"He decided to cut his losses. It turns out that it's one thing to play with revisionism coyly, quite another to embrace it openly. That minor state-level kerfuffles can be forgiven, but not embarrassments on the national stage." -Cynic, discussing McDonnell's apology with Ta-Nehisi Coates, in the comments thread of this post
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the Republican who took back that office for his party last November, made a "mistake," in his own words.
The governor issued a proclamation last Friday that April would be Confederate History Month in the state of Virginia--a practice begun by Republican Gov. George Allen in 1997--and this proclamation did not include any mention of slavery. An uproar ensued. Civil rights groups were enraged; so were black lawmakers.
Then, McDonnell made it worse: he justified slavery's exclusion on Tuesday, saying that "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."
Now that McDonnell has amended his proclamation--to explicitly list slavery as a cause of the Civil War, and to call it "evil and inhumane"--he has received some praise for doing so, thoughtfully from Ta-Nehisi Coates, who calls this a step in the right direction. Revisionists like to pretend that slavery didn't cause the Civil War, and McDonnell manned up and took ownership of the "mistake," instead of copping out: he didn't issue some kind of "sorry if I offended you" apology--he actually corrected his action, at a time when substantive apologies are frowned upon in politics, and he inserted language about slavery and history that directly contradicts the slight he initially gave it.