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Old 07-09-2018, 01:42 PM
Jim B. Jim B. is offline
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What's the Big Deal About Robert E. Lee?

In Summer of 1998, ironically 20 years ago exactly now, my father and I took a historic tour of the east coast. Our trip also included part of the South.

And I was surprised how fixated the South is on Civil War general Robert E. Lee. Almost obsessed, I would say.

Monuments, statues, place names. You name it. In one state legislature, possibly Virginia, Lee merely walked into the room, stood somewhere for a couple of minutes, and then left. They erected a statue in the very spot he stood, to commemorate the event!

I mean, there was more than one person involved in the Civil War, wasn't there? What about Confederate President Jefferson Davis? You almost never hear of him anymore.

Side note: of course it is now no longer PC to commemorate people who supported slavery. So ironically the trend is abruptly ending now. So take my question in the past tense, then.

Thank you to all who reply
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Last edited by Jim B.; 07-09-2018 at 01:43 PM. Reason: Typo.
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Old 07-09-2018, 01:48 PM
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It's certainly a big deal down here in Lee County, FL. The NAACP is trying to get his bust removed from a median in Fort Myers and to have his portrait removed from the County Commission chambers. Although they have expressed some acceptance of simply changing the portrait to one of him in civilian clothing instead of the Confederate uniform he is shown in now. As much as I hate slavery, I think it's a mistake to try to simply erase the Confederacy from history.
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Old 07-09-2018, 01:52 PM
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As much as I hate slavery, I think it's a mistake to try to simply erase the Confederacy from history.
It's not about erasing the Confederacy from history - I don't know anyone who doesn't want it taught in school (though I do have some complaints on how it's taught some places) or not to have displays in museums. It's about not continuing to honor and glorify those who fought to preserve slavery. To name schools and streets after them, and have statues of them built with public funds and displayed on public land.
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Old 07-09-2018, 01:58 PM
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It's certainly a big deal down here in Lee County, FL. The NAACP is trying to get his bust removed from a median in Fort Myers and to have his portrait removed from the County Commission chambers. Although they have expressed some acceptance of simply changing the portrait to one of him in civilian clothing instead of the Confederate uniform he is shown in now. As much as I hate slavery, I think it's a mistake to try to simply erase the Confederacy from history.
So it's a good thing that no one is trying to do that.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:00 PM
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. . . As much as I hate slavery, I think it's a mistake to try to simply erase the Confederacy from history.
Please excuse the tangent, but I am sick to death of this facetious argument. Nobody is erasing any history books. We are simply making reasoned decisions about which parts of history should be celebrated and glorified.

As the descendant of a slave living in Virginia, I can say that I have never particularly appreciated having to go past these reminders day after day just to get to work and shops. And I especially dislike the idea that my tax dollars have gone to providing land and plinths and maintenance for many of them.

https://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/54426...emacist-future

The monuments were raised by white supremacists in an effort to create a false narrative, in the same way that every imaginable building and piece of infrastructure has been named for Ronald Reagan in an effort to raise the gravitas of the GOP.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:08 PM
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This is probably headed for GD.

A big civil war was fought over slavery, followed soon by claims in the south that the conflict was about state rights. Whites from both sides of the conflict shook hands and buried the hatchet. Amendments to the constitution were passed to extend citizenship to blacks. It didn't work out: northern whites acquiesced to southern squashing of free and fair elections and due process after a spell of reconstruction.

At any rate, the South needed an honorable representative of the conflict. Robert E Lee was the stand-in for this ideology. If he didn't exist, he would have needed to have been invented. Since his post-conflict remarks were largely conciliatory, his military leadership able, and his politics less than fire-breathing, he fit the bill.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:11 PM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Robert E Lee was good at what he did. Jefferson Davis- not so much.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:19 PM
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So it's a good thing that no one is trying to do that.
That is exactly what is being attempted. Every attempt I have seen to remove or relocate confederate memorials has been done to excise some US history. To erase it from public knowledge. No attempt to spread historical knowledge, just to remove it.

