Home / General / If History Has Taught Us Anything, It’s That Robert E. Lee Considered Violence in Defense of White Supremacy Unconscionable

If History Has Taught Us Anything, It’s That Robert E. Lee Considered Violence in Defense of White Supremacy Unconscionable

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I’m pleased to see Rich Lowry call for taking Confederate monuments down. But the throat-clearing is a particularly strange product of the Robert E. Lee Apologist Industrial Complex:

Robert E. Lee wasn’t a Nazi, and surely would have had no sympathy for the white-supremacist goons who made his statue a rallying point in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.

Let’s review a few basic facts:

  • Robert E. Lee was a white supremacist. As Adam Serwer puts it, [w]hite supremacy does not “violate” Lee’s “most fundamental convictions.” White supremacy was one of Lee’s most fundamental convictions.”
  • Robert E. Lee was a cruel slaveowner who broke up the families of his slaves and brutally tortured escapees.
  • Lee, who could have chosen to remain loyal to the United States, chose instead to be a prominent military leader of a treasonous movement dedicated to the preservation of chattel slavery.

Are you “sure” that Lee would have been appalled by white supremacist goons marching in Virginia? I am quite sure he would have celebrated them. I must concede, however, that Lee — while he willingly joined a cause with significant ideological overlap — was technically not  Nazi. Or Maoist. Or a supporter of Francisco Franco. Or a member of Smashmouth.

 

 

 

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  • Are we 100% sure about his non Smashmouthianism?

    • N__B

      Note that Scott did not deny Lee’s tenure with Creed.

      • The third Pomplamoose?

        • N__B

          I thought I had gone for a low blow, but I bow to the master.

          • postmodulator

            Hey, I like them.

            • N__B

              Everyone has their flaws. I put ketchup on hot dogs.

            • Gwai Lo, MD

              There are two sides to every issue. And none of them is liking Smashmouth.

              • Jehovah Jones

                But the meteor men beg to differ
                Judging by the hole in the satellite picture.

    • Harry Hardrada

      He’d have liked ketchup, had it been invented.

      • Scott Lemieux

        You know he liked his martinis with vodka and chocolate syrup.

      • Gareth

        Apparently tomato ketchup was invented before he died.

        • Judas Peckerwood

          Coincidence? I think not.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      my question is how Lee felt about the designated hitter. I feel he would have been in favor of having the pitchers bat

      • Judas Peckerwood

        I totally read that as “designated hitler”.

      • N__B

        Don’t try to make me like him.

      • njorl

        Lee favored the DH:

        “…we were tied firmly to posts by a Mr.
        Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the
        waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received
        but twenty; we were accordingly stripped to the skin by the overseer,
        who, however, had sufficient humanity to decline whipping us;
        accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable was called in, who gave
        us the number ofl ashes ordered; Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by,
        and frequently enjoined Williams to “lay it on well,” an injunction
        which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our
        naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our
        backs with brine, which was done.”

    • fearandloathing

      Confederate Generals may have been members of the Blues Brothers though. It seems like they are always trying to put the band back together.

  • Ithaqua

    I think Lee would have been appalled by them because they were rioting thugs, not because they were white supremacist racists, which, as you observe, he was too. I suspect Lowery is experiencing a “clock stopped is right twice a day” moment here, but it is conceivable (I can’t bring myself to read his stuff to check) that this actually is what he meant.

    • Joe Paulson

      The “goons” part.

    • kaydenpat

      Why would he be upset that they were rioting thugs? Didn’t he lead soldiers into rioting thuggery against the Union which killed hundreds of thousands of Northern soldiers? He was no gentleman.

      • liberalrob

        Leading an army in battle is organized rioting and thuggery of trained soldiers, as opposed to disorganized civilian rabbles beating each other with clubs and fists. You shouldn’t really equate the two. You also can’t then deny the counterargument that the Union side also engaged in rioting and thuggery which killed hundreds of thousands of Confederate soldiers. Lee most certainly styled himself a gentleman, regardless of what you think of his sociological beliefs.

        • cpinva

          “Lee most certainly styled himself a gentleman, regardless of what you think of his sociological beliefs.”

          what he “styled” himself is irrelevant. being a “gentlemanly” traitor, in defense of slavery, makes you no less of a scumbag. perhaps a well dressed and mannerly scumbag, but a scumbag nonetheless.

          • N__B

            Easy to be well dressed when you have a slave valet.

            • No man is a hero to his valet. He might be an “owner”, though!

          • Manny Kant

            It does make you less likely to approve of armed civilian thugs rioting, though.

          • Ithaqua

            Not irrelevant to the point I’m making, though.

          • fearandloathing

            Strangely, all the good Bible thumping conservatives who constantly tell us that they are the only ones who have a clear moral compass that understands things in terms of black and white, good versus evil, become moral relativists when it comes to the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee was a gentleman by the standards of his time and place and that’s good enough for them.

        • Jehovah Jones

          So does Richard Spencer.

          And yes, the ‘counterargument’ you posed is quite easily denied, as you’ve probably realized by now.

      • Brian J.

