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A Monumental History

I want to commend to your attention the speech New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu gave on the day the final Confederate monument — Robert E. Lee’s — was taken down in the city. [1] It is quite moving. Excerpts:

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

He’s right about that. More:

Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?

Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?


We all know the answer to these very simple questions.

Well, we do, but I think it’s also true that these questions are too simplistic. They make history into therapy. Before I explain what I mean, let me make it clear that I’m very pleased that the white citizen’s rebellion monument was removed, pleased that Jefferson Davis’s statue is gone, indifferent to the Beauregard monument’s fate, and I am only somewhat troubled by the Lee monument’s removal. That’s not because of any sympathy for the Confederacy — it deserved to lose, and the suffering of the South in and after the war was, I believe, God’s judgment on it for the sin of slavery.

My unease over the Lee monument’s removal has to do with a couple of things. First,  This excerpt from a letter from Lee to Beauregard after the war [2]has a lot to do with why I think it is wrong to cast his monument into the waste bin. Emphases mine:

After the surrender of the Southern armies in April, the revolution in the opinions and feelings of the people seemed so complete, and the return of the Southern States into the union of all the States so inevitable, that it became in my opinion the duty of every citizen, the contest being virtually ended, to cease opposition, and place himself in a position to serve the country. I, therefore, upon the promulgation of the proclamation of President Johnson of 29th of May, which indicated his policy in the restoration of peace, determined to comply with its requirements, and applied on the 13th of June [3] to be embraced within its provisions. I have not heard the result of my application. Since then I have been elected to the Presidency of Washington College, and have entered upon the duties of the office in the hope of being of some service to the noble youth of our country. I need not tell you that true patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another, and the motive which impels them — the desire to do right — is precisely the same. The circumstances which govern their actions change; and their conduct must conform to the new order of things. History is full of illustrations of this. Washington himself is an example. At one time he fought against the French under Braddock, in the service of the King of Great Britain; at another, he fought with the French at Yorktown, under the orders of the Continental Congress of America, against him. He has not been branded by the world with reproach for this; but his course has been applauded.

Lee fought for a bad cause out of loyalty to his home state, and if he had prevailed, an evil institution — slavery — would have prevailed. He fought for the wrong side and deserved to lose. But notice that after he lost, he called on all defeated Southerners to cease hostilities and to commit themselves to the service of the United States. Lee was the most prestigious figure in the South. It mattered that he did not urge bitter resistance, but rather nobly counseled patriotism. Had he done otherwise, the healing of the nation’s wounds likely would have taken longer.

Lee was a far more complex man than many people today seem to realize. In the 1950s, a New York dentist wrote to President Eisenhower, asking how he could display a photo of the traitor R.E. Lee on his desk. Ike responded:

General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.

Read the whole exchange here. [4]

Again, I’m not losing sleep over the removal of any of these statues, though I do wish they had kept the Lee statue because he was a great, deeply (and tragically) flawed American. Gen. Sherman fought for the right side of that war, but he did not have Lee’s character. To me, the national tragedy of the Civil War is exemplified not by Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, but by Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. To remember him as nothing other than a man who commanded an army that defended slavery is a mistake.

I don’t at all agree with Mayor Landrieu’s standard that public monuments exist to “encourage” children or anybody else, and if they don’t do that, then they should be removed. That is a crude and dangerous principle. Five years ago, when my family spent a month in Paris, I read a book about the French Revolution. It was hard for me to wrap my mind around the hatred the revolutionaries and the opponents of the Revolution had for each other. Mobs tore down churches in rage over the Catholic Church’s support of the monarchy. And it is also true that the Church supported some appalling injustices, of the sort that could make a poor man hate it.

As a Christian and as a conservative, I, of course, think the French Revolution was a calamity. I stood in the garden behind a Carmelite convent in Paris, and prayed at the site where Revolutionaries murdered 150 bishops and priests, one by one, for refusing to sign a loyalty oath. The anti-clerical persecutions in revolutionary France were vicious. And yet, there are monuments to the revolution in the city, and to some of its leaders. There is no monument to the worst of the revolutionaries, Maximilien Robespierre, who instituted the Terror, but there is a metro station named for him.  [5]

Should the city change the name of that metro station because it discourages five-year-old French Catholic girls, or offends other Catholics? How can a Catholic be “encouraged” by the Danton statue, given what the Revolution did to Catholics?  And if she can’t be, should the statue be removed?