And Tzigone, you're most certainly correct that no one should honor glorify the awful parts of southern history. But it's just as much a mistake to act like it never happened. Personally, I'd rather see a new memorial to the horror of slavery installed right next to each of those confederate memorials, just to make things more even and provide a more complete story. If the KKK doesn't like it, then maybe it's a little justice for them to have to look at something THEY don't like. I think a whole series of monuments to Union victories would look good spread throughout the south. Again, just to remind people about the rest of the story.

A big part of t he problem is that both sides are absolutist in their approach. A bit of compromise on both parts would be best.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:23 PM
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The monuments were raised by white supremacists in an effort to create a false narrative, in the same way that every imaginable building and piece of infrastructure has been named for Ronald Reagan in an effort to raise the gravitas of the GOP.
If you're going to object to things named after President Reagan, what do you make of the airport named after the Groper in Chief and his enabling wife?
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:28 PM
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That is exactly what is being attempted. Every attempt I have seen to remove or relocate confederate memorials has been done to excise some US history. To erase it from public knowledge. No attempt to spread historical knowledge, just to remove it.
Do you believe that if public memorials to Confederate leaders were removed, the public would forget that the Civil War happened? Sorry, I don't buy it. Removing a memorial doesn't mean excising US history. Your objection is noted, but weak.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:32 PM
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He was a key figure in the Lost Cause ideology of the post-War south. The basis for the Lost Cause ideology actually begins with his farewell orders to the Army of Northern Virginia. In order to deal with the fact that they had been beaten in the war and essentially were in a place of subservience to the north, the south developed an idea that even though the north was the victor, the south was the more moral place - a wonderful place of charm and manners where slaves were slaves in name only and really just cherished members of the household. Where religion and good-breeding ruled the day and even the poorest were better off than living in the squalor and dehumanized factory cities of the north. The South lost only because of an overwhelming numerical and monetary superiority of the north and as individuals they were braver and wiser than the hordes of Northern brutes. The North largely encouraged this narrative in an effort to promote reconciliation. It basically said, 'You may have lost, but you embody the finest virtues.' Lee was painted as the archetype of this southern 'white-washing' if we will. He was perfect for all groups. He had no strong political ambition, he was well-respected by both sides, encouraged reconciliation and acknowledged the defeat of the Confederacy and everyone agreed (at least publicly - Grant never liked him) that he was an excellent general and a fine person who even nominally held abolitionist views (I think the evidence is fairly strong that his actions did not live up to his words.) It helped that he died in 1870 and death always brings about a boost in reputation.

In short, he was picked as the standard bearer for the ideology that largely led to reconciliation and is still dominant throughout much of the south. Both the North and the South found it useful to place him on a pedestal both literal and metaphorical to essentially soothe southern resentments at having lost the war. If the man who inflicted the most loss on the North could be honored and honorable, then the common foot soldiers and supporters of the Confederacy could also keep their dignity, or so the thinking went. The interesting thing about Lee is that he really wasn't considered much of a hero during the war. Not that he was hated, but he was the Eisenhower to Stonewall Jackson's Patton if we want to use a more recent analogy.

***It needs to be noted before we put ourselves in danger of lionizing the Lost Cause that the Lost Cause is also heavily rooted in white superiority and led to the Jim Crow era which still reverberates to this day. It certainly led to the reunification and reconciliation of the country, but did so at the expense of black lives and freedoms, but I digress.

Last edited by senoy; 07-09-2018 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:33 PM
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Robert E Lee was good at what he did.
You know who else was good at what he did?

Lots of people. So that doesn't really answer the thread title's question.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:34 PM
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Well, let's compare.

How many Americans were killed by Benedict Arnold's treason?
Commanding British troops, there was his capture of Richmond and the rampage against countryside & small towns in Virginia, and then up North, capturing New London, Conn and burning the whole city. I'm not sure if there is a tally of the Americans killed, but the total population of Virginia was only about 750,000 (1/3 slaves) and about 150 American soldiers in the fort were mostly massacred after surrendering. Casualties of the civilian population are unknown.

Now look at how many Americans died because of Robert E Lee's treason, in the 5 years he commanded Confederate armies. Just the battle of Gettysburg alone there were casualties of about 25,000 on each side.

