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Confederate History Month

You probably know that Virginia governor Bob McDonnell declared this to be Confederate History Month. The criticism he received that his initial proclamation omitted any reference to slavery led him to add a paragraph addressing the role of slavery in the Civil War and describing it as an “evil and inhumane practice.”

If you haven’t read the proclamation itself, I recommend that you have a look. You can find it here. There are seven “whereas” clauses outlining the basis for April’s designation as Confederate History Month. Here, as a sample, is the third:

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;

Sacrifices of slaves, or free blacks, or those white Virginians who chose to fight for the Union are not recognized. I suppose that’s natural. It’s Confederate history we’re celebrating, after all. But still.

I like Ed Kilgore’s remembrance in The New Republic of “the final years of Jim Crow, when every month was Confederate History Month.” He goes on to suggest “a Neo-Confederate History Month that draws attention to the endless commemorations of the Lost Cause that have wrought nearly as much damage as the Confederacy itself. It would be immensely useful for Virginians and southerners generally to spend some time reflecting on the century or so of grinding poverty and cultural isolation that fidelity to the Romance in Gray earned for the entire region, regardless of race. Few Americans from any region know much about the actual history of Reconstruction, capped by the shameful consignment of African Americans to the tender mercies of their former masters, or about the systematic disenfranchisement of black citizens (and in some places, particularly McDonnell’s Virginia, of poor whites) that immediately followed.”

(See also Robert R. Mackey’s series of three posts at the Obsidian Wings blog: here, here, and here.)

Categories: Government, History, Politics
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