        I think Ithaqua meant that Lee would only be upset when they rioted against the so-called CSA.

      • Origami Isopod

        I agree with you that he was a terrible person, but the South was classist as well as racist, and “gentleman” referred to social standing rather than personal character. Notwithstanding that a lot of the tiki-torch Nazis are from middle-class and above families, Lee might have considered their behavior trashy while not actually disagreeing with them.

  • brad

    But as a genteel Southern gentleman it would simply have been beneath him to associate with this common riffraff. Surely he was too classy for the likes of Pepe and the Donald.

    • Ithaqua

      If you’ve read much about Lee, you wouldn’t be using the sarcasm font. He was far too patrician, reserved, aware of class distinctions, proper, and especially God-fearing to associate with the likes of Donald or pepe.

      • brad

        The sarcasm was meant in terms of not agreeing with him that such a cruel traitor was in fact a better quality person than this scum.

        • Ithaqua

          Well in that case objection withdrawn!

        • Cheap Wino

          Please, genteel doesn’t mean better quality. Both were/are beneath the bar for not being scum. Lee wasn’t better quality just because he traveled in nicer society.

          • Origami Isopod

            I think you’re misreading Brad.

      • Jehovah Jones

        He was a racist thug in patrician crossdress, like Richard Spencer is today. He deserves no deference from anyone, and he was about as far from Christian as it is possible to be, regardless of any posture he may have adopted.

      • fearandloathing

        Oh, add that to the list, Robert E Lee never tweeted!!

    • kaydenpat

      But he wasn’t above torturing Negroes, right? Not too genteel for that.

  • At the vigil my family and I attended Sunday, one of the main speakers was an elderly black preacher. To begin his otherwise incredible speech, he quoted some reconcilatory language Lee had used after the war. It fell flat.

    He didn’t miss a beat and the rest was excellent, but I think it shows just how far we’ve come. This man, old enough to certainly have been involved In the civil rights struggle, had gotten used to having to insert that kind of language to appease the whites in his audience, and in this instance, in a Southern city, it was out of place and that showed on every face, white or black.

    If there’s one good thing to come out of this whole shit show, it’s that that preacher got to see that line that he certainly didn’t truly want to be in the speech, but had gotten so used to needing, not only not be needed, but actively turn the audience off regardless of their color. It was truly beautiful for anyone who understood what had just happened.

    • Sounds like a great moment overall.

    • afdiplomat

      It does sound like a valuable if pathetic moment. But I do hope that someone will have a quiet word with this preacher making clear, in a gentle way, that we are just beyond that, and he doesn’t have to excuse Marse Robert anymore. That kind of racial bowing-and-scraping needs to go.

      • He understood. I believe he was pleasantly surprised if not jubilently shocked.

        • afdiplomat

          That’s reassuring to hear. That this obviously good man had to humiliate himself for years by flattering the “Lee cult” in order to get any kind of hearing from white people about the other truths he was saying is, to borrow a word, deplorable. As a white person, I’m deeply embarrassed. And this is just one more legacy of white supremacy, and the lies (such as those about Lee) on which it is built.

    • benjoya

      thanks for that.

  • John Griffone

    Trump today: “This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

    I’m okay with stopping after we tear down every monument to traitorous scum who spent four years killing American soldiers in order to defend slavery. Will that work for you, Dickhead Donnie?

    • Thirtyish

      It stops with your impeachment, resignation, and/or death by rage induced stroke-while-tweeting, Donnie.

      • N__B

        I’m holding out hopes for a public mental breakdown. For example, he shits himself during the SOTU address next January, and we all find out when Ryan’s and Pence’s wrinkled noses and sideways glances turns to cries of “My god, did Bannon crawl up your ass and die?”

        • Thirtyish

          I think we see the public mental breakdowns regularly at this point, but yeah, I take your point. What we see versus what the majority of American voters see is not the same thing, although I think we’re starting to see an increasingly rapid convergence.

        • I think bowel control–unlike vowell control–is one of the last things to go and has nothing to do with mental breakdowns. But I would not be at all surprised to see him start to wander off, away from the podium, or being to scream and bang things.

          • N__B

            Thank you for pointing out my unclear statement. I’ll revise it to “shits himself for rhetorical emphasis.”

          • Gwai Lo, MD

            With bowel control, it depends on the State of the Depends.

        • mattmcirvin

          The next morning they’re extolling the virtues of shitting yourself on Fox and Friends and Outnumbered.

          (cf. Carlos Yu seven years ago.)

          • gyrfalcon

            “The text of the Twenty Fifth Amendment is quite clear: unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office. If anything, Trump is more frequently and thoroughly discharging than any previous President ever has.”

          • Origami Isopod

            With special guest Ted Nugent?

        • witlesschum

          They’ll both just breathe through their mouths and wait for it to be over, thinking of tax cuts and far right judges.

        • fearandloathing

          The only good thing that could possibly come of this fiasco is if the GOP becomes irrevocably tainted for several generations as the party of Trump. The most amusing way for that to happen is to take the Emperor has No Clothes thing to it’s most ridiculous extreme. Let Donald begin saying he sees purple bunny rabbits on the White House lawn while the rest of GOP awkwardly nods and grins saying “Yes, we see them too Mr. President” out of fear of what his supporters might do if they speak honestly.

