Walmart Surrenders Virginia Battlefield

The retail giant abandons its plans to build a "super-center" atop a Civil War battlefield in Virginia after facing strong resistance from a coalition of preservation organizations.

The Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, made up of 6 preservation societies, successfully prevented Walmart from opening a store on the site of the Battle of The Wilderness. The announcement came just before the long-awaited trial between Walmart and the coalition was set to begin. Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz said the retailer will instead look at another, less controversial site in Orange County, VA.

He maintains that Walmart "stand[s] ready to put this controversy behind us and protect the battlefield from further encroachment... We firmly believe that preservation and progress need not be mutually [exclusive]."

Full Story: Wal-Mart drops plans for building on Virginia battlefield site

Comments

Comments

Ground Zero Mosque builders take note

If a Civil War battlefield is worthy of sensitivity then certainly Ground Zero is.

Battlefield vs. Ground Zero

The difference is that they want to preserve the battlefield as open space, with no development on it.

By contrast, everyone agrees that there will be development on the site near Ground Zero where the mosque is proposed, but some people do not want that particular land use on the site because of the religion of the users.

Charles Siegel

finish the statement

I understand Charles, but you need to finsih your statement.

Some people do not want that particular land use on the site because of the religion of the users....

which is the religion of the people who destroyed the World Trade Center and in the name of which religion it was done.

Sensitivity goes both ways ya know...

Bigotry Goes Both Ways Too

I don't think we should build churches near any Civil War battlegrounds, because Christianity was the religion of the people who formed the confederacy and the the religion in the name of which they fought.

At any rate, it is clear that your analogy between Wal-Mart development at this civil war battleground and development at Ground Zero is without any basis. The two situations are not comparable at all.

Charles Siegel

History

Really? They fought in the name of Christianity? Might want to rethink that ignorant statement. And you have missed the point entirely.

So saying the 9/11 attackers were Muslim and attacked in the name of Islam is bigotry? Or are those merely the facts? What is so scary about saying that?

My point is that Wal-Mart's decision shows that you should not always do something just because you can and that sensitivity to the sacredness of a place is an appropriate response to concerns people express. That is not fear, nor is it bigotry.

Definition of Bigotry

"So saying the 9/11 attackers were Muslim and attacked in the name of Islam is bigotry?"

No, bigotry is saying that the 9/11 attackers were Muslim and and attacked in the name of Islam, and threfore all Muslims are responsible for the attack. Bigotry is saying that Muslims who had nothing to do with the attack, who are are nonviolent, and who condemn the attack should be prevented from building on a development site near the attack purely because of their religion, while no one else should be prevented from building on that development site.

If you want a more obvious analogy: The crusades were fought by Christians in the name of Christianity. Therefore no churches should be allowed in Jerusalem. Show sensitivity to the sacredness of that place by keeping all churches out.

It is particularly unfortunateness when people use "the sacredness of a place" as an excuse for religous hatred directed at innocent people.

What would you think if someone had seriously entered a comment to this article about Wal-Mart saying that it shows no churches should be allowed in Jerusalem? The issues are completely unrelated: anyone who tries to pull them together is obviously just searching for any excuse to spread bigotry.

(If I had the time, I would search and be able to find hundreds of quotations where the confederacy used Christianity to justify itself. Since I do not have the time, I use the example of the crusades, which is so obvious that even you cannot deny it.)

Charles Siegel

Michael Lewyn's picture
Blogger

analogies to Ground Zero mosque are not quite right

I don't think the whole "Ground Zero mosque" argument has any place in this discussion.

Here's why: Wal-Mart was planning to build ON the battlefield. The mosque in question (which now looks like it may be some sort of interfaith center instead of a mosque) is blocks away and for all I know not even visible from Ground Zero. A more analogous situation would be if Wal-Mart wanted to build something a few blocks away and anti-Wal Mart forces were stirring up controversy.

Equivalency Stretch

In order for your equivalency to hold water at least some of the following would have to be true:
1) The Wal-Mart isn't actually at the battlefield. It is hundreds of yards away and not visible from the site and the opponents refuse to define a radius from the site at which a Wal-Mart would go from "insensitive" to "ok."
2) The Wal-Mart site is already developed with commercial buildings and will certainly be used for something else, if not a Wal-Mart.
3) The objection is specific to Wal-Mart because they are based in the south and everyone knows the south caused the Civil War. Target, as a company based in the north, would be welcome to locate on the site.
4) Political allies of the opponents of the Wal-Mart lobbied to have a federal law passed several years ago that specifically prohibits the government from interfering with their ability to use the site. (RLUIPA - The Retail Land Use and Incarcerated Persons Act, presumably).
5) The opposition to Wal-Mart would be in the context of a nationwide pattern of activism against Wal-Marts for a wide variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with "sensitivity" and all of which appear to boil down to "we don't like Wal-Mart."

I will grant you that the last one is true, which does, in my mind, present a bit of a problem for the preservationists. They have an obligation to ensure that this is a "no retail" argument, not a "no Wal-Mart" argument. Other than that, no, the two items are not remotely similar to one another.

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