What "doesn't amount to diddly" is the revisionist notion -- which Confederate History Month celebrations perpetuate -- that the Civil War was about something other than slavery. The "lost cause" diehards insist that the treasonous rebellion was a fight over freedom or the Constitution or states' rights. But the "right" that was being fought over was the ability to own human beings, compel their labor, buy and sell them as if they were livestock, exploit them sexually and torture or kill them if they tried to escape.
McDonnell's apology, at least, recognized that slavery was nothing to be proud of. It should be noted, however, that Virginia's previous two governors -- both Democrats -- did not feel the need to proclaim Confederate History Month. McDonnell's original proclamation, before he amended it, seemed designed to appeal to a fringe group for whom the Civil War is still an open question.
This is a free country -- for black people, too, thanks to the defeat of the Confederacy -- and so if some white Southerners want to celebrate the "heritage" of slavery, they are welcome to do so. But while they're entitled to their own set of opinions, they're not entitled to their own set of facts. I'd say that Haley Barbour's studied ignorance was "a bad thing," but that would be a gross understatement.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Treason in Defense of Slavery
Eugene Robinson on the latest outpouring of love from the GOP for the Confederacy,