Message From Charlottesville

“Charlottesville” is a long-time and much-respected commenter here at Ivy Style. He is a true Southern Gentleman, a lawyer who married his high school sweetheart, and a devout Episcopalian. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing drinks with him on one of his regular visits to New York, as well as many correpondences. He left the following comment in the “Southern Exposure” discussion thread, and has given his permission to post it here as our country mourns the tragic events of last week. — CC

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Dear Friends:

I have indeed been away from the site for a while, and only discovered some comments on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. I am grateful for the very kind words from commenters Henry, Vern, Will, Whiskeydent and especially Christian.

As has been mentioned in the “Southern Exposure” comment thread, most of the violent thugs that descended on my town on Saturday appear to have come from other states, and, at least according to local reports based on interviews and license plates, many/most seemed to come from Colorado, California, Florida, and, in the case of the man who murdered poor Heather Heyer, Ohio. Unfortunately, at least one of the racist ringleaders has long been a thorn in the flesh to the good people of Charlottesville, and I am sure other local losers were involved as well. Nevertheless, I think our town has little to be ashamed of in its response. My Rector and the Bishop of Virginia, along with many other clergy, maintained a quiet witness of protest (my church stands directly beside the park where the Lee statue is located). And on Sunday morning, while the streets were still blocked and armed police patrolled the area, hundreds of us came together to pray and seek healing and forgiveness in place of the anger and hatred of the day before.

On Wednesday, Heather’s mother asked the attendees at her daughter’s memorial service to respond to hate with love. And that night hundreds of UVA faculty and students gathered on the Lawn, in an event publicized solely by word of mouth and social media, and sang “Amazing Grace” by candlelight on the spot where armed men with torches had spewed hatred and thrown punches a few nights before.

As for the South in general, I think Charleston, New Orleans, and many other Southern cities, including Charlottesville, are delightful places to visit or live, whatever problems we may have.  I can say that I saw virulent racism in my Massachusetts middle school, and in the Indiana college town where my father worked for a time when I was a teenager. So this historic evil is not the exclusive property of the South. Finally, if you will indulge me, I note that while Yale, Harvard, Stanford and other non-southern schools generally top the rankings, there is a university here in Charlottesville that usually shows fairly well.

I hope we can soon return to lighter topics, such as seersucker suits, bow ties, OCBDs, penny loafers and the like, all of which I am wearing at the moment. In the meantime, thanks to all for letting me have my say. — CHARLOTTESVILLE

35 Comments on "Message From Charlottesville"

  1. Thank you for this, C’ville, good words from a good man.

  2. Excellent commentary on Charlottesville by Charlottesville. As a Catholic in the Jesuit tradition (think Georgetown / BC, etc.), I pray that our dear nation can overcome the deep divisions that so plagues us. And alas, at the risk of sounding too political, couldn’t someone from the administration have attended Heather’s funeral, and called the mayor to offer support?

  3. terrryoreilly75 | August 18, 2017 at 2:32 pm |

    Well-put and insightful as always.

  4. Well said, sir.

  5. DJP

    The administration was, no doubt, unwelcome at the funeral. I would never judge grieving parents. It seems inconceivable to me that the mayor of Charlottesville was not contacted by the administration with offers of support.

    Godspeed, America

    Will

  6. Interesting side note to this situation for regular readers here is that the white nationalists seem to have adopted a uniform of polo shirts and sweaters in order to appear “normal” and mainstream. Likewise, the literature issued by some of the Antifa crowd, which portrays caricatures of facsists who they claim need to be punched, regularly designates said fascists by their obvious preppy clothing (sperry shoes, clean-cut hairstyles and sweaters over the shoulders.) If you look closely, you can see the obvious preppy themes on both sides of the situation being used as a marker for white nationalists. This is disturbing to say the least.

  7. Jerry,

    Wow, disturbing is right. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read that some of the white supremacists (that’s really what they are) were fired from their jobs once their employers saw that they took part. As I tell my children, in this day and age, assume that everything you do in public is being filmed.

  8. Well stated C’ville. Prayers for peace from an Alabamian and Episcopalian. This situation could have so easily occurred on my campus here or another other across the South.

  9. NaturalShoulder | August 18, 2017 at 6:42 pm |

    Quite a thoughtful and elegantly worded response which comes as no surprise as someone who has enjoyed Charlottesville’s comments. While I have always thought myself an optimist, I fear our country has many dark days ahead.

  10. Thank you Charlottesville, you were certainly in many of our thoughts over the past week. Best wishes to you and yours.

  11. I was alerted to this story but neglected posting front page or at Facebook group as it seemed like a bit of a stretch:

    https://www.racked.com/2017/8/16/16157838/charlottesville-white-supremacists-polo-shirts-jews

  12. The polo shirt and other designer-logo-ed items of clothing as ostensible outward mark of normalcy is well-established in those circles. Football hooligans in England adopted that look as early as the 70s – over there the look is known as “casual”. Many skinheads wear the Fred Perry brand as a mark of tribal identity to this day.

