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Youngkin appointee who defended Confederate statues resigns from board

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RICHMOND — Ann Hunter McLean, a historian who defends Confederate statues and says slavery was not the primary cause of the Civil War, has resigned from the State Board of Historic Resources over what a door- Governor Glenn Youngkin’s (R) speech called a disagreement over priorities.

“After discussion of the goals and priorities of our administration and Dr. McLean, Dr. McLean has resigned,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said via text message. The resignation took effect Monday. Youngkin had named McLean, the former principal of a Christian school, to the board in mid-July.

In an email Wednesday to The Washington Post in response to questions about his resignation, McLean took a defiant tone, saying Virginians should look at their “full and honest real story — not a simplified version used for political reasons.” I am thrilled to be completely free now to share this story with people and to speak out to stop the destruction of our common cultural heritage.

Youngkin appoints Confederate statue advocate to historic resources board

After the 2020 social justice protests, when Richmond began removing monuments to Confederate icons such as Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, McLean gave numerous interviews in which she praised Lee’s character and s complained that Virginia’s heritage was “under attack.”

“The whole tragedy is that these statues were built to tell the real story of the American South to people 500 years from now,” McLean told a Richmond radio host on Dec. 23, 2021. “People want to destroy the evidence of that. . history,” she continued, saying the civil war was fought for the “sovereignty of each state and constitutional law.”

Two years after protests, some of Richmond’s Confederate statues remain

Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus lambasted Youngkin for appointing McLean to the board, which has no formal role overseeing such statues but reviews historic landmark designations and language on historical markers. Youngkin also named Aimee Jorjani, who served under President Donald Trump as chairman of the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Youngkin initially declined to directly address concerns about McLean, with Porter issuing a July 15 statement that “the Governor supports the preservation of Virginia’s history and believes that the referenced statues should be preserved in a museum or other facility. “.

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

But McLean continued to make provocative public statements. In a July 18 interview with WRVA radio host John Reid, McLean said that “secession is not treason” and that the U.S. Constitution was violated not when the South seceded, but “when Lincoln called up 75,000 troops to fight against secession.

She compared Lincoln’s action to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said “so many people just want to enslave the whole Civil War. And sure, we know slavery is not good, but I think… slavery would have been outlawed in the South within five or 10 years, but they wanted to do it in their spare time.

Youngkin was asked about McLean’s remarks by the media at a public event on July 25. “I disagree with her comments, and she and I discussed it. And so we have a discussion about whether she can represent us well,” Youngkin said, according to a transcript provided by her office.

He praised McLean as “incredibly qualified”, according to the transcript, but repeated that “I don’t support” his comments.

Of the. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), Chief of Black Caucus said that despite the resignation, he was concerned that Youngkin “continues to appoint people with toxic views about race and the black community.” He quoted former state LGBTQ+ advisory board member Casey Flores, who was criticized for his vulgar and offensive tweets before he recently left the state for a job, and Health Commissioner Colin Greene, who faced calls to resign after urging his staff not to talk about racism. for fear of alienating white people and after suggesting that genetics might explain disparities in black maternal mortality.

Youngkin’s administration had asked Flores to tone down his tweets before leaving the board, and Greene expressed ‘regret’ for alienating staffers after Youngkin released a statement expressing his disappointment with Greene’s communication skills.

“I would like to give [Youngkin] the benefit of the doubt, but we see a pattern in which he is perfectly tolerant of those who have hatred in their hearts working for him,” Bagby said. “I pray that he finds the courage to stand up for what is right.”