“Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.”
– (Confederate) General Robert E. Lee
Is this a joke? If it isn’t, Arlington County apparently expects me to prominently display a sticker on my car featuring that quote. Serving as the background to this quote is a waving American flag, with the Pentagon superimposed. Are you )(*&@#ing kidding me?
Now, a bit of background for the 99.5% of my readers not living in Arlington. Arlington County residents pay a property tax on their cars every year, and a decal is issued as evidence of payment of this tax. These decals are placed in the center of the windshield of the car. The Arlington County Treasurer, some number of years ago, decided to hold a competition for the yearly design change. Local high school students submit proposed designs, and then (I believe) Arlington residents who bother to send in a ballot from the Arlington Sun-Gazette or go to the Treasurer’s website vote on it. Some years this yields a rather ugly result, other years it’s fine. This is the current sticker, featuring the new Air Force Memorial. Nice enough.
I find this new design unbelievable on a number of levels, including the fact that it actually garnered the most votes from Arlington residents. I’m going to choose to believe that those voting for it simply couldn’t read the quote, and just liked the American flag and Pentagon (which is located in Arlington). That’s ugly, but fine. But what in the world made Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary think that a design featuring a Confederate general’s quote about submitting to authority with the flag and Pentagon in the background is appropriate for Arlington? Sure, the final designs were voted on by Arlington residents, but the pool of finalists was selected by his office in the first place.
as soon as I can find a graphic of the decal, I’ll post it here. Until then, the first link to the Sun Gazette story is the best place to find a picture. Also, while I find this an unacceptably inappropriate design for a public application, I don’t mean to criticize, in any way, the student that came up with it.
Update: I just got off the phone with Mr. O’Leary (you can’t fault Arlington government for being inaccessible). The short version: There are no plans for an alternative design, but Arlington residents are free to cut out the picture/quote from the center of the sticker. So long as the number is displayed, he views it as a valid sticker and isn’t aware of any ordinance to the contrary. Is that enough? Or should Arlington be reconsidering whether this is what we want to pay to have manufactured and displayed on every car in the county? We’ll see.
Update II: This is the sticker (thank you to MJ) –