Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bob McDonnell suffers a self-inflicted wound over Confederacy Proclamation


Yesterday all the blogosphere was a twitter over Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s Confederacy Proclamation declaring April Confederacy History month. Just bringing back Confederacy History Month was problematic for McDonnell, because many on the left find such a thing racially insensitive.

Personally, I have no problem with a Confederate History month. It is history and the state of Virginia is littered with all sorts of museums, statues, Civil War reenactments, etc. that recall its Confederate past. All that history is on display 24/7/365, so to get offended over a month dedicated to it seems rather silly to me.

The part where McDonnell gets into trouble is that the original proclamation he signed omits the topic of slavery.  Here is the original
Confederate History Month
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; and
WHEREAS, Confederate historical sites such as the White House of the Confederacy are open for people to visit in Richmond today; and
WHEREAS, all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army, the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace, following the instruction of General Robert E. Lee of Virginia, who wrote that, “…all should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war and to restore the blessings of peace.”; and
WHEREAS,   this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live, and this study and remembrance takes on particular importance as the Commonwealth prepares to welcome the nation and the world to visit Virginia for the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Civil War, a four-year period in which the exploration of our history can benefit all;
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. 
See, no mention of slavery. Slavery played such a major role in the Civil War era; its omission gives a very distorted image. It makes the proclamation read like revisionist history and isn’t that the very thing we are forever catching the left trying to do? People obliviously had legitimate gripes about this omission. When asked about it McDonnell really made matters worse with his reply
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. 
Slavery wasn’t significant to Virginia? I am not one who gets offended at the drop of a hat, but that answer is offensive. I find it offensive because I do not view my people’s past from a position of weakness, shame or embarrassment. I view it from a position of strength.  That part of black history is a testament to black people’s ability to overcome unspeakable hardship and to go on to thrive. To remove slavery from the discussion, we lose sight of how far blacks like Obama, Condi Rice, Colin Powell or Clarence Thomas have come. We also lose sight of how far America has advanced from its troubled past.

McDonnell should have known that omitting slavery would be unforgivable. Now after a major dust up, he has had to apologize and issue a new proclamation. 
Politico: The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. 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. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of “profound regret” for the Commonwealth’s history of slavery, which was the right thing to do.
When I signed the Proclamation designating February as Black History Month, and as I look out my window at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, I am reminded that, even 150 years later, Virginia’s past is inextricably part of our present. The Confederate History Month proclamation issued was solely intended to promote the study of our history, encourage tourism in our state in advance of the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and recognize Virginia’s unique role in the story of America. The Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved the establishment of a Sesquicentennial American Civil War Commission to prepare for and commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the War, in order to promote history and create recognition programs and activities.
As Virginians we carry with us both the burdens and the blessings of our history. Virginia history undeniably includes the fact that we were the Capitol of the Confederacy, the site of more battlefields than any other state, and the home of the signing of the peace agreement at Appomattox. Our history is perhaps best encapsulated in a fact I noted in my Inaugural Address in January: The state that served as the Capitol of the Confederacy was also the first in the nation to elect an African-American governor, my friend, L. Douglas Wilder. America’s history has been written in Virginia. We cannot avoid our past; instead we must demand that it be discussed with civility and responsibility. During the commemoration of the Civil War over the next four years, I intend to lead an effort to promote greater understanding and harmony in our state among our citizens.” 

Here is the new proclamation:
 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; and
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; and
WHEREAS, Confederate historical sites such as the White House of the Confederacy are open for people to visit in Richmond today; and
WHEREAS, all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army, the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace, following the instruction of General Robert E. Lee of Virginia, who wrote that, “...all should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war and to restore the blessings of peace."; and
WHEREAS,   this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live, and this study and remembrance takes on particular importance as the Commonwealth prepares to welcome the nation and the world to visit Virginia for the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Civil War, a four-year period in which the exploration of our history can benefit all;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert McDonnell, do hereby recognize April 2010 as CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH in ourCOMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens. 

20 comments:

OldSouth said...

The whole effort was probably ill-advised from the get-go. A state proclamation honoring 'Confederate History Month' is bound to stir hard feelings in all corners.

I am descended from a Confederate soldier, who by an odd twist of fate, fought his last battle in the neighborhood in which I grew up. He was one of nineteen that made it home in one piece, out of his regiment of one thousand.

I think his memory is better served by not dredging the tragedy up from the past for a fresh round of verbal blood-letting.

The war is over. The Confederacy lost, in great part due to its obstinate refusal to see that chattel slavery is an indefensible practice. I do wonder at times what would have happened if those states had simultaneously seceded and outlawed slavery...

JEM said...

Of course his addition is also historically inaccurate as slavery was not the primary cause of the civil war.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope to have the honor and pleasure of meeting you one day, my brother. In this post you have struck a major chord within my heart.

So sad that though we have been physically free for a long time, so many brothers and sisters are STILL in chains and shackles psychologically.