    • This is one of those cases where it’s remarkable that people can’t understand “where to draw the line”.

      –But where do we draw the line!?

      –Between people who fought against the country and those who didn’t.

      –Oh. Yeah. That makes sense.

      • wjts

        Why, they’ll be tearing down statues of Benedict Arnold next.

        • N__B

          I’m doing a small bit of work at Fort Ticonderoga, which figures large in Arnold’s story. There’s no statue of him there, but there are no statues of anyone there. His name is on the plaque at the entrance listing all the famous men who were there at different times.

          • wjts

            Which is fine. I assume there’s a plaque or something somewhere at West Point that lists all the former superintendents and I wouldn’t expect them to chisel out the lines for Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard either.

            • N__B

              This plaque went up in the 20C, so there was a conscious decision to include Arnold. I agree with it – fame is the criterion, as there are French and British officers listed there as well.

            • Jean-Michel

              The Old Cadet Chapel at West Point (which has plaques for all the generals of the Revolutionary War, including those from the British side) has a plaque for Arnold that just says “Major General/Born 1740.”

          • rea

            There is a monument at Saratoga showing a boot, commemorating Arnold’s Saratoga wound without naming him.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e0/Arnold-boot.jpg/300px-Arnold-boot.jpg

            • so-in-so

              Yet Arnold arguably did more FOR this country than Lee, who is mostly honored specifically for the same reason Arnold is reviled.

            • Aaron Morrow

              … Imagine copies of these of these with plaques drawing a direct line from Arnold to the Confederacy …

          • BiloSagdiyev

            What kind of work does a bear do at Fort Ticonderoga? Scratching wood, shitting in the corner, and breaking into the kitchen’s hot chocolate powder?

            • N__B

              Last time I was there, Mrs__B, Mini__B, and I had a picnic.

              • Did you have a pic-a-nic type basket?

                • N__B

                  Trade secret.

              • Origami Isopod

                Was your food too hot, Mrs__B’s too cold, and Mini__B’s just right?

      • Thirtyish

        History’s not the shitgibbon’s subject. I’m astonishgly confident that some aides supplied him with references to those figures beforehand, hence their names making an (albeit ultimately non sequitur) appearance.

        • This was a talking point on some right wing sites so you can be sure that Trump saw it re-tweeted this morning and it floated to the top of his mental cesspool.

        • david spikes

          Lee and Jackson were southerners-Washington and Jefferson were southerners-therefore exactly the same. Other than the fact that two were traitors and two were founders of the US. But no biggie.

          • Pseudonym

            Well, they were all traitors, but only the former two were traitors to the US.

            • so-in-so

              Wonder how many statues of Washington and Jefferson there are in England?

              • Pseudonym

                There’s actually a statue of Washington in Trafalgar Square…

        • Their ‘talking points’ deliberately misunderstand the ‘liberal’ objections to Lee and other confederate officers as hating them because they owned slaves, rather than because they were rebellious traitors who fought a war against their country in defense of slavery.

          • Cheap Wino

            This is a very complex, nuanced and difficult to understand position you're taking here.

          • Shalimar

            Well, they grudgingly admit that slavery may be a bad thing but have spent 150 years pretending rebellion isn’t treason, so they might have a mental block about acknowledging other people who see the Confederacy as evil.

          • afdiplomat

            This is something I see all the time in comments sections on “The Atlantic” about articles related to the monuments issue or other Civil War-connected concerns. The disingenuousness meter gets pegged so hard it falls off the dial. I’m also seeing some of that in recent “Post” articles by Ohio publisher-editor (and Trump supporter) Gary Abernathy, including a very recent one on racism issues. It’s something of a pity concerning Abernathy, since he seems to want to have some kind of reasonable exchange but can’t keep from precluding it by his apparent lack of good faith (for example, buying into conservative victimology on race issues).

            • Origami Isopod

              The comments at The Atlantic are an open sewer of reactionaries. I miss TNC’s comments section but I absolutely do not blame him for getting tired of moderating out the pond scum.

        • Manny Kant

          He probably got it from Fox News, actually – apparently he stole the idea from a segment with Gingrich.

      • King Goat

        And these are the people that supposedly love the country while we hate it…

      • Manny Kant

        Well, Baltimore just took down a monument to Roger Taney, who, as far as I’m aware, did not fight against the country, so obviously that’s not quite the distinction.

        • They took down the Rocky Balboa statue at the Philadelphia Museum of art and moved it too, what’s your point?

          • Manny Kant

            They took down the Taney statue alongside three Confederate memorials, as part of an effort to take down “Confederate memorials.”

            • They took down the Paterno statue because he hid a child molester; you can take down statues for many reasons.

              If you want to know why take down Stonewall and Bobby Lee but not TJ and GW, you have a line of distinction. If you want to make a specific defense of Tawney, or Paterno or Balboa for that matter, let’s hear it.

