The N word and a racist zoning lawyer named Stonewall Lee show up in The Solomon Scandals. The main plot of my D.C. newspaper novel unfolds in the late 20th century, and I did not pretty up the history of near-by Northern Virginia.
Besides, we all know that Virginia is a different state now, right? No longer do schoolchildren learn, as I did in the 1950s, that slave owners graciously distributed molasses to their human holdings at Christmas time. This is 2010.
Ugh, guess again. Governor Bob McDonnell is bringing back in Confederate History Month. I can understand pride in the Southern heritage, but should we worry just the same because the McDonnell proclamation somehow avoids references to slavery? Just one of many details, he says. McDonnell says he “focused” on issues “most significant to Virginia.” Way to go, Guv—just kiss off the Thirteenth Amendment.
Perhaps it’s time for another war of secession, only with a new twist. Maybe Northern Virginia—I live there in the city of Alexandria, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.—can finally get serious about leaving the rest of the state. I mean, why not? Wasn’t there some talk recently of Georgetown seceding from D.C.? Maybe without having to worry about relations with Richmond, Alexandria could even tear down its Confederate Statue in the middle of Washington Street.
More seriously, as a populist, I in fact like the idea of the wealthy D.C. suburbs helping to pay for roads and schools in the poorer regions of Virginia even if the State Legislature has overdone this. But perhaps in return, Gov. McDonnell can have the good manners not to embarrass us with opportunistic nostalgia. Alas, the Philadelphia-born McDonnell grew up in Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. Both he and Fairfax County would look better if instead he’d spent his younger years in a more Southern part of the state.