*It took me a minute to figure out why Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell looked so familiar. Then it hit me and I had to laugh out loud. Of course!
The Southern governor who had just insulted African-Americans by proclaiming April to be “Confederate History Month,” is the same guy who tried to look racially inclusive while giving the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech.
On that night in January, McDonnell stood in the Virginia House Chamber in front of a gallery of some 20 spectators including 3 blacks, 2 Asians and a few other non-whites. But this carefully-constructed “We Are the World” visual was not only lame (only three blacks?) but deceptive.
That became obvious when the cameras swung toward the audience, revealing that the crowd of GOP lawmakers and Party officials who gathered to hear Gov. McDonnell dis President Obama’s plans was (like most Republican crowds) overwhelmingly white.
The Republicans showed their true racial stripes that night. So, it wasn’t really a surprise when Gov. McDonnell ignored the evil of slavery while extolling the Southern insurrectionists who started the Civil War as patriotic freedom fighters.
The Republicans pay lip service and make superficial gestures towards racial inclusion, but when it comes to policy they always put the wishes of white folks — including white racists — first. Make no mistake about it, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s call for Confederate History Month was a concession to racists. It wasn’t about history (you can’t study the Civil War and overlook slavery) it was about redefining the Confederacy in order to help angry white racists and neo-states’ rights advocates feel empowered. But the only way to do that is to lie. To hide history by pretending that slavery was irrelevant. That is exactly what Gov. Bob McDonnell did — and I believe he did it on purpose.
A previous Republican governor, Jim Gilmore, included an antislavery statement in his 2001 Confederate History proclamation. McDonnell deleted that language. So, the failure to mention slavery in McDonnell’s original document wasn’t simply a “mistake” as the governor claimed. It was a decision. Therefore, McDonnell deserves zero moral points for revising his proclamation. The updated statement includes a new paragraph that correctly describes slavery as “an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights.” Great words. But the fact that the Republican governor of Virginia had to be forced to insert that verbiage is further proof of the GOP’s basic insensitivity and arrogance on racial matters.
A revelatory book-end to this disgraceful affair came on Sunday when Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi, brushed aside the outrage over Gov. McDonnell’s omission of slavery in his Confederate history document. Barbour told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, “To me, it’s a sort of feeling that it’s a nit. That it is not significant. It’s trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t amount to diddly.”
Wow. So, our feelings are “insignificant” and an issue that is important to us “doesn’t amount to diddly.” Conservatives say condescending, dismissive garbage like that and then they have the nerve to ask why black folks have no use for the Republican Party.
Thanks for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.
THINK! IT AIN’T ILLEGAL…YET!
Read more “Turner’s Two Cents” on www.UrbanThoughtCollective.com and www.UrbanBeautyCollective.com. In Los Angeles, watch for Turner’s television commentaries on “The Filter with Fred Roggin,” on KNBC and digital cable station NBC Plus.