Let me start by saying that I wrote the last essay before I learned that the Republican Governor of Virginia had declared a "Confederate History Month" purged of any mention of slavery. I confess as well that as a history professor - you know, a PhD in history, lots of courses in history, lots of courses I've taught, yadda yadda - I always thought the the Civil War was really fought over the issue of slavery. So I thank the Honorable Governor for setting me straight on this.
But it got me to thinking. If I've so completely misunderstood the Civil War, then perhaps I've misunderstood lots of other things about Southern history too. And if its time to celebrate the Confederacy, then why not party over those other things as well. Why stop at Confederate History Month in Virginia?! Here are some ideas for other celebrations we should mark throughout the calendar:
Segregation Appreciation Days! - Let's take a week and turn back the clock, back past 1954 (Brown v. Board) all the way back to 1896 (Plessy v. Ferguson). For this week, let's bring back the rich traditions of segregation to the South. You know, like separate water fountains. Denny's Restaurants could refuse to serve black patrons and NOT have to worry about being sued. Because after all, segregation was really about "states' rights" - not about keeping negroes in their place.
Plantation Days! - Not too many people in the South actually own plantations any more, but we can update those good old days can't we? The plantations may be gone, but lots of white folks in the South have lawns right? And those lawns are often cared for by landscaping companies that employ Mexicans. So during Plantation Days, just don't pay them. Threaten to call the immigration authorities if they make a stink about it. They'll get back to mulching right quick I reckon. I'm thinking sometime in the spring when the magnolias are blooming for this.
Gov. Orval Faubus Week! - During the first week of the new school year let's honor the great states' rights champion, Arkansas' own Orval Faubus, by standing in the doorway of our local schools and refusing entrance to any non-white kids. Especially the Asians, who work harder than our kids and are getting better grades and going to better colleges. I hate that.
Secession Summertime! - All that talk by Gov. Rick Perry and others about seceding from the Union is just hot air. Southern states don't want to leave America - they can't afford it. Not with the balance of payments being what they are. Geez, if the South really did try to form its own country (again), its social statistics would resemble Nicaragua's, only without the charm and with much worse food. But during Secession Summertime all those Yankee tourists could be treated like foreign visitors, forced to show ID papers or passports, shaken down for cash at the border. That sort of thing. Who knows? maybe that would raise enough money to ease that balance of payments.
The Klan Kat Walk! - Let's face it: One of the reasons the Klan has dwindled of late is the fashion. Very few of us look all that good in nothing but white, the cuts on the robes and hoods aren't flattering and it's really tough to get the barbeque stains out. Why not put a little hipster edge into the ol' KKK by sponsoring some Klan fashion shows? See what creative variations on the old standard can be. Could be a way to promote young, up-and-coming designers, maybe raise a little money for the local John Birch Society. Just because you're going to a cross burning doesn't mean you have to look frumpy.
The Holiday Book Burning! - The Republican majority on the Texas State Board of Education pointed us in the right direction with their recent decision to re-write American history to make it more, well, Republican. So let's close out the year by having big book burnings around the South to celebrate the Christmas holiday. Preferably near one of those 10 commandments monuments. What a spectacular way to honor the baby Jesus, watching all those books about slavery, reconstruction, segregation and lynching go up in flames. Jesus doesn't want us to read those books, he wants us to handle snakes and watch preachers on the TV. Who doesn't love an old-fashioned book burning?
It's time to stop being ashamed of all that history. Embrace it, hold it, cherish it, and in so doing, make it up, ignore it and lie about it. After all, if the Confederacy had won the war, we'd all be a lot whiter, wouldn't we?