              • Manny Kant

                I don’t want to make a defense of Taney! But line “committed treason” doesn’t explain why we should take down Taney but not TJ/GW.

                “Primary achievement is being a giant racist” is a better line, that applies to Roger Taney (or Frank Rizzo, for that matter)

                To be quite honest, I don’t really care about “Treason” in the abstract. Our country was founded by traitors, and, indeed, is a monument to constructive treason. What’s wrong with Confederates isn’t that they committed treason. It’s that they did so in the name of a cause that Grant accurately called “one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

                • Okay. We’re in agreement on that.
                  But the original point was how absurd it is that someone would make the claim “where do you draw the line?!” when there are many clear, easily justifiable lines you could draw to partition these sets.

                • Manny Kant

                  Yes, I was just disagreeing with “committed treason” being the line.

            • so-in-so

              Taney ruled on Dred Scott, and commented that a black man has no rights a white man need respect. He was a Confederate in virtually every aspect, except actual succession.

              • Manny Kant

                But original post I was responding to was saying line should be “did they commit treason?”

                We obviously need to put the line not between Lee and Taney, but between Taney (and Calhoun) and Washington/Jefferson, I think.

                Better line is “is this person being honored primarily or entirely for their commitment to the cause of white supremacy?”

    • McAllen

      A United States that hated slavery so much that even statues of George Washington were unacceptable would be a good thing, but obviously Confederate statues that exist only ot celebrate slave power are the priority.

    • Think he’s trying to bring in other people to his side. Scare them by thinking this tearing down of statues is “anti-american”.

    • MacCheerful

      That’s part of the argument that stuck out at me. I have yet to hear any responsible leftist in the position of any sort of power calling for the removal of statutes of Washington or Jefferson, for the very reason that they are not best know for being slave owners, but for helping to form this country, faulty as it is.

      The inability to understand nuance or intent is amazing, or the belief that somehow it is impossible to draw distinctions, or engage in arguments with distinctions.

      Churchill was an imperialist racist at various times in his life, but is a still perfectly appropriate subject for a statute because at a time when it counted May -June 1940, he stood strong against Nazis.

      Personally, though, I oppose all Napoleon statutes.

      • kvs

        It’s not an inability. It’s deliberate.

        • Jonathan Roth

          See also “No difference between liberals destroying cheap mass-produced statues made 50 years ago as a fuck you to civil rights, and ISIS blowing up ancient religious icons” and “Nazis, BLM… it’s all identity politics.”

      • david spikes

        The Code Napoleon really is a bitch.

        • MacCheerful

          It’s not the code so much. It’s the numerous wars that killed millions of people.

      • West_of_the_Cascades

        Jefferson, like so many people in history, acted in ways that didn’t match his words … but, damn, those words were righteous and have echoed down in the mouths of Lincoln and King and became actions long after Jefferson’s death and even expanded beyond just “men.” The southern traitors’ words exactly matched their actions.

    • JMP

      He also said that not everyone protesting was a Nazi or white supremacist, some just wanted to protest against removing the statue of Lee, even though only white supremacists are against removing statues of Confederate traitors.

      Personally, I think they should not just remove the stature of the traitor Lee, but replace them all with Nat Turner and John Brown.

      • Sentient AI From The Future

        Add in toussaint l’overture and you’ve got a hell of a trifecta

      • Manny Kant

        I think there’s non-white supremacists who have a “taking down these statues is erasing history!” attitude towards these removals. It’s ill-considered, but I don’t think it indicates a real commitment to white supremacy.

        It’s just that only white supremacists would actually go to a white supremacist organized protest against removing the statues

  • wjts

    Are you “sure” that Lee would have been appalled by white supremacist goons marching in Virginia?

    Men going about in public in shirtsleeves? I suspect he would be appalled, yes.

    • They had women among them too! Shameful!

      • efgoldman

        They had women among them too!

        And they were wearing PANTS!!
        It is to avert the eyes and gasp.

      • JMP

        Like, at most 5% of them, but yeah there were a handful of women.

  • Denverite

    I must concede, however, that Lee — while he willingly joined a cause with significant ideological overlap — was technically not Nazi. Or Maoist. Or a supporter of Francisco Franco. Or a member of Smashmouth.

    He also probably didn’t have anything to do with Spygate or Deflategate. Though I suspect that he would have found Belichick’s “scheme to eliminate the other team’s strength” strategy an abomination.

  • no no no. You have it all wrong. The thing the right is now doing is focusing on the Lenin statue (somewhere in Seattle, according to them) and that is the standard.

    • King Goat

      I’d be happy to strike a deal to tear down the Lenin statue (he was an awful person) in exchange for all Lee statues. Win-win!

      • Yixing’s Fluffer

        Lee + Davis, at least. And not just statues, but roads, schools, and parks, too.

      • CD

        Lenin had his virtues (just like George Washington!) but yeah, I would be happy to bargain his kitschy Fremont statue against the Lees.

    • Wapiti

      Yeah, there’s a statue of Lenin in Seattle (in the Fremont neighborhood, which is now falling to the millennial condo-dwelling horde). There’s also a statue of a troll, under the Aurora Bridge (Highway 99). They’re both considered amusing things to take out-of-town relative to see.

