Virginia circles are clutching all the pearls over some old Twitter comments made by Charlottesville City Councilman Wes Bellamy — considered to be a rising star in Democratic circles.
Of course, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe has chimed in with a statement that could only be described as covering his backside from any potential fallout among fellow Democrats. From the Daily Press:
“The governor is horrified by the content that has been reported on recently from Mr. Bellamy’s Twitter feed,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said after several requests for comment Tuesday. “He has reached out to Mr. Bellamy and is awaiting a return call.”
Blah, blah, blah…
The Charlottesville Daily Progress has more if you want to help them sell newspapers dive in a bit deeper.
…but really folks?
Look, we shouldn’t excuse bad behavior. That’s not the point of letting this go or turning a blind eye to this. Yet there’s a more salient point that I think many folks need to consider in all of this whenever there is a “gotcha” moment in the press (or in the blogosphere) and it is this: Is this who that person really is?
Bellamy doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who doesn’t care about his community. Bellamy is an educator, ran twice for City Council at a young age, dove straight into the political process with a wife and three young girls back at home — not for Congress or governor, but as a local elected official where the stakes are small and the feelings are hardest.
Ideally, this is a teaching moment for our more liberal friends. I really don’t care if Bellamy vintage 2007 gets upset when he sees white people in Orangeburg. I really don’t give a damn. I’m pretty certain that Bellamy vintage 2016 would have something to say to his younger self about that sort of mindset.
That’s what matters.
I don’t know Bellamy personally, nor do I know the new media site that did the digging through Bellamy’s Twitter profile to find these nuggets of wisdom (gold stars all around, I suppose). Nor am I terribly interested that Virginia Flaggers — an organization that supports the Confederate Flag and statuary in public places — seemed to be the first to pile on. Nor am I terribly exercised about the fact that the big reveal co-incided with the announcement from a panel in Charlottesville to keep the Lee statue in Lee Park.
Perhaps in the future, we could focus a little bit on why folks believe certain things rather than the face value of such statements? An opportunity for positive engagement rather than political gain? Alas… that’s a tough sell, and politics rarely rewards such engagement.
There’s the old line that when people show you who they are, believe them. I’m not sure this illustrates who Wes Bellamy really is at all. In fact, quite the opposite… and we owe it to Bellamy (and the next guy who gets hung in the public square) the chance and the latitude to be himself — not who a handful of others want him to be out of political convenience.