Tom Vernon makes an excellent point in his July 6 letter calling for the rebuilding of the Vance Monument [“Thumbs Down on Monument Ideas,” Xpress]. If you ignore (as his letter does) the white supremacist in the room, Zebulon Vance looks pretty good as a local hero. Maybe not the best North Carolina governor of all time (he did, in fairness, try to destroy the United States), but at least respectable. What’s wrong with honoring him in the middle of town?
It’s really not that hard to agree with this historically nuanced conclusion. All you need is the strength of character to overlook the unconscionable.
Many Asheville progressives exhibit the same stoic virtue on issues that matter to them. Take, for instance, objections recently raised in the Mountain Xpress to increased housing density, open-space reduction and infill construction.
If you ignore how more abundant housing exerts a downward pressure on market prices, and how exclusionary, single-family zoning perpetuates segregated housing patterns, and how close-in living reduces urban sprawl, and how urban density makes car driving less necessary and alternate modes of transportation more attractive, and how all that reduces carbon footprint and combats climate change, then these reforms look pretty bad. The only ones who benefit are developers. Greedy ones. Outsiders, too. Neighborhood character is at stake. Trouble in river city. Get out the pitchforks.
It’s not hard for Asheville homeowners to find a way to agree with this nuanced position, self-serving as it may appear on the surface. All they need is the strength to overlook realities of economics, sociology, history, physics, chemistry and common sense, as well as the struggles of ordinary people trying to find housing they can afford. And isn’t magical thinking what makes Asheville so special?
— Peter Robbins