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Editorial: Just when you thought renaming foolishness had stopped ...

One-man crusade to rename community of Burke another example of 'my-way-or-the-highway'-ism

We tiptoe ever so slightly outside our coverage area and head down to Burke, where a local resident is waging a solo crusade to have the community’s name changed because it memorializes Silas Burke, who, as a county judge two centuries ago, had as part of his official duties overseeing slave auctions, and was himself a slave-owner.

Good gravy Marie, as sometimes zonked-out celebrity panelist Brett Somers used to utter on “Match Game” in the ‘70s. Just when you thought the renaming craze was over, it resurfaces, the social-activism equivalent of herpes.

This self-appointed fixer-of-all-ills proposes renaming “Burke” to “Fenton,” to honor one of those whom Burke held in bondage. But in a recent forum down in the community whose name apparently must no longer be uttered in pleasant company, attendees proffered alternate ideas that would have far less draconian impacts to residents than a wholesale name change. Let’s hope common sense wins.

And memo to all Fairfax County residents: The county’s namesake wasn’t exactly pure as the driven snow, either. So if “Burke” has to go, “Fairfax” deserves the heave-ho. (For that matter, “Arlington” County would need to be ditched, too, since it honors both a plantation and Robert E. Lee.)

People, and history, can be complex. It’s always easier and more self-satisfying to apply a sledgehammer than a scalpel in addressing those complexities, but hopefully we have returned to a place where common sense wins out.