Pete Snyder, a Republican candidate in Virginia’s race for governor in 2021, defended the state’s Confederate monuments this week, telling a local reporter that removing the statues would “wipe out” Virginia history.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled on April 1 that the city of Charlottesville may remove two Confederate statues that stand on public property, which activists and local leaders have long sought to remove.
In response, Snyder told Daniel Grimes, an NBC 29 reporter from Charlottesville, that he opposes suppression efforts that have swept through the Commonwealth in recent years.
“Our history is our history and we cannot have a Stalinist type regime that every time you have a new leader you erase the history of the leader before,” Snyder told Grimes.
“We have a complicated history in America and Virginia,” he continued, according to the tweets that Grimes posted Monday afternoon. “I have a six year old daughter. She needs to learn everything. She needs to learn that sometimes good people do bad things and sometimes bad people can do great things. This is our story, we have to learn everything. Virginia had a front seat for it all.
The comments are similar to remarks Snyder, one of 10 candidates pursuing the Republican nomination for governor of Virginia, made in late March during a Zoom meeting with the Spotsylvania County Republican Party, according to a video clip from the meeting provided to HuffPost. The video shows Snyder answering a question from a participant on the call, but does not include the question itself. However, his answer is almost identical to the one he gave Grimes about the Charlottesville decision this week.
“She needs to know that good people sometimes do bad things, and that bad people can sometimes accomplish remarkable things,” Snyder says in the Zoom call, referring to her daughter again. “It’s life, it’s business, it’s history, and she needs to be able to know that. So I think erasing our history is completely wrong. I want to preserve the history of Virginia. (You can watch the Zoom call video above.)
Snyder’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
No state in the country is home to more Confederate monuments and memorials than Virginia, the former seat of the Confederacy. Last year, Virginia was home to more than 200 memorials to Confederate generals and political leaders, including schools, roads and highways bearing their names. But as in other states, these memorials have faced fierce opposition for decades, especially from black Virginians and historians who denounce the existence of totem poles to the leaders of a racist rebellion meant to preserve the legal slavery in the United States.
Nationwide efforts to remove the statues have intensified in recent years, after a mass shooting at a black church in South Carolina in 2015 and a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. The rally organizers chose Charlottesville in large part because city council voted to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a native of Virginia, from a city park in the city.
Like Snyder, many Republican lawmakers have argued that the statues are vital to historic preservation and called efforts to do away with them a “crowd rule,” a racist dog whistle they used several times during the election campaign.
But Snyder’s position puts him at odds with a growing number of Virginians. Polls have shown residents of the state are also split on whether to remove Confederate statues, but opinion has moved away from preservation to preservation since the Charlottesville rally. And in 2018, Senator Tim Kaine (R) defeated GOP candidate Corey Stewart in a race where the Republican candidate was defined by his support for symbols of Confederation and other racist and xenophobic policies.
Last April, as a new wave of Confederate statuary kidnappings swept the country, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) signed a law allowing monuments to be removed from public property. A Confederate monument near Charlottesville was demolished in July, making it one of the first memorials removed under the new law. Another statue of Lee which is in Richmond, the state capital, is expected to be removed, although her fate is pending thanks to a lawsuit aimed at saving her. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, meanwhile, called last year for the removal of four other Confederate statues that stand along Monument Avenue, which serves as a memorial to the boulevard-shaped rebellion.
Historians and activists have viewed the new laws as a “tipping point” for Confederate statues across the country, given the prominence of Virginia’s monuments and its status as the former capital of the Confederacy. And last year, Virginia removed or renamed at least 71 Confederate symbols, more than any other state in the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Snyder’s defense of statues is just the most recent proof that Republican candidates in Virginia are still ready to embrace racist landmarks in a bid to appeal to the party’s increasingly radical base – even as this continues to cost the GOP, which has lost majority control of both. Houses of the Virginia State Legislature in 2019.
Virginia’s GOP decided this year to choose its gubernatorial candidate at a May 8 “remote voting” convention, rather than in a traditional primary election. The move has been widely interpreted as an effort to thwart the incoming campaigns of candidates like Senator Amanda Chase, a far-right sidekick of former President Donald Trump who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the January 6 uprising in the United States. Capitol.
GOP voters will still have a say in the choice of party candidates, however – and Snyder, entrepreneur and former Fox News contributor, is among the candidates still trying to position themselves as true Trump heirs in the Commonwealth. In February, Snyder said he wanted to compile “NFL-style scouting reportsOn election officials in Virginia, as part of a wider adoption of the type of election-related conspiracies propagated by Trump that helped fuel the riot on Capitol Hill.
And Snyder, like most of the GOP gubernatorial candidates in Virginia, declined to say whether he thinks President Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election.
He also embraced the kind of radical anti-immigrant rhetoric favored by both Trump and Stewart, who served as co-chair of the 2016 Trump campaign in Virginia before running for governor the following year. In a recent announcement, Snyder pledged to “get violent illegals off our streets” and claimed that undocumented immigrants bring “crime and gangs to our communities”. On his website, Snyder says he opposes allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Virginia universities, and that as governor he would cancel so-called ” sanctuary cities, ”or jurisdictions that refuse to help the federal government with immigration and deportation. procedure.
At another event at the end of March, Snyder concluded his blunt speech by suggesting he was the kind of candidate who could beat a Democratic opponent this fall. After a brief aside on how “Democrats only see color,” Snyder pointed to blue signs for his campaign and black ones for Republican Rep. Travis Hackworth, who won a special election for a Senate seat in March. . The colors on the signs, Snyder said, were indicative of what GOP candidates would do to Democrats in this year’s election.
“We are going to beat the Democrats, make them black and blue,” he said.
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