Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Hate reared its ugly head again last week, with the distribution of racist and white supremacist flyers in Springfield and Sully District neighborhoods. The attacks were focused against members of the Fairfax County School Board, and signed “Loyal White Knights.” Below contact information (a 24/7 hotline, website, and phone numbers) were the words “100% Americanism – Pray for White Americans.”

It’s hard for most of us to imagine how we might react finding a horrific flyer like that at the end of our driveway. Shock and revulsion, at the very least, but fear, too, as such flyers are designed to instill anxiety and dread. A second reaction might be to wad it up and toss it in the trash (recycling might mean someone else would see it first). A third reaction is denouncing, wherever and whenever we can, the hateful and racist views expressed. The anti-School Board hate flyers highlighted just about everyone in our community, and curiously perhaps, cited only the King James version of the Bible. Every religion has its holy book or holy tenets, and for most, it’s not based on the version endorsed by an English king in 1611.

There is no place for hate and bigotry in our community, our county, or our country. The Loyal White Knights, the Ku Klux Klan, and such white supremacist groups grab attention by their outrageous and violent behaviors, but silence only invigorates such groups.

We must call them out, work to repair the rot they thrive on, and ensure that our human values of diversity, equity and inclusion are preserved and practiced. A resident e-mailed me recently and said, “I don’t want my county, my state, or my country to be known as a haven of hate.” Amen to that!

The Washington metropolitan region lost a good friend and environmental superstar last week, when Stuart Freudberg passed away after a long battle with cancer. Stuart spent almost his entire 40-year career at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), specializing in water systems, including the Chesapeake Bay. As director of environmental programs, and later as deputy director of COG, Stuart was known for his collaborative spirit, political and policy skills, and his dedication to COG and the region. In all the years I worked with Stuart, I never knew him to raise his voice or display any temper. He advanced the environmental programs of the region through quiet diplomacy and an elegance of thought and the spoken and written word.

Stuart helped create COG’s Chesapeake Bay Policy Committee, for which I served as founding member and first chairman, and was instrumental in developing the region’s drought plan. Later, as deputy director, Stuart expanded his oversight to the public safety and homeland security aspects of the COG region.

A favorite recollection was our joint service on then-Governor Tim Kaine’s Climate Change Commission in 2008. Commission meetings were held on university campuses across the Commonwealth, and on some of those long drives, we tried to devise solutions to regional challenges.

It made the miles melt away and established a long friendship. When Stuart retired in February 2020, COG hosted a huge retirement party, which included a special guest telephone appearance by Stuart’s mother, who stole the show! Stuart’s retirement commenced just before the pandemic hit, so we never got to schedule a “catch-up” lunch. Stuart is survived by his wife, Lynn Gutter, his sons and his grandchildren, for whom knowing their Grandad was way too short.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.