By any actual measure, Robert E. Lee was a far worse traitor to the USA than Benedict Arnold ever was. Of course, pointing that out in the South would probably get you lynched.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:35 PM
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But to address the OP, Measure for Measure has it right. Lee was the winningest General in the CSA and fit their idea of the honorable soldier. So they have praised him on high and literally put him on a pedestal.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:35 PM
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I like senoy's answer.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:40 PM
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I like senoy's answer.
Me too.
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Old 07-09-2018, 02:53 PM
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That is exactly what is being attempted. Every attempt I have seen to remove or relocate confederate memorials has been done to excise some US history. To erase it from public knowledge. No attempt to spread historical knowledge, just to remove it.
No, people do not want to remove knowledge of history - they want to remove monuments that celebrate the people who fought for the preservation of slavery - particularly those paid for by public funds and displayed in public places. As I said previously, no one (that I know of) is recommending removing study of the Civil War or Lee from history books or museums. They are taking about removing plaques and statues that grant those figures honor and respect.

Not, by the way, that all of these monuments teach history. Some teach nothing at all and some have information that is blatantly misleading of the causes of succession and glorify the antebellum south.

Last edited by Tzigone; 07-09-2018 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 07-09-2018, 03:06 PM
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As much as I hate slavery, I think it's a mistake to try to simply erase the Confederacy from history.
How about we erase the idea that the Confederacy was the only four years in history that mattered? If you were to judge things by the number of memorials they invoked, you'd think the Civil War was ninety-nine percent of the history that ever happened in the southern United States.
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Old 07-09-2018, 03:12 PM
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If you're going to object to things named after President Reagan, what do you make of the airport named after the Groper in Chief and his enabling wife?
Donald Trump has an airport named after him?
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Old 07-09-2018, 03:36 PM
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You can have knowledge of history without monuments celebrating it. Most people know who Hitler was, yet there are no monuments to him that I know of.

If you want monuments to teach people about the Civil War, why not have memorials where slaves were sold? Or other memorials about slavery, analogous to Holocaust memorials in Europe?

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You know who else was good at what he did?

Lots of people. So that doesn't really answer the thread title's question.
But how many other Confederates were as well-known or as good at what they did? These people want to find a Confederate hero.

The fact that he wasn't publicly gung-ho for slavery helps, too, if you're trying to make the argument that the Confederacy wasn't about slavery, therefore Confederates were not evil.
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Old 07-09-2018, 03:42 PM
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Since the responses to the OP are already mostly in GD territory, I think trying to force this thread back into GQ territory isn't going to work very well. Better to just move it to GD.

Moving thread from General Questions to Great Debates.
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Old 07-09-2018, 03:50 PM
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Quoth Anne Neville:

The fact that he wasn't publicly gung-ho for slavery helps, too, if you're trying to make the argument that the Confederacy wasn't about slavery, therefore Confederates were not evil.
He was sufficiently gung-ho about slavery that he was willing to commit treason against his nation and against his state in order to perpetuate it.

And yes, his state. Let's dispense with this absurd notion that he chose loyalty to his state over loyalty to his nation. He was loyal to neither. The supreme law of the state of Virginia defines what he did as treason, and the fact that a lot of other Virginians committed treason along with him doesn't change that.
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Old 07-09-2018, 03:54 PM
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That is exactly what is being attempted. Every attempt I have seen to remove or relocate confederate memorials has been done to excise some US history. To erase it from public knowledge. No attempt to spread historical knowledge, just to remove it.

And Tzigone, you're most certainly correct that no one should honor glorify the awful parts of southern history. But it's just as much a mistake to act like it never happened. Personally, I'd rather see a new memorial to the horror of slavery installed right next to each of those confederate memorials, just to make things more even and provide a more complete story. If the KKK doesn't like it, then maybe it's a little justice for them to have to look at something THEY don't like. I think a whole series of monuments to Union victories would look good spread throughout the south. Again, just to remind people about the rest of the story.

