Virginia: Confederacy of Dunces

Julie Marsh
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julie marsh
Photo by Aimee Giese
On Friday, April 2, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell declared April to be Confederate History Month in his state. Nowhere in his declaration did he mention slavery as a part of Confederate history.

Widely criticized for the omission, he has since revised the declaration to include a paragraph regarding slavery, calling it "an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights."

That's all well and good, but I don't see any reason to honor the Confederacy at all, and certainly not with an officially declared month of recognition.

The Confederacy arose as a result of the North's opposition to slavery and the South's commitment to it. Plain and simple.

Some people, like the conservative base in southern states, like to insist even now that the Confederacy was about states' rights. That's white-washing. The federal government was moving toward abolition, even before Abraham Lincoln was elected, and the South didn't like it. Those states felt it was their right to keep slaves and they didn't want the federal government telling them differently.

Basically, they didn't agree that civil rights ought to trump their economic livelihood, and they started a war over it.

Funny how southerners call it "The War of Northern Aggression" when they were the ones who struck first at Fort Sumter, 149 years ago today. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers died on both sides, all because the South thought people with dark skin ought to be relegated to picking cotton. Meanwhile, the North fought for our country to remain whole and for all of its citizens to be treated equally.

Granted, the latter goal wasn't achieved by the Emancipation Proclamation, and it still hasn't been fully achieved, but we're continuing to make progress.

The Confederacy still exists. They have a website with links to their various government offices, including their Intelligence Bureau which keeps notes on people who are "being agents provocateur and who were always attempting to keep the pot boiling so to speak and create internal strife." My state of Colorado is a Confederate Territory, and since I'm not a Confederate citizen -- I haven't yet completed my registration and paid my $50 -- I'm a resident alien. The CSA even sells bonds. It's hilarious!

But to southerners, it's very serious. In fact, to Virginians it's worth honoring with an entire month of remembrance.

I'm for states' rights. I'm not for white-washing or rewriting history. Confederate History Month is a step backward, whether the declaration acknowledges the horrors of slavery or not.

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