosity after state Democrats planned the removal of monuments of racist Confederate leaders. The thing is — Democrats actually liked the idea of removing a statue of Byrd while taking care of monuments to figures like Robert E. Lee as well. Now, after he’s apparently cowered at his accidental stumble into an area on which there could be bipartisan work, Walker says that he actually thinks it’s supposedly important to keep statues of racists like Byrd up. At least he’s not pretending otherwise anymore!
Walker admitted, discussing his bill:
‘The reason I put that in was more of a political reason… I think history is very important, whether it’s good, bad or ugly. I was not willing to allow the governor to have the opportunity to remove statues.’
Originally, after — as the Lynchburg-area paper The News & Advance explained — the state’s Governor Ralph Northam had “made remarks about his support for allowing local governments to remove Confederate monuments as well as creating a commission to recommend a replacement of the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that Virginia contributed to the U.S. Capitol ground,” Walker insisted:
‘If we’re going to do this, then I’m going to request to remove the Harry Byrd statue. He was a Democrat and advocated for Massive Resistance.’
But now, he’s stuck with the bill that he filed in place. State House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D) has requested that Walker speak before the House Rules Committee about his request to withdraw the bill, which he apparently did not expect would attract support from Democrats.
‘I thought he was serious and had a reason for taking the statue down, and so he put in a bill in good faith.’
Statues have been looming large in the U.S. political scene for quite some time at this point. The on paper reason for the massive gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, that culminated in the murder of a counterprotester was to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
President Donald Trump himself has spoken out in support of those demonstrators and others pushing for the preservation of racist statues.
In August of 2017, he rambled on Twitter:
‘Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments… the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!’
America likely will be just fine without a few extra statues of racists lying around!