Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Fails 4th Grade U.S. History Lesson

This week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell declared April “Confederate History Month” in the state (as if every month’s not “confederate history month” according to a number of local pick-up truck bumper stickers and license plate holders). In his speech, he spoke passionately about how the battles of the Civil War were a “defining chapter” for Virginians and how important is it to remember the lives lost. But McDonnell and his speechwriter made one eensy, weensy little omission … that the reason there was a Civil War and a Confederacy was that the South chose to succeed from the Union to support an agrarian economy based on the enslavement of an entire race of people. Details, details.

I don’t know about the Virginia school system, but I had to know that slavery was a pretty damn important part of the Civil War in order to pass the 4th grade. And I went to school in Georgia, where you could buy a Confederate flag ice cream cake at the local Baskin Robbins (not kidding). That’s not the sort of minor detail that one accidentally leaves out of a speech. That’s the kind of major component that one glosses over in a speech on purpose. But why?

Well, McDonnell told the Washington Post a couple days ago that slavery wasn’t a “significant” enough issue to make it into a speech about the Civil War. Ummm … I beg to differ Mr. McDonnell. Slavery was a pretty damn significant issue for the millions of Africans who were kidnapped from their homes, forced to endure a brutal, often deadly, journey across the ocean, and then bought and sold like objects to white men in America. It was significant to the families who were torn apart, the women who were raped, and the men who were tortured for trying to escape. And it’s significant to the millions of African Americans who today still suffer from the legacy of slavery and the racism that has followed it. I’m sorry, but there isn’t a reputable historian in the country who would tell you slavery wasn’t a “significant” part of the Civil War and the creation of the Confederacy.

Obviously, the Virginia public school system (McDonnell went to school in Fairfax County) has failed their governor miserably, since he isn’t aware that slavery was an important enough part of the Confederate story to deserve a mention. That must be the case, because the only other reasonable explanation is that he intentionally left out any mention of slavery as a slap in the face to African American Virginians, to indicate to them that their history isn’t “significant”. But a move like that would indicate a hearty dose of racism on Mr. McDonnell’s part. And we all know the GOP is not the party of racism … they have Colin Powell and Michael Steele.

I’m confident a full investigation will be launched into how McDonnell managed to fail to learn a basic 4th grade U.S. history lesson and still be elected governor of the great state of Virginia.

Photo credit: akasped


Published in: on April 10, 2010 at 7:24 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. I am Abolitionist Venita Benitez, founder of Global Slavery Remembrance Day and I am addressing the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy in requesting them to join forces with us who believe on ending modern day slavery everywhere. The Confederacy is the Sons and Daughters of slave holders and their supporters…And we are the Sons and Daughters of the enslaved and our supporters. If we bridge the former differences and unite behind common principles we can change the course of both our legacies by ending modern day slavery.

    There is no honor in maintaining slavery and denying human beings their humanity…

    If we where to put the strength of the Confederate Sons and Daughters behind Global Slavery Remembrance Day and ending modern day slavery everywhere in our lifetime then that would bring honor to the legacy and memory of the Confederacy by joining forces with those who are willing to fight to end modern day slavery everywhere and this would clearly send out a message of solitary behind these principles. This would clearly send out that the Confederacy has joined forces with all that believe slavery was and is appalling.

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