From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is drawing criticism for proclaiming April as Confederate Heritage Month without mentioning slavery, the second governor this month to come under fire for the omission.
Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, who is black, said Monday that people need to learn about the “abhorrent, violent, depraved actions of slavery.”
Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s Republican governor, also named April as Confederate History Month, but his original proclamation didn’t mention slavery. After coming under national criticism, McDonnell last week revised it to denounce slavery as “evil and inhumane.”
Barbour, a Republican who helped campaign for McDonnell last year, said Sunday on CNN that slavery was bad but a fuss over McDonnell’s original proclamation “doesn’t amount to diddly.”
Barbour’s office on Monday did not respond to a request by The Associated Press for a copy of his 2010 Confederate Heritage Month proclamation. Rev. Cecil Fayard, chaplain in chief for the national Sons of Confederate Veterans, faxed a copy to AP.
“The War Between the States was fought for the same reasons that the tea party movement today is voicing their opinion. And that is that you have large government that’s not listening to the people, there’s going to be heavy taxation,” Fayard said Monday from his home in Duck Hill, Miss. “And the primary cause of the war was not slavery, although slavery was interwoven into the cause, but it was not the cause for the War Between the States.”
From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is catching some well-deserved flack for designating April as Confederate Heritage Month.
Perhaps the damage would be less if the proclamation signed by Barbour could have been tempered with a reference to slavery.
With or without the mention, however, the Republican governor’s gesture is a slap in the face for African-Americans in the state with the highest percentage of black citizens.
It calls on the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other groups to publicize the “rich heritage” of the Confederacy.
Celebrating that heritage is not new. Mississippians have partied on Robert E. Lee’s Jan. 19 birthday for ages. But a month-long observance is a new twist on the secession-felt-good theme.
It could be that the proclamation simply reflects an appalling lack of sensitivity on Barbour’s part.
If it was politically timed to win the support of the surging tea party movement, the South could be in for more unpleasantness. Even if it plays well in the region, it will be a hard sell nationally.
With the Oval Office occupied by the nation’s first African-American president, the states’ rights pitch that is enjoying new life from Texas to Virginia reinforces the argument that racial animosity is fueling the tea party.
One-sided gestures like those of McDonnell and Barbour will not help conservatives overcome claims of racism within the tea party movement, which is largely white and middle-aged.
From Stewart Acuff at THE HUFFINGTON POST:
It is the height of white male privilege for politicians like McDonnell or Georgia’s Governor Sonny Purdue to use symbols of the Civil War, slavery, the Confederacy, and racism without regard to how painful that is for so many of our people — not just African-Americans.
I was raised white in the South with all the privilege that entails. I am not trying to make a claim. But it is a little understood truth that so many of us have a multi-race heritage.
So every spring when folks ask me where i went to get that tan I struggle about whether to just say I brown up easy or to say if I lived mostly outdoors like most of my ancestors i would be this color all the time because Big Mama (my mother’s grandmother} was the first in my family to pass for white and my mother said we were Black Indians and both my grandfather’s looked America Indian.
I love the South and I miss it all the time but I am not confused about its history or why big Mama wouldn’t allow her own brother to dismount his horse in her yard and come into the house in rural northwest Tennessee hard by the Mississippi River because he was too dark. Bob McDonnell is a racist and a fool just like Sonny Purdue and Jim DeMint and so many others.
Our nation’s racial destiny is to collect on Thomas Jefferson’s words that “All men are created equal” or as President Obama would say move “toward a more perfect union.” The Civil War was our nation’s greatest freedom struggle. African-American’s elusive freedom in that ward cost 600,000 lives. It is the worst kind of fool and racist to pretend the Confederacy fought for noble reasons.
From Joe Conason at Salon:
Anyone who has wondered where the Republicans would take America if they regain control of Congress and the White House could learn much from what has been happening lately in Virginia and West Virginia. The answer is backward, toward a time when mine owners let their workers perish as a normal cost of doing business — and government firmly endorsed the white supremacy of the Old South.
The political attitudes of unreconstructed Dixie remain dominant in the Republican Party, even as its would-be leaders and activists don “tea party” costumes.