Virginia’s time-traveling governor, Bob McDonnell, took his state on another voyage today. Virginians whizzed back from the 1850’s to the present with his apology for omitting the issue of slavery from his proclamation declaring April as “Confederate History Month.”
This part of his apology erased some of the historical amnesia contained in his official proclamation:
“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.”
Sadly, Governor Bob doesn’t stand alone in his effort to rewrite history and expunge the abomination of slavery from the essence of the Civil War. Georgia and Mississippi have similar proclamations which emphasize the issue of “state’s rights” and omit the impact of slavery as one of the confluence of factors leading to four years of bloody conflict.
This trend toward selective memory spawns a number of undesirable effects; groups of politically motivated individuals are trying to whitewash the factual past of this country and edit out individuals (like Thomas Jefferson) and ideologies (like abolition) that demonstrate equality and accountability. The pain of conscience (or public outrage) that forced Governor Bob to transport his state back to the present must be felt by these other groups who wish to fictionalize rather than factually represent our past.
I am passionately interested in understanding how my country works. And if you want to know about this thing called the United States of America you have to know about the Civil War. – Ken BurnsClick here for reuse options!
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