Confederate flags EVERYWHERE. "The South will rise again" stickers and banners all over the place. Numerous museums, exhibits and historical sites dedicated to Confederate history. These are a handful of present-day Virginia's odes to the Confederacy, but apparently, that's not enough. Virginia's governor wants the entire month of April dedicated to Confederate history. Are times really changing or are we simply moving in reverse?
Governor McDonnell declared April Confederate History Month last week. He claims it was intended to promote tourism in the state, since next year will be the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Take it from me, a native Virginian: Confederate tourism is probably one of the state's main sources of revenue, second to NASCAR, that is. With that being said, what's really behind all of this Confederate History Month hoopla?
In his initial proposal, McDonnell forgot a minor detail: the acknowledgement of slavery in this country. I guess because, you know, the slave owners themselves, the same people who fought FOR the grotesque and inhumane practice of slavery among other things, are the only ones who deserve remembrance and recognition. You have GOT to be kidding me. Is it really 2010?
I thought we were starting to recognize the ignorant bigotry and suspended disbelief toward slavery by now. Next thing you know, history textbooks are going to say things like "Slavery in America wasn't that bad at all," and "Slaves really enjoyed life in the South." Believe it or not, such nonsense was regularly printed in early 20th century textbooks.
I know what some of you may be wondering: "What about those Confederate soldiers who fought and died in the war? Why can't you be a little more sensitive about it?"
Well, I have something for you to wonder about: How about the descendants of slaves who have to live in a world where their enslaved ancestors are forgotten, where the person who tied the noose is valued more than the corpse that swung from the tree? Here's some news for you -- that corpse was someone's great great-great-somebody - who, for a time, Virginia's governor had no intention of caring about. Harsh reality, ain't it?
Now, I know that McDonnell eventually cleared things up some time after his initial proposal, adding some sort of recognition of slavery in the Confederate History Month deal, but the grim fact still remains: a government official, one of the state's and the nation's leaders, FORGOT about an entire underrepresented race.
The people who LOST a war were considered more important than the people who spent their entire lives working on land, cleaning homes, taking care of children, enduring rape, starvation, murder and other mistreatments.
All of this takes me back to my 11th grade history field trip to the Museum of the Confederacy. At one point we watched a movie about life in the South during the Civil War.
A commentator in the movie mentioned slavery, giving credit to the slaves for contributing to the South's economy. As soon as the commentator finished making his point, our bus driver walked out of the movie, mumbling some negative comment under his breath. My heart dropped and I started to feel sick to my stomach. I got the same feeling when I first heard about Confederate History Month.
Times are uncertain. Expect the unexpected. Now, excuse me while I go check to see if the 15th Amendment is still in effect in Virginia.