Virginia Backs Away From Confederacy Month

Backing away from his usual political pandering to the hard right, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell announced that next April will be “Civil War in Virginia” month instead of “Confederate History Month.”  The announcement is the latest in the Governor’s apologies for his earlier proclamation that celebrated Virginia’s role in the Civil War and expressly omitted any reference to slavery or its role in the war.

The Governor has now called on Virginians to remember the Civil War with solemnity, rather than to embrace it as a source of regional, racial pride.  McDonnell’s earlier controversial (and historically inaccurate) proclamation came at request of the group Sons of Confederate Veterans and immediately came under national criticism for doing so.

Many see this step as a way for McDonnell to repair the damage done from the earlier proclamation–but on his own terms–so as to not appear like he’s caving to criticism from outside his state and outside his conservative circles.

To the credit of some of McDonnell’s advisors, there does seem to be a genuine effort at reaching out to all Virginians here and not just the radical, racialized Sons of the Confederacy.  This latest move is but one of a series that is trying to recognize an inclusive history of the state and not a revisionist one promulgated by the hard right.

But not everyone is pleased with the move, including the Virginia arm of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who called the move “cowardly” and accused McDonnell of selling out Virginia’s Confederate descendants to make himself for accepting for a national audience.

Whether this is genuine or just political opportunism almost doesn’t matter.  The fact remains that white revisionists were dealt a set-back by a very conservative Governor.  It’s a victory for those of us concerned by the increasingly hostile racial tone of American politics and policy and perhaps a signal that the Republican “Southern Strategy” may not have the kind of political teeth to truly impact either midterms or the 2012 elections.

photo courtesy of change-of-venue via Flickr


Allan Y.
.6 years ago

To begin with, the Confederate flag has no purpose since the end of the Civil War. It simply serves as a reminder (for those who fly it) that they are bigots, and wish the KKK would resurrect.

Walter G.
Walter G.6 years ago

War is only beneficial if we learn from it. Our history shows that we have not begun to do that. If you doubt me, go to Arlington or your local military burial venue. Take a chair and an umbrella, and just sit and contemplate the landscape for a while. See the visitors to the graves. Go to the Vietnam Memorial. Just walk around in it. contemplate the rows of names, and then ask yourself how this benefited us as a nation.

susan w.
susan w.6 years ago

the civil war was fought because the southern states wanted to split from the u.s. and form their own separate union....the north did not want them to split from the u.s. and thats what the war was all about .....slavery was a part of the reason for the war but a small one....the war between the states was a tragic bloody 4 year war and we lost a lot of brave americans....i am not for the north or south i am for the united states of america....thank-you

Brittany Dudas
Brittany D.6 years ago

How can anyone celebrate something that fought to protect and continue slavery?

Dominic C.
Dominic C.6 years ago

Confederacy can embrace humanity and establish a philosophy that is moderate and successful. Virginia does not have to return to the Civil War era of slavery and hardcore conservatism.

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush6 years ago

How can you reason with anyone who is still fighting the Civil War?

Ronald Ellsworth
Ronald E.6 years ago

Lindsey DTSW ; Excellent observation, just as I would not be here except for the criminal Andrew Jackson driving the Cherokee Nation out of the S East, ultimately beginning my blood line on the maternal side. The Cherokee Nation later joined the Confederacy in a losing cause and forfeited all their lands, leading up to the Oklahoma land rush, hence the "Sooner" tag. The very first casualty of the Civil War (before hostilities were declared) was a close friend of Abe Lincoln - Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, shot to death while taking down a confederate flag. My youngest son looks EXACTLY like Elmer in every respect.

Lindsey DTSW
.6 years ago

Ronald, for all practical purposes, if our ancestral history changed we wouldn't exist at all. So a black person who's the descendant of slaves would never have been born had his ancestors not been brought to this country as slaves. Just as I would not exist if the South had won the war - my own family's history would have changed resulting in 'no me'.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.6 years ago

He can't hide behind insincere apologies. He a bigot and racist period.

I am tired of these false apologies. They mean nothing and aren't fooling anyone.

Ronald Ellsworth
Ronald E.6 years ago

Jaime C - Well, yeah - the Confederates DID lose the war and history IS written by the victors. However I do believe a case can be made to support the notion that there would have been no civil war if there weren't slaves in the South supporting the economy. The causes are well documented so no need to belabor here. Personally I will never understand why slavery was tolerated, but it did play a big role in the private lives of many of the founders we hold in the highest esteem, including the Father of Our Country. The question I would put to our African American neighbors would be "Are you personally better off because there was slavery in America"? Might be a GREAT discussion for this site! Just a thought, no hidden motives.