Or think about Oliver Cromwell, the regicidal Puritan monster who horrifically persecuted Irish Catholics, and whose statue stands in Westminster today.  [6] What should English Catholics think of that?

Of the finding of grievous fault among our ancestors there is no end. We should be deeply reluctant to remove statues and monuments, simply because it is very easy to yield to the passions of a given place and time, and to erase history. When I have been with my kids in the presence of Confederate monuments, I have done my best to explain to them what the Confederacy was and what slavery was. They are under no illusion that the Confederate cause was just.

But I have also stood with them in the local cemetery, lighting a candle on the grave of their great-great-great grandfather, who fought for the Confederacy with incredible bravery, and was wounded at the Battle of Port Hudson. He was a poor country man who held no slaves. My guess is that he fought for the South for the reason most Soviet soldiers fought for the USSR: not because he was enthusiastic about the ideology behind the state (though he might have been), but because it was home, and it was under attack. I have had to explain to my kids why it is right to honor this ancestor of ours, even though he fought for a government and a society that enslaved black human beings.

This is what history does to us. History is not there to comfort, to encourage, or to be instrumentalized. True, the society that erects monuments does so because it wants its people forevermore to honor whoever or whatever is being memorialized. All monuments are instrumentalizations of history. The City of New Orleans did not erect the Jefferson Davis monument in 1908 for neutral or scholarly reasons, heaven knows. But once in place, monuments bear witness to what values the people of a place once hallowed. When our ancestors got something very wrong, then that’s often worth remembering publicly. As John Daniel Davidson wrote in The Federalist: [7]

The case for keeping our Confederate monuments has everything to do with preserving our history, the better to understand it. The history of the Civil War and the Confederacy is complicated and, even to this day, painful for some Americans. But a standing monument isn’t the same as a flag flying in a place of honor. Monuments become part of our landscape down through the decades, and their physical presence testifies to the past in a way that museums cannot.

This is especially true of our Civil War monuments. Something as central to American history as the war between North and South should impose on us and demand our attention—not so that we can honor the principles of the Confederacy, but so we can understand and remember who we were and all we suffered to survive the Civil War and remain one nation.

There are certainly limits. There are no statues to Marshal Pétain, the Nazi stooge who ran Vichy, even though he fought bravely in World War I. There shouldn’t be, either. His crimes were too great. I would support removing every public statue of Lenin or Stalin from Russian life, given the enormity of their crimes, but I would leave in place every statue honoring Soviet soldiers who fought and died in World War II, even though they could plausibly be said to have fought for communism. Most of them, I imagine, fought for the same reason my Confederate ancestor fought: because they were defending their home. The fact that they were fighting a hideous regime of world-historic brutality and criminality to defend a hideous regime of world-historic brutality and criminality only highlights their tragedy.

Granted, the Union was nothing like the Nazis. In fact, it was on the side of right in the Civil War. But you see the point I’m trying to make. This is one reason why if I were dictator, I would have kept the Lee statue, while ditching the Jefferson Davis one. And I would have built monuments to the slaves, and to black civil rights heroes. Add to the public marking of history, not detract from it.

I concede that these are fine distinctions that will seem cold and abstract to partisans on both sides of the monuments issue. The population of New Orleans is 61 percent black. I wouldn’t be surprised if a single black citizen opposed removing the monuments, and it’s certain that the white population was divided. It’s worth asking if monument-removal was a more pressing issue than the many other problems New Orleans’s municipal government faces. Still, we live in a democracy. If most of the people wanted the monuments gone, then take ’em down.

Note well, though, that in a 2016 statewide poll conducted by LSU [8], 75 percent of Louisianians (not just New Orleanians) opposed taking those monuments down. And get this: more black Louisiana residents opposed taking the monuments down (47 percent) than supported doing so (40 percent). Like history itself, this issue is not so black and white (no pun intended).