A big part of t he problem is that both sides are absolutist in their approach. A bit of compromise on both parts would be best.
This is factually incorrect. Moving or disposing of a statue has no effect on historical knowledge. When Germany removed or destroyed all of their pro-Nazi monuments, this did nothing to remove their knowledge of Nazi atrocities in history. In fact, this highlighted how horrible these atrocities were, and acknowledged that they should never be honored, but rather remembered as atrocities that must never be repeated.

Every nation has moved or removed monuments at times. There is nothing new in the modern push to remove or relocate monuments erected to honor and celebrate white supremacy.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 07-09-2018 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 07-09-2018, 03:56 PM
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When people use the "Erasing history" excuse, I like to link to the picture of the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down, and then ask them "Is this erasing history?". They usually move on to other topics after that.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:02 PM
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If you're going to object to things named after President Reagan, what do you make of the airport named after the Groper in Chief and his enabling wife?
You're right, George Bush Intercontinental Airport should also be renamed.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:10 PM
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But to address the OP, Measure for Measure has it right. Lee was the winningest General in the CSA...
He was also, of course, the highest ranking military officer in the CSA. Whether he was the BEST general in the CSA is rather another debate, but most of the other contenders came down with a case of being dead before the war ended.

Lee was perfectly positioned to be the Lost Cause's poster boy:

1. He was a very good general and the senior military commander in the CSA.

2. He commanded the Army of Northern Virginia for almost all of the war, and in the Eastern theatre, and indeed was hardly ever far from Washington and Richmond. Because it was close to the East coast and national capitals, things that happened in that theatre were more famous and are better remembered in popular culture than in the Western theatre. Everyone has heard of Gettysburg, but far fewer could tell you anything about Vicksburg, which happened at the very same time and was arguably more important.

3. He was superficially a gentleman, at least towards white people, and accepted defeat graciously. He was tall and handsome and from a distance generally seemed admirable.

4. As has been pointed out he conveniently died just five years after the war, having taken no real political position on anything, making him easily beatified.

It is interesting to compare Lee's sainted reputation with that of Grant, who in my opinion was very obviously a vastly superior general - indeed, he was probably the greatest general America ever produced - but whose reputation wasn't that of a saint. Grant didn't look like a majestic leader; he was ordinary looking, short, and was introverted and disliked speeches. Even worse, after the war he became President, which he was not especially good at, and every President is the most disliked man in America. His greatest victories during the war were in the less famous western theatre, the greatest of the all being the Vicksburg Campaign, which is still studied in military academies far and wide, but didn't capture the imagination in the USA the war the Eastern battles did; furthermore, Grant's genius was strategic, not tactical, which isn't easily captured in the mind's eye or in a movie. (I had to say Vicksburg CAMPAIGN, you'll note, not Battle of Vicksburg.)
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:18 PM
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Do you believe that if public memorials to Confederate leaders were removed, the public would forget that the Civil War happened? Sorry, I don't buy it. Removing a memorial doesn't mean excising US history. Your objection is noted, but weak.
Hell, hardly anyone in the US knows who Hitler was!
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:19 PM
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The supreme law of the state of Virginia defines what he did as treason, and the fact that a lot of other Virginians committed treason along with him doesn't change that.
Where? I don't see anywhere that the Virginia Constitution of 1851 required union with the United States, within their own laws it seems Constitutional for them to secede. He resigned his commission with the US Army and joined the Virginia military. I guess you could say he took an oath and broke it, but that doesn't necessarily mean legal treason. Part of that oath also says that you'll obey your officers, but I think we can agree that insubordination isn't the same as treason, so simply breaking his oath wouldn't constitute treason in and of itself.

I think that what you have to keep in mind is that prior to the Civil War, states still thought of themselves as independent nations joined into a single union. They thought of themselves much more like the EU than a single country like we see it today. The Civil War was essentially Brexit, but with a lot more violence thrown in. The Federal Government had not yet accumulated the amount of power that it has now and power was much more distributed. They still relied on states for funding and for military manpower. States still thought of themselves in voluntary union. It was only after the Civil War that things changed and the Federal government became more supreme and the states became more relegated to something akin to administrative districts. Virginia likely never considered it treason any more than someone would say that Julian King is guilty of treason against the EU. They saw it as an organization that no longer represented them that they no longer wanted to be a part of. The Federal government saw it a bit differently to say the least.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:23 PM
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Lots of bad movements/causes have a "good guy" - or at least one whom people would like to see as good. As a Cracked article once put it, "the asshole with a heart of gold is always THE most interesting character in a movie."

