Confederacy Redux?

Virginia was a Confederate state during the Civil War.

Is Virginia still a Confederate state?

The country feels uncomfortably divided, and even if comparisons to the Civil War sometimes feel hyperbolic, it’s hard to ignore how divisive and nasty American life has become. Virginia certainly seems to be a microcosm for this country. It is a steadfastly purple state, which consistently votes Democrats into the White House but Republicans into its state legislature. A huge amount of revenue and liberal votes come from Northern Virginia, which seems more a part of the upper East Coast than the South, but the rest of the state tends to lean towards the red. We are a state of contradiction and tradition, of innovation and regression. We are the bedrock of this country – Virginia’s English colony is arguably the very beginning of what we consider to be the United States – yet this bedrock was the site of colonization and forced labor.

A lot of Northern Virginians like to pretend that Virginia isn’t a Southern state, but we most undoubtedly are. Secession and slavery are vital parts of our history and culture that will most likely never be left behind. It’s hard to forget the way atrocity shaped our foundations – and it shouldn’t be forgotten.¬†We need to embrace our history in a way that reveals all facets, ugly and accomplished.

Therefore, seeing only one side of the story – the Confederate flag – makes the melding of sentiment and harsh truth in our state that much harder to reconcile. The flag represents the sickest side of our story, one that revels in human bondage and yearns for a world where only one certain type of person has rule over every other. It is provoking. It is incendiary. It has become a tool and a weapon, rather than a philosophy. It is a discussion ender, not a facilitator. This magnificent, unnaturally large confederate flag, flying breezily in the air off the highway in Danville, Virginia, knows not what it means to others, but we certainly do.

The events in Charlottesville are stomach-churning and ominous. As a deep lover of my state and frequent visitor of the city (and of their University), this troubles me on a personal level as well as a macrocosmic one. Our President – as of this writing – refuses to outrightly condemn white nationalism, and this country feels as if it is on the brink of something quite terrible. I don’t know how to solve this problem (and there really is no solution to racism), but I do know we can educate ourselves and keep our eyes open.

Now is the time to keep loved ones close. I am not one that seeks to editorialize too terribly much, but right now, it feels appropriate. Hold them close. It’s time to unite and fight autocracy. Stand up and fight back.


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