Finally, some of you pushed back the other day when I pointed out in connection with the monument-removal story that violent crime continues to be a major problem in New Orleans. My point was that monument removal is a symbolic act that does little to nothing to address the real problems of black New Orleanians, and all New Orleanians, which the city government is not so good at doing. That’s not an argument for keeping the monuments, necessarily, but it does put the controversy into a certain perspective. The city’s streets are in horrible shape, with potholes everywhere. Some snarky New Orleanians are spray-painting names of Confederate generals on the potholes in an effort to get the attention of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, so he will take them away too.

UPDATE: This is how crazy it is in New Orleans now: [9]

The principal of an alternative school in New Orleans was asked to leave his post this week after he was pictured standing near a Confederate flag the morning before the city removed a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in downtown New Orleans.

Nicholas Dean, principal of Crescent Leadership Academy, confirmed Tuesday that he was told not to report to work for the next week or two after the photograph circulated on social media last weekend.



The picture, which drew immediate attention on Facebook, depicts Dean standing near a man holding a Confederate flag who was part of a crowd that had gathered in Lee Circle. Dean said the photo was taken about 2:30 a.m. Friday, long before the Robert E. Lee monument was removed that afternoon.

When reached by phone, Dean said he was there because he thought the monument would be taken down in the night and he wanted to witness it happening.

He said he was there for just a few minutes and left once he saw there was no equipment in place to take the statue down. He insisted that the photograph was taken “out of context.”

“I went to see history in the making,” Dean said. “And now I am history.”

Are you now standing or have you ever stood on the street in proximity to something Confederate, while white?

UPDATE.2: Holy moley! Turns out Dean appears in a video wearing rings associated with neo-Nazism, and appeared recently on a white nationalist podcast! [10]

171 Comments (Open | Close)

171 Comments To "A Monumental History"

#1 Comment By mrscracker On May 27, 2017 @ 9:32 am

William Dalton,
It was similar during the American Revolution, which was really a secession, too.
The British offered freedom to any slave belonging to the rebelling colonists. It was more about depriving rebels of property and workforce than about abolition.
Loyalists were allowed to keep their slaves and took them with them when they were evacuating from the American colonies.
The British were good to their word, though and evacuated the former slaves to Nova Scotia, including a couple who’d belonged to George Washington if I remember. Some descendants of those freed slaves still live there.
I’ve heard that the Yankees used freed slaves as canon fodder in battles, but would have to check on that. So many stories are tweaked to fit a certain narrative. You really have to be careful and consider all sides.

#2 Comment By Rob G On May 27, 2017 @ 12:22 pm

“I have no patience with people who equate populism and racism. But, this does not contradict that an effort was underway by the end of 1865 to reconstitute white supremacy.”

True. My point was that despite a fair amount of overlap populism and white supremacy were not coterminous.

“What we have said is that there is nil evidence that the sentiments that propelled the Civil War dissipated after its ending; to the contrary many institutions that were integral to slavery including government sanctioned terrorism against black people were quickly reconstituted and expanded. Somebody mentioned the shared experience of black and white sharecroppers; interesting analogy especially when you put them in the context of events like the Rosewood massacre in Florida.”

You are back-reading today’s understanding of race into the CW era. Someone once said that the South didn’t care how close the blacks were as long as they didn’t get too high, while the North didn’t care how high they were as long as they didn’t get too close.

I suggest you try and evaluate Reconstruction and its problems through that lens.

