Monday, June 21, 2010

Forgive Virginia

You can’t Separate the Confederacy from Slavery

"We went to war on account of the thing we quarreled with the North about. I never heard of any other cause of quarrel than slavery. Men fight from sentiment. After the fight is over they invent some fanciful theory on which they imagine that they fought."

-- Confederate Col. John S. Mosby (1)

Now that the dust has cleared about the governor of Virginia declaring a new marketing campaign, we should all jump in the car and vacation in the state. The campaign asks people to come to the state to see Civil War sites and honor the brave men who served in the Confederate Army.

But, the tourist sites we may not be able to visit are the plantation living quarters for the slaves. Or the auction sites where people were bought and sold like cattle. The docks on the sea posts most likely don’t have the slave ships that would come and drop their “chattel” off, the term applied to the slaves on board in the Dred Scott Supreme Court ruling. (A trip to Detroit’s own African-American museum has a replica of the hold of one of those ships, it is something worth seeing – dreadful).

Why should we preserve those you may ask? Ask the Jewish Community in southeast Michigan why they have opened a museum about the Holocaust. They have spent millions to remind us that, no matter how cliche-ish (forgive me for making up a word) it sounds, the old statement is true: If we forget the past we will repeat it.

Forgive Virginia though, that is why I suggest we all take a vacation in the fine state. The governor was just trying to come up with a marketing plan that would get tourist in the state and boost the economy not make a political statement. The idyllic vision of the southern plantation and all that hospitably stuff must have been too much to ignore when they were brainstorming about ideas to lure tourist dollars.

But, to brush away the past like it didn’t happen is to forgive all that happen. None of the people that supported the slave economy during the civil war are alive anymore. So, there is no one to blame directly. But, if we glorify that past, we risk it happening again.

If you don’t think it could, talk with a White Supremacist. They would just love for you to forget about the past.

(1) John Singleton Mosby (December 6, 1833 – May 30, 1916), also known as the "Gray Ghost," was a Confederate cavalry battalion commander in the American Civil War. His command, the 43rd Battalion, 1st Virginia Cavalry, known as Mosby's Raiders, was noted for its lightning quick raids, partisan or ranger-like tactics and his ability to successfully elude his Union Army pursuers and disappear with his men, blending in with local farmers and townspeople.