Your words deeply resonate with me, Cliff. I'm not one who is easily offended, either. I don't have a "raaaacism radar detector", seeing bigotry everywhere and in everything. I don't go around with a suspicious mind and behave mistrustfully of the motives of others, whatever their ethnicity. That ish is just CRAZY and I so wish our people would stop the foolishness and leave the damn plantation once and FOR ALL!

Keep telling it like it is, my brother. This sista is out here listening and learning. THANK YOU!

AMERICA RISING
November 2010

sudhish said...

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Anonymous said...

One can always count on the Stupid Party to find a way to shoot itself in the foot.

Me, I'm going to continue to support the TRUE conservative future of our country: Michael Williams, Col. Allen West, Marco Rubio, et al. If that means shaking out the ol' Dixiecrat fetishisms of some people, so be it.

Keep up the great work, ABC!

Janelle said...

I'm only second generation born here, so I can't speak about this. They came to America.

Anonymous said...

history - ok
missing a significant component - not ok
lack of sensibility - disheartening

not pc-ness, just sensibility - please. are politicians too "fat and lazy" to take care, or are they more incompetent than we can understand/can believe?

Stogie said...

Yes, the war was caused by Northern aggression, not slavery. The Confederate cause was just, the Northern cause was not. It's too bad that American history has been so politicized that an honest discussion of it is impossible. You either buy into the Northern myth or you are an outcast to be ridculed and reviled.

See my take on it if you dare.

rosewood59 said...

I think it's a stupid decision.. why not a "Souther Cultural Heritage Day" that celebrates all the really good things about the South (yes, dear ones there are many good things about the South), such a culture, assimulation, family values, food, dedication, devotion, honesty, regional differences/additives). Why such a stupid thing like the Confederacy? Sweet Jesus. That Flag died out with supposed female virginity! Go Forward Governor, not backwards!

ozzie said...

I have friends that have confederate flag tattoos and I honestly don't think they know the full history.

A truthful analysis of what I believe it is:

It is a symbol of solidarity for white people. I believe it is a race thing, but not racism. I would liken it to any black brotherhood movement in which their is security in numbers.

I believe that a mindset has entered the typical "white" middle class person that they need be on a defensive. Brought forth and perpetuated by the class warfare political tool.

It is a response to the divisiveness that was created as soon as victim classes became a subsidized block.

I would never defend it because I believe the message for most comes across as racist, but as frustration grows it takes on those characteristics and lends itself to those that would prey upon their fears.

This politician was playing to that disaffected demographic and should be ashamed.

Conservatism can grow, but with Republican stupidity it seems miraculous to continue in such a manner. Despite their best efforts, if the message stays clear and violence and division remains a tool of the left, we will be okay.

Clifton B said...

OldSouth:

I think his memory is better served by not dredging the tragedy up from the past for a fresh round of verbal blood-letting.

While harping on the Confederacy may not be a good idea, ignoring history is even worse. Yes, it was painful, but there are lessons to be learned.

I do wonder at times what would have happened if those states had simultaneously seceded and outlawed slavery...

It would have been a very different America for sure. I am not sure if the north and south could have survived or thrived without each other.

Clifton B said...

Jem:

State's rights was the other issue. However, you cannot tell the story without both parts.

Clifton B said...

Anonymous:

So sad that though we have been physically free for a long time, so many brothers and sisters are STILL in chains and shackles psychologically.

This has to be the most frustrating thing to witness. So many of our people refuse to believe they have far more power than they give themselves credit for.

Chalk this up to liberals feeding our people a steady diet of bitterness and distrust with a big fat slice of victimhood. I pray for the day when the madness will end.

Clifton B said...

Janelle:

You are the reason why America needs to settle its past once and for all. There are too many blacks and white who have come to America and have no ties to any of the past, yet they have to live with the baggage.

Clifton B said...

sudish:

hummm, interesting.

Clifton B said...

Anonymous @ 1:35 pm:

Agreed the days of total party loyalty must come to an end. Candidates who prove worthy gets our supports, the rest get a pink slip.

Clifton B said...

Anonymous @ 3:30 pm

please. are politicians too "fat and lazy" to take care, or are they more incompetent than we can understand/can believe?

I would have to say a little bit of both.

Clifton B said...

Stogie:

I dared! The dictates from the North set up the whole state's right issue. You chronicle many of the issues that are not taught anymore, but don't loose sight that a people became free.

BTW, as I was scrolling down on your blog, I got a malware warning.

Clifton B said...

rosewood59:

why not a "Souther Cultural Heritage Day"

Excellent idea!

Clifton B said...

Ozzie:

I have observed four distinct reactions whites have for the Confederate flag.

1. Is what you mention and often that is where the racist use of the flag comes from.
2. Whites who are proud of their southern heritage minus slavery. This is what Rosewood59 speaks of.
3. Ambivalence. They simply look at it as an old relic of history.
4. Whites who think the flag is racist no matter what. This is the prevailing view of most white liberals.

I would like to see old dixie redefined for the modern era. Since the flag won't die out, why not redefine it so it has a more positive and universal meaning. This way we can all get over the damn thing.

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