I thought that I would interrupt my series on The Divided States of the Confederacy and reprint a post that I saw today. The subject of this article has been in the news recently and it deserves a comment. Recently, the president of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia decided that the Confederate flags around General Lee’s tomb should be removed so as not to stir up any controversy.
We need to be mindful that we in the 21st Century have no right to judge those who in the 19th Century who fought and may have died for something that they believed in. We can not rewrite history just because we don’t like it. Linda Nezbeth speaks eloquently in her post on the subject.
Nezbeth is a genealogist and history buff who lives in Goodview, Virginia.
Lee myths and propaganda to delude and calm the masses abound in the liberal media.
First let us quickly dispatch the column by Glen Ayers (“Lee redeemed himself at W&L,” Aug. 21).
Neither Gen. Robert E. Lee nor anyone else in Confederate service committed treason. No one was tried, convicted or punished for treason. Although he applied as ordered, Lee did not grovel for a pardon. He was ultimately included in the Dec. 25, 1868, general amnesty. Confederate Gen. Jubal Early correctly observed that the amnesty was an admission by federal authorities that Confederates had broken no law and the government knew it could not successfully prosecute.
Lee’s honorable resignation released him from any further obligation to the U.S. government. Ayers’ remaining thoughts about Lee and his moral obligation to “his people,“ while chronologically correct, exhibits a lack of social and political context and understanding.
Who was Lee and what did he believe in? The unauthorized remaking of Lee continues as W&L and The Roanoke Times selectively choose which Lee they will acknowledge as ever having lived and which Lee is worthy to be honored at W&L. This is part of their liberal progressive agenda to create Lee in their own image.
By removing the Confederate flags from around the statue depicting Lee resting on his camp bed, suitably attired in his Confederate general’s uniform, they hope to sweep under the rug his proud service to what he considered his country. Lee very well understood what he was fighting for and never renounced it.
Lee knowingly sold his name to Washington College to help raise money. He is buried in Lexington at the insistence of his wife and the Washington College faculty, which hoped having his monument there would continue to assist in fund raising. Thousands of Confederate veterans and their families worked to have Lee buried in Richmond, but finally gave in to Mrs. Lee’s desires for Lexington.
From day one, the Lee Chapel memorial was dedicated to the whole Confederate general Lee, not simply limited to his college experience. Thousands have made the trip to honor the Confederate general, not the university president.
Let us deal with unpleasant reality here. We have degenerated into a racially polarized society where liberals and progressives will remove any symbol, rewrite any history, deny any heritage, excuse any shortcoming and promote any myth to mollify the black community. This is all in the name of increasing self-esteem and allegedly providing better opportunities, thus producing better citizens.
The communion rail story of Lee (“Which Lee do we honor?,” Aug. 24 editorial), although not authenticated by historians, is a simple lesson about a Confederate general living out his Christian faith. It is a weak crutch when used by The Roanoke Times to justify denial of any merit to Lee’s Confederate service.
Myth-building of historical figures is as old as humans. One would think we had reached a point where we could acknowledge the whole person, faults and all, yet still honor his achievements as we see them. We in the Southern heritage community understand Lee had flaws but respect the whole person, not some caricature designed to fit today’s morality.
Many people still honor the Lincoln myth while not dealing with his publicly stated racist opposition to black voting rights and social equality. His plan for black deportation is ignored.
Others continue the pilgrimage to UVa and admire Mr. Jefferson while conveniently ignoring his role in slavery, including apparent sexually abusing one of his female slaves. His extravagant lifestyle finally resulted in a sell-off of his slaves and breaking up of families.
Andrew Jackson is hailed for his military victory at New Orleans. While he is remembered as a staunch Union supporter, somehow his stature has been polished enough to forget the horrible, cruel atrocities his administration committed against the peaceful Native American tribes and the heartless brutality of the Trail of Tears.
Franklin D. Roosevelt is hailed as our savior in World War II, yet we forget about the racial concentration camps he established and filled with Japanese-American citizens. Never mind that he sent a racially segregated army to fight another racist regime.
So what is the point of this? Leave history alone. Have the intellectual and moral integrity to understand each and every hero and admire all for what good they did. Try to better understand them and their times.
Let each citizen have the unimpeded right to understand and honor their heroes without interposing someone else’s interpretation and removing flags.