Letter: Fails To Address Voter ID Issue

To the Editor:

In my letter of March 15, I noted Queenie Cox's playing of the race card in her previous letter in response to my opposition to Virginia House of Delegates bill no. HB16. That bill proposed to restore voting rights to those convicted of non-violent felonies who have paid their debt to society in full. Ms. Cox attempted to make a connection between those who oppose HB16 and those who supported Jim Crow laws that intentionally discriminated against African Americans. See: http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/resources/lessonplans/hs_es_jim_crow_laws.htm

In my rebuttal of Ms. Cox's argument, I referred to her as an "African-American civic activist," making the connection to her reference to those Jim Crow laws. In her letter published on March 22, she has accused me of referring to her in that way "based on his visual of my skin color" and criticized me for allegedly doing so, implying that perhaps she is not, in fact, an African-American. A person reading Ms. Cox's letter would likely assume that Ms. Cox and I are unacquainted. That assumption would be false.

I've known Queenie Cox for many years. I've been welcomed in her home in Gum Springs more than once and have met and conversed with her mother. As chairman of the MVCCA's Planning & Zoning committee, I served with Queenie on the MVCCA's Board of Directors. In that capacity, I attended meetings of the New Gum Springs Civic Association, of which Ms. Cox has been president for many years, to help defend the Gum Springs community against a proposed land development the majority of the Gum Springs community opposed. I've heard Ms. Cox speak with pride about her African-American heritage and the storied history of her Gum Springs community which was described in a published article as an "African American enclave": http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/virginia-politics/post/african-american-enclave-says-fairfax-ignoring-its-concerns-over-hospital-expansion/2011/07/20/gIQAZyoWSI_blog.html. The article quoted Ms. Cox multiple times. So it comes as quite a surprise that Ms. Cox appears to be denying she is African-American to divert attention from the fact that she has failed to prove a racial connection to opposition to HB16. How strange indeed.

I will, again, assert that one should not play the race card in a civic debate without having firm proof of justification for doing so. As I previously asserted, there is no evidence that minorities, African-American or otherwise, are disproportionately convicted of non-violent felonies under circumstances in which those convictions were unjustified. There is also no evidence that would support drawing an analogy between laws permanently disenfranchising convicted felons (regardless of race) and racially motivated Jim Crow laws. Ms. Cox's letter doesn't even address this issue.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon