Civil War, Confederacy, Virginia, McDonnell
Our Readers Who Comment have started their own Civil War this morning by firing more than 500 comments at each other as they debate the wisdom of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's proclamation that April will be Confederate History Month in the Old Dominion.
The comment string contains a complex stew of old arguments about whether the Civil War was about states rights or slavery, individual rights or federal intrusion, blatant racism or economic necessity for agriculture, and what today's political parties really stand for. Several Northern Virginians -- who helped elect Republican McDonnell -- suggest that Fairfax County, Alexandria and Arlington should secede -- an action that contributed rather significantly to the start of the Civil War. It's an extraordinary example of how deeply some of us still feel about these issues.
McDonnell is Virginia's first Republican governor in three elections and, as Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman write, "The two previous Democratic governors had refused to issue the mostly symbolic proclamation honoring the soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War."
chet_brewer wrote, "Its unfortunate that Mr McDonnell felt the need to celebrate what was essentially treason and armed rebellion, regardless of how you clean it up... There is no question that the armies of the south fought heroically and that in the first couple of years of the war they had superior leadership, however in the end their "valor" resulted in the utter destruction of their states, their infrastructure, and their economy not exactly something that should be celebrated by patriots in my mind"
SandwichMan said, "It is senseless for liberals to get their thongs in knot about this non-issue. Virginia is positively steeped in Civil War history and Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy. The war was arguably the most seminal event in U.S. history and to not acknowledge it for reasons of political correctness would have been silly. Opponents also should consider Gov. McDonnell's political situation. Northern Virginia may fancy itself sophisticated and progressive, but the rest of the state has more conservative values. McDonnell so far has shown himself to be a practical man intent on getting crucial things done. Let's concentrate on issues of real importance."
xandersun suggested that "I think the greatest way we can honor Confederate history month is to once again secede. If West Virginia could do it, I say Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax should secede from the Dominion, too!"
And bikes-everywhere added, "I think I will celebrate my first day of Confederate History Month by writing the Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and urging him to secede the County from the Commonwealth. I suggest my fellow "patriots" in Arlington County and the incorporated cities of northern Virginia do the same. This will be a good way to test the Guv's devotion to the principle of self-determination."
skrut003 said, "Ooo, a relatively safe way to diss blacks and score points with the tea bagger crowd. What GOP politician could resist that?"
roger27 wrote, "A gratuitous insult to black Virginians and to those who didn't grow up in the South. Anybody who DID grow up in the south will see it for what it is: Another example of Republicans fanning the racist flame in the region."
pettitda said, "good men have fought for the right reasons for the wrong side in a lot of wars. Of course that should be remembered. Honestly though, a large part of our citizenry was ENSLAVED and the defeat of this movement is what eventually began to free them. Let's not paint it rosy and commemorate this with a government honor. Wax poetic all you like, it's just unrealistic to think this isn't what defines the confederacy in today's society. That and the idea that if we can't agree we can always secede....yeah let's not honor that."
kentuckythunder, in an extended post, wrote, "...I do not defend slavery. I do not defend racism. What I DO defend is the celebration of a large piece of American History and Culture. THOUSANDS of Americans died for that way of life. The great, vast majority of them were NOT, nor ever were, slave owners. Plenty of them had no real desire to support the continuation of slavery (an institution doomed to die out anyway), but what they did desire was to NOT be told what to do by an ever more intrusive Federal Government that pounded them incessantly with unfair taxation and tariffs to placate northern politicians..."
RealTexan1 said, "Good for this governor. The South has nothing to be ashamed of except the legacy of slavery, and that issue was resolved quite some time ago... Also, keep in mind that the "Civil Rights" movement has already accomplished its original goals and exists now more as a "special priveleges" movement than for anything equating to social justice. I am not in Virginia, but I will celebrate."
NewsJunkie11 wrote, "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Confederate history, warts and all, is part of American history, and the sesquicentennial of the most horrible, divisive war ever fought on American soil begins next year. Perhaps those ignorant of the issues and events of that era should take advantage of this opportunity to educate themselves, so that we might remain the greatest country the world has ever known..."
Rem127 said, "Names ,names, names. After looking at these comments, words of fear,unkindness, & hated in some cases, I see a trend that is sweeping America. Division.Why are we so afraid of our differences. Why can't we communicate enough to openly learn from our history instead of policing our heritage. [?]..."
Beckola complained that "People who belong to special interest groups that are based on their race, like NAACP, like the Black Caucus, and so many variants thereof, need to shut up about this. It's possible to talk about history and NOT mention slavery in every single case on every single subject."
OldProgessivefromWisconsin wrote, "Over a million Americans died on both sides because of the foolishness of southern planters who thought they could have everything their way eventhough in the minority---just like today's GOP..."
anonymous3 asked, "why would they celebrate a war they lost? i am curious about this fascination with the south and a war that it lost..."
MominNOVA wrote, "What next ? A reinstatement of
"Carry me back to Old Virginny" as our state song ? What makes the authors of this article think civil rights groups are the only ones offended by Confederate history month ? Many Virginians....tax payers and voters...come from other places and are sick of this reactionary mentality. Wake up, Governor McDonnell your base is disappearing !"
IowaLad wrote, "...The Civil War was a huge mistake; slavery should have been abolished, of course, but the slaves should have been given a territory of their own. There is nothing wrong at all with Virginia or any other State honoring Confederate History Month."
fairfaxvoter said, "Given the explosive recent political history laid out here (see entire article), I am completely amazed McDonnell did not simply call it "Civil War History Month," roughly the solution that Governor Gilmore arrived at, acknowledge the "complex" aspects of revisiting this part of our collective history, including slavery, and tie his decision more firmly and publicly to next year's tourism campaign, thus job creation, at the time he issued the proclamation..."
controlbob1 wrote, "Long live the South! It was the Lincoln administration that started this vast accumulation of power at the federal level."
drc231 said, "...I come from a family that lost lives on both sides/blue and grey. It was the most destructive, horrible thing ever to occur on our great country's soil. To recognize it, with the weight of history throughout Virginia is not an abomination, despite the shouts of racism. Teach from it, learn from it, but don't forget it, it has very relevant lessons for all of us, regardless of our color or political affiliations. Soon, they will be lighting candles at Antietam, a horrifically bloody place in American History. Remember..."
We'll close with RealConservative, who wrote, "This is not a question of left or right, conservative or liberal, black or white.The Confederacy is in the history books as a misguided and failed experiment and that is where it should remain.Treason and racism should not be honored...this is an insult to those who sacrificed for the ideals of Democracy and Justice for All."
All comments on this article are here.
April 7, 2010; 7:43 AM ET
| Tags: American Civil War, Bob McDonnell, Civil War, Confederate History Month, Republican Party, United States, Virginia
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