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Updated: Obama said McDonnell made an 'unacceptable omission' in leaving slavery out of proclamation

Anita Kumar

President Obama said that Gov. Bob McDonnell made "an unacceptable omission" when he declared April Confederate History Month without including mention of slavery.

"I don't think you can understand the Confederacy and the Civil War unless you understand slavery," said Obama, the nation's first black president, in an interview with ABC News on Thursday in Prague.

"I think it's just a reminder that when we talk about issues like slavery that are so fraught with pain and emotion, that, you know, we, we'd better do so thinking through how this is going to affect a lot of people. And their sense of whether they're part of a commonwealth or part of our broader society."

McDonnell said he originally issued a proclamation that left out any reference to slavery because he wanted to include issues he thought were most "significant" to Virginia. He also said the document was designed to promote tourism in the state, which next year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

On Wednesday, he apologized for the omission and altered the proclamation to include slavery and acknowledge that it was the cause of the Civil War.

"Well, you know, I'm a big history buff,'' Obama said in the ABC interview. "And I think that understanding the history of the Confederacy and understanding the history of the Civil War is something that every American and every young American should, should be a part of. Now, I don't think you can understand the Confederacy and the Civil War unless you understand slavery. And so, I think that was a - an unacceptable omission. I think the governor's now acknowledged that."

Updated: McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said: "We agree with the President, the omission was unacceptable. He is right."

By Anita Kumar  |  April 9, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Next: Jon Stewart pokes fun at Virginia -- again

Comments

i think the president was being too kind to mcdonnell.

Posted by: MarilynManson | April 9, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

So, according to Mcdonnell slavery was not significant to Virginians...

Posted by: nom22 | April 9, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The Commonwealth was doomed last year. They had to choose between two bumbling idiots for governor.

Posted by: linroy62 | April 9, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

McDonnell is getting off too easily. Next stop: White Christian month.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 9, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

To reward the McDonnell voters, Virginia needs a:

"Uneducated redneck evangelical month"

Posted by: kenk3 | April 9, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Please please stop.....Yes the war was about slavery but that was not the only cause of the war. Actually the war started when Lincoln decided it best to invade the Commonwealth of Virginia. We have bleeding heart liberals today upset because we invaded Iraq without just cause and we should have tried sanctions. How many sanctions did Lincoln try before spilled the blood of hundred of thousands of Americans? Give it a rest people and quit turning this into a racial issue when it is not.

Posted by: skinsfaninWI | April 9, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Please recheck your U.S. History books, skinsfaninWI.

I believe the war started when South Carolina troops shelled Ft Sumter (a federal fort in Charleston harbor) in March 1861.

Were you possibly home-schooled?

Posted by: B-rod | April 9, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

What is it with Obama that he can't stay out of local issues? He totally undercut the Cambridge, Mass. PD with his meddling in the affairs of his buddy Skip "I'll see your mama on the porch" Prosser and now this. And I'm sure there's stuff I'm missing.

Obama go back to screwing up the country on the national level and leaves the locals alone.

Posted by: traderdad37 | April 9, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

@kenk3

You show your bigotry when you post comments like that. Thanks bigot.

Posted by: traderdad37 | April 9, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If the Governor of Virginia was trying to encourage people to visit his State, the only group he undoubtedly impressed were the Tea Party group. All of the rest of us will stay away as we have had more than enough of Redneck bigotry.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | April 9, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

If the Governor of Virginia was trying to encourage people to visit his State, the only group he undoubtedly impressed were the Tea Party group. All of the rest of us will stay away as we have had more than enough of Redneck bigotry.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | April 9, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

That is correct B-rod but Virginia was still part of the Union at that point. The great Lincoln then called for 75,000 militia to fight against their fellow countrymen. That is when Virginia split from the Union. The war was not about slavery but about secession.

Posted by: skinsfaninWI | April 9, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

skinsfaninWI learn your history. the war was about secession alright. It was about secession so that the southern states can have slaves and keep african americans as property deeming them 3/5ths of a person and denying them of their civil rights after we helped build this country to make it a better for all citizens. for you people they love to cry secession just take a look at the poster child Haiti. Now there's a country that was not colonized and they seem to have done quite well for them self. Maybe Virginia can join them...

