Political correctness, or a slick PR move?

Political correctness has now hit close to home.

Virginia Circuit Court Judge Martin Clark, who presides over cases in Stuart, Virginia, has removed the portrait of J.E.B. Stuart from the Patrick County Courthouse.

Stuart, of course, is the man for whom the town is named. He grew up close to Mount Airy, just across the Virginia border in Laurel Hill, near Ararat, Virginia, and spent much of his life famously pining for his old home grounds in Patrick County.

We wonder next if Clark will call upon town leaders to change the name of the town, perhaps ask county leaders to take over Laurel Hill, expunge any record of Stuart’s existence — all in some misguided attempt to undo the nation’s early history, or at least pretend it never happened.

History is history — it’s there, and it should be open for all to see. Our collective history, the good and the bad, is what made us what we are today as a society and, closer to home, as a community. Erasing the parts that you don’t like makes for a nice little 15-minute period of fame for the one wielding the eraser, but it really doesn’t change anything. On the contrary, these sorts of actions make it even more difficult to have honest, open discussions about how that history has affected us and how we, as a society, can avoid repeating the worst parts of our past.

Clark, for his part, gives some bureaucratic-eese about the fact that a courthouse has to be a neutral location, how the portrait of a man who’s been dead more than 150 years hanging in a courthouse can undermine that sense of neutrality, so he must do the right and courageous thing even if it’s unpopular with the local populous.

Just in a nutshell then, it seems that Clark, who has either practiced law or sat on the bench in that courthouse for the better part of 30 years, suddenly decides Stuart’s portrait makes the courthouse a non-neutral place for holding trials? That judges serving there for decades prior to Clark weren’t enlightened enough to make the Patrick County Courthouse an impartial venue for trials?

Then again, perhaps a publicist somewhere told Clark, who is also a best-selling novelist, that he would garner a few headlines and sell more copies of his novels by pulling off this stunt.

Either way, it’s a sad day in the history of Patrick County.

Primary move?

North Carolina lawmakers are considering moving all of its primaries for statewide elected offices to March. Legislators already moved its presidential primary to March in hopes that it would still be relevant by the time the primary roles around, while keeping its gubernatorial and other statewide primaries in May.

This makes little sense given the millions of dollars of costs — some of it state money, some of it local money — to operate a second primary. Moving all of the primaries to March would save taxpayers money, and would likely increase participation in the non-presidential races.

This makes it seem like a no-brainer. We hope legislators agree and make the move.

Gov. Figurehead?

A recent statement issued by Gov. Pat McCrory is telling. He was commenting on the fact that the state’s budget is still not finished — more than two months past the July 1 deadline amid bickering between the Senate and House — when he said this regarding his part in the process: “My job is to get them to try to come to a conclusion, and try to influence the process as much as possible.”

Traditionally the governor has had his (or her) version of a budget, while the General Assembly has had its version, and the two sides slug it out, eventually reaching a compromise that becomes the final spending bill. Now, it’s the House and the Senate fighting over spending, and the governor is trying to “influence the process as much as possible.”

Could it be that even McCrory realizes what the rest of the state has known for a long time — that the General Assembly has made him a largely irrelevant figurehead when it comes to governing North Carolina?

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