    • Yixing’s Fluffer

      PLATO OWNED SLAVES! AZTECS OWNED SLAVES! MUSLIMS OWNED SLAVES!

      Oh, but that’s an actual moment from Tucker Carlson’s show tonight.

      • I’m pretty sure no one has ever said the Aztecs were good models for a society.

        • Swan Box

          I would be amused to see some of their ball games held at the next RNC. Watch Mike Pence lift the still beating heart of Ted Cruz up before the crowd…

          /probably not how actual Aztec ceremonies worked.

          • dmsilev

            “Watch Mike Pence lift the still beating heart of Ted Cruz up before the crowd…”
            Ted Cruz has a heart?

            • They open his chest, it’s just a naked rat running on an exercise wheel.

              • N__B

                I was thinking it’s the reciprocal of an infinity stone.

              • Judas Peckerwood

                So he opted for the Dick Cheney model then.

            • Veleda_k

              We could have fun digging into his chest searching for it.

          • According to the Wiki, they weren’t into it as much as other Mesoamerican tribes were.

            This “boundary maintenance” or “conflict resolution” theory would also account for some of the irregular distribution of ballcourts. Overall, there appears to be a negative correlation between the degree of political centralization and the number of ballcourts at a site.[52] For example, the Aztec Empire, with a strong centralized state and few external rivals, had relatively few ballcourts while Middle Classic Cantona, with 24 ballcourts, had many diverse cultures residing there under a relatively weak state.[53]

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_ballgame

          • West_of_the_Cascades

            this is an unrealistic scenario … because Ted Cruz doesn’t have a beating heart!

        • Low incidence of heart disease?

          • I ♥ Huitzilopochtli!

            • Tim Smith [CRANK]

              I’m a Camazotz man myself.

        • Yixing’s Fluffer

          You’re supposed to say:
          A. Obama is a Muslim.
          B. Muslims owned slaves.
          C. Obama is a slaveowner?!? Someone tell Dinesh D’Souza!!!

        • rudolf schnaubelt

          They drained the swamps.

        • CD

          Many of them were good people. Good people! Surely you’re not gonna condemn all Aztecs for the actions of just a few.

          • Pseudonym

            But we have some bad tlakamej here and we have to get them out.

        • Unemployed_Northeastern

          Every conquistador’s account of entering Tenochtitlan is one of complete awe, as the city was far larger than anything in Europe at that time. Then again, one of the newest and grandest cities in the world today is
          Naypyidaw, home to about zero people.

          • slavdude

            Not even the Burmese/Myanmar government?

            • Unemployed_Northeastern

              From what I’ve read (and seen on the Top Gear Burma special), the city is empty.

      • they really know how to make noise and flail about, don’t they? In the end it’s not about intellectual arguments but about making enough of a fuss that people lay off because of all the “will die on this hill” signalling they produce

        • Yixing’s Fluffer

          You can really tell how much Ailes’ departure has hurt the network.

        • BigHank53

          Also known as “working the refs”, much in the manner of a soccer player looking to have a foul called against his opponent.

          • well they essentially assume most people will split the difference. It was like Kerry’s Vietnam record was essentially whitewashed compared with Bush’s because all the noise they threw out there. Still works, I’m afraid. I’m now getting “History is an opinion” tripe on my FB feed.

        • so-in-so

          “Throwing shit at the wall until something sticks.”

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        Aztecs performed human sacrifices, so I guess that means Bowtie McLacrosseStick thinks we should, too.

      • FlipYrWhig

        I guess all those heroic statues of Aztec dignitaries that were put up after the Aztecs lost a war with America have to come down immediately.

        • wjts

          At the very least, we should stop singing hymns about Montezuma.

          • homunq

            From the Halls of eucaly-yptus
            to Ensure drinks fo-or me…

      • Joe Paulson

        Heck, for a short period, reading over his bio, he actually was a slave when the political winds went against him.

    • WinningerR

      For the record, the Lenin statue here in Seattle is privately owned–it’s not a government sponsored monument.

  • King Goat

    The thing is, there’s no defense for monuments for Lee. They’re clearly just monuments to his service to the cause of the Confederacy. They’re not monuments to his educational or political accomplishments, they’re in his Confederate uniform after all. They’re not monuments to Virginia history or to military prowess, or else there would be almost as many George Thomas monuments. There’s only one reason for them: glorification of the Confederacy.

    • West_of_the_Cascades

      100 times This. George Thomas was a Virginian who had the same choice as Lee, but, unlike Lee, chose wisely. Lee chose … poorly. Whenever I go to DC I make a point to pass through Thomas Circle and touch the base of the monument to Thomas.

  • Wapiti

    Speaking of pro-white supremacist military leaders… I remember back before one of the debates Donald Trump had an event with a bunch of retired generals and Medal of Honor winners standing in support of him. Maybe someone in the press could track those fine men down, thank them for their service, and ask what they think now.

    • SomeTreasonBrewing

      “um…well….heritage… an american veteran is an american veteran is an american veteran….and also…..MOAR SHIPS AND BOMBS please!”

