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“The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict between life and death.”

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Well, sheeeeeeeeeeyit.  It’s Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Heritage Month again, so I suppose we need to remind people like Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell what the “shared history” of Virginia’s Confederate heroes actually entailed. Here’s a choice excerpt from a speech given at Virginia’s February 1861 secession convention by the South Carolinian John Preston, one of the Confederacy’s great apostles of disunion:

You may, as you are at this moment doing, centralize a coercive power at Washington stronger than the Praetorian bands when the Roman eagles shadowed the earth “from Lusitania to the Caucasus,” but you cannot come nearer coalescing the people of Virginia and the people of Vermont, the people of the St Lawrence and the people of the Gulf, than did Rome to make one of the Gaul and the Dacian, the Briton and the Ionian. No community of origin, no community of language, law or religion, can amalgamate a people whose severance is proclaimed by the rigid requisitions of material necessity. Nature forbids African slavery at the North. Southern civilization cannot exist without African slavery. None but an equal race can labor at the South. Destroy involuntary labor and Anglo Saxon civilization must be remitted to the latitudes whence it sprung.

Preston’s speech sent the audience at Mechanics Institute Hall into peals of ecstasy; Richmond newspapers praised his logic. He was unable to convince the delegation to vote in favor of disunion, but when it finally did so less than two months later, it did so entirely within the spirit of that February address. The fact that McDonnell is recognizing — and I think pretty clearly celebrating — the Lost Cause is at some level no better or worse than what Georgia or Mississippi does each year.  At the same time, however, Virginia’s importance to the entire history of the Confederacy means that, for McDonnell, hailing the state’s role in the Confederacy means hailing the state’s role in assuring that the entire nation suffered through a war that killed well over 600,000 people and took four years to conclude.  The state was, of course, critical to the lunatic aspirations of the Deep South planter class.  Its manpower, industrial wealth and agricultural resources (to say nothing of its geographic value, perched across the Potomac from the Great Bearded Satan) were essential to the mission of preserving the institution of slavery against the imaginary assaults being made against it by the miscegenationists in the Republican party.  Lacking Virginia, the Confederacy could easily have been choked to death by a prolonged naval blockade; of course, lacking Virginia on the Confederate side, the war would probably never have turned into an abolitionist crusade, so we can at least thank Virginia’s dead sons for that much — though I don’t suppose Bob McDonnell would appreciate the more self-defeating aspects of Confederate Heritage.

In any event, and for what it’s worth, I’m proposing that April be known henceforth as West Virginia Appreciation Month. Feel free to e-mail the Governor’s office and ask him to take a few moments this April to recognize the patriotism of those nearly three dozen Virginia counties that refused to make war in defense of white supremacy.

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