#3 Comment By Doug Bilodeau On May 27, 2017 @ 3:25 pm

Just as well this will appear late in the cycle for this discussion so that few will ever see it, but I couldn’t let it pass without comment.
I started to write a [much] long[er] objection to labelling Cromwell a monster and also, at least by implication, Sherman as a man of low character. After many words, which mercifully I am sparing you, I thought, “Why bother? It’s all BS in both cases, bigoted history.” So, to put it briefly: Cromwell was a moderate in a horribly violent era [cf. 30-years war], who resisted fanatics from all directions, and established a Commonwealth, which was to be a foreshadowing of the founding of the United States. It is thanks to Cromwell that the UK, after a weakened restoration of monarchy, advanced to its “Glorious Revolution” later in the century, which established the current political order in the UK. It is thanks to Cromwell that the US has a polity of citizens rather than subjects, who have enjoyed the privilege of free civil discourse which you now complain is under attack. Any monstrous deeds attributed to Cromwell are simply milder and more moderate versions of what every other power or faction in Europe was doing at the time, and which most (anyone who was not an Independent Congregationalist) would have done to him and to his supporters if they had had the chance. English royals got off easy. Charles I was beheaded, but there was no guillotine in Westminster operating day after day. There was nothing in the same league as the horrors going on in central Europe, and nothing approaching the institutionalized cruelties in Italy, France and Spain. Without Cromwell and his New Model Army (the first professional military service in the modern sense), there is no concept of freedom of religion, or of conscience.

Secondary acknowledgements are appropriate here also to Calvin, who preached a direct intimacy between God and ourselves far closer even than Luther’s view, which inspired a vigorous flourishing of religion in the Anglosphere [which made Cromwell possible] even though Calvin’s ecclesiology and some systematics were a little less helpful in the long run. Calvin should be understood in terms of his origins and early history – he was motivated above all by his compassion and anguish for the suffering of the reformed/evangelical church in France, which at that time was utterly defenseless and was treated with extreme cruelty by the state.

As for Sherman, he is hated not for killing people but for destroying property, primarily plantations founded on slavery. Sherman, though he was living in Louisiana at the time, was shocked at the rashness and futility of secession. He dreaded the coming of the war and foresaw with horror a nation “drenched in blood”, to much ridicule in the press. After the fall of Vicksburg, Sherman famously asserted that the South would not surrender until a few hundred thousand young men were mostly killed off – those who had skills of use primarily in war and in the oppression of slaves, who mostly did not yet own slaves, but whose only hope for a prosperous future was in the acquisition of land and slaves. (Some of the survivors went west after the war, becoming notable cavalrymen and/or outlaws.)

But Sherman’s role in the war was not much directed to that goal. High casualty rates are the responsibility of Lee and Grant, and of the several less competent commanders on both sides. For Sherman saw from Atlanta a different aspect of the war – that many in the South had not suffered from the fighting, and were not much inclined to suffer or to risk what they had. Georgia had served mainly as a source and conduit of supplies and transport for the Confederacy. Its governor resented the impositions of Davis, and rather wished that Georgia had seceded simply into the condition of a solitary sovereign state. Why, he asked, did we leave one oppressive union to join another? So, Sherman took the radical step of dropping his communications and proceeded to live off the land, destroying a great deal of civilian infrastructure on the way. This was ungentlemanly, but it served to mitigate, if anything, the bloodbath Sherman had foreseen at the beginning, by demoralizing the general population of the South (with minimal loss of life) and so undermining their will to continue the war. “Take your army up to South Carolina,” pleaded the Georgians. “They started it.” Sherman’s march and destruction of supplies and railroads also sharpened the pinch on Lee’s army in the last winter of the war, so that Grant quickly forced him out of Richmond in the spring, after which surrender was a matter of days. My great-great-grandfather fought under Thomas and Sherman from Stones River to Atlanta to the sea to the Carolinas. He was fiercely proud of the fact, and so am I. Late in life, he took his little granddaughter on his knee, and taught her to sing “Rally ‘Round the Flag” and “Marching through Georgia”. A lifetime later, she (my grandmother) taught them to me, a memory I treasure.

BTW, people in the UK with whom I have emailed back and forth about various subjects have expressed only extreme contempt for the monarchy. Also, not surprisingly, for the CofE; they are also appalled by what they see as American religiosity, and can hardly believe that any intelligent person takes it seriously. This is not just an opinion. They feel the existence of religion as a visceral threat. An episode from a British mystery/police series a few years back gives you some idea of the cultural distance: The main character is nearly drowned in his own bath by the villain. His police detective friend arrives in time to revive him. She asks if he saw a white light beckoning to the other side. “No,” he says, “it was all just black. That’s good enough for me.” “Me, too,” says the detective. Hard to imagine that dialogue on American network TV.

