So the Governor of Virginia has decided to declare April Confederate history month. Oddly enough, he forgot to mention that slavery was involved but has since added some verbage about it.
I really think he doesn’t want to go there, but OK, let’s reflect on Confederate history. Start by reading Fengi’s excellent post about it. Some of what I write below restates it, because it bears repeating.
Here’s Confederate history: A bunch of traitorous slavers decided to commit treason in order to preserve and expand the institution they called “Negro slavery.” Virginia wasn’t among the first slavers to opt for treason, but when the question was before them the decided to go with treason in order to preserve and expand slavery instead of patriotism, loyalty, or even basic human decency.
Don’t be fooled by people mumbling and hand-waving about “states rights.” The “right” the traitor states committed treason to preserve was the “right” to enslave black people.
Don’t be fooled by people mumbling and wand-waving about trade or taxation disputes. From the moment it was first proposed that we abolish slavery during the drafting of the Constitution until the treason finally occurred, slavery was a bitter issue between those who enslaved and those who did not, and every other issue between them became a bitter proxy fight over slavery.
Don’t be fooled by people mumbling and hand-waving about how enslaving black people was the province of a white and wealthy aristocracy that kept a white and poor underclass in line by letting them console themselves that they weren’t as low in the social order as black people, enslaved or free. That doesn’t mean that the white non-slavers didn’t commit treason in order to preserve a system of racist enslavement, it explains why they committed treason in order to preserve it.
Don’t be fooled by people mumbling and hand-waving about “preserving a way of life.” No one was worried about losing barbeque, cotillions, the Kentucky Derby, or mint juleps. The only “way of life” in question was enslaving black people.
We in the North put down these traitors, and we should be every bit as proud of it as we are that we put down the Nazis – and for pretty much the same reasons. We certainly could have handled our racism better, but then we certainly could have handled our anti-Semitism better before, during, and after WWII as well. But this is Confederate History Month. (Perhaps we can make May “Atrocity of American Slavery History Month” and talk about the North’s initial direct involvement and later complicity in slavery then.)
Similarly, it is incumbent on those who have the misfortune to be descended from the traitor slavers to repudiate the treason of their ancestors and celebrate their defeat in the same way that modern Germans repudiate the Nazis and celebrate their defeat. No one who is proud of the Confederate treason can legitimately be called a patriot. Let us hope that the Governor’s recent recollection of why his predecessors committed treason leads to a truly appropriate rememberance.