Virginia Gov. just a symbol of a larger problem. And Chris Rock, funny again

At first, I was kind of amused by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s bringing back “Confederate History Month,” and also forgetting to mention slavery in his proclamation.

I thought it was kind of like talking about World War II and not mentioning the Holocaust. And lots of people have poked fun at McDonnell, starting with a great column by Gail Collins of the NY Times here, and the Jon Stewart clip you should definitely watch here (not sure why this clip won’t embed).

But then I got to thinking about it some more, and I realized how pervasive this “forgetting” of slavery is in some parts of the South. I think about it when I see all the Rebel flag bumper stickers around Florida, or people walking around in Confederate flag T-shirts.

One hundred and fifty years later, there are still a huge number of people living in this part of the country who are pissed the North stuck their nose in the business of the South. The ones who still call the Civil War “The Act of Northern Aggression.”

It astounds and troubles me that there are still people who want to forget about slavery, or think of it as an afterthought.

Maybe, liked it does for Gail Collins, this goes along with my anger and shock about the Texas school board trying to rewrite history, as well.

Uncomfortable truths are so often brushed aside by people only wanting to see things for the way they wish they were.

The Confederate flag, everywhere it’s seen, is a disgusting symbol of oppression. And celebrating “Confederate History Month” only helps reinforce in some ignorant people’s minds that really, things weren’t so bad in Virginia in 1861.

Disturbing. Very disturbing.

**So on a funnier note, Chris Rock was awesome on Letterman the other night. I’m very hit and miss with Chris Rock; I love him most of the time, but sometimes he’s just too vulgar and not that funny with his comedy bits.

But just hanging out and talkin’ about Dave’s marriage woes, was hilarious.

2 responses to “Virginia Gov. just a symbol of a larger problem. And Chris Rock, funny again

  1. Brian McLaughlin

    I’ll bite, I guess.

    OK, let me preface this with a fact you already know, Michael — you and I are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum on a lot of stuff, but we’re still damn good buddies. My guess is though that a couple people reading this who don’t know me will automatically judge me as a bigot, a racist, whatever based on what I say below. I wouldn’t be surprised. I call it reverse close-mindedness. See it ALL the time.

    First, some facts:

    I’m a genealogy buff. I know exactly where all my people came from and I know their backgrounds and leanings. The Scots-Irish people who gave me my last name were ardent abolitionists and eventually were part of the underground railroad. They despised slavery so much that after settling in the foothills of the Carolinas around the Revolution, they moved west to the frontier of Tennessee as early as the 1810s to get away from slavery because it was against their Presbyterian sect/religion. The Covenanter Presbyterian church would excommunicate any member that owned slaves, and the vast majority of the people in the church left the British Isles because THEY felt THEY were basically slaves of the English. After slavery crept westward into frontier Tennessee in the early 1800s, my people eventually moved north of the Mason-Dixon to Illinois in the 1830s/40s to again escape the encroachment of slavery. HOWEVER, the people in my Scots-Irish background ALWAYS considered themselves Southerners first. They were proud of their first 50-75 years in this free country, and they got their toehold in the Carolinas and Tennessee. The loved the south, just hated slavery.

    Another line of my family came through Jamestown, Va. in the colonial days and owned slaves right up until the Civil War. One of my ancestors owned a plantation east of Nashville and had 8 slaves, and our family was tight with Andrew Jackson nearby. GGGG grandpa AG Rogers was a wealthy man, and of course the Civil War destroyed him. He did own slaves, but his slaves’ children each were paired up with his children and went to school with them, and AG Rogers insisted they learn how to read. When my GGGG grandfather Rogers was on his death bed in the late 1880s, one of his gray-haired former slaves came from 300 miles away to take care of his former master, and stayed for months. That doesn’t erase the memory of slavery, but it shows you that not all masters were whipping the living shit out of their slaves. Folks, it was a way of life back then. That’s how it was. There were slaves in the north too (remember Tituba in during the Salem Trials in Mass.?), up until several decades preceding the Civil War.

    In other lines of my family, my people weren’t even in America at the time of the Civil War. They settled in Cleveland, New York, etc — Irish and German backgrounds. Union backgrounds. Yep, Democrats Mikey!

    So, there are some facts about where I came from — MY personal version of TRUE diversity.

    Now here is my opinion on the topic you wrote about, since you’ve seen my background:

    In my many years of doing my family history, I’ve dug through thousands of 1850 and 1860s census forms, the ones that actually recorded the details of slaves in the household in the south. Also, most of the early 1800s census recordings pointed out the slaveholders — by numbers only.

    It wasn’t totally common to see southern entries with slaves, at least not in the counties I searched. I’m sure Charleston, SC was different. And doing a quick Google search on the percentage of the south owning slaves, it says it was less than 20%. I would have guessed 10-15% based on what I saw from time to time.

    What I’m saying is, the Civil War was NOT just about slavery, and most southerners worked their own land — no matter what it’s painted as now. The War was most definitely an act of aggression by the north, just like ANY offensive military action is an act of aggression today. The north didn’t attack because of slavery, my friend. The north attacked to preserve the union — which of course in retrospect is a good thing. If Lincoln had based everything on slavery only, the north would have opposed it — trust me, racists were everywhere in NYC and Chicago too! So don’t paint the north as the great saint saviors in this case. I had extended distant family members who were raped in Tennessee by northern troops, and we’ve all heard the stories about long-time southern family heirlooms popping up in northern attics in the 1920s and 1930s. For the record, I also had Union Civil War soldiers in my family.

    That’s one helluva rant on my part, I realize, but what I’m truly getting at is this: The Rebel Flag was NOT the flag of the confederacy. The flag that flew over Richmond and Montgomery didn’t look anything like the rebel flag. Just ask Jefferson Davis.

    However, revisionist history, as you call it too, has attached this Rebel flag to the idiot KKK and skinhead factions that came later (MUCH later in some instances), and somehow the KKK and skinheads became the face of the confederacy and southern heritage. But there was a REAL (and different) confederate flag that flew over the southern capitol. And there were good people in the south who flew the rebel flag who had nothing to do with the KKK.

    So, to sum up this LONG rant — do not equate the south and the heritage of MY people to the holocaust. Nothing pisses me off more than people who say the Rebel Flag and southerners have similarities to what Hitler did to the Jews. Are you friggin’ kidding me? So my GGGG grandfather AG Rogers who owned 8 slaves (legally at that time, too, I might add) was as bad as Himmler? Are you kidding? Come on!

    And keep in mind, like I said above — there were a lot of southerners who didn’t even believe in slavery or didn’t own them. But as usual I hear from my buddies up in northern land that they saved the slaves — even though many people in northern cities cursed the former slaves during the great migration north.

    So tell ya what……..I’ll do my best not to generalize Lib Lab philosophy if you guys do your best not to generalize parts of my heritage.


  2. MR. McLaughlin

    Well said !

    What gets my Goat is the people who forget that Slavery was protected by the United States of America, and want to lay the blame totaly on the south.

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