#4 Comment By JonF On May 27, 2017 @ 4:11 pm

William Dalton,
You go too far (by a parsec) in downplaying the Emancipation Proclamation. It WAS intended to nuke slavery (to use a modern metaphor). It was not just a cynical political move, though it served political purposes too. But Lincoln and his main Cabinet officers were all on record as being opposed to slavery and if they held off before Sept 1862 on that front it was in the hope that the Union might be preserved without further bloodshed. In short, they were choosing life over ideology until circumstances made it too difficult, ill-advised even, to achieve that goal.

And what “Northern” government? No antebellum Southern state was ever under the control of any such entity, because such an entity did not exist! The government in Washington (nota bene: a Southern city where slavery was legal) was the NATIONAL government in which the Southern states had full representation under the Constitution, and indeed where their desires had been catered to almost obsequiously since the beginning in the interest of national unity. If anything it was the Northern states whose interests were being given short-shift before the War. In no sense were the Southern states remotely in the same situation as the thirteen colonies were vis-a-vis Great Britain in 1776.
As for northern banks, this is nonsense on stilts. There was no such thing as a national banking system in the United States in the 1850s– Andrew Jackson had killed off even the barest hint of one when he deep-sixed the Bank of the United States a generation before. All banking was local. If you needed a loan you applied at some bank no great distance from your home. If you were a prominent person you may well have counted the bank president as a personal friend. You are reading circumstances of the present day back into a past where they decidedly did not obtain.

Re: Read the Libertarian websites and you will see why they honor the Confederate cause.

Ha-ha-ha. Those that do so are fools and knaves (to be polite about it) and I would sooner give ear to the rambled mutterings of the addled panhandler up the road.

Re: They know we are fighting the same battle today the South did 150 years ago.

Oh yes indeed! The Libertarians are giving ideological cover to those self-glorified oligarchs who wish to tyrannize “lesser” mortals, or in today’s realities, perhaps some day to eliminate them entirely as useless “takers” and “moochers” in an age when human labor is no longer so much needed. If I were not a Christian I would seek their annihilation utterly from the face of the Earth. But such judgments belong to God, not to me. His mills grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine The Southern slavocrats got their deserts in the 1860s. someday the current Mighty too will be pulled down and by their hubris, though I will not live to see it and the collateral damage will be fearsome.

#5 Comment By Liam On May 27, 2017 @ 5:36 pm

Meh, the Bourbons were a terrible dynasty for France and nearly all the polities where they became kings. The exceptions (Henri IV, Carlos III; slightly less than half of Louis XIV) were scarce on the ground. Generally, everything they touched turned to dross.

#6 Comment By dominic1955 On May 27, 2017 @ 6:45 pm

Johnathan Scinto,

“I’ve always considered you a little less of a religious lunatic than Dominic. Changing my mind.”

You weren’t even on my radar in any way, good, bad or indifferent until today, I would have guessed you were just some new troll. Oh well.

Oh, and I think it was a good thing to execute heretics like Bruno too.

#7 Comment By St Louisan On May 28, 2017 @ 6:43 am

“Jefferson Davis was held in prison by the Union for two years, immediately after the war. The Union was going to put him on trial for treason, but then just released him without trial. Apparently, they were afraid that Davis would be found not guilty, which might make secession not treason.”

That wasn’t why Davis wasn’t tried. He was actually indicted for treason, but his lawyers appealed the indictment, arguing that because Davis had already been barred from holding public office by the 14th Amendment, charging him with treason violated the double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment by seeking to punish him twice for the same conduct.

Before that issue was resolved, Pres Andrew Johnson granted a pardon to any former Confederate who sought one, making the trial moot.

#8 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 28, 2017 @ 3:44 pm

Anybody else sick of the politics of inquisition yet?

#9 Comment By mrscracker On May 29, 2017 @ 8:56 am

Doug Bilodeau,
Some people in the UK complain about the Royal family but there are many more who really value them. Prince Philip just retired at 95.
They are some of the hardest working royal folk out there. If you look at the Queens daily schedules it’s amazing. And more so for someone in their 90’s.

