An Open Letter About Charlottesville
Greetings from Charlottesville, where I have the great pleasure of writing about our area’s outstanding restaurants. As a fellow columnist, I know that we often have little control over our articles’ headlines. And so, perhaps you did not write the headline of your article “Charlottesville is the America That Donald Trump Promised.” With the possible exception of the text’s first line, it otherwise casts no aspersions on my favorite city in the world.
Never mind who wrote the headline, though. It is wrong. It perpetuates a myth that the events this weekend in Charlottesville should somehow reflect negatively on the wonderful city in which they happen to have taken place.
Though exact numbers are not available, very few of the participants of this weekend’s so-called Unite the Right rallies appear to have been from Charlottesville. Most came not just from other cities but from other states altogether, travelling great distances to attack our city. Of the four people arrested during the rallies, one was form Florida, another from Tennessee, and a third, the driver of the vehicle that killed a counter-protester, attended from Ohio. None was from Charlottesville.
Besides, Charlottesville seems very unlikely to reflect the “America That Donald Trump Promised” since, in last year’s presidential election, more than 86% of its voters voted against Donald Trump. Charlottesville became a target of this weekend’s rallies after decisions by its City Council to remove public statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and to rename Lee Park as Emancipation Park and Jackson Park as Justice Park.
The city of Charlottesville, then, was not a perpetrator of this weekend’s horrific events, but a victim. One of our residents lost her life, many more were injured, and our men, women, and children were all subject to images of hatred and violence we do not typically see amongst our neighbors. Media reports suggesting that the invaders’ messages of hate represent the views of the place being invaded only pour salt in our wounds.
It is possible the headline writer intended “Charlottesville” to mean “What Happened in Charlottesville” (like, “Columbine.”) But, many have read it otherwise, and the ambiguity of shorthand is part of the point. Those who rely on misleading headlines and news snippets come away with an impression of Charlottesville with no basis in reality.
Charlottesville is a beautiful city full of beautiful people. Though my focus is on our food, I have never seen a community more caring and supportive of one another. I invite you here as my guest to see for yourself. I’ll be happy to treat you to some of our great food. Meanwhile, please change the misleading headline of your article and also consider other steps to undo the damage it may already have done.
The Charlottesville 29