Posted by: kiboo | April 9, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

skinsfaninWI learn your history. The war was about secession alright. It was about secession so that the southern states can have slaves and keep african americans as property deeming them 3/5ths of a person and denying them of their civil rights after they helped build this country to make it a better place for all citizens. And for you folks that love to cry secession just take a look at the poster child Haiti. Now there's a country that wasn't colonized. Maybe Virginia can join them...

Posted by: kiboo | April 9, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

skinsfaninWI: Where did you study history?

Posted by: jckdoors | April 9, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

@kenk3

You show your bigotry when you post comments like that. Thanks bigot.

Posted by: traderdad37 | April 9, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

------------------------------------------

I'm proud to be bigoted against uneducated redneck evangelicals.

For me, being a white, over-educated, heavily traveled, city dweller, they're my sworn enemy.

Posted by: kenk3 | April 9, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse


SkinfaninWI,

Are you confused? Was it “a” cause or wasn’t it?

1st post: "Please please stop.....Yes the war was about slavery but that was not the only cause of the war..."

Second post: "The war was not about slavery but about secession.


You wrote: “Give it a rest people and quit turning this into a racial issue when it is not.”

The Confederacy, whether you want to define it in terms of states’ rights, economic interests or gov’t procedure, was and is at its very core an issue of race…the rights of whites to enslave and treat black, brown and natives as nothing more than property. You really should know a little of what you speak, but in an effort to educate let me provide a quote by the Vice-President of the CSA Alexander Stephens when he laid out the confederate causes of the Civil War and defended that “peculiar institution” aka slavery.

“They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. ... Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner–stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.

Hit those books dude!

Posted by: summertyme40 | April 9, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse


In 1862, Lincoln wrote Horace Greeley that if he could restore the Union without freeing one slave he would do it. The
Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863, freed only those slaves Lincoln had no power to free -- those still under
Confederate rule. As for slaves in the Union states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, they remained the
property of their owners.

Posted by: skinsfaninWI | April 9, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Was McDonnell only trying to encourage tourism among whites and tea party members? At some point, Virginia and the Confederate Sons have to swallow their pride and accept the fact that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of history. States rights, i.e., the ability to enslave people of color so that the lifestyle of the south could continue was morally wrong. McDonnell is in a state of denial; anyone else who doesn't recognize the sin of slavery and the abuse of power wielded by Virginia and other southern states are themselves in a state of denial. McDonnell needs to learn his history; clearly, he's on a path to repeat it.

Posted by: cricket35 | April 9, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

SkinsfanWI,

You conveniently left out his statement that if he could save the Union by freeing all slaves he would do it too. My argument doesn’t hinge on Lincoln’s motives. His primary objective was to save the Union, I’ll give you that, but that doesn't diminish the fact the overriding catalyst for the Civil War was the CSAs desire to preserve slavery disguised as states’ rights and economic interest. The Confederacy was nothing more than a treasonous and bloody betrayal of the United States to protect slavery. The politicians and wealthy planter class used the states’ rights argument to manipulate the poor and uneducated whites in to taking up the treasonous cause.

You can’t sit on both sides of the fence on this issue. You either fundamentally support or oppose what the CSA stood for. The fact you would split hairs over such a despicable and fundamentally flawed endeavor is telling.

Posted by: summertyme40 | April 9, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I thought the blacks are not racists anymore since the white voted Obama president. Well if the blacks want to resurrect racism then they should give back all the money they have getting including welfare,food stapms,free housing,money for multiple children from different fathers. It is time that all blacks should be working. No exception,No more welfare,no food stamps. We have been paying hard-earned taxes and money to feed them for their laziness and they are still ungrateful. Let's deport them back to Africa with the incompetent Obama as their president in an African- made town governed by all the blacks in the US with Obama and see how long they will survive. Why complain about racism. If the racist blacks doesn't like it here we will even give you airfare to move to Africa. I am tired of these blacks complaining then they have taken advantage and milked the white Americans and other minorities who work hard in America and unlike blacks have the lowest crime rates in the nation.