#10 Comment By Perry W Barinowski On May 29, 2017 @ 9:05 am

Oh and another thing. I love how Africans sold their own to Yankees sailing ships made in the north to sell to Southerners to make the world’s cotton. But it’s all the South’s fault and we take all the blame. Those slaves were bought and paid for, shipped and sold under a proudly waving Old Glory. Try not to forget that…

#11 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 29, 2017 @ 9:22 am

Oh, and I think it was a good thing to execute heretics like Bruno too.

How fortunate we are to live in a republic where I don’t have to seriously consider the merits of executing dominic1955. Of course, if dominic were faced with the awesome responsibility of actually executing someone, or sending them to the executioner, maybe this product of comfortable 21st century life would quail a bit.

The Emancipation Proclamation was neither a wholly cynical diplomatic maneuver nor a pure act of moral courage. Real life is messy. Lincoln was opposed to slavery, but came to office knowing he had no power to abolish it. His party promised only to close new territories to expansion of slavery, and that alone was enough to induce a rebellion, because the lack of new markets for sale would sharply reduce the value of a good part of plantation owner’s fortune. (It would have been like the collapse of a stock bubble).

Lincoln knew that more volunteers, north AND south, would turn out to preserve the union than to free slaves. He acted accordingly. When he felt able to press an Emancipation Proclamation, it was calculated for a time when he would NOT lose his army by doing so. He made the most pragmatic case possible… we take manpower away from the confederacy, and, as some more cynical pundits noted, a black body can stop a bullet as well as a white body. Thus, he was not asking any white soldiers to “fight to free Negroes,” but, black men, like any men, fight for motives, and a promise of freedom having been made, it must be kept.

Lincoln was a master at combining moral imperative with pragmatic possibility to the best feasible result.

It was clear to the south that…

Nothing was clear to “the south.” The south was millions of people with a variety of opinions, some of them shifting in a matter of weeks or months with great volatility.

As another commenter already noted the vast majority of the men at arms in the Confederacy did not own slaves and it is, therefore, hardly convincing to argue that they left their homes and risked their lives to preserve that system for the few who owned slaves.

True… but those men by and large did not start the war. They were led into it by powerful and influential men who were motivated by the prospect of their extensive investment in chattel property being rendered relatively worthless, as a financial asset. Then, the powerful had to motivate the less well off to fight, and did so in the manner powerful classes have always done … a combination of whipping up dubious passions and enforcing conscription.

#12 Comment By DRK On May 29, 2017 @ 10:24 am

That Dean turns out to be a white supremacist surprises me not a whit. Who else would be out at 2:30 AM on a weeknight to watch a Confederate statue being removed because “history”, except someone passionately for or against its removal?

Robert E. Lee may have been an honorable man, but he fought for an evil cause. (As did some of my own ancestors). He does not need to be forgotten, but he does not need to be on a 16 foot pedestal in the middle of the city. Neither do Davis or Beauregarde. And we REALLY don’t need a monument to white rioters killing cops at all.

Remove the statues to a museum, where their context can be explained;

That they were put up to celebrate “the lost cause of the Confederacy”.

That the South seceded primarily in order to protect their “states’ right” of enslaving people. You have only to read the secession documents to realize this. When Thomas Overton Moore, Louisiana’s governor under the Confederacy took office, he said,

“So bitter is this hostility felt toward slavery, which these fifteen states regard as a great social and political blessing, that it exhibits itself in legislation for the avowed purpose of destroying the rights of slaveholders guaranteed by the Constitution and protected by the Acts of Congress… [in] the North, a widespread sympathy with felons has deepened the distrust in the permanent Federal Government, and awakened sentiments favorable to a separation of states.”

That the Daily Picayune said at the time of the Lee statue’s unveiling,

“We cannot ignore the fact that the secession has been stigmatized as treason and that the purest and bravest men in the South have been denounced as guilty of shameful crime…By every appliance of literature and art, we must show to all coming ages that with us, at least, there dwells no sense of guilt.”

