Celebrating Confederate History Month
Let's join Virginia's governor in celebrating the Civil War--as long as he's willing to face the whole truth about the Confederacy and its aftermath.
Sometimes, black folks underestimate the amount of envy they create among some white people. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's decision to celebrate Confederate History Month for the first time in eight years is likely a response to Black History Month. "They" had a month to highlight their achievements; we're entitled to a month to celebrate "ours."
Of course, the problem is that the histories are not, to borrow a favorite phrase of conservatives, morally equivalent. Black History Month was created to highlight people whose achievements have largely been excluded from mainstream American history. The narrative of Black History Month is rooted in the heroic 400-year effort of African Americans to be seen and treated as equal citizens of the United States and to participate in creating a more perfect union.
The narrative of Confederate History Month, well, it's already running into some controversy. In his original proclamation, McDonnell failed to mention the "s" word--then tried to say later that it was just one causes of the Civil War. His proclamation reads: "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..."
The proclamation goes on: "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.'"