Home Virginia Politics Sen. McEachin: Bob McDonnell’s Confederate History Month Declaration “offensive”

Sen. McEachin: Bob McDonnell’s Confederate History Month Declaration “offensive”


As always, Bob McDonnell proves he is a uniter not a divider.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has quietly declared April 2010 Confederate History Month, bringing back a designation in Virginia that his two Democratic predecessors — Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — refused to do.

Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) said he was “stunned” to learn of McDonnell’s decision and even more stunned that the proclamation did not include any reference to slavery. “It’s offensive,” he said.

I guess Bob McDonnell’s decided if he can’t return Virginia to the 1950s, he’ll take us back to the 1860s. At least, back to the Confederate part of the 1860s, not to the messy Union or slavery parts. Heh.

UPDATE: The comments on the Washington Post are absolutely scathing, and there appear to be hundreds of ’em. This decision appears to have really hit a nerve, but definitely not in the way McDonnell intended.  No wonder why he made this declaration “quietly.”  

  • I can’t believe we’re going to go down this road again!  (Like the Civil War song says, “Richmond is a hard road to travel.”)   And before anyone accuses me of not caring about history, I’ll just say that I had family on both sides of the conflict (including my ggg-grandfather who fought for the south while his brother fought for the north) and I’ve been to nearly every Civil War battlefield in VA, and in most of the other states as well.  I DO care about this, and want my son to care about it too, but a “Confederate History Month” is NOT the way to go about it.

    • Whatever its called, I think its a good idea. There’s no reason to get all upset because of the word “Confederacy.”

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    McDonnell – like other Republican governors – just may be pandering to the not-so-well-hidden racism that has been the life blood of the GOP in the South ever since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law.

    It’s also much of the fuel of the corporate-funded Tea Party movement.

    • than the Republican Party of the 1960s. For instance, Richard Nixon would probably be considered a “RINO” today, or more likely a Democrat. But seriously, there is basically zero comparison between today’s Republican Party – or Democratic Party, for that matter – and the Republican Party of the 1960s or 1970s. The fact that you have to go back so far to find a positive example is extremely telling of how far right this party lurched in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

      • There’s nothing in the statement McDonnell made that is glorifying this period in history. I don’t know how you would do that anyway. It was a horrible time period, full of suffering and death, with hundreds of thousands of Virginians starving in the Army, starving at home and seeing daily the results of a bad decision made from hubris and bravado. I had ancestors on both sides, but no one as illustrious as Chase or Reagan. One was a union artillerist, the other spent three months as a private in a Virginia home defense force until he deserted.

        You’ve got no facts to claim that McDonnell is trying to glorify the war – just your animosity against him. That’s not good enough.  

        • As I wrote, what pushed me away from the Republican Party was the broad shift in the GOP during the late 1970s/early 1980s to the party of religious fundamentalists, supply siders and neocons. No thanks. I’m a Teddy Roosevelt Progressive, and there’s no room for us in the Republican Party anymore.

          • People self-select their parties. I would love to see more minorities in the Republican party, but we can’t force them to join. And they certainly aren’t being excluded on purpose.

            Perhaps the constant drum beating that we’re all racists that you guys love to tout is what keeps them out?

            I will say that the local parties are far more diverse, and I like that. We have tons of hispanics and asians in the FCRC.  

          • This is interesting.

            The self-identifying conservative Republicans who make up the base of the Republican Party stand a world apart from the rest of America, according to focus groups conducted by Democracy Corps. These base Republican voters dislike Barack Obama to be sure – which is not very surprising as base Democrats had few positive things to say about George Bush – but these voters identify themselves as part of a ‘mocked’ minority with a set of shared beliefs and knowledge, and commitment to oppose Obama that sets them apart from the majority in the country. They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism. While these voters are disdainful of a Republican Party they view to have failed in its mission, they overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country’s founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail.

