Skip to main content

(CNN) -- Based on the hundreds of e-mails, Facebook comments and Tweets I've read in response to my denunciation of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's decision to honor Confederates for their involvement in the Civil War -- which was based on the desire to continue slavery -- the one consistent thing that supporters of the proclamation offer up as a defense is that these individuals were fighting for what they believed in and defending their homeland.

In criticizing me for saying that celebrating the Confederates was akin to honoring Nazi soldiers for killing of Jews during the Holocaust, Rob Wagner said, "I am simply defending the honor and dignity of men who were given no choice other than to fight, some as young as thirteen."

Sherry Callahan said that supporting the Confederacy is "our history. Not hate; it's about heritage and history."

Javier Ramirez called slavery evil, but prefaced his remarks by saying that "Confederate soldiers were never seen as terrorists by [President Abraham] Lincoln or U.S. generals on the battlefield. They were accorded POW status, they were never tried for war crimes. Not once did Confederate soldiers do any damage to civilians or their property in their invasion of the north. The same is not true of Union soldiers."

Realskirkland sent me a Tweet saying, "Slavery is appalling, but was not the only reason for the CW [Civil War]. Those men, while misguided on some fronts stood up for what they felt was right. They embodied that American ideal that the states have a right to govern themselves. THAT is what a confederate soldier stood for."

If you take all of these comments, don't they sound eerily similar to what we hear today from Muslim extremists who have pledged their lives to defend the honor of Allah and to defeat the infidels in the West?

When you make the argument that the South was angry with the North for "invading" its "homeland," Osama bin Laden has said the same about U.S. soldiers being on Arab soil. He has objected to our bases in Saudi Arabia, and that's one of the reasons he has launched his jihad against us. Is there really that much of a difference between him and the Confederates? Same language; same cause; same effect.

If a Confederate soldier was merely doing his job in defending his homeland, honor and heritage, what are we to say about young Muslim radicals who say the exact same thing as their rationale for strapping bombs on their bodies and blowing up cafes and buildings?

If the Sons of Confederate Veterans use as a talking point the vicious manner in which people in the South were treated by the North, doesn't that sound exactly like the Taliban saying they want to kill Americans for the slaughter of innocent people in Afghanistan?

Defenders of the Confederacy say that innocent people were killed in the Civil War; hasn't the same argument been presented by Muslim radicals in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places where the U.S. has tangled with terrorists?

We can't on the one hand justify the actions of Confederates as being their duty as valiant men of the South, and then condemn the Muslim extremists who want to see Americans die a brutal death. These men are held up as honorable by their brethren, so why do Americans see them as different from our homegrown terrorists?

The fundamental problem with extremism is that when you're on the side that is fanatical, all of your actions make sense to you, and you are fluent in trying to justify every action. Every position of those you oppose is a personal affront that calls for you to do what you think is necessary to protect yourself and your family.

Just as radical Muslims have a warped sense of religion, Confederate supporters have a delusional view of what is honorable. The terrorists are willing to kill their own to prove their point, and the Confederates were just as willing in the Civil War to take up arms against their fellow Americans to justify their point.

Even if you're a relative of one of the 9/11 hijackers, that man was an out-and-out terrorist, and nothing you can say will change that. And if your great-great-great-granddaddy was a Confederate who stood up for Southern ideals, he too was a terrorist.

They are the same.

As a matter of conscience, I will not justify, understand or accept the atrocious view of Muslim terrorists that their actions represent a just war. They are reprehensible, and their actions a sin against humanity.

And I will never, under any circumstances, cast Confederates as heroic figures who should be honored and revered. No -- they were, and forever will be, domestic terrorists.

Last edited by Cholly
Original Post
I can understand Roland Martin's sentiment here. However, I don't think he quite hit the mark with his explanation which in my opinion shows some lack of research on this issue before presenting his argument.
What I agree with: The Confederacy was in fact not only a terrorist organization but committed sedition and used the arguement of states rights over the Constitution and the Federal government. Putting this into context of today, we know that the Tea Party and their ranks use many of the same arguments in disagreement with the current administration.
What I don't agree with: Comparison to the Nazis and the struggle of the Jews. This was a play to get the sympathy of whites. I don't think his goal should've been to convince white people of the audacity of this garbage. They already know, many of them are involved. Pointless comparison in my view. It was however a prime opportunity when historical instruction could've been given via CNN to black people.

