Like many of you, I’ve been deeply troubled by the vociferous and unprecedented onslaught of Antifa, in league with their surrogates in the liberal main stream media, against a sitting president of the United States. However, I was equally appalled and saddened by the senseless murderous act in Charlottesville VA.
I worry deeply about where we’re headed and pray that another civil war doesn’t break out. I also think it absolutely wrong to attempt to judge old historical figures by today’s mores because they never had a chance to live under those mores.
We’re all a product of our past experiences. I’m a product of the deep south and was born in 1960. My home state, Louisiana, was under Reconstruction for 12 long and difficult years, the longest of any Confederate state. Like it or not, Reconstruction was unnecessarily harsh (it decimated New Orleans) on the south and created a lot of ill will that I heard about as a child. The level of corruption and misappropriation by those in control during Reconstruction was breathtaking. We had some Confederate money when I was a child. I lived through desegregation and the civil rights struggle.
Despite my southern upbringing, my ancestors fought on both sides of the Civil War. One ascendant, who was in one of the Tennessee militias, spent three years in a Union prison camp. Another ascendant fought for one of the Michigan militias. Therefore, I’m torn between the two sides.
I’m glad that an extraordinary leader, Abraham Lincoln, took up the struggle and acted to save the Union. Slavery is wrong, no matter how you slice it, and I’m glad that it ended. However, as a constitutional conservative who believes in states rights and limited government, I don’t like at all how the U.S. Supreme Court has eroded the Tenth Amendment to something just short of a suggestion. I believe that this erosion has resulted in a considerable loss of personal liberty, which is anathema to me.
Which brings me to the Confederate monuments. It might interest you to know a few facts about Robert E. Lee. At the time that the Civil War broke out, Lee was the best general we had. Had Virginia not seceded, General Lee would have been in charge of the Union army. However, back then (remember, the country wasn’t even 100 years old, and most of the states hadn’t even been part of the country for 50 years), one’s loyalty was to one’s state, so when Virginia seceded, General Lee went with the commonwealth.
Did General Lee have any feelings about slavery? Yes, he did. General Lee opposed slavery and, in fact, had freed his slaves ten years before the Civil War began. However, because General Lee was such a good and fair man, not a single slave left his plantation until after the war ended. In fact, General Lee even provided for one former slave in his will.
After the war, General Lee assumed the presidency of Washington College (now Washington & Lee), but only lived for five years after the Civil War ended. Did General Lee have any feelings about erecting monuments to Confederate heroes or flying any of the several Confederate flags? Yes, he did. Importantly, General Lee was against them because he felt that they would retard the healing that was necessary.
This issue is a very complex one. My initial reaction to the proposal to remove the Confederate monuments in New Orleans was to summarily oppose it. This immediate visceral reaction was no doubt influenced by the fact that New Orleans’ mayor, the sorry Mitch Landrieu (who is spending all his time running for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination instead of governing a deteriorating city), was proposing the removal.
My first question was why now? These monuments have been up for a long time, some since the 1870’s. I lived in the greater New Orleans area for about 20 years, and I don’t recall a single public complaint about these monuments until last year. Did the monuments suddenly become repugnant and offensive? If so, how did that happen?
However, if you get past the peculiar and very interesting timing issue, the question of whether the Confederate monuments should come down becomes a fair one. People are claiming that these monuments negatively affect them. However, I must first express a deep reservation about this issue.
I am deeply concerned by what seems to be a now public effort to rewrite our history. Students have been subjected to years of intentional rewrites of history in public schools, which are run by the teachers’ unions. Nevertheless, the rewrite effort is now public through the removal of historical monuments and the changing of names or streets, parks and buildings. I believe that history has much to teach us, that we’ll lose if we obliterate the truth and replace it with a liberal narrative.
If anyone could demonstrate to me that he or she is physically or psychologically affected by the Confederate monuments, then I’d be in favor of their removal. However, I’m not inclined to favor removal because this appears to be but a part of an overarching political plan to resist a sitting president. In my opinion, their resistance is bordering on treason, if it hasn’t already crossed that line. We all have choices. If a monument offends you, just don’t look at it. Problem solved.
Very well written Paul! Glad you are doing well!
Well said Paul.
Excellent commentary Paul.