The Politicizing of Confederate History Month

Unfortunately, I was unable to make the recent Tea Party rally in Richmond, Virginia and it looks like I missed one of the most interesting references to Confederate History Month since the governor’s announcement.  Karen Cooper is an African American postal worker who lives in Chesterfield, Virginia.  Although the video posted below doesn’t include it, apparently she walked toward the podium declaring, “Happy confederate heritage and history month patriots!” [Update: Click here for Cooper’s introduction and opening remarks.]

Ms. Cooper goes on to talk about her decision to vote for President Obama as well as the reasons for her change of position.  Along the way she delivers this little comment about the Founding Fathers:

I love my country. I love our Founding Fathers. They were visionaries. They were not a bunch of racist, sexist bigots. They knew that this country was going to abolish slavery one day and they were right.

I should point out that I don’t have any firm beliefs about the racial beliefs of the Tea Party folks.  I’ve read my share of news stories as well as the most recent poll, which seems to challenge some of the more outlandish claims made about its members.  That said, I am curious as to what Ms. Cooper sensed about what I assume was a predominantly white audience that caused her to make an explicit endorsement of Confederate History Month as well as declare that the Founding Fathers were not racists and that they understood that slavery would one day end.  What exactly does that have to do with the agenda of the Tea Party Movement?  Could it be that Ms. Cooper and Governor McDonnell had similar goals in their support of the proclamation?

What do you think?

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9 comments… add one
  • Glenn Beck's Chalkboard Apr 25, 2010 @ 5:05

    Karen Cooper is an African American postal worker

    I really do wish the recent, much-ballyhooed survey of the ‘baggers had included questions about their jobs and source of income, not just the amounts. I really do suspect that a disprportionate share (compared to the general population) are on Social Security, Medicare, SSI Disability, work in government jobs or work in private sector jobs funded by big defense contracts. I appreciate that the First Amendment right of free speech is nearly absolute, as it should be, but the sheer lack of self-awareness of some of these folks is just breathtaking.

    Richard responded below, “I wish the people who attack these guys would talk issues but instead you get this nonsense.”

    It’s hard to take the message seriously when the messengers act like clownsor worse.

    But beyond that, I’ve seen no indication at all that the ‘bagger movement is serious about governance. They’re angry, for sure, but beyond “vote ’em out!,” I’ve seen no real platform. They can’t, or won’t, offer any policy or plan that’s more complex than fits on a sheet of posterboard, written in Magic marker. On the biggest (and very real) issue they hammer at, the deficit and the national debt, they’re no more serious abut answering hard questions than anyone else in Washington. They want to cut taxes, sure, but polls show them to be unwilling to even discuss serious cuts to entitlements like Social Security or Medicare, or to the defense budget — thee three biggest components of federal spending.

  • Marianne Davis Apr 22, 2010 @ 18:18

    “They knew that this country was going to abolish slavery one day and they were right.” Ah, so what was all that fuss in the 1860s all about? C’mon, people in bondage, relax, we’ll get around to it some day. . .
    Had the visionary Founding Fathers wanted to abolish slavery one day, they could have done it on Day One. It doesn’t surprise me that a Tea Party celebrant missed this, but it wasn’t a vision from the past, but the coercive power of the Federal government that freed the slaves.

  • nat turners son Apr 21, 2010 @ 8:33

    Just another poor soul seeking thier 15 minutes of fame.

  • Nat Turners Son Apr 21, 2010 @ 8:03

    Just another person seeking their 15 minutes of Fame.

  • Raffi Apr 20, 2010 @ 16:13


    This is interesting. I don’t wish to get too political in public. However, I think a historical contradiction here is worth pointing out: “Happy confederate heritage and history month patriots!”

    While one can easily argue that Confederates were patriots to their nation — obviously it was NOT patriotism toward the nation she is addressing here!

    At least not during the existence of the Confederate States of America (since some did indeed return to being U.S. “patriots,” such as Joe Wheeler.

  • John Stoudt Apr 18, 2010 @ 18:45

    Well, her comments used a certain type of pretzel logic — it had several twists amd turns that seemed a bit illogical to me. Maybe it would make more sense if I looked at it from strictly a politically partisan (and dogmatic) viewpoint.

    On a more positive note, Friday, April 23rd will mark the 150th anniversary of the 1860 Democratic Party convention, held in Charleston, South Carolina. Will anyone quote William Lowndes Yancey or the Deep South’s call for a Federal slave code?

    A Federal slave code? Wouldn’t the people of the Northern states have rights, too? Maybe the Tea Partiers will address that conundrum.

  • Tom Thompson Apr 18, 2010 @ 17:32

    She strikes me as a useful fool! She’s in love with the sound of her own voice…prepared to jump to the podium of any cause and make noise. She is most likely incapable of making sense.

  • chrislrob Apr 17, 2010 @ 17:55

    There is something off about this speech.

    But I’ve seen a number of speeches by black speakers at Tea Party events. And they all take pains to quickly establish their teabagger bona fides–right down to entertainer Lloyd Marcus running on stage and announcing that he is “NOT an African-American!”–no, he is an “American!!!!”, accompanied by a jig. And no I am not exaggerating.

    Is she actually saying that she voted for Obama *solely* to make history? Because she doesn’t sound like a disappointed Democrat. She sounds like a conservative conservative. I’d sure like to know her voting record.

    I have a hard time believing she voted for Obama.

    And I’m pretty sure that her voting for Obama was not affirmative action (which she emphasizes needs to end). She just shoehorned that in there. Apparently, she didn’t want to leave any talking point untalked.

    I’d be curious to see a poll of how many Virginia Teabaggers support Confederate History Month. I’d bet that it is very, very high.

  • Richard Apr 17, 2010 @ 16:56

    I was in Georgia last week and several people I have the utmost respect for spoke at one of these rallies. These guys are retired military and now work in business. They are interested in real issues, not a comedy show. Any thinking American should be concerned about the financial future of this country. I wish the people who attack these guys would talk issues but instead you get this nonsense.

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