Youngkin appoints Confederate statues advocate to Virginia Historic Resources Board

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RICHMOND — Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has appointed a historian to the State Board of Historic Resources who has defended the state’s Confederate monuments and condemned their destruction as a “dangerous” rewrite of history.

Ann Hunter McLean of Richmond, the former principal of a Christian school, told an online publication that she believed Virginia’s heritage was ‘under attack’ as she began serving on the board, which oversees state historic site designations.

Last year, as the last remnants of Richmond’s Confederate monuments were torn down following social justice protests, McLean lamented the loss.

Robert E. Lee statue removed in Richmond after months of protest and legal resistance

“This whole tragedy is that these statues were built to tell the true story of the American South to people 500 years from now,” McLean told a Richmond radio host on Dec. 23, 2021, after state archivists opened a time capsule found under the site where the statue of General Robert E. Lee once stood on Monument Avenue. “People want to destroy the evidence of this story,” she continued, saying the civil war was fought for the “sovereignty of every state and constitutional law.”

Then-Governor. Ralph Northam (R) had taken down the statue of Lee as a racist symbol erected in honor of a war waged to preserve slavery. McLean said Northam’s actions amounted to “lawlessness”.

Last year, Youngkin recognized Northam’s authority to remove the statue under a Virginia Supreme Court ruling.

Virginia Supreme Court paves way for Lee statue to fall

Macaulay Porter, Youngkin’s spokesman, said via text Friday that “The Governor supports the preservation of Virginia’s history and believes that the referenced statues should be kept in a museum or other facility.”

McLean did not respond to an email and phone message Friday seeking comment. She was quoted in the online publication Virginia Star as saying in an interview that she was unsure whether her role on the council would involve decisions about monuments.

“But I don’t want to destroy people’s fine arts. I think there’s something cosmically wrong with doing that under any circumstances,” she said, adding that she was particularly interested in overseeing language over state historical markers.

Approval and review of these markers is one of the primary functions of the Historic Resources Board, which consists of seven Governor-appointed individuals. The board meets in conjunction with the State Review Board four times a year to review nominations to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. It also holds easements on state historic sites.

Of the. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), the leader of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said McLean’s nomination showed “Youngkin’s callous attitude toward black history in Virginia and the lingering effects of institutional racism.” Via text message, Bagby said Youngkin seemed determined to “erase our voices, our images and our pain without flinching. He must believe that no one is paying attention to his dates or he’s just so cheeky thumbing his nose at us repeatedly.

Virginia took dramatic steps over the past few years to address his troubled racial heritage. The former Confederate capital had more Confederate memorials than any other state, but began dismantling many after the racial justice movement sparked in 2020 by the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd.

The city of Richmond has taken down all but one of its Confederate statues – a monument to General AP Hill that stands at a crossroads atop the soldier’s grave. City officials are negotiating to move the remains and bring down the statue later this year.

Many longtime monument advocates, including Confederate heritage groups such as the Virginia Flaggers, admitted that public sentiment called for removal, but argued that the statues should be moved to places such as museums and battlefield.

Protesters transformed the Robert E. Lee Memorial in Richmond. Now they mourn the loss of their most powerful resistance icon.

The huge statue of Lee, adorned with protest graffiti, became an international symbol of protest until Northam had it taken down last year. In December, when the first of two Lee time capsules were dug up and opened, McLean spoke to host John Reid on WRVA radio in Richmond to lament the whole process.

After Reid complained that the movement to take down the statues was driven by “vehement hatred” towards people who lived 50 to 100 years ago, McLean said she agreed “completely – instantly”.

McLean then appeared to suggest that state officials had a nefarious plan to use a possible photograph of President Abraham Lincoln in his coffin which was rumored to have been placed in Lee’s time capsule, but which did not been found.

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“The dead Lincoln photograph seems to be the thing that they’re extremely interested in doing and getting,” she said, “and I’m very worried when they get it, what do they You know, central planning is so much a part of that, and it’s almost like there’s a brief and a plan that they come out every two or three days or two or three weeks… And we see it with the mandates for the [coronavirus] vaccines, but we also see it with history and what they do to our culture.

In the introduction to his 1998 doctoral dissertation, McLean wrote that Confederate statues erected from the late 1800s through the 1920s “were created primarily as vehicles of moral uplift in a time of rapid urbanization and social change, when idealism characterized the American representation of the martial art”. art.”

She goes on to acknowledge that the African American perspective on the statues “is one of the many inherent complexities of the subject.” She wrote that the statue of Lee was “erected to inspire virtue in the public, and in homage to Lee around whom grew a heroic myth embraced by both North and South, [but] today reminds some members of society of the open wound of racism.

McLean also writes for Bacon’s Rebellion, a conservative commentary site, and serves on the board of the Jefferson Council, a group aimed at preserving the legacy of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia. In a recent article for the Jefferson Independent, a conservative, student-run website, McLean lambasted “cultural Marxists” for tearing down the legacy of Lee — a “Christian soldier” — and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, “a Sunday school teacher for a class of young black children.

Youngkin made another appointment to the Historic Resources Board: Aimee Jorjani, who served under President Donald Trump as chairman of the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Meanwhile, another Youngkin appointee who drew criticism — Casey Flores of the state’s LGBTQ+ advisory council — has resigned, the governor’s office announced Friday. Flores has been criticized for his rude and vulgar social media posts, but has now “resigned from the board as he accepts a professional opportunity outside the Commonwealth”, Porter said via text message.

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