And that the day the statue came down, a Mississippi lawmaker called for the lynching of those responsible. In this day and age!

It’s way past time for this to be over, y’all. Let’s let go of this. We lost this war, and and I see God’s hand in it, because our cause was not just and it was not right.

#13 Comment By Liam On May 29, 2017 @ 12:34 pm

Perry W Barinowski

And of course once Yankees stopped their part of the Triangle Trade, Southerners abandoned slavery.

Yeh, right. Just because others do wrong don’t make your wrong right.

#14 Comment By Doug Bilodeau On May 29, 2017 @ 1:27 pm

@mrscracker: Yes, I’m sure my small sample of the British population was not representative. And they did complain far more about the “yobs” and their malevolent public presence, and about crime in general. And actually their contempt was directed more towards the aristocracy rather than the royal family specifically. One of them wouldn’t give his real name, apparently because it would make him readily identifiable as coming from a notable family in the West of England. Perhaps he was a junior lordling himself, though he preferred to present himself as a die-hard rock guitarist from the 60s — maybe he was famous on that account?

#15 Comment By dominic1955 On May 29, 2017 @ 6:40 pm


“How fortunate we are to live in a republic where I don’t have to seriously consider the merits of executing dominic1955.”

Set up some Protestant Christendm, I’d love to watch that sort of three ring circus even try to be created.

“Of course, if dominic were faced with the awesome responsibility of actually executing someone, or sending them to the executioner, maybe this product of comfortable 21st century life would quail a bit.”

It’s a different time and place though no, it wouldn’t trouble me were it justified. The horse is already way out of the barn to execute people for starting heretical sects.

#16 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 29, 2017 @ 9:53 pm

Set up some Protestant Christendm, I’d love to watch that sort of three ring circus even try to be created.

My dear sir, that is the flip side of your own dystopia. I am happy with the republic we have.

#17 Comment By Michael On May 30, 2017 @ 10:36 am

When will the slave owners on Mount Rushmore be chiseled away?

When will the slave owners on currency be removed?

There’s just so much work to be done.

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 30, 2017 @ 11:41 pm

When will the slave owners on Mount Rushmore be chiseled away?

When will the slave owners on currency be removed?

When we have perfect human beings who have never sinned in their life to replace them with. (Jesus doesn’t count — he was God’s only begotten son).

#19 Comment By Clifford Goudey On August 18, 2017 @ 7:29 am

Why did we ever erect these abominations in the first place? I submit it was the same minds that precipitated the Civil War, simply trying to advance their hateful, racist agenda in a different, more clandestine way. These leaders of the Confederacy were traitors and deserve no celebration. Tear them all down, melt them, and recycle the bronze. There are plenty of real American heroes to fill our public squares.

#20 Comment By Tom S On August 18, 2017 @ 9:04 am

I believe that most of the American have had it with liberal ideology being shoved down their throats by the media and the intellectual community. The only thing that is accomplished is usually the shifting of tax dollars away from things that are beneficial to all of American society to things that reshape American tradition and history. The study of what has really happened in the past is of value if one does so with the goal of taking corrective action! Lets move forward with an agenda that’s beneficial to all particularly to those who have paid the frieght.

#21 Comment By Robert On August 22, 2017 @ 10:59 am

Now maybe I have to be a historian to get this right.

Robert E Lee was a military leader of those that were fighting to preserve and to prevent any inhibition of the expansion of the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of human beings. In order to accomplish this goal, Lee held responsibility for the deaths of more than half a million Americans in north and south.

Leaders of the Germany and its army who were fighting to preserve fascism and the extermination of minority European populations were tried in courts after the second world war. Some were executed as war criminals.

Lee was given presidency of Washington University and monuments of his likeness are displayed throughout the southern and in some northern states. His forgiveness is all ok because he wrote a letter saying that southerners should all become good patriotic citizens.

Fast forward to 2017. Germans are model world citizens, rejecting militarism and war and accepting thousands of migrants less fortunate than themselves. Southerners are marching with confederate flags and swastikas in the streets.