1sunfight’s Weblog

April 8, 2010

The South Fails Again

Filed under: GOP,McCain,Obama,Palin,politics,Racism,Tea Party — eartothaground @ 1:48 am
Tags: , , ,

And what he didn’t say . . .the North won the Civil War.  Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election.  Democrats in Congress won the Health Care Reform battle, and are poised to do the same on energy.  Duke won the NCAA Championship this year, as did UConn.  While these are all facts, there are literally thousands of people who are not happy about them.  Stanford fans are frustrated that their team held UConn to 12 points in the first have but couldn’t win the game.  Butler fans are gluing their hair back in from that last desperate half-court miss.  Congressional Republicans are planning to “Repeal and Replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  John McCain and Sarah Palin are still out on the campaign trail.  And Governor Robert McDonnell of Virginia has proclaimed April to be Confederate History Month in his state.

Lee surrenders at Appomattox.

While it is not for me to dismiss the history and family pride of those who’s forebears believed that this was a nation for white people to own and black people to work, I heartily disagree.  And while it is not for me to say that the ideas of states’ rights which were tied to the battle of grey-suited warriors to free themselves from Republican tyranny and federal oppression is wrong, I agree much more with John Jay’s assessment that “Nothing is more certain than the indispensible [sic] necessity of government; and it is equally undeniable that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers.”  I must, as a mature student of history, acquiesce to the fact that the story of the Confederacy is someone’s grandfather’s or grandmother’s story, and while they disagree (or don’t) with those views, they have a right to represent their history the same way I have the right to represent mine; to find those pieces with which they agree and find pride and cherish and celebrate them.

However, Gov. McDonnell is a one-sided celebrant, and herein lies the problem.  He makes no mention of the enslaved victims of the Confederacy, those on whom the burden of states’ rights onerously fell like a crushing weight.  He neglects, then, my grandparents in a way which has historically sought to invalidate their humanity by rendering them, as Ralph Ellison so eloquently denounced, invisible.  It is this racism of blindness which continues to trouble us in 2010.

Telling only part of the story is a lie of omission which perpetuates and exacerbates many of the current political and social ills of our day.  We saw this with the health care debate; we see it with Sarah Palin’s continued uttering; we see this with the Tea Party movement, both in its displays and its coverage; we see it with the stimulus package; on a daily basis, telling only the part of the story that helps us is the accepted norm.  Governor McDonnell, though, has just said something very different to the black people in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  He has just said that they don’t exist, by not including their participation in the Confederacy.  Though most of that participation was bad, and should serve as a reminder of the democratic ideals on which this nation was founded, there were black men, enslaved men, who fought in the Confederate army.  Are they not worthy of recognition?  There were black men and women who greeted the defeat of the Confederacy as liberation, as an entrance into full citizenship and the beginning of their acquisition of the natural rights they’d been denied.  McDonnell has said by his omission that the Confederate ideology of chattel slavery of African Americans wasn’t “significant for Virginia.”

Flying the Confederate flag for many southerners is an honoring of their ancestors, a reading of their historical maps as they make their own journeys. But just as Congressional Republicans won’t be able to repeal health care reform, Palin and McCain are going to lose again; Butler can’t take one more shot; Stanford can’t make one more block; and cheering the Confederacy while denying black folks won’t help the South rise again.

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