Wednesday, April 7, 2010

McDonnell's "Confederate History Month" Comes Back to Bite Him in the Ass

Ever have one of those ideas that sounds really good in your head, but blows up in your face when you actually try to make it happen? If it's true that you can't please all of the people, all of the time, then it must also be true that sometimes, without even trying hard, you can piss off absolutely everybody.

I reported Wednesday that Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell declared April "Confederate History Month" due to the historical significance of the commonwealth's role in the Civil War and as a means of promoting tourism. There's just one thing, McDonnell forgot to mention Virginia's shameful role in the institution of slavery which led to the civil war in the first place.

McDonnell's predecessor, Tim Kaine, now chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had refused to sign the declaration during his term, as did Gov. Warner before him. Kaine released a statement today blasting McDonnell for his "oversight".
"Governor McDonnell's decision to designate April as Confederate History Month without condemning, or even acknowledging, the pernicious stain of slavery or its role in the war disregards history, is insensitive to the extraordinary efforts of Americans to eliminate slavery and bind the nation's wounds, and offends millions of Americans of all races and in all parts of our nation."
The African-American community is furious over McDonnell's declaration. The Washington Post reports that the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP has scheduled an emergency meeting for this Saturday to discuss the issue. Billionaire BET Television co-founder and major McDonnell financial contributor, Sheila Johnson also released a statement condemning McDonnell:

“I must condemn Governor McDonnell’s Proclamation honoring ‘Confederate History Month,’ and its insensitive disregard of Virginia’s complicated and painful history, the remnants of which many Virginians still wrestle with today. The complete omission of slavery from an official government document, which purports to be a call for Virginians to ‘understand’ and ’study’ their history, is both academically flawed and personally offensive. If Virginians are to celebrate their ’shared history,’ as this proclamation suggests, then the whole truth of this history must be recognized and not evaded.”

 Hoping to smooth over the feathers he's ruffled, Governor McDonnell has acknowledged his mistake and released the following statement today:
"The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed. The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation."
The governor has had the proclamation amended on his official website to include the phrase, "it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history".

Uh, Mr. Governor, sir? All Virginians do understand that slavery led to the civil war. Excuse me... all Virginians except you.

Well, I'm glad that's been cleared up. Everybody's happy now, right? Not so fast. "The Sons of the Confederacy" released a statement condemning McDonnell's apology for not condemning slavery. It turns out they were the ones who lobbied so heavily to get McDonnell to sign the declaration. Talking Points Memo reports: "Brandon Dorsey, of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, called McDonnell's move 'an insult,' and charged that the governor had undermined the purpose of the resolution," and damaged himself with his core supporters."

So let's review. Last month McDonnell signed an executive order banning employment discrimination for state workers that deliberately omitted LGBT workers. Then Attorney General Cooch created a national shit storm when he told Virginia's colleges and universities that they could not legally have non-discrimination employment policies that protect gays and lesbians. Now the governor shows his true colors -- grand dragon white -- by glorifying a shameful part of American history, without even a condemnation of the stain of slavery, in order to boost tourism.

I say it's time for a national boycott of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This governor's policies have jeopardized the state's economic growth, trampled the rights of its citizens and demonstrated to the world that that Virginia is every bit the stereotype of the bigoted southern state. Hit bigotry where it lives, in the pocket book.

I urge every business, family or individual considering a move to Virginia to look elsewhere. Find a home in a state that values who you are and what you have to offer.

Are you planning a vacation this summer? Go to a state that values everyone who enters it, not just the select few.

These recent string of embarrassing statements, executive orders and declarations coming from the state house should not surprise anyone who has followed the careers of Bob McDonnell and his lackey, Ken Cuccinelli. They have never pretended to be anything other than who and what they are. Now that the genii is out of the bottle Virginians are scrambling to stuff it back in. This is what Virginians voted for. This is what Virginia stands for. Governor McDonnell's policies, and the people who voted for them, have shown the world that Virginia is definitely not for lovers of freedom.

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