If you have not been following our work on the immigration battle in Prince William County, VA this chapter of the saga will be a bit hard to follow. If you have been following it, get a load of this:
In reaction to a virtual (as in internet) uproar, Annabel and I have spoken to the author of the Potomac News article that erroneously reported that we had “joined forces” with a new political blog called AntiBVBL.net. The author, it turns out, didn’t even know our names. But he was very nice and apologetic, explaining that he was under pressure to finish the story for his deadline and did not have time to find out who we were and how to contact us. Of course we asked for a retraction. We also sent him the following statement:
Statement from Eric Byler and Annabel Park Re. Potomac News Article
The 9500 Liberty interactive documentary has been met with controversy from its inception because it was introduced into an election-season climate in which the Immigration Resolution was the primary issue, and the prevailing attitude of pro-Resolution advocates on BVBL was, “You’re Either With Us Or Against Us.” Under such a framework, it is easy to understand why the Washington Post, the Manassas Journal Messenger, Potomac News, and 9500 Liberty have all been labeled as “against us” at one time or another. Under such a misguided framework, the majority of Prince William County and the majority of America could be accused of the same. But the two options offered under the “With Us Or Against Us” framework are not the only perspectives on the immigration issue.
AntiBVBL was created by a moderate Republican seeking to encourage those who do not fit within the “With Us Or Against Us” framework to add their voices to the immigration debate, without censorship or fear of reprisal. This is an exciting and much-needed concept, one that we decided to support. Our first step in doing so was inviting AntiBVBL to co-sponsor a party we threw on April 4th, designed to help a struggling business in Woodbridge stay afloat, and to preserve a sense of community in Prince William County after a period of intense division.
The Invitation to the party was a public one, and remains available on YouTube.
It makes no mention of the Immigration Resolution. In fact, Greg Letiecq, the moderator of BVBL, posted our invitation on his site and encouraged people to attend. There was nothing remotely controversial in our invitation, other than to state the fact that businesses are being adversely affected by the exodus of immigrant communities from Prince William County.
It would be profoundly unfair to characterize the party as something it was not. Those who attended the party were drawn by a message to preserve a sense of community.
The tragedy of the error in the Potomac News article of April 8th is that it revives the “With Us Or Against Us” framework in a time when the community needs to move beyond such divisive tactics and find a way to make wise, collective decisions about the future of this county.
Just as there are various voices contributing to AntiBVBL, the 9500 Liberty filmmakers all have our unique perspectives. We shared some of them, quite openly, in the Washington Post OutLook Section of December 16th, and in our accompanying video essays. But we are independent filmmakers. We have not joined forces with anyone. This is critically important in this time when the community has been challenged to move beyond battle lines that have divided us in recent months.