The first thing, really, that matters to any legal action is standing. For the sake of this article: I have none. I was born and raised in rural (no, I mean really rural) Michigan; I’ve never flown a confederate flag, although some of my high school classmates thought it went well on a pick-up truck. But, let me resign myself to this, I am a Republican; I am not a Virginian.
Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia has reinstated Confederate History Month. Say what you will, but that took some chutzpah for a man living in an increasingly partisan state, who also is seeking reelection this fall.
“What does he mean by Confederate History?” asks the curious political observer. Certainly, he was reminding folks that it was the (then radical) Republican party that reunited the Union; certainly, he must have been channeling the divisiveness of that conflict and its myriad socio-economic and racial undertones; certainly, he meant this to show that, while there were many things not to be proud of, Virginia was a state of rich history which they intended to celebrate in episodic commemorative months. Right?
The proclamation McDonnell proffered lacked any real mention of slavery. It gave no mention to April’s proximity to February (Black History Month). It desired no deeper reflection about the lessons of divisive partisanship and the use of wedge issues to win increasingly embittered demographics. This was a tactic, plain and simple. It was (forgive me, President Reagan) a Tea Party Tactic; a move designed to gain the support of an increasingly radical and decreasingly Republican voting bloc.
Courting a radical element is fine. Especially when they bring about moderation in any fashion. The voices of moderation often bequeath great wisdom to those willing to listen. But McDonnell has, as yet, shown no interest in reconciling a state that is already one of the most irreconcilable in the Union.
Friends and neighbors, I leave you with a thought. It’s not my thought. But the thinker has a similar name. Here it is: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.”