J.J. Goldberg

Let Freedom Ring: If It's April in Va., It's Confederate History Month

By J.J. Goldberg

  • Print
  • Share Share

Virginia’s Republican Governor Robert F. “Bob” McDonnell, not the sort to be outdone by a Democratic White House Passover seder, has raised the bar on honoring the Jewish festival of freedom: He’s declared the entire month of April to be “Confederate History Month.”

Of course I’m kidding. Actually, the governor’s Confederate heritage proclamation doesn’t have a word about Jewish holidays — nor, for that matter, about freedom. McDonnell paid his respects to the Jews of the Commonwealth last month, in another proclamation: “I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize March 7-13, 2010 as CHRISTIAN HERITAGE WEEK in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA [emphasis in the original], and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.” Indeed, what Virginian wouldn’t snap to attention for that?

No, Confederate History Month is about remembering “the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War.”

Oh, and also promoting tourism. As the proclamation notes, “Confederate historical sites such as the White House of the Confederacy are open for people to visit in Richmond today.” And remembering those sacrifices “takes on particular importance as the Commonwealth prepares to welcome the nation and the world to visit Virginia for the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Civil War.”

Yes, it’s springtime. As the Commonwealth’s most famous slogan goes, Virginia is for lovers. Lovers of what? That was always ambiguous until Governor McDonnell cleared it up. (Remind me again: what was it that those honored dead were sacrificing for?)

To be fair, Virginia is for Lovers of the Confederacy Month wasn’t an entirely original idea. It was introduced in 1997 by an earlier Republican governor, George Allen, who comes to the Season of Liberation honestly, sort of: He’s a full-fledged, matrilineal Jew, though he didn’t know it at the time, or so he says. The custom was renewed by Allen’s Republican successor, James Gilmore III, who goosed up his Confederate History proclamation with some words about slavery being bad. Then came eight years of Democratic governors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, who dropped the tradition.

McDonnell, the latest GOP up-and-comer — he’s the guy, alert readers recall, who was picked to rebut President Obama’s first State of the Union address (watch the video here) — has revived the custom, though he dropped Gilmore’s slavery-bashing language. Remember, the GOP is into bondage in a big way these days.

Governor McDonnell has not entirely neglected the importance of freedom in this solemn season. On March 24, sandwiched in between Christian Heritage Week and Confederate History Month, he ceremoniously signed a package of bills known as the Virgina Healthcare Freedom Act. Passed in the legislature with bipartisan support, the legislation makes it illegal to require Virginians to buy health insurance.

“This is not at all about health care,” one of the bill’s sponsors, state Senator Frederick Quayle, is quoted as saying. “It is about the basic right of citizens proscribed in the Constitution.”

Talking about the Constitution, are we? Here’s a clause that Virginians might want to examine during April, if they can squeeze it in alongside their Confederate History studies:

**Article II Section 3

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Confederate History, Constitution, Virginia, healthcare reform, slavery

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.