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Monday, January 19, 2009

Irony in Racial Memorials

Today is Martin Luther King Jr.'s Day (or, as our India employees said it, "King Martin Luther Day). It is also Robert E. Lee's birthday (observed and in fact). So, we honor a civil rights activist and good man, and celebrate the birthday of a man who would see him still in chains.

Lee is observed as a hero on Stone Mountain, a college is named for him (Washington and Lee University), and he received a full pardon and eventually a return of citizenship after he died (should have been granted before, but an administrative error prevented it). He has a memorial in Washington D.C., or maybe it's Virginia...

Lee is a struggle for me. He was, quote, a "good man." Lincoln asked him to lead the Union Army and he refused. When Virginia seceded, in loyalty to Virginia he led the Confederate Army. A Christian man, he owned slaves. Some say he was against slavery, but that wasn't true. After his relative died, he was executor instructed to free the 150 slaves within 5 years, as soon as it was "safe" to free them. Financial issues raised their heads, and he worked and hired out those slaves -- who knew they were supposed to be freed -- to shore up his finances. He hunted down escapees and dealt with them in "military fashion." True, after 5 years he release those left alive, but the law commanded it.

Most of all, though, he led armies that killed Americans. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, both as enemy and as soldier, died bloody deaths and more were maimed. He called the orders and as much as pulled the trigger.

Robert E. Lee was a terrorist. His vision of the US was different the rising tide. In his mind he was not a traitor, but anyone who kills Americans, no matter what their personal belief, is a terrorist. He was responsible for more deaths than 9-11, the Gulf and Desert Storm wars and he did it on our soil.

There may have been political expediency that prevented him from being executed, but in no way should his memory be honored today.

How's that for a strong opinion?

4 comments:

Mac said...

Well, today, or yesterday depending on when you people read this comment, is happy INAUGURAL DAY NOT!

Sunrise said...

I don't know a lot about Robert E. Lee, but the statement that "anyone who kills Americans is a terrorist" would then also include every commander of the Union army. Members of secessionist states may have not considered themselves Americans, but as Lincoln refused to allow or acknowledge the secession, he must have still considered them Americans, and it was upon his orders that they were fired upon. So was Lincoln a terrorist?

There were some northern generals who committed unspeakable atrocities in the southern states they occupied - but I bet their birthdays are observed in some areas. Let's just call the entire Civil War a travesty and a blight on our history and leave it at that. Maybe nobody involved should be celebrated.

Tell Charli I admire her entrepreneurial spirit and I'll take one of her bookmarks! :)

Rob said...

*grmble-grmble-grmble*

Logic... grrrrrr...

Okay, I'll have to think about that before I make a comment...

(dang, she's good...)

Rob said...

Actually...

Lincoln took an oath to defend the USA. Whether the Constitution gave him the authority to overrule seccession is perhaps a stretch, but through separation of powers, the legislative branch granted that authority, preventing it from being a tyrannical move. In the same way that the police or the FBI/CIA/etc. have authority to use lethal force, Abe did too.

As for those generals who committed loathsome acts, war crimes should be level against them.

Lincoln's vision of a Federalist government so completely dominated the last 130 years that we can't even conceive of what a confederacy would be like, as existed before Lincoln. It's further to be noted that once in the war, the people turned on Lincoln and considered the war foolhardy. Had he not been assassinated, his "approval rating" would have been lower than G.W.'s... and for the same reason. History exhonorated Lincoln and I'm rather certain it will do the same for Bush.