Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Confederate History Month: It is a Celebration!

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell declared April 2010 Confederate History Month. The declaration states:

WHEREAS, April is the month in which the people of Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse; and

WHEREAS, Virginia has long recognized her Confederate history, the numerous civil war battlefields that mark every region of the state, the leaders and individuals in the Army, Navy and at home who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth in a time very different than ours today; and

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth’s shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present….

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert McDonnell, do hereby recognize April 2010 as CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.

The original declaration did not even mention slavery. The Washington Post reported that:

McDonnell said he did not include a reference to slavery because "there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia."

Essentially, slavery was not significant enough to be included in the original proclamation. Under pressure from the African American community, Governor McDonnell issued an apology and added the following clause to the proclamation:

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history…
**This section will be added between the 3rd and 4th Sections**

Belatedly adding a slavery clause does not negate the truth about the Confederacy. Virginia and the other treasonous Confederate States seceded from the Union primarily to protect slavery and white supremacy. Hundreds of thousands of people died during the Civil War. Celebrating Confederate history is a grotesque romanticization of treason, war and slavery. It is analogous to Germany celebrating its revolting Nazi history. McDonnell’s proclamation is an outrageous insult to all African Americans.

Following in the footsteps of his predecessors George Allen and Jim Gilmore, McDonnell is perpetuating the Republican Party’s southern strategy of pandering to the most reactionary, racist elements of the electorate. Instead of uniting the people of Virginia, the Governor has polarized and agitated the people. Rather than simply issuing an apology, the Governor should cancel Confederate History Month immediately.

McDonnell needs to hear from concerned citizens. He can be reached at:

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, Virginia 23218

Street address:
Office of the Governor
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Phone Numbers:
(804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351
TTY/TDD (For the Hearing Impaired):
1-800-828-1120, or 711

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