            Instead of focusing on these intense ideological divisions, the press and elites continue to look for a racial element that drives these voters’ beliefs – but they need to get over it. Conducted on the heels of Joe Wilson’s incendiary comments at the president’s joint session address, we gave these groups of older, white Republican base voters in Georgia full opportunity to bring race into their discussion – but it did not ever become a central element, and indeed, was almost beside the point.

            The Republican base voters are not part of the continuum leading to the center of the electorate: they truly stand apart. For additional perspective, Democracy Corps conducted a parallel set of groups in suburban Cleveland. These groups, comprised of older, white, non-college independents and weak partisans, represent some of the most conservative swing voters in the electorate, and they demonstrated a wholly different worldview from Republican base voters by dismissing the fear of “socialism” and evaluating Obama in very different terms. Most importantly, regardless of their personal feelings toward Obama or how they voted in 2008, they very much want to see him succeed because they believe the country desperately needs the change he promised in his campaign. Though we kept discussion points constant between the two sets of groups, on virtually every point of discussion around President Obama and the major issues facing our country, these two audiences simply saw the world in fundamentally different ways – underscoring the extreme disconnect of the conservative Republican base voters.

            Despite this growing disconnect, the base voters remain relevant – particularly for Republican elected officials who must face them at home. The conservative Republican base represents almost one-in-five voters in the electorate, and nearly two out of every three self identified Republicans. The universe of our focus groups2 is representative of this conservative Republican base.3 Ideologically, these voters possess a deeply engrained conservatism. In our favorability exercise, they give the National Rifle Association a 74.3 mean rating on a 100-point scale, and pro-life, anti abortion groups a mean score of 61.8. They have extremely low feelings toward gay marriage, rating it even lower than they rate the state of the economy, and almost all – 90 percent – oppose health care reform out of hand.

          • Calling Obama a socialist, or Hitler, or the anti-christ is dumb. It isn’t racist.  

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      The Republican Party used to be the party that fought against the racist Democratic Party of the antebellum South. However, the so-called “Southern Strategy” of Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon in the 1960’s and 1970’s was explicitly targeted at the Whites who were incensed by the voting rights given to Blacks, as well as integration of schools.

      I don’t know how many of you have lived in the South for 66 years…but I have. Believe me, there is racism behind much of the efforts of the GOP today. This is not the same GOP that gave votes to pass civil rights laws. Using racism for one’s own ends is not the same as sharing the racist views being manipulated.

      The actions of the GOP in the time when civil rights legislation was passed is another story. Learn history, Brian.

  • According to Gov. Bob, the Civil War was “war between the states for independence” in which the South was “ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union.”  http://www.governor.virginia.g

    It is startling that in 2010, our Govenror espouses this kind of “lost cause” rhetoric, with no mention of, e.g., slavery.  I am all for 12 history months per year, but this isn’t history – it’s divisive propaganda.

  • martinlomasney

    “war between the states” Taliban Bob chose to use that phrase and not the phrase “Civil War” or “secession” or “rebellion” which are the more accurate terms to describe the conflict of 1861-65.  It was the Federal Government who put down the rebellion not some second group of states.

    Only southern apologists use the phrase, “war between the states”.  Apologizing for what exactly: slavery.

    Taliban Bob wants to honor the Virginians who fought to preserve and expand slavery into the territories That’s what Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy and others, said, in 1860-61, was the purpose of secession.

    But Taliban Bob apparently doesn’t honor the thousands of Virginian leaders, soldiers and citizens who fought to preserve the Union and restrict the spread of slavery into the territories and, ultimately, its total prohibition. Especially the black Virginians who fought for the Federal Government.  They are not to be honored.  They are to be ignored by Taliban Bob.

    These formulations are blatant dog whistles to the 10-15% of Republicans who are racists.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans is an all male, whites only organization. Their denial of the racist intentions of their organization should be repellant to people of good faith and not honored with a gubernatorial proclamation.

    McDonnell is a panderer and enabler of racists and an embarrassment to the Commonwealth.