Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, reviving a controversy that had been dormant for eight years, has declared that April will be Confederate History Month in Virginia, a move that angered civil rights leaders Tuesday but that political observers said would strengthen his position with his conservative base.But rest assured that McDonnell tickling the dark underbelly of Civil War reenactors can be safely spun with language that serves as a dog whistle for white supremacists and a safety valve for practitioners of suburban white flight:
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The seven-paragraph declaration calls for Virginians to "understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War."
"It helps him with his base," said Mark Rozell, a political scientist at George Mason University. "These are people who support state's rights and oppose federal intrusion."Just as Reagan going to Philadelphia, Mississippi to talk about state's right had nothing to do with race, McDonnell talking about race has everything to do with state's rights. Huh?
Then something happened in the 1990s. The leaders of the GOP grew belligerent. They became too religious, almost zealots. They became intolerant. They began searching for purity in Republican thought and doctrine. Ideology blinded them.Or an ideology of intolerance Saved them, depending on who's delivering the sermon. Either way, it used to be that the GOP called on the country's dark forces to win elections. Increasingly, it is the country's dark force.