While CNN and others challenge the idea of Virginia’s proclamation for Confederate History Month, I think it’s a fine time to point out that many in the media are doing an equal amount of injustice to history as those who want to take Confederate history down the “Moonlight and Magnolias” path. It’s really sad, but I haven’t really seen an instance in which the media has used anything other than generalizations/blanket-type stereotypes. Additionally, their arguments against Confederate History Month have been limited, focusing on slavery alone, as the reason against any recognition of the Confederate portion of the South’s history. I disagree entirely with this approach. As I said earlier last week, we should not focus on Virginia’s Confederate history alone, but we should alter the month to recognize Virginia’s Civil War history, thereby including the greater story of Virginians (including those who embraced the Confederacy) between 1861-1865. Again, and again, and again, I have stated that Virginia’s Civil War history is not defined by “Confederate” alone, BUT, it is a part of Virginia’s story that should be part of a greater month of reflection of our history.
But back to the media…
Last night, the worst came out in the media when Roland Martin made a very lame effort in comparing Confederates with Islamic jihadists AND comparing the “honoring” of Confederates with honoring Nazi soldiers for killing Jews during the Holocaust. What a completely historically ignorant statement to make. I found it just as difficult to read as I found a couple of clips, posted on Kevin’s blog recently, difficult to watch; one showing the Kennedy brothers rant about “How the South was Right” and the other being an absolutely delusional pitch made to reveal ignorance in the census by writing in “Confed Southern Am” for Southerners to re-identify nationality.
What has really happened here is that there have been multiple missed opportunities… to educate responsibly, and spread more understanding of our collective past. Instead of rushing to paste a “boogeyman” sign on the backs of people from history or placing halos over the heads of just as many, we need to get a grip on ourselves and our national history. Like it or not, it ALL has a place in understanding who we are today. In fact, I think what we are seeing is a fine example of why we should have a Civil War History Month in Virginia… not to praise and hate, but to pause, educate, and understand. The history of the war is fascinating, and the complex history of those involved is even more so (even if only in my humble opinion). I just hope that what we have seen over the last 12 days isn’t a prequel to what will happen during the Sesquicentennial.