Letters to the Editor: December 10 – 16, 2020
Removing Founders’ Names Should’ve Been Done Earlier
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Under the Constitution was a Bill of Rights that protected all citizens of the new nation, but not all people enjoyed the benefits and privileges of that document.
In particular enslaved blacks were specifically excluded from those rights and privileges.
The drafters of the Constitution did not consider enslaved blacks to be equal humans. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 memorialized the thinking of the framers by instituting the Connecticut Compromise, which counted three-fifths of a slaveholding state’s slave population toward its total population. This relegated enslaved blacks to being no more than three-fifths a person.
The framers also structured a Slave Trade Compromise that forbade Congress from banning the slave trade for 20 years. For the North, this meant the slave trade hypothetically could be banned in the future, while the South was given a 20-year grace period to continue the trade.
George Mason was a prominent framer of the Constitution and member of the Virginia gentry. He was a proponent of slavery and prospered from the enforced servitude of enslave blacks.
Thomas Jefferson is a Founding Father of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
He was also the owner of over 600 enslaved blacks.
He, like Mason, benefited from the Compromises that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 initiated and implemented.
Both men were southerners and supported the positions of the slave-owning southern states.
To honor them for their deeds in establishing this country may seem okay to some, but I believe that we need to look at all of their deeds to determine if they need to be honored by our community.
Their place in history certainly cannot be changed, but how they are honored is up to us in the present.
We are not rewriting history by removing their names from our schools, but we are acknowledging that some of what they stood for is not okay with us now.
To take any other position is akin to complacency or worse yet, agreement with their thinking.
Our neighboring jurisdictions have already made these changes — we should have been first.
Too Risky To Rename Schools After People Now
Thank you for your comprehensive coverage of the school renaming debate.
In response to the survey commissioned by the School Board — which showed that a sizeable majority of our community opposed changing the names — several individuals have stated, quite fairly, that the opinions of historically marginalized individuals should receive significant weight.
The Board’s survey, however, didn’t break out responses from such individuals, and so it appears that there has been no serious effort to find out what they think.
I am troubled by the fact that a decision is being made based on assumptions, rather than facts, about the opinions of such individuals.
Assuming that the Board proceeds with the renaming as announced, I suggest that the Board not name the schools after anyone, and instead opt for a name like “Falls Church City High School.”
By my reckoning, we’re about a decade away from canceling Martin Luther King, Jr., for #MeToo and anti-LGBT problems, and other historical icons are sure to follow.
Honoring a human being is simply too risky.
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