If there’s been anything posted about Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell declaring April “Confederate History Month,” I haven’t seen it.
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The Governor immediately followed up his calculated-to-offend announcement (a bit of revisionist history which conspicuously did not mention slavery) with an apology the next day, which may or may not defuse the racial tensions he seems to have consciously courted.
I have strong feelings regarding the appropriateness of celebrating the Confederacy itself, but curiously, that’s not what I’m posting to complain about.
Instead, it’s this interesting bit of mental gymnastics that caught my eye:
Yeah. See, Bob, there’s a problem with that right there. It’s redundant. All the sacrifices made by Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens were made “during the period of the Civil War,” and for a pretty specific reason:
According to Mr. Lincoln’s theory, the existence of the Confederacy itself constituted an attempt to destroy the government of the United States, and caused a state of war to exist. Theoretically he could well have been wrong, but in practice, Mr. Lincoln’s idea was the one that counted. The moment the Confederacy started, the state of war started, although the shooting would wait for Sumter.
The Confederacy only existed during the war. It had no leaders, soldiers and citizens before the war; they were just Americans like those in the North. It had none after the war either – the war ended not with a peace treaty but with the official dissolution of the rebellion. The moment the Confederacy ceased to exist, the war ceased to exist (in theory…ignoring the messy reality of getting the word out and disarming the troops themselves). There were certainly sacrifices made by these people after the war, but they weren’t Confederates at the time.
I don’t think this is a simple semantic disagreement. I mean, I guess it could just be a thoughtless phrase, but it would vapidly stupid thing to say unless you’re trying to make a point, and I doubt he’d make such an important announcement without thinking about it in advance. I think the Governor, his speechwriters, and/or some pointy-hatted intellectuals somewhere are trying to imply something. Are they trying to suggest that there exists a “Confederacy” somewhere and, while it did some things during the war, it’s moved on to other things now? Like voting for Bob McDonnell?
If he just wanted to bring the word “war” into the conversation, why not say “sacrifices made by Virginians during the Civil War” and remind folks that everyone suffered?