Monday, April 12, 2010
Speaking Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Gov. Haley Barbour defended fellow Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's recent proclamation of Confederate History Month that did not reference slavery. While McDonnell has been backpedalling in Virginia, repeatedly apologizing and calling it a "major omission," according to The Washington Post, Barbour called the incident "just a nit."
"I don't know what you would say about slavery, but anyone who thinks that you have to explain to people that slavery is a bad thing — I think it goes without saying," Barbour said, comparing McDonnell's proclamation to a similar Mississippi proclamation signed this year.
"It's trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn't matter for diddly."
A group called the Sons of the Confederacy are spearheading Confederate History and Heritage Month proclamations in several states, according to Think Progress. Texas passed a bill in 1999 that mention's slavery, while Georgia, Mississippi and Virginia all passed resolutions omitting mention of the word in 2009 or 2010.
Okay, I'll bite. Imagine if we were discussing Nazi Memorial Day, and Barbour spouted on about how it wouldn't mean "diddly" to mention the Holocaust as part of any Nazi Memorial Day or that everybody knows that the Holocaust was bad, so it is a "nit" to mention it in a proclamation about Nazi Memorial Month. People would consider him aloof, ignorant, and dismissive of a vital part of history and reality that makes observing Nazi Month absurd, indignant, and down right idiotic. Understand this, Slavery and Jim Crow segregation are the Holocaust of Black Americans. To call the mention of it a "nit" by governor of a state that has the highest proportion of Black Americans of any state in the Country is more than insensitive, it is ignorant, and revealing of his general regard (or lack thereof) for the Black people in this state. Considering the history of the so called "commemoration"of the Confederacy (The Reconstruction backlash, and the resurgence of confederate symbols during the 1950's in response to gains like Brown v. Board) makes any commemoration not about war dead as much as it is a statement about white supremacy and a hearkening back to a way of life that was based on degradation and disfranchisement of black Americans. You cannot responsibly divorce the context of the present state of affairs from any such "commemoration" or proclamation about Confederacy, considering the backlash to President Obama's policies and presidency. When people speak about heritage when considering the Confederacy and the commemoration of it, it really is part of an old southern strategy of the republican party made most popular by Reagan, where fear and racism is coded in specific ideas, words, and actions. Gov. McDonnell knew exactly what he was doing by not mentioning Slavery in the proclamation, and his addendum was moot. His original proclamation already did what it set out to do, coded fear and racism in a trite proclamation about the "Heritage" of Virginian Confederates, who were treasonous domestic terrorists, or would have been characterized as such if they were brown skinned Arabs and did what the Virginian Confederates did today. Truly, this is a sad day for all of the citizens of the State of Mississippi. The emporer truly has no clothes, and the people are just fine with it.
- Renaldo Bryant