Robert E. Lee, Erwin Rommel, John Andre, etc.


On a side note, it was utterly ridiculous when ESPN removed a sportscaster from a game duty last year because his name was Robert Lee.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:25 PM
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Lee was fighting with his 'Army of Northern Virginia'. He would not go to war against his country men, ( Virginians). He was loyal that way. He was an honorable man before the Civil War. He had been distinguished in war many times. Plus he loved cats.
I do understand people having a bad taste in their mouth about monuments and place names for Lee. I live close to a little town that was occupied by a northern general snd his troops for most of the civil war. The house he commandeered for his use is now a Museum. By all accounts he was a cad, a gambler and a womanizer, and spent the war drunk. But we have a Museum to honour him. Weird.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:27 PM
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Where? I don't see anywhere that the Virginia Constitution of 1851 required union with the United States, within their own laws it seems Constitutional for them to secede. He resigned his commission with the US Army and joined the Virginia military. I guess you could say he took an oath and broke it, but that doesn't necessarily mean legal treason. Part of that oath also says that you'll obey your officers, but I think we can agree that insubordination isn't the same as treason, so simply breaking his oath wouldn't constitute treason in and of itself.
If an American making war against the United States isn't treason, nothing is.

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I think that what you have to keep in mind is that prior to the Civil War, states still thought of themselves as independent nations joined into a single union. They thought of themselves much more like the EU than a single country like we see it today.
It ios to some extent true that Americans were more state-oriented then than now, but it wasn't analogous to the EU. Germany is absolutely a sovereign state. The example of Brexit serves to hurt your point; the EU has a method for member states to leave, because they ARe sovereign states.

The states in 1860 were not independent nation-states. They just weren't. They had unambiguously surrendered most of their sovereignty to the nation-state knows as the United States of America. Lee swore an oath to the USA.

One can say the South disagreed, but it's worth nothing they themselves quite specifically rejected any notion that THEIR member states could secede.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:33 PM
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He was sufficiently gung-ho about slavery that he was willing to commit treason against his nation and against his state in order to perpetuate it.

And yes, his state. Let's dispense with this absurd notion that he chose loyalty to his state over loyalty to his nation. He was loyal to neither. The supreme law of the state of Virginia defines what he did as treason, and the fact that a lot of other Virginians committed treason along with him doesn't change that.
I'm sorry, that's a ret-con of the situation, as you well should know. I'm no apologist for the South and the rebellion; quite the opposite. But Robert E. Lee did what he did in large measure because of a solid belief that a state was a political entity more important than the aggregation of the states as a polity. Had Virginia stayed in the Union, Lee would have stayed in the United States Army, and fought just as hard against those who had attempted secession as he did against the forces which attempted (in the end successfully) to prevent Virginia's attempt at secession.

You might as well complain about that traitor General George Washington, who raised rebellion against his legitimate king and government. I'm guessing you aren't all hot about the idea of re-thinking his role in our history because of that inconvenient characterization?
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:33 PM
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If an American making war against the United States isn't treason, nothing is.
It's treason against the United States; but is it treason against the state of Virginia? Lee never took up arms against Virginia.

Now, the federal government would argue that the supreme law in the state of Virginia was the US constitution, and therefore Lee had acted against the supreme law of Virginia.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 07-09-2018 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:38 PM
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Yeah, Lee has quite a bit of stuff up. However, he was a great general, and a gentleman, and knew when the war was lost.

The #2 memorialist is Nathan Bedford Forrest, which is 99% a dog whistle, and NBF was a terrible general (altho a very good cavalry raider) and the worst sort of illiterate racist. He shot captured black POWs down like dogs.

He founded the KKK, and most of the memorials are really memorializing the KKK and his racism, not him. Yes, later on he was threatened and gave up the KKK. But I dont think he even stopped believing in it.

