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McDonnell famously proclaimed last April “Confederate History Month” without a mention of slavery and then responded to the subsequent uproar by apologizing and renaming it “Civil War History Month.” (That, of course, is a special insult to the Sons, who refer to the conflict “so often mislabeled the Civil War” by any name but.) Since then, McDonnell’s gone to pains to acknowledge Virginia’s complicated racial history.
Allen appears to be mounting a run to reclaim the Senate seat he lost in 2006. While he had until that point carefully cultivated a tobacco-chewing, gun-toting, Confederate flag-bearing good-old-boy image dating back to high school, it backfired on him with the 2006 “macaca” controversy. And in the course of performing damage control, he had said some things the Sons couldn’t forget, even years later.
For instance: “Even if your heart is pure, the things you say and do and the symbols you use matter because of how others may take them” – others, meaning those who aren’t Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Personally, I really don’t care whether you fly a Confederate flag or not. And yes, the flag is a part of Virginia’s history. That we should continue to honor the legacy on the values for which the Confederacy emereged? The values for which it stood for? The men whose property in chattel slavery they wanted to protect?
I can only imagine the history of South Africa being replayed on the North American continent had the South ever emerged independent on the basis of slavery. Martin Luther King Jr. might very well have been our Nelson Mandela. But I digress…
Virginia’s history is littered with abuses against the rights of others, from the mass genocide of native tribes, to the Triangle Trade, eugenics, segregation, Jim Crow, and Massive Resistance.
There’s very little in that history to honor as a polity when contrasted with all of Virginia’s incredible accomplishments — the birth of American democracy, the oldest representative body in North America, our Founding Fathers, the Northwest Cession, institutions such as the University of Virginia and VMI, the shipyards at Hampton Roads, and the thousands of young minds and great minds that have impacted American society.
To honor them all takes only one flag… that of the Commonwealth.