Confederate Statues, The Lost Cause School, and Stalinism

I don't have a lot to say about the whole Confederate statue thing.  Most of what I would say could probably be cut and pasted from my post on the Confederate flag.

The one thing I want to comment on is the criticism that pulling down these statues is "Stalinist", referring to Stalin's proclivity for changing history books and even airbrushing men out of photos when he turned against them.  I find this comparison ironic for the following reason:  Think back to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989.  I have two images in my mind of that time.  One is of people on top of and pulling down the Berlin Wall.  But the other is of Soviet-era statues toppling in Eastern Europe.  Pulling down the statue of Lenin or Stalin or whoever became the key public declaration that people were making a break with the past.

Public statues on public land are basically government speech.  People call it "history" but in most cases it is closer to propaganda.  I think it is totally appropriate to question it.  Now, I might have gone about the whole thing differently.  If I were a city, I would name the statues that I wanted removed, and then give private individuals and groups 6 months to pay to take it away to a private site if they wanted to keep it.  If no one cared enough to do so, we'd just demolish it.  By the way, I think this gets at the heart of why many folks like myself still have a bit of fear about the current efforts -- the folks on the Left who are doing this don't tend to differentiate between public and private.  It is very likely their perfectly reasonable criticism of public speech in public spaces will soon turn into attempts to regulate private speech in private spaces.

The Lost Cause School:   I want to provide some help for those not from the South to understand the southern side of the statue thing.  In particular, how can good people who believe themselves not to be racist support these statues?  You have to recognize that most folks of my generation in the South were raised on the lost cause school of Civil War historiography.  I went to one of the great private high schools in the South and realized later I had been steeped in Lost Cause.  All the public schools taught it.  Here is the Wikipedia summary:

The Lost Cause of the Confederacy, or simply Lost Cause, is a set of revisionist beliefs that describes the Confederate cause as a heroic one against great odds despite its defeat. The beliefs endorse the virtues of the antebellum South, viewing the American Civil War as an honorable struggle for the Southern way of life,[1] while minimizing or denying the central role of slavery. While it was not taught in the North, aspects of it did win acceptance there and helped the process of reunifying American whites.

The Lost Cause belief system synthesized numerous ideas into a coherent package. Lost Cause supporters argue that slavery was not the main cause of the Civil War, and claim that few scholars saw it as such before the 1950s.[2] In order to reach this conclusion, they often deny or minimize the writings and speeches of Confederate leaders of the time in favor of later-written revisionist documents.[3] Supporters often stressed the idea of secession as a defense against a Northern threat to their way of life and say that threat violated the states' rights guaranteed by the Union. They believed any state had the right to secede, a point strongly denied by the North. The Lost Cause portrayed the South as more profoundly Christian than the greedy North. It portrayed the slavery system as more benevolent than cruel, emphasizing that it taught Christianity and civilization. In explaining Confederate defeat, the Lost Cause said the main factor was not qualitative inferiority in leadership or fighting ability but the massive quantitative superiority of the Yankee industrial machine.

Obviously this was promoted by the white supremacists after the war, but in the 20th century many well-meaning people in the South who are not racist and by no means want to see a return of slavery or Jim Crow still retain elements of this story, particularly the vision of the Confederacy as a scrappy underdog.  But everything in these two paragraphs including the downplaying of slavery in the causes of the Civil War was being taught when I grew up.  It wasn't until a civil war course in college (from James McPherson no less, boy was I a lucky dog there) that I read source material from the time and was deprogrammed.

The comparisons of the current statue removal to Protestant reformation iconoclasm seem particularly apt to me.  You see, growing up in the South, Confederate generals were our saints.  And the word "generals" is important.  No one I knew growing up would think to revere, say, Jefferson Davis.  Only the hard-core white supremacists revered Jefferson Davis.  Real lost cause non-racist southerners revered Robert E. Lee.  He was our Jesus (see: Dukes of Hazard).  Every town in the south still has a Robert E Lee High School.  Had I not gone to private school, I would have gone to Houston's Lee High (I had a friend who went to college at Lehigh in New Jersey.  Whenever he told folks in the South he went there, they would inevitably answer "yes, but where did you go to college.")  So Lee was by far and away at the top of the pantheon.  Then you had folks like Stonewall Jackson and JEB Stuart who were probably our Peter and Paul.  Then all the rest of the generals trailing off through the equivalents of St. Bartholomew or whoever.  We even had a Judas, General James Longstreet, who for a variety of reasons was reviled by the Lost Cause school and was blamed for many of Lee's, and the South's, losses.

If you want to see the Southern generals the way much of the South sees them, watch the movie Gettysburg, which I like quite a bit (based on the book Killer Angels, I believe, also a good read).  The Southern Generals are good, talented men trying to make the best of a losing cause.  Slavery is, in this movie, irrelevant to them.   They are fighting for their beloved homes in the South, not for slavery.  The movie even has Longstreet saying something like "we should have freed the slaves and then fired on Fort Sumter."