    • LosGatosCA

      Not sure what you are expecting from them, but remorse would be an extremely optimistic not to mention unrealistic expectation.

      Trump voters (Republicans) still support the latest incarnation of their idea of skill (none), leadership (hate), and intellectuality (dementia).

  • aab84

    Every day, I am more and more convinced that it would do a tremendous amount of good for the country if students were made to read the various Articles of Secession and the speeches of Alexander Stephens rather than being fed Lost Cause nonsense in the interest of “healing.”

    • Cheap Wino

      A thousand upvotes. The articles of secession lay bare the racist intent. No bullshit equivocating, full stop.

    • LosGatosCA

      That thought and the lack of it being an actuality 156 years after the Civil War says more about America than all the lectures in the world could even touch.

      A racist society (north, south, west, east) maintaining plausible deniability for racist traitors bring racist traitors is pretty amazing.

      If Robert E Lee were alive today he wouldn’t waste 2 seconds before pointing out that all the despicable things he did and stood for were ‘necessary’ for the general order, to keep the inferiors sufficiently cowed, and they would deserve it for their own good be they slaves then or the underclass, needing to be incarcerated to teach them to respect ‘white’ values, today. He wouldn’t be any more enlightened than a 1950’s earnestly racist WF Buckley

      ETA – see others have pointed out the WF Buckley example before me.

    • slavdude

      Add the Confederate Constitution too, which explicitly guarantees slavery.

      Though it is similar enough to the U.S. Constitution that some people might get confused, so maybe not.

  • kvs

    Robert E. Lee didn’t like Nickelback. But only because they weren’t born yet.

  • Crusty

    Dark times as these may be, I sense we’re getting closer to the night/early morning that Trump rage tweets himself into a heart attack.

    • Drew

      A nice man like him doesn’t deserve an ignominious end like that.

  • My mind keeps on going back to The Hateful 8, and that old Confederate general played by Bruce Dern. In particular, his (temporary) alliance with the Lost-Causer sheriff. I am glad for the lack of Matthew Broderick pics on this site lately, but I think some screenshots of General Sanford Smithers might be appropriate.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      Your mention of Hateful 8 takes my mind to Django Unchained, which Trump described in a tweet as the most racist movie of all time, according to a WaPo analysis of his tweets yesterday wherein they discovered he used the word racist to describe black people 3x as often as he did to describe white people.

  • So, anybody think HBO is having second thoughts?

    • heckblazer

      Their Vice documentary on Charlottesville is quite good at least, and they put it up for free on YouTube. https://youtu.be/P54sP0Nlngg

      • Anyone who thinks the ACLU can in good conscience represent these groups needs to watch that.

        • heckblazer

          The ACLU famously defended Nazis who wanted to march through a community of Holocaust survivors.

        • Zagarna_84

          It’s literally the raison d’etre of the ACLU that “conscience” has no part to play in this issue.

          For the 293840987th time, they are not representing these people because they agree with their ideology, they are doing it because the same dubiously-constitutional regulations that would lead to repression of their ideology can be used to suppress any ideology, including ones your “conscience” would approve of.

          • Then they are enabling evil and are complicit in murder. Their ideals are wrong. If you enable an ideology like this you are dog shit. If you can’t or won’t make that distinction you are dog shit. The NAACP, the SPLC, there are groups who do the right thing, it’s not hard.

            Your defense of them in this instance is isomorphic to defending the actual Nazis by saying “Well, they say they hate Jews and Blacks and that those races should be eliminated, what do you expect?”.

            It’s like defending someone who advocates for the sale of weapons to known terrorists just because they beleive in free markets; it is a completely fucked mentality.

            If they think representing and enabling these monsters, and given explicit sanction to them under the guise of an “all-comers”, works out to the greater good they’ve lost their moral compass. If you are a member or supporter you need to think very hard about this.

            • Ithaqua

              Just because someone has the right to act like an asshole doesn’t mean they are somehow morally obliged to. The ACLU defends the former, which in no way implies they believe the latter. If we go down the “freedom of speech for me, but not for thee” path, Trump SHOULD be able to imprison newscasters who are critical of him, etc., because after all why should Roving Youth Pastor be the arbiter of what can and cannot be said in public instead of the President?

              • It all makes sense!

                I defend the constitutional rights of states to run their own elections, so I will pit well meaning liberals’ money and my lawyers’ expensive Ivy League law educations towards defending the poll tax. Who is Roving Youth Pastor to decide what is best for an individual state in their specific situation? I don’t personally defend the poll tax, but rights bigger than that, you see?

                I believe in the right to bear arms, so I will defend the right of this psychzophrenic man who has openly made threats to attack churches and murder his wife to purchase this semiautomatic rifle. What is medicine (which has a history of using racism and pseudoscientific nonsense to oppress people) or who is Roving Youth Pastor to determine when someone shouldn’t have a gun just because of some pathetic moral scruples and admittedly incomplete knowledge? One cannot see into the souls of men. Surely I will commit my time, energy and moral authority to arming this possibly misunderstood gentleman, but for the noble principles, not because I judge it best. How is one to know after all?

