Started teaching a two-week winter-session course on spy stories at Rutgers today. We meet every weekday through Friday, January 13th, for four and a half hours a day. Course description and syllabus here (second listing).
[UPDATE:Bowing to public pressure, Governor McDonnell issued a mea culpa Wednesday evening, saying his failure to mention slavery in his Confederate History Month proclamation was a "major omission." He added—as I similarly mention below—that "the state that served as the Capitol of the Confederacy was also the first in the nation to elect an African-American governor."]
"Whereas, it is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth's shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present."
So reads part of the resolution declaring April Confederate History Month by Virginia's extremist governor Robert McDonnell. Now I'm no historian, but the Civil War was about slavery, and the "sacrifices" that McDonnell refers to were on behalf of slavery. But unlike Virginia's last Republican governor, James Gilmore, who at least included anti-slavery language in his own Confederate History Month resolution (as per Wednesday's Washington Postarticle), McDonnell pointedly omits any reference to this country's "great sin and shame." Why? Because while the Civil War "obviously" "involved slavery," he told the Post, "I focused on the [issues] I thought were most significant for Virginia." McDonnell added that the declaration was meant to promote tourism—next year is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's onset.
As if the gamesmanship between McDonnell and his equally disreputable attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, for the hearts and minds of Tea Partiers both in Virginia and nationally could get any worse. (Who can forget last month's topsy-turvy over nondiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians at the state's institutions of higher education?) As a former 10-year resident of Virginia and a proud but cognizant graduate of the University of Virginia, whose founder was a slave owner, I'm aghast at what's happening there. American slavery may have begun in Virginia, but it was also the first state to elect an African-American governor—Doug Wilder, in 1989—and it voted for Obama in '08. As Wilder himself told the Post, McDonnell's dubious historical endorsement is "mind-boggling to say the least."
The letter that Virginia's attorney general issued yesterday admonishing the state's public universities and colleges to remove sexual orientation and gender identity and expression from the schools' non-discrimination policy. As a UVA alum, and a board member for the school's LGBTQ alumni group The Serpentine Society, I'm aghast. For more context, see this report from today's Washington Post.