The only thing that’s surprising about Bob McDonnell’s lionization of Virginia’s Confederate heritage is the ferocity of the reaction. Here at LGM we’ve been beating the Treason-in-Defense of Slavery Heritage card for quite some time; having Bob Owens as an “enemy” kinda makes it easy. I’m glad, however, that a few themes seem to be finding their way into the mainstream:
- The Civil War was about slavery. We have copious evidence, supplied by actual Confederates, that slavery was the key issue upon which secession resolved. To put this another way, the traitors who led the South were willing to kill in defense of their right to own black people.
- The antebellum South was chock full of people who didn’t think that treason in defense of slavery was a good idea. One subset of these people were the slaves themselves, who made up between 25% and 60% of the population of every Southern state. Another subset were the peoples of West Virginia, East Tennessee, and several other pro-Union regions of the South. Yet another subset were patriotic Americans who chose to remain loyal to the Union, such as General George Thomas of Virginia. For all of the nonsense about how Civil War commemoration is about valor rather than slavery, there are relatively few statues of Thomas in Virginia today.
- There is something remarkably odd about the belief that commemoration of the Southern experience must concentrate on the four years in which the South waged a bloody rebellion in service of human servitude, rather than other 230 years of Southern history.
- Having our patriotism and love for the United States questioned by people who lionize the worst traitors in American history is bloody irritating.