                I believe in the right of free contract, if two consenting citizens want to come to some arrangement who is Roving Youth Pastor to say that some basic, minimum wage should be requisite, or that the number or hours should be limited, or that 7 year olds shouldn’t work in dangerous conditions. Surely, if 30 year old men can work the mines, then 29 can, if 29, then 28, etc. Roving Youth Pastor cannot conquer the sorites argument, so who is he to say? We should fight for the right of 7 year olds to contract at will, not because we believe in it, but because of our epistemic modesty and higher principles of liberty!

                Thank you Ithaqua, it’s all so clear now!

            • Zagarna_84

              Yeah, that’s gonna be a hard no on my part.

              Your examples are ludicrous, as I don’t actually consider the extermination of blacks and Jews, or even the promotion of free markets, to be desirable ends, whereas I do regard the ACLU’s end– free expression– to be tremendously desirable. And given that their track record is as good as it gets, I’m willing to trust their instincts when it comes to the means.


              • And given that their track record is as good as it gets, I’m willing to trust their instincts when it comes to the means.”

                If you can’t see these results as troubling and warranting reevaluation of their judgement you are a deeply lost person.

    • BigHank53

      Well, here’s the thing: nobody’s seen a script yet. So “Confederate” may turn out to do a good job of dealing with slavery and the American denial that surrounds it.

      Last year, a guy named Ben Winters wrote Underground Airlines, an alternative-history SF novel that deal with a modern USA where the Civil War never happened and slavery persisted. Now, not many people read the damn thing, but those that did had a pretty good opinion of it. So it’s at least possible to deal with the idea intelligently.

      • witlesschum

        The (longer) Harry Turtledove version involves (spoilers) the Confederacy losing World War I and evolving into a bizarrely literal at times Third Reich analogy.

        That’s part of why “Confederate” seems so objectionable in concept, this is actually pretty well-trod ground in pop culture. That and the fact Weiss and Benioff have often come off like kinda dumb bros while adapting a fantasy novel series, so my confidence that they’ll have a good or interesting idea when George RR Martin isn’t around to have it for them is low.

  • Hogan

    Or a member of Smashmouth.

    Ooh. Talk about going low.

    • Wojciech

      It could be worse. He could be a member of Creed (who ARE from the Old Confederacy).

  • david spikes

    Sainted Marse Lee did not in fact whip his own slaves-he turned them over to the D.C. jailer for the maximum punishment.
    And he lost, the dirty thing.

  • Terok Nor

    Lee would have wanted to make white supremacy classy again. He would have taught the alt right to read Marcus Aurelius, so they could beat the inferior races stoically.

    • Wojciech

      So basically, he was a Confederate William F Buckley.

      • Chet Murthy

        Uh, wasn’t Buckley the Confederate Buckley?

    • DAS

      Yep. I don’t think Lee would have stood with the unwashed Nazis marching in Charlottesville. His racism was more genteel. He would have wavered about both sides being violent, yadda, yadda. IOW, he would fit right in with the GOP.

    • Drew

      As someone who has enjoyed Aurelius and Epictetus for years, I am dismayed by this broicism fad.

  • sharculese

    To be scrupulously fair, after all the throat-clearing Lowry does go ahead and straight up concede point 3:

    He betrayed the U.S. government and fought on the side devoted to preserving chattel slavery.

    • Why do you think he used the archaic “chattel slavery?”

      • Unree

        Yep. People throw in the redundant “chattel” when they think they’re edumacated but really are just flinching from the impact of the true word ahead.

        • Robespierre

          I’ve read fundies using the term to excuse the supposedly milder biblical slavery, but I don’t think this is the case.

      • sharculese

        I’ve seen enough people call it that way because they thought that talking like a textbook made them sound smart that it didn’t even register.

      • Zagarna_84

        I assume he wasn’t contrasting it with “white-slavery,” as in the somehow-still-on-the-books White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910… but who knows, really…

      • Joe Paulson

        It does have a technical meaning:

        “A chattel slave is an enslaved person who is owned for ever and whose children and children’s children are automatically enslaved. Chattel slaves are individuals treated as complete property, to be bought and sold.”

        http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_40.html

        It is repeatedly used to suggest a particularly harsh type of slavery, where slaves were deemed more like property than let’s say a slave in Ancient Greece and Rome in various cases where skilled slaves were given a certain degree of more respect.

        • Yeah, I know–but its not like Rich Lowry has a highly educated sense of the meaning of words. The question I have is what does he think he’s signaling, other than the “shirt tucking” Roy always talks about. To me his use of chattel is the equivalent of the ingenue putting on horn rimmed glasses to try to look smarter before delivering the cribbed speech.

          • Joe Paulson

            I don’t know. Maybe.

            “Chattel slavery” is a fairly common term. Given National Review is a conservative magazine, the comparison to classical times might alone be notable.

            • Jason K.

              From a strictly rhetorical standpoint, though, it lacks the punch of “human slavery.” Chattel slavery, while a technical term, sounds like livestock or something. It mutes the horror of the thing.

