Welcome to Nazi History Month

Robert McDonnell, Virginia's New Racist Governor

Virginia's New Racist Governor

The new governor of Virginia, Robert McDonnell, took office in January.   From his state capital in Richmond, which is also the former capital of the Confederacy, he issued a state proclamation celebrating April as “Confederate History Month.”  Amazingly, the proclamation contained no mention of slavery.

The geographical expansion of slavery was the cause for which the South struggled, from shortly after the invention of the cotton gin until thwarted by the election of the first Republican president.   The desire to expand slavery controlled Southern positions on every other national issue of the period.  Just as some voters today are obsessed with one issue, and see every other issue only in the light of how it affects their primary concern, the South promoted several foreign wars (not to mention its domestic invasions and violence in Missouri and Kansas), opposed statehood for non-slave-holding territories, and adopted positions on railroads and every other great national undertaking, based only on how slavery’s expansion might be affected.

Animating this struggle was a new Southern ideology, holding that slavery was a good in itself.  This evolution in thought was a nineteenth-century phenomenon; no longer was slavery simply a necessary economic system protected by the Constitution.  And when Lincoln’s election finally proved that slavery was going to be limited to where it already existed, Southern states attempted to secede.

Lincoln’s interpretation of the Constitution did not view the claim of secession as legally effective.  And when Southern militants fired on the federal fort originally built to protect South Carolina’s trade from foreign enemies, the Civil War  — which some Southerners still misconstrue as a “war between two states” — began.

Governor McDonnell’s proclamation honored “the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens.”  When he was asked why there was no mention of slavery in it, he said that slavery was among “any number of aspects to that conflict between the states,” and that he wanted to highlight the issues that “I thought were most significant for Virginia.”

Considering that a third of all Southerners were black slaves, and that today one fifth of all Virginians are black, it was a remarkable statement.   Imagine a proclamation of “Nazi History Month” in Germany that made no mention of “The Jewish Problem.”

This was not an innocent mistake.  McDonnell is perpetuating the Civil War revisionism that pretends that the Southern cause was a noble battle for states’ rights against an oppressive federal government.   Minimizing the evil inherent within their “peculiar institution,” and evading responsibility for the conflict, are persistent features in Southern mythology.

McDonnell’s proclamation will appeal to the unreconstructed whites now nervously realizing that “Real” America is increasingly nothing like them, and especially to the racially-motivated extremists who are in a panicky frenzy over the Obama presidency.  Governor McDonnell has close ties to other racists, like his mentor Pat Robertson (the last of the important American supporters of South African apartheid), and his predecessor George (The Macaca’s Worst Nightmare) Allen, and his fellow governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Those ties give him additional appeal with that crowd.

There are many folks who disagree with President Obama about substantive national issues and who are not racists.  But the pandering of Republican politicians to the extremists among the Tea Party-ites is irresponsible and scary —  even more irresponsible than their willingness to damage the country’s condition for the sake of political gain by refusing to participate in governing. (Even when Democrats patterned bills after Republican bills from the previous administration, the Republicans have obstructed.)

Some spokespeople for organizations in Virginia and Mississippi recently said that the Confederate Army fought “for the same things that people in the Tea Party are fighting for.”  I think that’s true — but not in the sense those spokespeople intended!  It’s no wonder that there are never any African-American, Hispanic or Asian-American attendees at Republican events, except for the tokens on the stage.  I just pray that the Secret Service will defend the nation’s president when some unemployable, gun-toting, white-minority militant tries to pursue a twisted vision of “Liberty” via blood in the streets.

It was Republican President Lincoln who led the nation to the point of freeing the slaves; and it was Republican President Eisenhower who enforced federal law in 1957 by sending troops to Arkansas to force the admission of nine black students at the all-white Little Rock Central High School.  Fast forward to 2010: Several Republican state Attorneys General, imitating the 1957 Governor of Arkansas, recently initiated meritless lawsuits, pretending for political gain that these might nullify the federal health care reform law.

If only the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower could produce in our time even one compassionate conservative!  Instead it has become the Party of Greed and Fear.

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  1. #1 by Jewish Jihad on December 26, 2010 - 5:03 am

    Under huge pressure from civil rights activists, McDonnell has amended his formal proclamation, adding the following clause:

    “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.”

    Although it has now been amended, his original proclamation was still successful at strengthening his position with his Southern racist conservative base.

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