Wednesday, April 07, 2010

McDonnell backs down, throws pro-Confederates under the bus

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell made a screeching 180 degree turn this evening in response to overwhelming criticism of the text of his original "Confederate History Month" proclamation. The original text made no reference to slavery and was generally flattering to the Southern Confederacy and its ideals. McDonnell has now published an altered version of the proclamation at his website placing the blame for the American Civil War squarely upon the institution of slavery:
Confederate History Month

WHEREAS, April is the month in which the people of Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in a four year war between the states for independence that concluded at Appomattox Courthouse; and

WHEREAS, Virginia has long recognized her Confederate history, the numerous civil war battlefields that mark every region of the state, the leaders and individuals in the Army, Navy and at home who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth in a time very different than ours today; and

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; and

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; and

WHEREAS, Confederate historical sites such as the White House of the Confederacy are open for people to visit in Richmond today; and

WHEREAS, all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army, the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace, following the instruction of General Robert E. Lee of Virginia, who wrote that, “...all should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war and to restore the blessings of peace."; and

WHEREAS, this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live, and this study and remembrance takes on particular importance as the Commonwealth prepares to welcome the nation and the world to visit Virginia for the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Civil War, a four-year period in which the exploration of our history can benefit all;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert McDonnell, do hereby recognize April 2010 as CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.
Wow, that's quite a change in Bob McDonnell's outlook. Slavery went from not being "significant" in McDonnell's original comments about the proclamation to being recognized as the underlying cause of the war.

MSNBC covered McDonnell's volte-face and published these comments from the governor:
"The proclamation issued by this office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission," he 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. The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of 'profound regret' for the Commonwealth’s history of slavery, which was the right thing to do."
This is not going to sit well with pro-Confederates, neo-Confederates, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and other right wing constituencies that McDonnell was pandering to when he made his original proclamation omitting slavery. These folks wanted slavery omitted as a way of cleaning up the Southern Confederacy's image and they are not going to be happy that McDonnell has now literally placed a statement blaming slavery, and by extension the pro-slavery Southern Confederacy, for causing the American Civil War.

That "thump-thump-thump" noise you heard a few minutes ago was Bob McDonnell tossing the Sons of Confederate Veterans under the bus.

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