BRIAN PERRY/Confederate controversy

Governor Phil Bryant caught a lot of flak in February for signing a proclamation naming April “Confederate Heritage Month.” Some suggested it was racially insensitive to do so, particularly during February which has been nationally recognized as Black History Month since President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” in 1976.

But Confederate Heritage Month and Black History Month are not in conflict. The economic, ideological and political impact of slavery – our nation’s original sin – is inseparable from the causes of secession and the moral authority of the Union to quell the rebellious Confederate States. And slavery – the plight and the fight to overcome it and its racist vestiges – is a major chapter in American black history (and the history of all Americans).

I understand the offense. Some view Confederate Heritage Month as an opportunity for racists to celebrate slavery and lament its destruction. I believe there are far fewer people with such motives than those who are offended imagine (but I’m open to the idea that there are more such people than I expect.) We shouldn’t constantly worry about offending people because people are offended all the time, sometimes about silly things. But slavery isn’t silly and this is a case where one can anticipate the offense and waiting a few days until March would not have hurt anything and been an easy accommodation.

Madison County Journal
3/30/16