While running for governor of Virginia, Ed Gillespie has made a point of defending monuments to white supremacy, even as his state grapples with the aftermath of a deadly neo-Nazi riot. And now he's trying to raise money off that offensive stance.
Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is running for governor of Virginia. But he has made it clear that he doesn’t consider the lives and concerns of all Virginians to be worthy of equal respect.
And he’s trying to fundraise off that callous stance.
Gillespie has aligned himself and his campaign with Donald Trump, saying that he would be “happy to have all the help I can get” on the campaign trail, and trying — in painfully obvious fashion — to appeal to both the more mainstream Virginia GOP voters as well as Trump’s far right base.
In the early days of his campaign, Gillespie rarely even mentioned Trump’s name. But after he only barely made it through the June primary, suddenly he was happy to name-drop Trump whenever he could, if it meant winning votes from the fringe of the party.
And nowhere has Gillespie more eagerly followed in Trump’s footsteps than in response to the violent white supremacist riot which occurred in Gillespie’s own state earlier in August.
Echoing Trump’s own words, during a radio interview, Gillespie blamed “both sides” for the destruction, injury, and death caused by the torch-wielding mob of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, something he reiterated on Facebook, while offering lip service to the fact that there is no “moral equivalency” between Nazis and those who oppose them.
Gillespie’s half-hearted denunciation of white supremacy as a movement and its adherents might carry more weight if they did not come alongside his defense of monuments to that hateful ideology.
As Mother Jones’ Noah Lanard put it, Gillespie “is a big fan of keeping Confederate monuments.”
Gillespie has waffled on his stance on monuments only in the sense of where the decision-making power to remove them ought to lie. At one time, he said it ought to remain a local issue. But he later stated that any Charlottesville city councillors who voted to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee ought to be voted out of office.
And if his campaign emails are any indication, not only does he stand behind that support for paying homage to white supremacy; he wants the voters to pay him for it, too.
The email may only ask for signatures on a petition, but of course, once the “sign” button is clicked, the site redirects to a donation page.
Not only is Gillespie wholly unconcerned with how his support for monuments to a racist and violent ideology might make Virginia residents who are targeted by those who perpetuate such bigotry — he is boasting about it in an effort to fatten his campaign coffers.
Gillespie claims in his email that putting these monuments “in a historical context will help us teach history” as opposed to erasing it.
But what version of history is being taught when men who supported the ownership and brutal subjugation of other human beings are cast in heroic-looking statues in town squares, parks, and other public places — places where the descendants of those slave-owners’ victims have to pass by as they go about their lives?
How should Black Virginians feel when Gillespie wants to protect monuments to racism? How should Jewish Virginians feel when Gillespie wags his finger at not just neo-Nazis screaming anti-Semitic chants and carrying swastika flags, but also at those who tried to drown out their hatred?
If Gillespie wants to preserve “historical context,” there are plenty of far more appropriate monuments he could support, ones that truly honor bravery and patriotism, rather than bigotry and violence.