  13. Mitchell S. | August 18, 2017 at 9:35 pm |

    The racked.com article reminds me of a previous post where Medgar Ever’s widow says “Jim Crow wears a Brooks Brothers suit.”

    My interpretation of her remarks is that racism in this country is so ingrained in the culture that even conservatively-dressed men and women could be closet racists. It’s sad to me that white supremacists have co-opted the uniform of strait-laced respectability. A better term for these Trump-loving neo-Nazis is “Brownshirts.”

    http://www.ivy-style.com/medgar-evers-widow-jim-crow-wears-a-brooks-brothers-suit.html

  14. Vern Trotter | August 19, 2017 at 3:34 am |

    Thank you Charlottesville and welcome back! Great stuff! As a fellow Episcopalian, I read something earlier today that I must paraphrase in order to pass on regarding the Confederate monuments that exist in nearly 1000 locations: “A failure to distinguish history from modern day militant advocacy leads to absurd conclusions!” A slippery slope indeed.

    St. John’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn has been closed for five years or so. As a young Army officer at nearby Fort Hamilton, Robert E. Lee planted a tree outside the Church, as he worshipped there while a young officer in the US Army. 50 years later, ladies from the Daughters of the Confederacy, New York chapter, had a plaque placed on fencing around the tree, a notation recognizing his efforts. Now at the insistence of our Marxist Mayor deBlasio and our guv, Cuomo, the plaque has been removed, after direction from the Episcopal Bishop of Long Island. They have also requested the Army rename streets on Ft. Hamilton, named for Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The Army has denied their request. And the tree is still outside St. John’s for now. The Church has been up for sale these five years; so far no buyers. Stay tuned.

    The Web site hot air.com reports the War on the Confederate statuary serves two purposes for the Left. The first is to humiliate Southerners and punish them for their lock on their state’s votes in the Electoral College since Nixon’s first winning election in 1968, except for a few for Bill Clinton in 1992. The second purpose is to help the Democrat party win elections without white men. In other words, keeping non white voters in a state of agitation and panic.

    If we are removing vestiges of slavery, how about we start with the Democrat party? They started Jim Crow, instituted segregation in the government and the military under Woodrow Wilson after he did the same while president of Princeton, and who can forget their efforts to filibuster the Civil Rights Act?

    Cheers.

  15. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-myth-of-the-kindly-general-lee/529038/?utm_source=eb

    Pryor’s book is mentioned. It’s excellent.

    Without naming names, there are people whose Southern roots extend at least as far back as (maybe further than) the Lee family’s who hold Virginia and the South in the highest regard. And they believe it’s time to not only let go of certain parts of the past, but finally (at long last) get rid of symbols and statues that represent a cause that was, thank be to God, lost. Lost in more than one way.

    Some have spoken out:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/17/us/confederate-monuments-stonewall-jackson-lee-davis.html

    This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s a matter of decency–of calling upon the better angels of our nature. The “Civil War” was an ugly, bloodstained tragedy.

    I remember C-Ville when it was a beautifully small, quaint town. Before Bodo’s Bagels, Dave Matthews, and the commercialization of Barrack’s Road. As is the case with everything, it’s not the town it was as recently as 30 years ago. C’ est la vie.

  16. @Vern Bp. Provenzano’s a real joy…!

  17. James Redhouse | August 19, 2017 at 10:06 am |

    S.E.,
    To the best of my knowledge Bodo’s bagelry is the number one thing people miss when they move away from Charlottesville.

  18. stanleyshall | August 19, 2017 at 10:30 am |

    I’m so upset by the terrorist attack in Barcelona that I have decided to give away any clothing that people might associate with the terrorists. All of my sandals and bath robes have been donated to Goodwill (and I shaved my beard)

  19. Vern,
    In my city of Baltimore, statues of R.E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were just removed from a public park near Johns Hopkins University. I dare say – not all statue removal is created equally. The statues that I cite were erected in 1948 and depict Lee and Jackson conversing over a situation on the battlefield (presumably the Battle of Chancellorsville). They were installed in the Jim Crow era, nearly 100 years after the war. They have no historical significance to the area. I personally believe they were affront to the city’s African American population,and a stark reminder of their place in Jim Crow America (especially south of the Mason Dixon line). A statue can feel like a memorial, like putting someone on a pedestal. These felt that way. It should be noted that 2/3 of all Civil War soldiers from Maryland fought on the Union side, despite Baltimore’s strong Confederate support. There are no statues to Union generals in that park. The statues shouldn’t be destroyed, but rather moved to the battlefield or a museum. They are works of art.

  20. @James

    If there’s any truth at all to what you say, then how incredibly yet comically sad. They miss a bagel shop more than the Lawn, Monticello, or a burger at The Virginian? Hmm.

    The times, they are a changin’.

  21. Charlottesville,

    I have always looked forward to reading your comments on this site; your words speak well for not only yourself but for your community. Going back over thirty years as a long time visitor to Charlottesville, to Eljos, the Corner, the Lawn, Monticello and other welcoming sites in the area, please be assured that the overwhelming grace and culture of your community eclipses the sordid beliefs and actions of the few. I will continue to visit and view Charlottesville in light of her estimable graciousness, of which you are an ambassador. All the best and with good wishes,

    NDC

  22. Right on, Vern! It’s this sort of insightful analysis that we need in this time of panic and hate. It’s only natural, after all, to feel panic and hate when those people simply refuse to know their place.

