Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Virginia – it ain’t for lovers anymore…

Let’s jump right on in, shall we?

I am forever amazed that America remains the only nation in the world (I've yet to find another) to allow the flag of an organization that engaged in an armed insurrection against our government to fly over state government property.  This is America and individuals have the right to praise and honor anti-government insurgencies, but when government does that shit it’s an entirely different thang.  I speak from personal experience, since Missouri had a Governor who pandered to his Confederate adoring base while in office…ignoring the fact that Missouri state spiraled into horrific guerilla warfare during the Civil War and is still dealing with the ramifications of that shit today.


And now Virginia isn’t for lovers anymore.

The Governor of Virginia has proclaimed that April is Confederate History Month

Let’s call shit shit…Virginia will not be engaging in a comprehensive exploration of it’s history with the Confederacy.  Virginia will be honoring the Confederacy while ignoring any and all negatives.  Token criticism may occur…but the goal here is to make supporters of the Confederacy happy and they aren’t happy about criticism.

Some will argue that the Governor of Virginia has the right to proclaim April Confederate History Month…and they are probably correct.

But by doing so he has branded Virginia as a pro-Confederacy anti-America rebellion honoring state…a place where folks who support the ideals of the Confederacy are welcome and a place where residents are encouraged to honor the group behind our most tragic rebellion.

The fact that this panderific move will help Virginia’s Governor with his conservative base is also telling.  He could have encouraged investment to create more jobs or improve education and opportunities for higher education…but his conservative base wants a month honoring Confederate history.

Illuminating, isn’t it?

Sigh again.

I have no nostalgia for the Civil War.

623,026 American soldiers died…countless others were maimed and injured…society was torn asunder…President Lincoln was assassinated...and many states still nurse the wounds of our nation’s homegrown insurgency.

No, I don’t get nostalgic for that shit.

I believe in exploring history…the good, the bad and the ugly of it. 

We can avoid tragedy if we learn from tragedies…

…but we do nothing but encourage tragedy and division when we exalt tragedies.

But here we are…and Virginia is now for lovers of the Confederacy.

Next step in the re-branding of Virginia tourism – how about a Birth of a Nation advertising campaign?



Kelley said...

Treason in defense of slavery month would be a more apt name. Seriously, how do these nutters get away with this shit! You make an extremely salient point regarding the US being the only country in which the flag of armed traitors is still flown over government property.

libhom said...

I'm always glad to see when people bring up the fact that praising the Confederacy is unpatriotic.

Anonymous said...

I am alot of times right on with her, but this time, I must respectfully disagree. Honestly, I rarely encountered racism in Virginia. I see more Confederate flags waving in PA and NJ than I ever did in Virginia or any other state down south for that matter. PA also is home to more hate groups than any other state- it's true look it up.

The south has come a long way to counter it's racist stigma. I know it still exists, racism just like assholes, are everywhere. Both however seem more prominent up north, perhaps this also has to do with the southern hospitality and their attitude towards manners.

That aside, Virginia is BIG when it comes to history. They cram history down our throats the day we hit preschool. By 3rd/4th grade, we had to remember Patrick Henry's famous speech, the preamble to the Constitution, already know the significance as well as what started the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the story of Paul Revere, as well as white guilt education on slavery as well as segregation as well as the Trail of Tears, Greasy Grass (little Big Horn), the Black Hills gold rush and Mt Rushmore, the Indian as well as the forced education as well for Natives at the College of William and Mary, and why each of these are wrong, etc.

On top of this, Virginia has more war reenactments, historical sites and battlefields, etc. than most states. Every month in that state is a history month for something. In fairness some people may take this the wrong way, but I can pretty much guarantee that most of Virginia will keep the Confederate History Month in a purely educational context. It's the non-residents that will blow it more out of proportion. Rebel flags are seen more as a sign of southern heritage not hate in Virginia. Hell, they even have t-shirts that say it. There's also a historical society that are descendants of the rebel soldiers there that there was a big uproar in the state years back for them wanting to use the rebel flag for their specialty license plate. It eventually passed, but also 30% of that group are POCs who supported it too as many slaves and Natives were fighting for the south during the Civil War. Virginia for as long as I have been alive has acknowledged this as well.

Racism is alive and well, only an idiot would think otherwise, but I'm just saying that for the state I know and spent most of my life in, there's a reason why it's one of the top states for education year after year and a pro-military state. Yes, it's also a conservative state and sits as the Bible-belt buckle of the U.S., but I seriously doubt the governor had racist intentions when this was decided.

Shark-Fu said...

Thanks for commenting! That's got to be one of the best disagreement comments ever! Seriously - you've just demonstrated that a person can disagree and not get rancid with it!

For that, you get a fluff of the Afro.

The sad thing is that the Governor of Virginia, by poor word choice or bad public relations, just re-framed and re-branded Virginia.

And that's an even greater tragedy. At least when the Gov. of Missouri did it he MEANT to re-frame MO as a haven for rancidity.

Virginians, including the Gov., are known to be politically savvy and thus this mess should not have happened.

'Tis because I respect that savvy that I issue my critique - we expect more out of a well educated though conservative state.

This bitch would have liked to be able to point to Virginia as setting an example of how to explore Civil War history and encourage tourism...but that's not to be.

D. said...


Always love reading your sharp & fierce social commentary. Keep on keepin' on!