There are still a LOT of Confederate memorials.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features...ts-in-the-u-s/

Note, those that simply memorialize the dead or a battle are perfectly OK. Those that make heroes out of racist traitors are not.

Last edited by DrDeth; 07-09-2018 at 04:41 PM.
  #35  
Old 07-09-2018, 04:40 PM
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Hell, hardly anyone in the US knows who Hitler was!
You know who else didn't know who Hitler was?

The thing about Lee, too, was that he was from what was considered one of the best of families. His ancestry traced back to one of the "First Families of Virginia". His wife was the step-great-grandaughter of George Washington. His pedigree was impeccable. You could hardly craft a better Southern Hero for white folks sympathetic in some way to the Confederacy.

Last edited by John Mace; 07-09-2018 at 04:40 PM.
  #36  
Old 07-09-2018, 04:43 PM
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If you're going to object to things named after President Reagan, what do you make of the airport named after the Groper in Chief and his enabling wife?
How about less whataboutism and more defense of Governor Gun Grabber?
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:51 PM
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A big part of t he problem is that both sides are absolutist in their approach. A bit of compromise on both parts would be best.
Compromise has been tried with the South both before and after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era. The North tried to let the South save face so it could move on but every inch given to the South has been used to push revanchist white Protestant supremacy, the rotten fruits of which we see today with the Tea Party, Trump and Neo-Nazis. It's time Southerners go through the collective introspection Germans did after WWII.

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 07-09-2018 at 04:53 PM.
  #38  
Old 07-09-2018, 04:52 PM
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I think that what you have to keep in mind is that prior to the Civil War, states still thought of themselves as independent nations joined into a single union. They thought of themselves much more like the EU than a single country like we see it today.
No, they didn't. Most people in 1860 thought that the individual states were just part of the United States. They did not think of them as independent nations.

The idea that states were independent nations and the United States was just an alliance was a myth promoted by Confederate politicians because it gave them a pretext for secession.

If it had been true, then the rest of the United States would have that said secession was regrettable but had to be accepted because it was a legal right. (Which is the way a lot of people saw slavery at the time.) Obviously, this was not the case. Their was widespread agreement, across the political spectrum, that what the southern states were doing was illegal. Even a lot of southerners felt that.

Even most of the Confederate politicians who claimed they believed that secession was a right didn't really believe it. They certainly didn't agree that anyone had the right to secede from the CSA.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:55 PM
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It's certainly a big deal down here in Lee County, FL. The NAACP is trying to get his bust removed from a median in Fort Myers and to have his portrait removed from the County Commission chambers. Although they have expressed some acceptance of simply changing the portrait to one of him in civilian clothing instead of the Confederate uniform he is shown in now. As much as I hate slavery, I think it's a mistake to try to simply erase the Confederacy from history.
How is it that I know a great deal of Civil War history having never been to the Lee County Commission chambers to see Lee's portrait?
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:59 PM
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You're right, George Bush Intercontinental Airport should also be renamed.
Perhaps "groper" was too kind. How about rapist? You know, that inconveniently named airport in Little Rock.
  #41  
Old 07-09-2018, 05:06 PM
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Where? I don't see anywhere that the Virginia Constitution of 1851 required union with the United States, within their own laws it seems Constitutional for them to secede.
I said the supreme law of Virginia. That's not the Virginia Constitution. If Virginians didn't want to be bound by the Constitution of the United States, then they shouldn't have ratified it.

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Quoth DSYoungEsq:

You might as well complain about that traitor General George Washington, who raised rebellion against his legitimate king and government.
Yup, Washington was a traitor, too, and he admitted as much. Treason isn't always villainous, but it is always serious. Nobody commits treason over some cause unless they believe in that cause very, very strongly. Washington believed strongly in the cause of representative government, and was willing to commit treason over it. Lee believed strongly in the cause of slavery, and was willing to commit treason over it.
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:09 PM
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I grew up in the South, and never really questioned all the statues, memorials, etc. It was just part of what I grew up with. At the same time, I was taught in school the reasons for the Civil War, and I've always known it was good that the Union prevailed. To me, that was a no-brainer. To my parents and grandparents, they still harbored ill will toward the North.

