Virginia "Sovereignty March" Claims Rep. Eric Cantor in Movement Steeped in Civil War Rhetoric -- And Worse
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
From the Web site of Freedom for US Now, listed as a "friend" by the sponsoring organization of the Virginia Sovereignty March, the Constitutional Sovereignty Alliance.
There's something rotten in Virginia -- but it doesn't end there. Today it will arrive on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Since the election of a right-wing governor, Bob McDonnell, last year, a noisy contingent has been on a full-bore run to glorify the most inglorious aspects of its past as the seat of the Confederacy. Today, any lingering doubt that Virginia's top lawmakers sanction the discriminatory (and often racist) anti-government movement known by such names as the nullification movement and the Constitution Alliance may be laid to rest if, as organizers of the Virginia Sovereignty March promise, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., participates in an event on the U.S. Capitol grounds, at which he is expected to accept a letter from state lawmakers that declares the state's sovereignty. March organizers state on their Web site that Cantor will "officially receive the delegation at the U.S. Capitol," and that Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., will take part in an event they will stage there, which, according to organizers, will feature Richard Viguerie, a founder of the religious right.
My call and e-mail to Cantor's office yesterday to confirm his participation are both unreturned at this writing, and my request to march organizers for the text of the letter was politely ignored. The Sovereignty March, according to the Web site of its sponsoring organization, the Virginia chapter of the Constitutional Sovereignty Alliance (formerly known as the Virginia Nullification Coalition), will be led by state legislators Scott Lingamfelter and Rich Anderson of the Virginia House of Delegates. As I sought information on the marchers and their allies, I clicked on a link to Freedom for US Now, listed on the Constitutional Sovereignty Alliance Web site as "Links/Partners & Friends (temp)". Clicking through the items labeled "New!", I came to one called "The Raping of America." There I found the cartoon shown at the top of this story.
The cartoon depicts a distraught and naked Statue of Liberty perched on the edge of a disheveled bed, her head in her hands. In the foreground, a bare-chested black man I presume to be a caricature of Barack Obama dons his his shirt, saying, "Oh, shut up and stop your whining. You gave all the consent I'll ever need in 2008. Get yourself cleaned up. I'll be back -- CapNTrade, Immigration, whatever. And I'll bring 'friends'."
That the House Minority Whip would "officially receive" a delegation that counts among its "Partners & Friends" a purveyor of the old racist trope about black men raping white women speaks to the expanding bounds of politically acceptable hate speech among right-wing politicians. Here, the black man is depicted as the president of the United States, and the white woman is none other than the Statue of Liberty. (Never mind that those "huddled masses" she welcomes are the very people the sovereignty crowd would like to lock out of America.)
The rising anti-American sentiment in Virginia would came to a head last week with the Confederate History Month proclamation issued by the governor that omitted any reference to slavery. (The public outcry that followed forced a walk-back by McDonnell, who reissued the proclamation with a contrite reference to slavery, but only after he claimed that its omission from the original proclamation was based on his judgment that slavery wasn't "significant" enough to Virginia to warrant inclusion in the document.)
Of a piece with Virginia's exaltation of its history as the capital of the Confederacy is the law suit filed against the federal government by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli against the health-care reform law just passed by Congress. (In total, according to the right-wing Tenth Amendment Center, such "nullification" measures have been introduced in the legislatures of 35 states, as shown on this handy map.)
These nullification measures are unlikely to stand up to the scrutiny of the courts, for while their proponents decry as gross overstepping by the federal government actually amounts to a mere tax penalty for those who chose to go uninsured.
And don't leave out the anti-LGBT directive issued by Cuccinelli to Virginia's state colleges and universities last month, in which he ordered them to eliminate anti-discrimination regulations regarding sexual orientation. What's that got to do with the Confederacy? Well, it's based on the logic that the culture of the majority reigns supreme above the rights of all people -- the very logic that led Virginia, in its 1861 declaration of secession from the United States, to bemoan the federal government's "oppression of the Southern slave-holding States." (Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic revisits the secession declarations of several states here.)
Today's Sovereignty March is scheduled to begin in Richmond, the state capital (and the capital of the Confederacy), and move on to a Tea Party protest in Woodbridge, the ancestral home of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and then to another in Fredericksburg, the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, which the Confederate forces won. Among the Fredericksburg headliners will be former Virginia Gov. George "Macaca" Allen, according to the Web site of the Prince William County Tea Party. Also on the agenda is Ben Marchi, the Virginia state director for Americans for Prosperity, the astroturfing group that, working with Fox News, organized protests against and disseminated disinformation about the health-care reform legislation. There the Virginia Sovereignty marchers, are scheduled to read their sovereignty letter, which is said to be addressed to President Obama and members of Congress.
After what will likely be billed as their triumph in Fredericksburg, the sovereignty marchers will arrive, at long last, for a 5:00 p.m. presentation of their declaration to Cantor and Wittman. Then it's down the hill to the big Tax Day Tea Party rally being hosted tonight by FreedomWorks, the astroturfing group led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, whose Web site trumpets the Virginia marchers' sentiment with the headline, "It's Raining Sovereignty in Virginia."
Oh, and if you see any racist signs or bad behavior at that rally, it won't be the fault of the Tea Partiers, a note on the Virginia Sovereignty March page seems to suggest; they will be the work of dastardly left-wing monkey-wrenchers. The event listing for the march on the Constitutional Sovereignty Alliance pages ends with this note:
Special Note: News reports indicate that ANTI-Tea Party forces plan to take direct action at events on Thurs, to include infiltration, inappropriate signs, acting up, inserting themselves in front of cameras, sabotage etc. CSA denounces such behavior and plans to highlight any inappropriate behavior as not indicative of our message of sovereignty, rule of law, and peaceful protest against usurpation and tyranny.