I sent your post to a friend who currently lives in Richmond; she wrote back, and I thought I'd share:

"Remember, this is the same person who "didn't recall" if he'd ever committed sodomy before, yet was adamant in his opposition to sodomy, and was still elected governor.

He is also the same person who signed an executive order saying Virginians don't have to abide by the new health care reform act if they don't want to since it's the federal government 'trampling on states' rights' and who is championing the main challenges to the health care reform act.

He is also the same person who said that working women were 'detrimental to society.'

I mean I guess if any state is going to have a Confederate History Month, it should be VA, since Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, but really, there's just no need. Virginia has superior weather and scenery to Indiana, but in a lot of ways it's just as backwards and ignorant."

Shark-Fu said...

Deena - thanks and oh my! He sounds like a Blunt, big time. And hey, Indiana now has a built in state slogan - At Least We Don't Celebrate Confederate History Month!

slave2tehtink said...

In regards to Anonymous's comment - while there is documentary evidence of Native Americans having fought for the Confederacy, there is zero credible evidence that "many" enslaved African-Americans fought for it. Kevin Levin has done a whole series on "black Confederates" over at Civil War Memory ( looking for any evidence and all he's found is that there *is* no evidence.

The problem with Confederate History Month, and I say this as a white female Virginian who is quite the Civil War Bore, is that groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who prodded the gov into signing this bill, go out of their way to erase the amazingly, horrifyingly, mind-numbingly awful reality that was slavery. They want to portray a Confederacy where all the white folk lived on plantations where the loyal enslaved people were happy and singing and just loved Ol'Massa because he was so good to them, and the valiant solider boys went off to fight in the name of freedom from a federal government that wanted to make everyone slaves.


This is just another attempt by aggrieved white people to cry out "Why don't we have WHITE history month?" in response to February as African-American History Month, as if having January and March through December for white history isn't enough. Unfortunately, this time they got another white guy in power to go along with them and the result is that my beloved state and even my cherished passion of studying the Civil War are now tainted in the eyes of the nation and the world as symbols of backwards bigotry.

Shark-Fu, I'm sorry to hit you with this spam as a first-time commenter. I've been reading and lurking lo these many months. This particular issue just touched. a. nerve. with me because damn, now I'm going to have to get a t-shirt that somehow conveys I am not one of these racist ratbags when I'm out hiking a battlefield or attending a re-enactment.

And since I'm de-lurking here, I'd like to say thank you for the most excellent writing you do and the effort you put into this place.

macnow said...


I was going to say a bunch of stuff, but I am to tired so I will let my rebuttal to you rest on this ancedote:

On discussing racism in Virginia and such areas with a friend of mine, she (being a denier of it in modern times) said that when she flew into airports and hotels the peoples of black color always seemed happy and were very polite. And to top it off, she never saw anybody being mean to them in a racist way... nothing but good times all around.

Point is: get out of your bubble a bit... please; and reassess your surroundings.

Virginia is a very racist state... its just more polite (if you can call it that) in the suburban areas (read: they exercise it in less physical ways, and more in monetary and large voice political).

You sound like a nice kid, just grow up a little and spread your horizons beyond pale faces and spend some quality time in areas more ethinical diversified.

Oh and church outreaches and your favorite ethinic food joint do not count. ; - )

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Indeed, these are Orwellian times.

RVCBard said...

Richmond is my hometown.

I live in Brooklyn now.

Donovan said...

Yep only in America, other countries tend to devolve into a second civil war once some backwards state starts celebrating the glory days. I believe this is an attempt to wink at the '14-88 brother' kind of know what they say about the future in their new world order...'Remember Yugoslavia' and they keep cleaning their rifles and boots. Most white folks don't really get that these 'Confederate patriots' will put most of their asses on that train with you, me and Mz. Angelou.

Shark-Fu said...

slave2tehtink, you are very welcome and thank you for delurking!

Anonymous said...

It's way past time for the "happy darkies" myth to be put to rest. Slavery was and is horrific. Growing up in the south, I have heard "states rights" endlessly as an excuse for seceding from the Union, but everybody knows that the use of slave labor for the south's agrarian society was at the heart of it. States rights aside, no nation can enslave human beings and expect to be viewed by history as taking the high road. Apologists for the Old South way of life run rampant in my extended family, but I sincerely doubt if any of them would feel so nostalgic if some of our ancestors had been the slaves and not the owners. It's hard to believe that this foolishness still goes on in the 21st century. Shame on Virginia!

Marden WGBH said...

What is happening in Virginia is extremely frustrating. Why not cast your attention to a topic that you have the capacity to do something about?

The situation in Haiti four months after the disaster is the topic of discussion on the PBS show Basic Black, which you can watch TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m EST LIVE at or on channel 2 in Boston. You can also participate in a live chat at starting at 4 pm.

Shark-Fu said...

Thanks for the info Marden!

I agree that we can have an impact on Haiti and folks should tune in...but we can also influence Virginia.

You'll find that we social justice activists have the capacity to address more than one topic at a time...

...and that the movement often demands that we do just that.

Ginger Taylor said...

"allow the flag of an organization that engaged in an armed insurrection against our government to fly over state government property."

I have never heard the issue framed that way before.


tata said...

The governor said he issued that declaration to promote tourism. Ask yourself this question: who is he trying to lure to Virginia?

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