I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington School Board, and I want to set the record straight about a matter that is important to all Virginia residents.
Several weeks a go my campaign issued a press release deploring the June 7, 2018 decision by the Board to strike Robert E. Lee’s name from Washington-Lee (W-L) High School.
To his credit Scott McCaffrey, editor of the Arlington Sun Gazette, accurately reported that I was angered at the hypocrisy of striking the name of Robert E. Lee, who defended slavery, but not that of George Washington, who profited by it.
From this and my acknowledgement that Lee’s position on slavery was wrong, McCaffrey erroneously concluded that I was good with striking Lee’s name from W-L High School, as long as Washington’s name were stricken also.
In fact I don’t want to strike either “Washington” or “Lee” from the name of W-L High School. I want to strike a blow at the institutional hypocrisy embodied in the School Board’s decision to rename the school.
First. if it were sufficient to blot from history the name of any prominent man who displayed racist tendencies, then it would be necessary to strike from history the name of any prominent man who displayed sexist tendencies. In that case Western European and American history would be devoid of great names, since the vast majority of them subjected women.
Second. While a few honest thinkers acknowledge that both Washington and Lee were morally wrong on the question of slavery, these commentators argue that Lee’s name should be suppressed but not Washington’s, because Lee used his military prowess to combat his nation, whereas Washington used his military prowess to found the nation. This is the School Board’s position.
The School Board is misguided, because Washington prosecuted a war on behalf of a number of slave owners including himself, who wrote slavery into the Constitution. Thus the moral authority of the Founding Fathers is at least as suspect as Lee’s.
Now of course the defect in the U.S. Constitution was corrected by the Civil War, and the extent of the carnage on both sides is a broad gauge measure of the evil wrought by legitimatizing slavery in the first place.
But in 1861 Lee only knew that he had been asked to take up arms against a Confederacy that aimed to preserve a lawful institution. Lee was faced with an impossible choice. Defend the United States or defend his beloved Virginia.
Robert E. Lee was the principal victim of a national tragedy foisted upon him by his Virginia ancestors–including but not limited to George Washington.
Under these circumstances, striking Lee but not Washington from W-L High School’s name simply perpetuates the tragedy of a great military leader so highly esteemed by his men that they willingly fought with him to the bitter end.
If you are tired of the School Board’s hypocrisy in this and other matters and/or the doublespeak of elected officials in general–then support my run for Arlington School Board.
I’m a 14-year Westover resident and civic activist–with a Ph.D. in Political Science and service as a Congressional Fellow. I also serve on the Arlington Transportation Commission.
If elected, I pledge to:
- Promote a school construction program that increases classroom capacity on time and on budget
- Reduce the need for trailers with an accelerated building program that brings the cost of new classroom capacity in line with the rest of the Commonwealth
- Cut the fat out of the School Board’s top heavy administration and use the savings to fund needed services
- Close the achievement gap
- Mainstream special education programs
- Implement more efficient school transit alternatives
- Install renewable energy in all public schools
- Provide a voice–minus the doublespeak–on Arlington School Board for all taxpayers
If you share my agenda, then:
- Spread the word about my candidacy
- Donate to my campaign
If you’re interested in helping out, just shoot me an email or call or text. If you want to find out more about my campaign, visit my website.
Together we can make Arlington Public Schools provide all students with an honest education.