    In all seriousness, I cannot for the life of me figure out how apologists for the statues think that invoking their ‘heritage’ is a good argument for preserving symbols of hate and treason in a place of public prominence and honor, such as a courthouse, a city hall, or a state house. For many black Americans, these statues are also representative of /their/ heritage, too, and that’s why they want to reclaim these places of honor.

  23. It is remarkable that we now have one extremist group which is decidedly blue-collar & rural who identify themselves with the traditional clothing of the privileged classes, while their opposition in extremist violence, which was born on college campuses and other elite institutions, shows such disdain and hostility toward elitist attire that they cloak themselves entirely in black. I personally find both groups reprehensible, but how they play out in the cultural themes are truly fascinating to observe and highly concerning.

    With the posters I have seen around Ithaca this past week, I am truly concerned about how my appearance and mode of dress will be interpreted by some hot-headed revolutionary I can’t anticipate with my old-fashioned sense of the world. In the past several years, I have found myself stopping to consider not wearing a necktie as often because of the outright hostility it can garner in people under 30. As of this week, I am concerned about appearing too much of a dandy, or now whether a polo shirt or Sperrys might be misinterpreted! I admit the loss of understanding social cues at my age is worrisome in such a violent environment.

  24. Charlottesville | August 20, 2017 at 11:01 am |

    Many thanks to the commenters above who have expressed such kind thoughts towards me and my town. And thanks for the nice words about Eljo’s traditional clothing, The Virginian’s burger and Bodo’s bagels as well. All are still going strong, and the line outside of Bodo’s across from UVA this morning was longer than I have ever seen. I too miss the C’ville of the 1980s. The students who returned this weekend are not nearly as well dressed as they were 30 years ago, and the congestion of new buildings and traffic is fifty times worse, but I noted at least two other men in seersucker at the 7:45 service this morning, and one of them was wearing a bow tie, so all is not lost! Seriously, we are all still recovering from the truly dreadful hate-fest of last weekend, but things are going well, and while I am saddened, I remain hopeful. Thank you again and best wishes to all!

  25. Thank you for this very nice essay. As a frequent reader of this site, but not a poster, I join in what others have noted about the nature of your writing. As a Charlottesville resident, an alumnus and Dean at UVA, I also join you in extolling the many virtues of this wonderful University and community. My best to you.

  26. Mac McConnell | August 23, 2017 at 10:31 pm |

    I think most opposing Robert E. Lee statues don’t know much about him. Whether it be his views on slavery or his work post Civil War on reconciliation. There is a reason he was revered in both North and South upon his death.
    I have no dog in this hunt, but I believe these issues should be determined locally.

  27. I think there is very little difference in the current purge of statues than there is in book burning!

  28. Vern Trotter | August 24, 2017 at 5:49 pm |

    Meant to add: As my letter in the NY Post yesterday so states. They edited out my question about the response of Italian voters to the proposed removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Square.

  29. Vern Trotter | August 24, 2017 at 6:01 pm |

    Columbus Circle. My dotage is showing today!

  30. Mac McConnell | August 24, 2017 at 9:33 pm |

    It all does leave a little Red Guard taste in one’s mouth.

  31. Henry Contestwinner | September 13, 2017 at 9:36 am |

    I have been on a bit of a hiatus from Ivy Style, so just saw this now. I, too, extend my best wishes and prayers for Charlottesville, both the man and the city.

  32. Charlottesville | September 27, 2017 at 9:39 am |

    Thanks you, Henry. Just checking back after a month or so and saw your kind word. Best wishes for you as well.

  33. >As for the South in general, I think Charleston, New Orleans, and many other Southern cities, including Charlottesville, are delightful places to visit or live, whatever problems we may have.

    As a Yankee, I’ve observed the recent issues in the South were mostly instigated by those who probably view Harvard, Yale and Stanford as bastions of a New Utopia. But even such institutions were accused of racism. Oh the irony; how the enlightened are reaping what they sow.

    I have fondness for the South after some time in Mobile, Alabama. As a non-white I see the South as the most maligned, bullied region of America.

  34. Charlottesville | September 28, 2017 at 3:18 pm |

    Thanks, GRA. I appreciate your kind words. As I noted, we in the South have our share of problems and sad history, racial and otherwise, but it is worth remembering that the KKK was quite active in Illinois in the 20th century, and there were terrible racial atrocities in Manhattan during the Civil War. We all have our nasty baggage. Charlottesville itself is generally “progressive” as the word is currently used, and is much like Ann Arbor, Mich. or Cambridge, Mass. politically. The City Council recently re-designated Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, and I imagine if Mr. de Blasio ever tires of being mayor of New York, he could win election here in a landslide. Yet, after the march, riot and murder last August, Charlottesville is somehow seen by many as a hotbed of white supremacy. Personally, I wish a pox on both Antifa and Alt-Right. But I remain hopeful.

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