A Holiday to Memorialize the Confederacy? WTF?

Monroe Anderson
Posted February 11, 2009

In an era that some are trying to bill at post-racial, South Carolina state senator Robert Ford is seeking to take us way back to the post-Reconstruction epoch. Ford, who is of African American descent, is trying to get a bill passed that requires South Carolina to give workers a paid day off for Confederate Memorial Day.

This gives a whole new context to the term House Negro.

In a senate bill that won initial approval last week in a subcommittee, Ford wants to force South Carolina county and municipal governments to give workers a paid holiday off on May 10 to honor Confederate war dead. Mississippi and Alabama already celebrate a Confederate Memorial Day.

In a Rodney King-like "can’t we all get along" spirit, years ago Ford pushed a bill that would make Dr. King’s birthday and a dead Rebels day separate but equal holidays.

"Every municipality and every citizen of South Carolina, should be, well, forced to respect these two days and learn what they can about those two particular parts of our history," Ford said last week.

I already know way too much about the Confederacy part of that history.

A little more than a year ago, I was in South Carolina covering Barack Obama’s presidential election. The Statehouse lobby features the Orders of Secession engraved in marble, portraits of Confederate generals look down on state legislators in their chambers and the Confederate flag still flies outside.

No one has convinced far too many of the state’s white citizens that the Civil War was lost and that the descendants of freed slaves are now their equals. And I am anything but convinced that a holiday honoring the soldiers who died to keep the state’s blacks enslaved will help old times be soon forgotten.

But I do suspect that Ford is trying to convince a bunch of the state’s white citizens that he’s a good Negro. Just last month, the senator pushed a bill that would outlaw dirty words in his state, making it a felony with a penalty of up to five years behind bars for using the F-word, among others. First Amendment be damned!

It was just a year ago, remember, when Democrat Ford backed Sen. Hillary Clinton, for the Democratic presidential nomination over Obama, because every "Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose because [Obama’s] black and he’s top of the ticket. We’d lose the House and the Senate and the governors and everything."

Lawdy, lawdy. Guess who just announced that he’s running for governor of South Carolina? Do you think that in a post-racial era, President Barack Obama should endorse gubernatorial candidate Robert Ford–just because he’s a fellow African American?

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