              • This.

              • Oh, I’ve always read “chattel” as an intensifier as a la Joe above it usually connotes particular harsh and totalising slavery. But I can see if you don’t have that set of connotations it could mute.

              • Ithaqua

                What other kind of slavery is there? “Human” is redundant.

              • Joe Paulson

                Putting black slaves on the level of “livestock” for some underlines the horror of the thing.

        • It’s also distinguished from serfdom where slaves were considered part of the land, which in turn often wasn’t alienable property.

          So while you owned people, you couldn’t sell or buy them apart from the land property, which you also often couldn’t sell or buy either since it was tied to your family.

    • Lowry is a UVA grad I believe. My dad hangs out on alumni message boards, usually football oriented and pretty NR style “respectable” comservatives. Apparently this has woke quite a few of them up.

  • JMP

    “was technically not Nazi. Or Maoist. Or a supporter of Francisco Franco. Or a member of Smashmouth.”

    Hey now, Lee’s an all star, get you game on, go play; hey now, Lee’s a rock star, get the show on, get paid.

    Damn, that stupid song seemed to be in every single movie trailer released around 1999-2001. And now it’s back in my head again.

  • jamespowell

    I must concede, however, that Lee — while he willingly joined a cause with significant ideological overlap — was technically not Nazi. Or Maoist. Or a supporter of Francisco Franco. Or a member of Smashmouth.

    Yes, but I read somewhere that he was very fond of ketchup.

    ETA – Yes, I should read comments before adding my own, but this new “Join the discussion . . . ” at the top of the thread encourages hasty comments.

  • kaydenpat

    Why would a White Supremacist be upset that his descendants also support White Supremacy? I’d think that if he was resurrected, he’d be ecstatic that his peeps are still around giving N words holy hell.

  • Lex Luthor

    Actual quote from Alabama Man in Vox story: “I don’t think Gen. Lee would mind them moving the statue because he would have wanted to preserve the union.” That rumble you hear is the sound of every reader of the article’s mind blowing. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/15/16148144/alabama-conservatives-on-charlottesville

    • liberalrob

      Jeff Stein:

      But it was pretty scary if you’re black, right?

      Tom Cowles:
      Well, it’s pretty scary if you’re white to see these
      Black Lives Matter — they assassinated five police officers a year ago
      in Dallas.

      I’m white and I live in Dallas. Black Lives Matter did not kill those police officers. But that fact seems unknown to Tom Cowles, age 61 retired engineer.

      • BigHank53

        Wanna guess what his favorite news network is?

  • NewishLawyer

    In other news, Jennifer Rubin continues on the road to liberalism:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/08/15/what-did-you-expect-from-trump/?tid=ss_fb-bottom&utm_term=.cd6bbf6a5c21

    I’d be happy but I still expect the 2020 U.S. to be a totally collapsed economy partially.

    • liberalrob

      I expect the 2020 U.S. to be a partially collapsed country totally.

  • liberalrob

    Are you “sure” that Lee would have been appalled by white supremacist
    goons marching in Virginia? I am quite sure he would have celebrated
    them.

    And I have no fucking idea whether he would have been appalled or not, nor whether he would have celebrated them or not, because all I know about him is what has been written about him by other people most of whom never knew him personally either. What I do know is, the statues and monuments celebrating him are offensive because they exist not to celebrate the man himself but to celebrate indirectly the cause for which he led men in battle to defend; a cause that is or should be morally repugnant to any intelligent human being deserving of the description “civilized.” Lee’s white supremacist beliefs are not particularly relevant here. He led armed men in rebellion in support of slavery. There should be no celebratory monuments to the men who supported and led such a rebellion.

    Also, Rich Lowry is a douchebag and always has been; and I could give a shit what he thinks about anything.

  • hey now, I kind of like Smashmouth. Of course, this does not invalidate your statement.

  • Brian J.

    So, are you, the junior senators from Vermont and Massachusetts, and the rest of the Left finally ready to stop whining about Mah White Working Class?

  • Sentient AI From The Future

    I’m not going to say leave smashmouth out of this, because they chose their sides. But if we’re going to take this to its logical conclusion, we should be clear that we will boycott smash mouth’s restaurants and TV shows until Guy Fieri, their lead singer and front man, renounces the confederacy, donkey sauce, and ketchup.

  • fearandloathing

    I can see conservatives adopting this as a principle. Via negativa when it comes to Confederate leaders. No one can say what they are. We can only say what they weren’t. We can clearly say that they were not WWF wrestlers on the rather certain grounds that the WWF did not come along until long after the Confederacy. Hmmm…now that I think of it, in the grand tradition of making America hating furriners who don’t love freedom the heels in wrestling matches, WWF should come up with some neo-Confederate heels to get smashed over the head with folding chairs nightly. Might help diversify their fan base some as well.

  • fearandloathing

    The whole thing about the classiness of Robert E Lee to me sounds a lot like older generations of Southerners who thought they were so much better than rednecks that use the n word solely because they did not use the n word. They were no different in their mind set and it was a distinction that only mattered to them to make them feel better about themselves.

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