Mississippi is a state with a lot of problems. It ranks 49th in the Union in terms of health, with a low immunization rate and a high prevalence of premature death. It has the highest poverty rate in the nation, the lowest median family income in the country, and less than one-fifth of the population have a college degree. It has a statewide high school dropout rate of 17%; as high as 35% in some areas. It exists for the sole purpose of making Texas look good.
So, to remedy these and many other problems, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant decided to declare April as Confederate History Month, and the last Monday in April as Confederate Heritage Day.
Really, he missed an opportunity: the first day of April should be considered Confederate Heritage Day. There’s no reason to have two days in April celebrating jokers and fools.
March winds bring April Treason Month
Bryant signed the official proclamation, championed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, earlier in the month. It appears alongside a list of proclamations that include Irish History Month and Reagan Day, but no Black History Month — which really, should we expect anything different from Mississippi?
According to his proclamation:
April is the month in which Confederate States began and ended a four-year struggle; and on Confederate Memorial Day, we recognize those who served in the Confederacy; and April 25, 2016, is set aside as Confederate Memorial Day to honor those who served in the Confederacy; and it is important for all Americans to reflect Upon our nation’s past, to insight from our mistakes and successes, and to come to a full understanding that the lessons learned yesterday and today will carry us through tomorrow if we carefully and earnestly strive to understand and appreciate our heritage and our opportunities which lie before us: Now, Therefor, I, Phil Bryant, Governor of the State of Mississippi, hereby proclaim the month of April 2016 as Confederate Heritage Month in the State of Mississippi.
See, here’s what I don’t understand. This heritage includes slavery. It’s based on slavery. The Confederacy wrote slavery into its constitution, many times, and solemnly promised its constituent states it would respect their rights to keep black people as slaves. Slavery was the raison d’être for the Confederated States of America.
Consider just this one submission, from Article IV, Section 3 (3):
The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.
And yet, there isn’t any mention of slavery at all in Southern Treason Month proclamation. None. It’s more focused on celebrating the fact a certain segment of the population can’t let the past go and are sore losers.
You know, the population that projected all that on Beyoncé following her Superbowl halftime show.
Are we reflecting on the creative ways morally bankrupt men like Phil Bryant excise the uncomfortable truths from their revisionist history? We don’t need a month for that. That’s called “election day” and that’s when we’re supposed to throw those people out of office.
Feature image via Flickr