First, he accepts arguendo the common refrain that the South is "still fighting the Civil War" but claims that the North is "insistent on pushing their view" today. First, I would argue that attempting to correct the views of pro-Confederate historical revisionists who attempt to downplay the role that slavery played in motivating secession is less "pushing one's view" than "maintaining the accuracy of the historical record." Second, for most of the post-bellum period, the South has LITERALLY STILL BEEN FIGHTING THE CIVIL WAR. This began with concerted low-level campaigns of terrorist violence for nearly a century after the end of Reconstruction and later morphed into the "massive resistance" to Civil Rights legislation and desegregation.
Second, while he acknowledges that southern military leaders were highly supportive of slavery (and doesn't, as far as I can tell, argue that slavery was not the main motivating factor for secession), he argues that most rank and file southern soldiers were motivated by other factors, since only the elites were slaveowners in the antebellum South.
While this is certainly the case, people don't generally engage in this sort of celebration for other extremely questionable causes on this basis. Many soldiers in the Imperial Japanese Army were probably swell guys and just fighting out of a sense of nationalism but Japan isn't having a remebrance month for the Tojo regime. Hell, most of the fighters in Joseph Kony's murderous LRA are just abducted child soldiers but I don't think Uganda, the DRC, South Sudan, or the Central African Republic will be holding Lord's Resistance Army Day anytime soon or that their citizens will go driving around with LRA flags (if they had them) on their pickup trucks. And to be clear, McDonnell wasn't declaring "Confederate Soldier History Month" or "Civil War History Month," it was Confederate History Month.
(As an aside, as far as the motivation of rank and file soldiers throughout history goes, I think Debs pretty much nailed it in the Canton, Ohio speech:
The feudal barons of the Middle Ages...declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell.)
A few other points. As Dr. Farley asks, why does "Southern History" have to be about the four years in which the region waged a treasonous war in defense of slavery rather than the other 230 years of its existence? Further, why does it have to be about the group of people who fought against the United States Government and not say, the huge chunk of people (a majority in some states) that the rebels wished to keep enslaved or the areas or individuals that remained loyal to the country?
John closes with what I think is the weakest segment of his post:
The CIA refers to the fallout of reconstruction as 'blowback.' For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it is the result of concerted military/propaganda efforts to shift the cultural, political, or social leanings of a state. And blowback there has been. The reaction to reconstruction and further oppression was violent resistance that lasts to this very day. So yes Mr. CNN bigshot, much like our interference in Afghanistan during their war with the Soviets.
Blowback is usually used to refer to the unintended consequences of a covert action, not of reconstruction. He misuses the term here. First, there was certainly nothing covert about Lincoln et al.'s crushing of the rebellion. Second, blowback is generally something surprising or unforeseen (e.g. we didn't know that helping Ethiopia overthrow the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia would lead to the rise of the far worse Al-Shabab). The southern reaction to Reconstruction was completely foreseeable, which is why the Radical Republicans in Congress enacted such sweeping measures. The reason that southerners were able to "continue fighting" the war (as noted above) is because that Reconstruction program ended following the Compromise of 1877.