CNN's Roland Martin has a very thought provoking response to Virginia's bigoted governor's calls for Confederacy Month in Virginia. In it, he raises the rhetorical question Were Confederate soldiers terrorists?
I think that the answer, in a nutshell is a qualified yes,
Martin lays out his arguments via a simple comparison, starting with:
Based on the hundreds of e-mails, Facebook comments and Tweets I've read in response to my denunciation of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's decision to honor Confederates for their involvement in the Civil War -- which was based on the desire to continue slavery -- the one consistent thing that supporters of the proclamation offer up as a defense is that these individuals were fighting for what they believed in and defending their homeland.
This is followed by an inconvenient comparison for the right wing racists:
If you take all of these comments, don't they sound eerily similar to what we hear today from Muslim extremists who have pledged their lives to defend the honor of Allah and to defeat the infidels in the West?
When you make the argument that the South was angry with the North for "invading" its "homeland," Osama bin Laden has said the same about U.S. soldiers being on Arab soil. He has objected to our bases in Saudi Arabia, and that's one of the reasons he has launched his jihad against us. Is there really that much of a difference between him and the Confederates? Same language; same cause; same effect.
If a Confederate soldier was merely doing his job in defending his homeland, honor and heritage, what are we to say about young Muslim radicals who say the exact same thing as their rationale for strapping bombs on their bodies and blowing up cafes and buildings?
And from this, he concludes
The fundamental problem with extremism is that when you're on the side that is fanatical, all of your actions make sense to you, and you are fluent in trying to justify every action. Every position of those you oppose is a personal affront that calls for you to do what you think is necessary to protect yourself and your family.
Just as radical Muslims have a warped sense of religion, Confederate supporters have a delusional view of what is honorable. The terrorists are willing to kill their own to prove their point, and the Confederates were just as willing in the Civil War to take up arms against their fellow Americans to justify their point.
The comparison with terrorists is thus a very good one, in terms of the comparison of rationalizations about terrorism. However, it is perhaps an indirect one given the lack of firm evidence of the Confederates targeting civilians, which in a sense weakens the argument. Nevertheless, the Confederates started and a rationalized a costly, illegal war, resulting in the killing of civilians and the ongoing rationalization of a hateful ideology in the South. The lines, in the Confederacy, between soldiers and civilians were not always so clear cut, with the soldiers being largely defended and assisted by civilians, just as today's terrorists have their defenders and supporters. The bottom line is that the Confederates, as Martin reminds us, took up arms against their fellow Americans. They brought about a war to defend slavery. And that this is being celebrated by Bob McDonnell and his supporters is appalling. This type of celebration is now, of course, tied to far right wing McVeigh style home grown terrorists and by those teabagger types who would advocate violence against elected officials.
So, three cheers for Roland Martin, and some kudos for a generally flawed CNN for giving him the platform for making a comparison that is sure to anger a lot of people.
In the meantime, Virginians, do all you can do to counter your disgrace of a governor. And, let's keep throwing the GOP's blatant racism back in their faces.