In an act of stunning hypocrisy, a University of Virginia sociologist is decrying “cultural destruction” in the Middle East, while ignoring similar obliteration here in central Virginia.

In a recent story published by the University, Professor Fiona Greenland laments the “tragic disturbance of history and local culture” committed by ISIS during the ongoing Syrian civil war, calling it “cultural destruction.”

Absent from Greenland’s jeremiad is any reference to full-swing cultural destruction taking place in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and at her own University of Virginia.

A partial list, to wit:

  • In March 2015, Charlottesville City Council voted to discontinue the observance of Lee Jackson Day
  • In February 2017, Charlottesville City Council (illegally) voted to remove the Robert E. Lee monument.
  • In June 2017, Charlottesville City Council voted to rename Lee Park
  • In June 2017, Charlottesville City Council voted to rename Jackson Park
  • In August 2017, Charlottesville illegally covered publicly owned war monuments honoring Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
  • In September 2017, UVa secretly removed from the Rotunda historic plaques, which featured the names of Confederate soldiers.
  • In September 2017, Charlottesville City Council (illegally) voted to remove the Stonewall Jackson monument
  • In July 2018, Charlottesville City Council voted to rename the already renamed Lee Park
  • In July 2018, Charlottesville City Council voted to rename the already renamed Jackson Park
  • In October 2018, a petition was launched to coerce the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to remove the “Johnny Reb” statue from the Albemarle County Courthouse
  • In November 2018, the Charlottesville School Board banned Confederate imagery from all Charlottesville City Schools
  • In February 2019, Albemarle County Government Schools Superintendent, Matt Haas unilaterally banned Confederate imagery from Albemarle County schools
  • In June 2019, Albemarle County voted to end the holiday observed in honor of Thomas Jefferson
  • In July 2019, Charlottesville City Council voted to end the holiday observed in honor of Thomas Jefferson
  • September 2019, Charlottesville City government and law enforcement ignore hammer and chisel damage to Lee and Jackson monuments
  • In October 2019, Albemarle County School Board voted to rename Paul H. Cale Elementary School
  • In November 2019, Charlottesville City Council voted to remove the downtown Lewis and Clark statue
  • In November 2019, the University of Virginia sought public input on the renaming of the Curry School of Education and the associated Ruffner Hall
  • In November 2019, local United Way affiliate renamed itself from United Way Thomas Jefferson Area to United Way of Greater Charlottesville
  • In December 2019, Charlottesville City Council, led by then-Councilor, Wes Bellamy, voted to rename Preston Avenue to Preston Avenue
  • In February 2020, the Slave Auction Block marker in Downtown Charlottesville was stolen and reportedly disposed of in the James River

Professor Greenland notes that ISIS, through their attempts to “obliterate history,” also has fomented cultural violence. Additionally, she references the Syrian government’s “official” opposition to the destruction of cultural sites—a position that differs from practice.

Greenland’s study ironically is entitled: Investigating the Relationship Between Monument Destruction and Civilian Victimization.

Conceptual parallels in Charlottesville are not difficult to ascertain.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Golly, when shameful acts are no longer celebrated and a few monuments to them are removed or slightly damaged it’s on the same level with potentially millions of cultural artifacts being looted and unlocatable, probably lost to the public forever.

    It is also “stunning hypocrisy” for a professor to lament this widespread looting while not mentioning one solitary similar act at home which there is every reason to assume she deplores as well.

    Actually, stunning hypocrisy is when you rage about the other side’s faults or perceived faults every day but very rarely and then only in passing mention your own side’s.

  2. The most shameful part of all this is that there is no attempt to explain the motives along with the culture of the times that events happens. It’s deplorable to consider fighting for one’s own home and lifestyle as “shameful”. Robert E Lee did not start the civil war and neither did Stonewall Jackson. During that era the state had the loyalty of most citizens. Once elected officials determined a path, citizens had a choice. Either join the fight to protect their homeland or take the cowardly approach of abandoning their property and livelihood while others fought for them to keep it. People should direct their anger towards the gentrified land and slave owners along with the politicians seeking their support. How many of those that support wiping the confederacy from history are aware of the federal inport/export tariffs that was going to be mostly directed at the south? They were trying to drive the agricultural economy of the south into bankruptcy. Using policies that target a specific demographic in a Republic nation like ours is a surefire way to splinter the nation.

    It’s not unusual for the predominantly industrial part of a nation to dominate the agri portion. Look at the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Czech has the industrial might whereas Slovakia is more agricultural. Nations in that area are also tugged apart by historical loyalty to the western or eastern nations, which for the most part means Germany and Russia. Croatia of the former Yugoslavia were German sympathizers in WWII while Serbia was Russa. I submit that to some degree we are seeing the same forces in play here albeit with different motivations. Charlottesville will now be free to move the statues. We can only hope they will be relocated to a proper place wholly intact and unharmed.

  3. Al, if you’d just limited yourself to defending the common soldier, you’d have a debatable point, although the vast majority of those men no doubt had no quarrel with slavery. But to try to absolve Jackson and Lee because they didn’t start the war is ridiculous. Leaders deserve honor for good leadership, not bad. Both men were United States officers, but chose to serve the Confederacy.

    What you and I would have done in their places we can”t know. But the fact remains that they made bad moral choices. If cowardice enters into the picture, it enters here, from the fact that men “to whom much is given” lacked the requisite moral courage when “much [was] required.”

    That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have highly admirable qualities, but to honor them for serving the Confederacy is to honor them for the bad they did, not the good.

    Nor do the North’s unclean hands excuse the South’s. Nor is everyone who wants the statues down angry. Nor, as a matter of basic logic, and no matter how many times you tell yourself that A is B, is refusing to honor dishonorable history the same as erasing it.

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