Gov. Bob McDonnell, playing to his mostly-white, Conservative base, restored Confederate History Month to Virginia’s Hall of Shame recently, reversing an eight-year trend of relegating the history of the ill-fated Confederacy to its well-deserved place in the dustbin of historical mistakes.

For some, dedicating a month to remembering the Confederacy is akin to declaring a National Holocaust Month.  It’s a slap in the face to any Virginian who believes we should learn from history and not honor its mistakes.

Confederate History Month was established in 1997 by well-known racist George Allen when he served as governor. Allen’s successor, James Gilmoree III, put some anti-slavery language into the proclamation but McDonnell took it out.  Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine scrapped the month altogether.

The circle of shame from last year’s election is complete: A racist governor and his homophobic attorney general. What’s next: A state holiday honoring the Klan?

Those who defend the outmoded concept of a Confederate History Month usually trot out the tired argument that the Civil War was not about slavery but was more about states’ rights. Yeah, it was about a state’s right to enslave people — nothing more, nothing less.

McDonnell’s latest move is just another regressive step by an administration in Richmond determined to drag the Commonwealth back into the stone age.

McDonnell, Attorney Gen. Ken Cucinelli and others in the party in power are troglodytes — throwbacks to a shameful time when whites lynched blacks and a favorite Virginia past time was night sticking the colored folk.

McDonnell claims his actions will be “good for tourism.” Yeah, right: If you want Virginia to become a popular destination for white supremacists, bigots and racists.

Sadly, it comes at a time when another national disgrace is brewing at the federal level with Arlington National Cemetery.

Reports Salon:

Almost 20 years ago Congress ordered Arlington National Cemetery to preserve history, after one of the oldest parts of the burial grounds had fallen into disrepair. That forlorn group of several thousand graves, called Section 27, holds the remains of thousands of Civil War troops, including African-Americans who served with the U.S. Colored Troops, as well as thousands of freed slaves.

But when then-congressman and African-American history buff Louis Stokes began to visit there around 1990, he found headstones there were falling apart and overgrown with weeds. Prodded by Stokes, in 1992 Congress ordered Arlington to replace the crumbling headstones and organize and preserve the historical burial records for Section 27 so vital history about those buried there would not be lost forever.

Superintendent John Metzler told Congress the cemetery was on the case. Arlington replaced the old, crumbling headstones in that section with new, shiny white marble markers. The cemetery also told Congress that burial records for the area got straightened up and preserved. (Metzler is still the superintendent at Arlington).

A Salon investigation shows that 17 years after Metzler’s commitment, the cemetery’s cosmetic fixes did little to preserve the history of the dead there, and instead appear to have made matters worse. Salon obtained thousands of internal cemetery burial records for that section, along with the cemetery’s own internal grave-by-grave map of the section completed in 1990 just before the cemetery’s overhaul began, as well as copies of the old, handwritten burial register of the former slaves interred there back in the mid-1800s. Salon discovered that an unknown number of those new, perfect-looking headstones in the historical section have the wrong names on them or are wrongly marked “Unknown.” And at least 500 graves, listed as occupied in the cemetery’s own records, stand unmarked today.

UPDATE (6:07 P.M.): Gov. Bob McDonnell today apologized for omitting any mention of slavery from his proclamation on Confederate History Month.  In a prepared statement, McDonnell said (in part):

The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed. The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of “profound regret” for the Commonwealth’s history of slavery, which was the right thing to do.

McDonnell did not withdraw the proclamation but added the following to it:

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history…..

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