I admit that I have mixed feelings on what to show in the public square, and what not to show. I think we can have good battlefield memorials & real history without making super-heroes out of the leaders of the Confederacy. Some of these men were truly reprehensible in every way, and others were a more mixed study in the human condition, and a product of their time.

Stone Mountain, GA, has a great Confederate carving on the side of the mountain. It's in a state park that's visited by millions each year, people of all ethnic groups and from all walks of life. And at night, they do a laser show off the side of the mountain, which IMO is tastefully done to show that after the war, the nation became one again. The show isn't done to showcase hatred, but to showcase reconciliation. I hope they leave the carving on the mountain, and continue the show as a way to show that we've moved beyond the hate.
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:14 PM
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And at night, they do a laser show off the side of the mountain, which IMO is tastefully done to show that after the war, the nation became one again.
And that's a genuine erasure of history. A century and a half after the Civil War, and we still haven't recovered from the wounds.
  #44  
Old 07-09-2018, 05:18 PM
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Perhaps "groper" was too kind. How about rapist? You know, that inconveniently named airport in Little Rock.
Hey, make the case. I doubt you'll get much argument. Airports change names all the time.
  #45  
Old 07-09-2018, 05:20 PM
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Robert E. Lee fought in the name of a racist slave state whose economy was based on human trafficking. It should not be glorified or honored with statues. I really don't need any political mumbo jumbo designed to obscure the fact that, if he had put human decency above all else, he would not have been the commanding general of the Confederate Army. Like Nazi Germany, it needs to be remembered for the lessons that it teaches. It does NOT need to be romanticized or glorified or honored in any way.
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Last edited by Jasmine; 07-09-2018 at 05:20 PM.
  #46  
Old 07-09-2018, 05:29 PM
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As previously noted, Lee was (for the most part) a highly successful military leader, brave, revered by his troops, distinguished-looking and rode a magnificent horse (Traveler). He was perceived as being gracious in ultimate defeat; his directive to his army to accept the outcome of the war and go home (as opposed to fighting on as guerrillas) was well-received (possibly more by Northerners ). So it was natural for him to become a symbol for Southerners who (ironically) had difficulty accepting reintegration into the Union.

Not all of his fellow Southern generals were worshipful of his military prowess. Longstreet was shunned for awhile after the war for saying that he thought Lee's missteps had cost the South the battle of Gettysburg, and Pickett was bitter about the sacrificing of his division in a doomed charge.
  #47  
Old 07-09-2018, 05:35 PM
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He was perceived as being gracious in ultimate defeat; his directive to his army to accept the outcome of the war and go home (as opposed to fighting on as guerrillas) was well-received ...
So where was the equivalent leader 100 years later, who could direct Southerners to accept that they'd lost the fight over segregation and to move on? Not to paint everyone in the South with the same brush, but there are still plenty who can't seem to get over it.
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:44 PM
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And that's a genuine erasure of history. A century and a half after the Civil War, and we still haven't recovered from the wounds.
I disagree. I think most people have moved on, and things have changed for the better. The south is a very different place than even 50 years ago.
  #49  
Old 07-09-2018, 05:48 PM
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I disagree. I think most people have moved on, and things have changed for the better. The south is a very different place than even 50 years ago.
As evidenced by all the southern states that rejected Trump's overtly racist appeal and went for Clinton in 2016.
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:55 PM
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Even if Lee were only fighting because of loyalty to Virginia, it is still immoral to be loyal to someone on an immoral cause.

To go to the extremes: someone who was loyal to the Nazis doesn't get honored for being loyal. Someone who fought for the Nazis due to loyalty to Germany is still a Nazi. (Other reasons, like fear for one's life, can be okay, but not loyalty.)

Loyalty is not a value in and of itself. One should only be loyal in causes that are just.

Edit: I'd go back and sprinkle "I believe" and "in my opinion" to this, but I think that makes it seem weaker. I am quite sure of these things, to the point that I not only practice them, but judge the actions of others through this lens. I genuinely believe that, if everyone saw things this way, we'd resolve a lot of the problems in this world.

Last edited by BigT; 07-09-2018 at 05:58 PM.
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