by Paul Goldman
RICHMOND, Va. — Doug Wilder and Henry Howell, the two great elected statewide leaders challenging the racism, intimidation and character assassination long defining much of Virginia’s politics, taught me the following:
“Paul” they said in paraphrase, “ being a leader in trying to change all this means not only taking the personal attacks, but also showing compassion for those throwing the rocks. You will need to be the one big enough to heal the divisions. So when they say these ugly things, answer the falsehoods with fact and logic: and trust that Dr. King is right, truth crushed to earth will rise.”
So yes: I shook hands with those who called me ugly names last night, telling them I had been called much worse, by those who didn’t like my being the only white person willing to run Wilder’s historic breakthrough campaign.
It’s amusing really: I am in effect anti-white for helping Wilder make history but now I am anti-black for opposing Mayor Jones’ Shockoe Stadium baloney. Image: I have the audacity to think Richmonders, black and white, are smart enough to vote on the Mayor’s Shockoe Shocker as envisioned in the City Charter.
But being called names is part of our process. That’s one reason I agreed to accept the invitation to speak to the Richmond Crusade for Voters last night. I knew full well what might happen once we got to the question and answer period. So as the moderator last night told the group, I had come there not only to lay out the irrefutable factual basis for why the proposed Stadium referendums make all the economic, financial, historic, legal and political common sense – but to answer ANY QUESTION anyone had.
When the Mayor’s pro-stadium posse, like in the old Western movies, sprung their “ambush”, I followed Wilder and Howell’s advice and asked the moderator to let them say whatever they wanted, personal or otherwise.
To be fair to the Crusade, the overwhelming majority in the packaged meeting room gave me the utmost courtesy, with several eloquently defending my efforts to give all Richmonders their right to vote in the best traditions of the group. I believe they understood the self-evident reality:
Was I also a “racist” in 2005 when I led the opposition inside the Wilder Administration against the businessmen who wanted to build a Stadium in Shockoe Bottom? They were all-white. Did that make me anti-white?
The overwhelming majority got it: It isn’t about white or black but green.
The real bottom line from last night: The Mayor’s pro-stadium posse couldn’t refute my analysis so they resorted to the personal smear tactics.
So afterwards, as a leader must do, I shook their hands and said I held no grudge, my vision is forward-looking, not backward.
This is precisely what the Stadium referendums do, they give Richmond a chance to come together as a community in the only fair and open and transparent process remaining given how badly the Mayor and the Council have screwed up the process.
I appreciate the Crusade’s giving me the opportunity to speak. It seemed to me many learned legal and other facts for the first time. In my speaking with Richmonders during signature gathering for the referendums, I get the same impression: many are stunned often into silence when learning the whole truth about the Mayor’s Shockoe Stadium proposal. .
Tim Kaine told me Richmond politics could be nasty. But just as I have led the fight to modernize our K-12 schools – Senator Kaine long ago endorsed my effort – I will likewise keep plugging to give Richmonder’s their right to vote on the Stadium referendums.
Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.