  • SamWah

    Have you heard about ESPN taking Robert Lee off the announcing job for the UVA-William&Mary football game? Mr. Lee is Asian.

  • John O.

    Thank you, I've long recognized the importance of why people like General Lee took command of Confederate troops. Lee was Virginian and had an attachment to his home state that despite his own political feelings of the secession movement, as Lee was against secession and understood that slavery was a doomed institution, that he could not bear to fight against his fellow Virginians. He resigned his commission in the US Army and accepted command of the Army of Northern Virginia fairly soon after Virginia passed its secession law and joined the Confederacy.

  • Glenn Geist

    Lehigh University is in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

  • Matthew Teague

    Two unique things America has done:

    1. Come out of a violent revolution supported by a minority of the population and formed a stable state afterwards
    2. Come out of a violent civil war and retained a unified stable state after

    Perhaps the statues, and the respect for the losing side were the price we paid and do pay for number 2. There's a reason Grant had his band play Dixie during the surrender and laying down of arms by the Army of Northern Virginia. Southern soldiers were repatriated and actually paid pensions by the US army.

    Also, Lee's orders were to disperse his men into the hills and continue to fight as an insurgency. We owe a great deal that he accepted defeat and surrendered.

  • esoxlucius

    Taking down statues feels like a book-burning to me, or a whitewash of history...

  • jimc5499

    " If I were a city, I would name the statues that I wanted removed, and then give private individuals and groups 6 months to pay to take it away to a private site if they wanted to keep it."

    Put it on the ballot. If a majority wants to keep a statue it stays. If a majority votes to have it removed, then give private individuals and groups a chance.

  • mx

    If the statues were the price we paid for #2, why were most of the statues put up decades (in some cases, a century or more) after the war ended? They were hardly intended as an immediate unifying gesture. Lee himself was not in favor of monuments to the war: "I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered."

  • herdgadfly

    “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
    ~ George Orwell "1984"

  • jdt

    What does Asian have to do with this?

  • SamWah

    His first and last names are the same as Gen. Robert E. Lee. Mr. Lee, being of Asian heritage, is not related to the general, but ESPN decided he was not the person to be an announcer of that game. ESPN is run by idjits.

  • Just Thinking

    I was born in the North and was very much taught as a child that the main purpose of the Civil War was to free the slaves. Then in college, I spent a lot of time with people from different backgrounds, typically making a point to visit them in their demographic origins. The most memorable of these visits were to Southerners -- black and white. They were very proud of their heritage, and they emphasized phrases such as honor, integrity, leadership, manners, courtesy, noble causes, and such. Most of them referred to the Civil War as "The War of Northern Aggression." They were not bitter, but they swept me up in their "Lost Cause" mentality. I do not know if I have ever met a white supremacist, and these people in my college experiences certainly were not. Yet, it mattered not their socioeconomic status, or their family background, or their ethnic group, there was a strong unifying feature in the glorification of antebellum virtues -- and nobody included slavery or racial prejudice in their view of antebellum virtues.

  • The_Big_W

    Exactly!!

  • Chris

    I grew up thinking the North was good and the South bad, and the war was to free the slaves. But life is not so simple. Recall how we venerate the rule of law? Well, slavery was constitutional and legal (even if immoral). So - rule of law or rule of somebody's morality? States can't secede? The federal government has no rights - just powers granted to it in the constitution. By the 10th amendment, all other powers belong to the states and the people. Where does the constitution give the federal government the power to compel states to remain in the Union? Simple logic says the states had the constitutional power to leave the Union if their people supported secession. And was war necessary to end slavery? Even short an amendment to the constitution, the federal government had the power of emminent domain, and could have purchased every slave and set them free. Importing slaves was unconstitutional at that time, as it had been since 1808. So buying all slaves and freeing them would have ended slavery as such without a war. It would have provided Southern slave owners with capital to buy more machinery. But I guess those Northern capitalists thought a short war would be cheaper.

    So life is now much more complicated, and I think less kindly of the North than I once did.

    By the way - slavery is not now unconstituional in the US! It can be imposed as punishment for crime (look it up). Serving a term as an "indentured servant" or slave might be a more humane punishment and provide better rehabilitation for non violent criminals than today's prison "graduate schools of crime" do. As Ted Baxter used to say, "food for thought."

  • Peabody

    My AP US History teacher told us us that the Civil War was fought over states' rights, specifically the states' right to have slaves. It's certainly a simplification, but a reasonably accurate one in my opinion. That being said, I've always been sympathetic to the South's arguments that states should be allowed to leave the Union.

  • John O.

