Alexandria, VA – “I have a message for you,” Governor Terry McAuliffe proclaimed from the podium as he struggled to keep his cool during the gut-wrenching aftermath of the riots. “Go home. You are not wanted in the great Commonwealth. You are not patriots.”
This was August 12, 2017, an emotionally charged and traumatizing day in Virginia history. McAuliffe had a strong message to deliver to Virginians and to the malevolent evil doers who descended on Charlottesville that day. Those words were spot on. Except I add that bigotry, discrimination, and hatred for any reason (race, color, creed or religion) is welcome nowhere in our great country.
In his work, Beyond Charlottesville, the former governor of Virginia provides a passionate and well-written account of the events in and around the Charlottesville riots and the resulting tragedies. McAuliffe reflects deeply on the actions he and everyone took, searching for what could have been done differently.
The first half of the book presents a detailed examination of how the two days unfolded, including McAuliffe’s conversation with President Trump, and the deaths of Heather Heyer and two state troopers. Heyer was killed when a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi rammed a car into a crowd of counter protesters. The state troopers (both of whom had worked directly with the governor) died when their helicopter crashed.
McAuliffe provides readers an in-depth view into his background. He is a Virginian and politician by choice. The chapter on his battle to regain voting rights for former felons is a fascinating portrayal of determination and gumption. The latter half of the book looks at where we go from here. He says the time for action is now. Major elements include criminal justice reform, economic development, education, and gun control. No point of disagreement here: the U.S. legislature needs to act and to create pragmatic solutions.
One other thing on which most of us can certainly agree is that the country’s political climate (regardless of side of the aisle) is polarized. The former governor’s work did not escape harsh criticism. For example, a report on the findings from the official Charlotte investigation about the riots notes a massive level of dysfunction between state and local police forces before, during, and after the ill-fated rally. And the delay in McAuliffe’s decision to declare a state of emergency is ardently questioned. McAuliffe was also criticized for his blind determination to remove statues honoring Confederate leaders, which added fuel for the demonstrations.
McAuliffe counters that he had hoped officials in the iconic college town would listen to advice from the governor’s security experts to minimize violence. They did not. Local police tactics were ineffective, resulting in a death and many injuries. The conclusion is that there is enough blame to go around, but through all the controversy, McAuliffe spoke steadfastly and forcefully about the cancer of white nationalism, and he continues to do so.
McAuliffe is married. He and wife Dorothy have five children. He continues to reside in Virginia and remains active in politics. The author is donating proceeds from Beyond Charlottesville to the Heyer Foundation.
The primary premise of Beyond Charlottesville is more important than the bi-directional political partisan chatter. There is no place in America for hate-driven violence. Only diligent Americans working together with political leadership will enact long-lasting solutions. Filter out your politics for full impact. – Zebra rating 4 Stripes