Those Attending Rally for Corey Stewart Do Not Represent All Roanoke Republicans

On a morning when my wife and I are juggling Sudafed and tissues as we battle horrible head colds, a rally held by gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart this weekend in Roanoke compelled me to speak up.

From the Roanoke Times

With close to two dozen supporters, Republican gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart staged a rally in Roanoke Saturday to preserve Virginia’s Confederate statues and battle flags.

Protecting Virginia’s heritage, and keeping Confederate statues in place is the top issue in the governor’s race, said Stewart, whose single-digit poll numbers show him trailing in a primary race that includes two other GOP candidates.

At Awful Arthur’s downtown, Stewart vowed as governor to defund any Virginia localities that would remove Confederate statues.

Stewart, chairman of Prince William County’s board of supervisors, was co-chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Virginia until he was fired a month before Election Day.

He has turned a fight over a the controversy involving the future of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville into his top campaign issue.

“If someone’s not strong enough to stand up for Virginia’s heritage, then how can you ever expect that they’re going to stand up for you on other issues, including the economy, tax cuts, any of that stuff,” he said.

For about an hour in Roanoke, Stewart chatted with supporters, many of whom wore camouflage or Confederate flag symbols.

Prior to Stewart’s arrival, a small group of attendees vocally demanded a channel change on two of the televisions in the restaurant and sports bar. The TVs were tuned to a comedy program showing a man wearing tight, revealing, American flag-patterned underwear and nothing else.

A waitress quickly changed the channels to ESPN, but not before a woman shouted, “and they find my flag offensive” alluding to the Confederate battle flag, one of which was delicately folded nearby.

The Roanoke Times was charitable in their coverage. However, in the local news this morning, the Corey Stewart rally looked like a Confederate soldiers rally, waving the Confederate flag around like Jefferson Davis himself had graced Roanoke with a visit.

I do not think the Robert E. Lee statue needs to be removed in Charlottesville nor do I want the Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond to come down. It’s fine to have memorials to let us learn from history.

However, Corey Stewart should be ashamed of himself. 

Any candidate who can stand with a Confederate flag, a symbol of hatred and racism to many, does not deserve the Governor’s Mansion especially in Virginia, the Mother of Presidents. This is the place where men bled and died in Yorktown to free us from the British, where we know that Mr. Jefferson did not stutter when he proclaimed that “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Where the Lovings fought for the freedom to marry, and Barbara Johns fought for civil rights. Any person who can stand and send out the dog whistle gestures of racism does not deserve to run in Virginia, much less run as a Republican.

As a Roanoke resident, and as chairman of the Roanoke Valley Young Republicans and a member of the Roanoke City Republican Committee, I know that all of us do not agree with Corey Stewart. He does not speak for us. We do not believe in his crusade to send Virginia back into the 1860s. Roanoke is a city of brotherhood, a city of love, a city where brothers and sisters of all nations can come together and live in peace. We are a city where we can depend on others and where we follow the words of Dr. Martin Luther King when he said that he judged men “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

It is my hope that people will not judge all by the actions of such a narrow-minded few.

You may also be interested in Corey Stewart’s Perpetual Anger Machine.

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