Bob McDonnell, the State of Virginia, and the Confederacy

I can’t seem to find words that promote healthy conversation with regards to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s absolute prickishness.

Wait.

Is “prickishness” even a word?

Oh well… Onward.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has reinstated an archaic practice that hasn’t been used in eight years, issuing a proclamation declaring April “Confederate History Month” in Virginia.

This Confederate History Month nonsense began at the request of a group called The Sons of Confederate Veterans. They believe the Civil war was less about slavery, and more about a conflict between the rights of the federal government vs. the rights of the states. 

I think they’re probably right about that much, as back in 1861 when Virginia seceded from the Union, not too many people in that state really gave slaves a second thought. They were just property, after all. Who goes to war over their kitchen table? Slavery, by that point, was so engrained, such a wide-spread institutionalized part of Virginia’s identity that not many people took the threat of its abolishment seriously.

Not in Virginia, anyway.

While I hate it, I can understand why, to the average Virginian, state’s rights trumped slave’s rights back in 1861. What is inconscionable is that this would still be the case today. 150 years later, people are still trying to trivialize the magnitude slavery had back then- and still has today- on society. Especially southern society.

We know better.

The last two governors Virginia had, both democrats, refused to carry the torch of this Confederacy Month silliness, and had effectively splashed cold water on that particular fire.

Enter the esteemed republican Governor Bob McDonnell- blow torch in hand- ready to kick ass and reignite the flame of bigotry.

The current political climate’s good for it… and Lord knows the wind’s blowin’ the “right” way in Virginia at present.

As a southern woman of color, a person who is raising two beautiful black-women-in-training, I take issue with the idea of Confederate History Month on G.P.

What enrages me, however, is that the governor’s proclamation- 17 paragraph’s worth of drivel, mind you- did not contain a single reference to slavery.

Not one.

How in the hell does Virginia of all places, set aside an entire month in dedication to the War Between the States (that’s Civil War for all you Yankees out there), and not make mention of slavery at all?

At best, Bob McDonnell is simply ambiguous about slavery, and is attempting to rewrite Virginia’s sordid history, creating one instead that omits the big black elephant slaves in the room.

At worst, he’s…

… A bigoted racist prick Well, you know.

After ex-governor Tim Kaine (along with various civil rights leaders, including the state chapter of the NAACP) blasted the heck out of ol’ Bob for his insensitive proclamation, he immediately began back pedaling and political posturing issued an apology.

Sure, it was lame, hollow, and completely lacking any remorse or sincerity, but…

Whatever.

Governor McDonnell says, in part, “The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed… The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation… We cannot avoid our past; instead we must demand that it be discussed with civility and responsibility.”

Sure, Governor Bob, we can’t avoid our past…

… But we sure as hell can rewrite our history.

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One thought on “Bob McDonnell, the State of Virginia, and the Confederacy

  1. I would think that McDonald would be tired of apologizing. I wonder if he is surprised at people’s responses. The outcry over not including sexual orientation in the state’s equal employment decree. His AG suggesting Virginia colleges do the same. And now this. He just doesn’t WANT to get it.

    Are you on Twitter? There was a trend called #VirginiaTouristsSlogans:
    -Virgina: Rewhiting History
    -Virginia: We’re Gonna Party Like it’s 1799
    -Remembering When being Rich, White & Male meant something…
    -Virginia is for Lovers. Of Racism.

    While hilarious, I was also mortified to live in such a state. For all the wonder of turning Virginia blue in 2008, I am NOT pleased with all the non-voting democrats of 2009.

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