Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Backslide Continues: Va. Gov. McDonnell Proclaims April Confederate History Month

In the 23 years since I moved to Virginia, I've never seen a more blatantly bigoted administration in control of the commonwealth. From Governor McDonnell's deliberate omission of sexual orientation as a protected class against employment discrimination to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's anti-gay crusade against our state colleges and universities, this administration has quickly set about putting its backwoods brand on the former home of the Confederacy. As if to seal the deal, Gov. McDonnell has declared April "Confederate History Month".

As we know, Virginia has never been a bastion of equality, peace and brotherhood, but most of our leaders have had the sense to keep their intolerance on the down low. That's why it was so shocking when our former governor George Allen called a member of the press corps "Macacca", putting an end to his senate race and all of his political ambitions. That's the way it ought to be. Bigotry should be something that ends a career, it should never be a foundation on which to build one. When bigotry rears its ugly head, that head should be cut off.

Conservatives have always wanted to roll back the clock on social progress to a time when straight, white men  wielded all the power, women stayed home and had babies, African-Americans knew their place and LGBT people were invisible. In the first four months of his administration, Gov. McDonnell and his henchman, Ken Cuccinelli, have put their stamp on the commonwealth  As Cooch himself told the Associated Press, "I don’t think anything I’m doing should be surprising to anyone who’s seen my political history or heard me on the campaign trail.” The same can be said of Bob McDonnell.

Throughout the culture wars -- in most of the U.S.-- there have been liberals and progressives to fight back, engage in the debate and hold right-wing conservative extremists accountable. Where are Virginia's liberal and progressive leaders now when they are needed the most? They're in Richmond, quietly shaking their heads in disapproval and sitting on their hands.

I'm reminded of the bumper stickers and t-shirts that I've seen over the years that proudly display the confederate flag with the words, "History, Not Hate". Why is it that only bigots display those kinds of messages? 

Be ashamed, Virginia. Be VERY ashamed.

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