On Wednesday, the Roman Catholic Governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell (Republican), apologized for omitting slavery from his proclamation of April as Confederate History Month. In the AP video embedded below, McDonnell defended his omission of slavery in the proclamation saying:
"I didn't mention it [slavery] solely because I was trying to keep focus on the war aspects of it [Confederate history]."As if the Confederates weren't fighting the war so that they could keep their slaves? Come on, governor. Give me a break.
"The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission," McDonnell said in a statement. "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." McDonnell also called the nation's first elected black governor, L. Douglas Wilder (D) of Virginia, and the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, Del. Kenneth Cooper Alexander (D-Norfolk), to apologize after they said they were offended by the document. McDonnell told them that he would alter the proclamation to include slavery and acknowledge that it was the cause of the Civil War.
"Major omission" indeed. On the tails of the Texas Board of Education's decision to amend the textbooks used by the majority of our nation's youth and the arrest of a Christian militia group in Michigan for planning armed revolt against our government, what is going on with conservative Christians in our nation?
Apparently they have no interest in learning from the mistakes of the past. Rather, they would erase historical atrocities, like slavery and state-imposed religion, so that future generations can repeat the discrimination and violence that our American ancestors fought and died to defeat.
Here's some of the response from Elle at Shakesville "On Collective (and Selective) Memory to McDonnell's love of Confederate heritage:
You know, I am not at all surprised by the fact that Virginia's Governor Robert McDonnell proclaimed April Confederate History Month. My (Louisiana) parish has done it before and I'm sure it's not an anomaly in the South.
But what gets me, what always gets me, when I see people loving on the Confederacy and declaring that their flags and memorials are all about heritage, is the selective, largely one-sided memory they have. The "Old South" may have been all moonlight and magnolias in their recollections, but there were four million or so people who, I'll bet, remembered it quite differently.
Encouraging people to remember the Confederacy includes encouraging them to remember that those states left the Union largely because of their fear that Abraham Lincoln would not just stop the expansion of slavery, but abolish it all together. Remember that these people were willing to go to war to protect their right to own and exploit other people. That dims the moonlight a little bit.
The irony is, it is "heritage" to remember the Confederacy, but we are never supposed to talk about slavery. McDonnell urges people to "to recognize how our history has led to our present," but when we talk about how slavery has very real effects on our present, that is dismissed. It ended a century and a half ago, after all, and to talk about it is to search for grievances and dwell on the past or however that argument goes. The proclamation itself makes no mention of slavery, just vague allusions to "a time very different than ours today." McDonnell himself suggested that slavery was not important enough to merit mention in a proclamation about remembering the Confederacy.