Missing are the key points that it was the Confederacy former military who formed the terrorist groups, White Citizens Council (the political arm), Klux Klux Klan (the Terroristic/military arm). Not only did these people conspire within the South to violate and commit genocide against people of African descent, they used the state and federal laws to do it. Also some notable members of the Klan and Citizen's Councils included federal judges, police officers, federal employees and at least one Supreme Court judge in the 1920's (I can't recall his name) who admitted that he was part of the White Citizens Council. The stories are there and if some whites were not in these organizations they ACTIVELY supported them by their actions towards African Americans particularly and non-whites in general. They violated the human rights of millions of people willfully and with malice. I can't honor that.

There was no honor in what those people did to my relatives and my people, to the United States of America by committing sedition and violating human rights. They should not be celebrated, but remembered for their treasonist acts and how bad they were. Yes bad meaning bad.

Last week, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell proclaimed April Confederate History Month in his state. In fact he proclaimed the date on April 7, which is the same day in 1865 that Confederate general Robert E. Lee began to negotiate the terms of surrender with United States General Ulysses S. Grant. In some states, this day is considered Confederate Memorial Day, and Virginia is not alone is celebrating “Confederate History Month”. Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana have celebrated this month for quite some time. In the last decade or so Texas (since 1999), Florida (since 2007), and Georgia (since 2009) have also instituted celebrations of Confederate History Month. Virginia celebrated from 1994-2002 before the commemoration was revoked.

Southerners say there is no racism in their celebration of the confederacy. They claim they just want to celebrate their ancestors who valiantly fought for that which they believed in. What exactly did these folks believe in, though? In his famous Cornerstone speech, delivered in Savannah Georgia on March 21, 1861, Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens stated “Our . . .foundation are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth is that the negro (this is how Negro was spelled historically) is not equal to the white man; that slavery – subordination to the superior race – is his natural and normal condition.”
Anyone who believes in freedom, justice, and equality and reads these words has to cringe, not only at the sentiment, but also at the notion that this sentiment has been resurrected, nearly 150 years later, by contemporary governor of a state that is at least 12 percent African American. To celebrate the so-called confederacy is to celebrate the words that Stephens despicably uttered, and that ought to be an anathema to any thinking American.

Governor McDonnell seems to think that he cleaned up his contemptible proclamation by adding language that speaks to the abomination of slavery. He is talking out of two sides of his mouth. How can you describe slavery as “evil, vicious and inhumane” without acknowledging, as Stephens said, that slavery is the “cornerstone” of the Confederacy that he wants to celebrate?

This matter has been so digested in the public space that it seems almost redundant to address it again. At the same time, it seems that not enough can be written or said about our historical myopia and its consequences. For all of our so-called post-racialism, race really does still matter, and this pro-Confederacy nonsense shows exactly how much. For some southerners, the civil war is still really not over, and there are those who truly believe that “subordination to the superior race” is the “natural and normal condition” of Black Americans. Imagine the chagrin these folks feel when they realize that despite their deeply held beliefs, the elected leader of our nation is a man of African descent. As Black Americans close social, economic, and political gaps, the Tea Party posse and the Confederacy celebrants seem to clamor for more and more attention.

I realize that I write this with some risk. The Tea Party folks are so extreme that they run around threatening people, like Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen (D) who raised questions about their motives. Yet history is written by those who hold the pen, and we are all remiss if we do not remind those who are thinking about our nation’s history that the Confederacy was a rebellion against the United States of America. Why should this rebellion be commemorated and celebrated?

History belongs to those who hold the pen, and it seems to me that many penholders have a profound ambivalence about the Civil War and its aftermath. To be sure, cousins fought cousins, friends fought friends, and West Point classmates fought each other. To clean it up, after the fact, the conflict is said to be about states’ rights, an enduring conflict that continues to plague our nation, instead of slavery, which Stephens declared (and no one disagreed on record) as the cornerstone of the confederacy. If the Confederacy had ever been written out of history as an aberrant loser we might not still be struggling whether domestic terrorists should be celebrated. Instead, our nation’s ambivalence about race and equal rights has empowered governors and others to celebrate supremacy.

Instead of a celebration of Confederacy, we really need a repudiation of its principles by all of those rogue states that were once Confederate. Instead, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbor calls the celebration of Confederacy “no big deal”. Too bad Mississippi voters – 38 percent Black American -- can’t make this man accountable for his supremacist views.

Julianne Malveaux is President of Bennett College for Women.
I did forget one thing. The comparison to the Middle East and the U.S. putting troops on their sovreign territory is a horrible example. The nations of Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are indeed sovreign lands with their own culture, history and heritage and are not a part of the United States. They have every right to consider U.S. military as foreign invaders, although Americans may not like it for 'political' reasons. The South did not. They agreed to be a part of the United States, signed off on the paper work and enjoyed the privileges that it afforded. None of the states ever fought for their own sovreignty, they depened on the federal government completely. With the exception of Texas, but even they bought into the U.S. and have been enjoying the privileges as well.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.