Posted by: mahalapril | April 9, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

As if McDonnell cares what Obama thinks. He is now a hero to the Confederate flag waving racist GOP base.

Posted by: checkered1 | April 9, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Creigh Deeds' campaign manager is still covering this non story? Get a life Kumar..

Posted by: wewintheylose | April 9, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse


Since you decided to chime in on Confederate History Month, I’d be interested to know your opinion on why Attorney General Holder decided not to investigate two Black Panther members that were acting in a menacing manner outside of a Philadelphia Polling place during last year’s Presidential election.

Posted by: WeThePeopleofVirginia | April 9, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Summer I do not sit on the fence. I believe in states rights and think the federal govt is too involved and only getting worse. Saying does not make me think slavery was acceptable. It never has been never will be even though it goes on today.

I am very proud to be a Virginian and even more proud that Robert E Lee chose to defend our great state instead of fighting against it.

I want to say some of the comments made by mahalapril are uncalled for and trying to get a different debate started here.

Posted by: skinsfaninWI | April 10, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Could the Post print a few more articles about this subject this week?
They whole heatedly endorsed the Governor's opponent and still haven't gotten over the fact that Virginia elected Governor McDonnell.
That certainly wouldn't have anything to do with this obsessive interest in this topic would it?

Posted by: menopausequeen | April 10, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

The country deserves better, as we learn more about each other through accurate interpretations of history...all races. Manifest destiny too!

I mean, the states can do their thing, but let's not get history twisted in the process - that's all I'm saying. Despite our disagreements, this declaration can be used as an opportunity to bring us together.

I feel like some in our country do not want to be united....

Posted by: Anacostiaque | April 10, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

The country deserves better, as we learn more about each other through accurate interpretations of history...all races. Manifest destiny too!

I mean, the states can do their thing, but let's not get history twisted in the process - that's all I'm saying. Despite our disagreements, this declaration can be used as an opportunity to bring us together.

I feel like some in our country do not want to be united....

Posted by: Anacostiaque | April 10, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Who cares? Seriously, we have enough to worry about without being concerned of things that have been over for 400 years.
Obama should keep his opinions to hisself. He only stirs up trouble, which I think he does on purpose.

Posted by: highwaybluesoccer | April 10, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Who cares? Seriously, we have enough to worry about without being concerned of things that have been over for 400 years.
Obama should keep his opinions to hisself. He only stirs up trouble, which I think he does on purpose.

Posted by: highwaybluesoccer | April 10, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I don't think President Obama should be spending his time talking about state issues. He has enough national and world problems.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | April 10, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

While the back and forth banter about history is certainly entertaining I think the heart of the matter is getting lost in the heat of these debates fellow commenters...

My great-aunt is a Black woman who lives in Virginia and she, along with many other residents of the Commonwealth both White and Black, was very disturbed by the Governor's omission of the subject of slavery in his declaration of Confederate History Month.

To her, celebrating the Confederacy without making mention of slavery for all intents and purposes is the equivalent of reducing Blacks once again to the same subhuman standard that we were once perceived as being which is insulting to say the least.

Posted by: blackman1 | April 10, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

If I were black, I don’t think I would have anything to do with white people. Some of the most ignorant, hateful, thoughtless remarks spew from our mouths.

The African American journey out of slavery is one of the most heroic, epic stories of our country. And for all of the oppression and cruelty heaped upon our brothers and sisters, I know of no black people who bombed a white church and murdered four innocent children.

Condemning McDonnell's racist pandering is the very least we should expect of Americans of good will. I used to live in Virginia and I'm greatly saddened to see the state represented by a bigot and sadder still to think that there is enough of his element left in the state to elect a morally bankrupt opportunist as their governor. He represents the very worst of America and we should all be ashamed.

Bravo Mr. President for your comments and for your leadership in these trying times. We are lucky indeed to have you at the helm.

Posted by: bancodelio | April 11, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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