Virginia governor Bob McDonnell issued a proclamation last week declaring April to be Confederate History Month. Virginia's last two governors, Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner declined to issue a similar proclamation. Republican Jim Gilmore, who served from 1998-2002, was the last Virginia governor to set aside a month to celebrate Confederate History. But McDonnell's proclamation was noticeably missing one feature that Gilmore's proclamations all had-a mention of slavery.
Asked why he omitted a mention of slavery from his proclamation, McDonnell said, "There were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia."
People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan issued the following statement:
"Governor McDonnell's choice to celebrate Confederate History while omitting any mention of slavery is an egregious rewriting of history. Declaring that slavery wasn't 'significant' enough to merit inclusion in his statement is an insult to the Virginians whose past was shaped by the most abhorrent policies of the Confederacy. Issuing a declaration honoring the confederacy is disturbing enough; failing to acknowledge slavery while doing it is inexcusable.
"Governor McDonnell has repeatedly shown himself to be far more radical than his Republican predecessors, and much more extreme than the moderate image he projected of himself during his campaign. This new attempt to ignore the worst parts of Virginia's complicated past is irresponsible and dangerous. By appeasing his supporters in the radical Right, he has turned his back on his duty to serve all Virginians. We cannot allow our elected officials to practice this kind of dangerous revisionism."