Local Commentary

Don’t Go National to Dump on F.C.

In a marked departure from the norm for us, the News-Press is providing space in its editorial this week to reprint in full an impassioned letter to us from the long-serving F.C. City Councilmember David Snyder. He expresses in it a sentiment shared by, we are confident, a wide majority of citizens here who take pride in their community, even with its shortcomings, and do not take lightly to someone who shines a critical national spotlight here.

Snyder’s comments are powerful and a solid reminder to all the many volunteer citizens who serve here that no one should take lightly those who cavalierly swipe at public service values they hold dear, such as service on the local school board, especially when they grab a national spotlight to do so. Snyder’s statement reads as follows:

“Just last week, an objective national community ranking put the City of Falls Church third among all 500 jurisdictions for our quality of life and good government. That reflects the hard, dedicated and longtime work of all of our citizens, local newspaper and government to create and maintain a uniquely good place to be.

“All voices need to be listened to, and I am committed to that. On the other hand, I must challenge negative, unfair and inaccurate stereotypes of our community and our citizens, from any and all sides who adopt the ‘if it ain’t broken, break it’ approach to Falls Church.

“We have long wrestled and will continue to wrestle with many critical issues such as how to provide highest quality education, how best to understand all aspects of our history — good and bad — and how to assure policing that protects everyone. And the latest conversations and developments are no exception, whether or not I agree with every action.

“Even as we as a community continue to address these difficult issues, one thing is clear: based upon not only my opinion but objective national rankings, Falls Church is emphatically not broken.

“And, while I commit to doing everything I can to listen to everyone and to engage constructively in all of the issues, I must be clear that I will defend all of our people and government from being unfairly characterized, or worse yet broken, by the kind of extreme political polarization that characterizes too much of the national debate.”

Republican loyalists who do not want to have to kiss Trump’s derriere are moving the debate away from that whole mess to grab more locally-based issues to try winning hearts and minds. Unfortunately, they can move quickly into variants on old time-worn issues with distinctively racist overtones, like the sudden assertion that schools are trying to force “critical race theory” down students’ throats.

That phrase, which is now the preferred slogan du jure of Fox News and other rightwing media assets, is for all intents and purposes a fiction, a reference to an antiquated academic category. But it can work to fear-mongering ends.