Task force stacked with statue activists

Published 5:11 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Isle of Wight County supervisors presumably were well-intentioned in their creation of a “task force” to make recommendations on the future of the county’s Confederate monument. The panel’s makeup, however, is a recipe for toxicity in a debate that needs no more.

With a committee consisting only of activists on both sides of the hotly debated question, supervisors assured weeks of more of the overheated rhetoric that has accompanied the debate from the get-go. And it’s hard to imagine the task force coming up with anything that its members haven’t already voiced at Board of Supervisors meetings, in letters to the editor and on social media.

The one somewhat objective organization that supervisors wanted to be represented on the task force — the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce — took a pass for unexplained reasons. That was a huge opportunity missed for a business community that will deal with the consequences of whatever supervisors ultimately decide.

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If the county’s elected board can’t go back to the drawing board and create a task force that can be objective and make fact-based recommendations rather than emotional ones, supervisors just need to go ahead and make the decision on the monument and spare citizens — and outsiders who are closely watching the situation — the theatrics that are sure to come from the task force’s deliberations.

Consequences await regardless of what supervisors decide, so it’s best for the community to start dealing with them.

We hope supervisors learn from the debacle and remember that part of the gig when holding elected office is making tough decisions. The task force seemed like a reasonable alternative to a voter referendum on the monument’s future, but it’s clear now that it was an unnecessary extension of a toxic debate.