The ridiculous Arlington tax decal that I noted a couple of weeks ago has started garnering some attention. I thought I’d reprint a comment by reader Kathy, left here last week. It got buried pretty quickly, so I wanted to give it the attention it deserved and reprint (with slight editing):
I just found out about this from the Sun Gazette, which carried a letter to the editor objecting to the sticker. This was the first I heard of the quote. I did indeed see the sticker candidates in the paper when the contest was announced, and indeed, I didn’t notice the quote if it was even legible in the printed newspaper at that time. None of the designs grabbed me and I didn’t bother to vote. Believe me, had I realized the content of this sticker design I would have been on the horn to the county right there and then.
Thee is no excuse for something like this even making it into the selected designs to be submitted for vote.
What is Mr. O’Leary thinking, to send out a quote touting obedience and “manliness” from a Confederate culture hero to Arlington’s many black citizens, let alone the entire half of the population, all races, that is female? I do not blame the student who designed the sticker; mature judgment is not necessarily to be expected from young people, but from our elected officials it is.
I would also point out that obedience is not particularly an American value. In fact, elevating obedience to high in the canon of virtues is distinctly un-American.
Had George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason and other heroes of the American revolution taken the above view on obedience, Arlington would still be part of an obedient colony to Great Britian, I daresay.
Had heroes like Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Roas Parks and the ev. Dr. Martin Luther King viewed obedience as a supreme value, black and female citizens would still be non-citizens in effect.
And I would mention, as did the author of the letter to the editor in the Sun Gazette, that Robert E. Lee himself broke his oath to obey duly constituted authority when he chose to go with the rebel cause.
Finally, while I have sympathy and compassion for the man and for many others who fought on that side, for my government to endorse Robert E. Lee as an authority on character is deeply offensive to someone whose ancestors also fought gallantly — to preserve the Union of which we are citizens today.
Offering gracious permission for us to remove these words is no compensation for our having parently paid our public servants out of our tax dollars to choose, print and distribute this offensive rubbish to every automobile owner in the county, bearing the county imprimatur. I am sure Mr. O’Leary is thinking of money, no doubt already spent. This is no time to throw good money after bad. There are times when officials make mistakes and need to admit it and need to do whatever is necessary to set the matter right. This is one of those times.
Mr. O’Leary’s office is an elected one, by the way. He has held it for so many years, usually running unopposed, that it may seem secure, but that could change.
It’s my understanding that O’Leary has already announced that this is last term, and I have to admit to wondering – when I first heard of this – if this was O’Leary’s way of thumbing his nose at Arlington on his way out. No matter what petty politics may or may not have played a role, I think Kathy persuasively states a much larger case against the decal.