    Southern culture for much of its history was the closest feudalism ever came to America. The slaves being the serfs of the New World worked the fields while the slave owners reaped the economic rewards, this allowed the upper class in the South to become very dependent on this system for their own livelihood and economic stability but it was doomed almost from the beginning of the founding of the American Republic. However the South was also agrarian in much of the same time span, so despite the incompatibility of the institution of slavery to the American idea, these were people who over time came to be viewed by the north as socially backwards as the most of the upper class wealth paled in comparison with the wealth northern business were beginning to pull in. While they might not have been all that wealthy in comparison to Northerners, Southerners developed their culture bonds to their community and their church. Many southerners were accustomed to having a sense towards social manners and attachment to their faith and during the Civil War era most the officers called to service in the Confederacy were men of positive
    character.

    This can be seen in how the Union Army's generals had changed tactics over time in order to win the war at nearly any cost.
    The Union originally adopted much the same type of warfare as the Confederacy but when a number of humiliating defeats cost multiple general's their position, they began resorting to unconventional warfare. Sherman's March to the Sea laying utter waste through Georgia to wear down the morale of the Confederates was simply a tactic that Lee would never have employed as it was seen as uncivilized.

    The issue over the statues of those in the Confederacy is highly complex and to paint over it with broad generalizations is why we're having all these problems of late with the protesters and counter-protesters. Southern culture has come a long way since overthrowing the worst of its tendencies from the aftermath of the Civil War, segregation. To assault them again, only seeks to destroy that.

  • Q46

    'If I were a city, I would name the statues that I wanted removed, and...'

    A city is a group of buildings in a designated area, not a person, so is incapable of thought or want.

    So who in that city would have the power to name the statue? Once power is given, it will be used. Once the post of 'Statue-namer' is created, are you confident it will always be held by some benign soul(s) who only nominates deserving statues (based on what criteria, by the way?) for removal?

    Are you confident that the post of 'Statue-namer' will not be extended to naming other things? If I had that post I would want all places of worship removed.

    Why, at this point in its history, are some in the USA intent on fighting the last Civil War again, is it because they want to prepare the way for the next?

    Getting rid of Trump (because that is what all the dangerous nonsense going on in the USA is about... a bigoted, agressive entitled-to-rule class not having got its own way) be worth at least five years of bloodshed, a few million deaths, many more maimed and displaced and the economy ruined.

  • LB

    Here's the question to ask those who want to revise history.

    Get your bills out of your wallet.

    Put all $10 bills aside.

    Burn the rest - they commemorate slave owners

    In other words put your money where you mouth is.

    PS. You can also burn Washington DC to the ground. He owned lots of slaves.

  • Q46

    Be gracious in victory.

    Was winning not enough that you begrudge the losing side their memorials no matter when erected?

  • Q46

    'You can also burn Washington DC to the ground.'

    Don't tease.

  • cc

    In the ordinary course of events it would not be necessary to throw down these statues because they are not officially representing an oppressive regime, like statues of Stalin in E. Europe. It would be like throwing down a statue of Caesar or Charlemagne. Most people simply ignore them and probably don't even know who they are. Race relations had become pretty good over the past 30 years. My town if you visit the library is like a little UN, very diverse, and no problems. Interracial marriage has been steadily rising. But the counter to Trump has been to pull out the big guns, which is to demonize him and his followers and the worst name they can call is racist, since the only morality they recognize is being a victim of oppression. This has been going on for over a year now, with tens of thousands of public statements that all whites are racist and now we have graduated to being Nazis. Thus the attacks on the statues. But it goes beyond statues. People are attacking all the founding fathers and Columbus for their crimes, ignoring the great things they accomplished. They want buildings renamed at colleges (including Lynch, in that case simply due to the name). Someone set fire to a statue of Lincoln in Chicago last week. When mobs are after "purity" and they are also ignorant, destruction is the result. Someone was talking about blowing up Mount Rushmore. There is a Washington st in every town. This is like the Cultural Revolution: no boundaries, no criteria, just whatever the mob decides at the moment. And this same mob can hold Chavez or Castro or Che as a hero and it cannot be questioned. It is not a principled decision and the mob cannot be appeased.

  • Mercury

    The mob-rule catharsis analogy only holds if you think Americans (in this case) have been tyrannically oppressed up until the point they start destroying public property and terminating the existing political system. The Left will not stop at some reasonable point once you start green-lighting certain conditions under which they are allowed to be publicly violent. And the "Antifa" are para-military communists, pure and simple, with the same emblems etc. they've had for 80 years. Remember, the undefeated, "Punch-a-Nazi" world champion is Joseph Stalin.

    Almost every southerner I've ever known has told me at one point or another that they think "Yankees" are totally and completely full of shit when it comes to their contemporary attitudes, behavior and relationships with black people vs. what they believe to be the much more civil and friendly equilibrium they've reached down south. Northern manners and general comportment are often likewise frowned upon as a follow-up. I think there's quite a bit of truth to that, especially in the post-1960s era. I wonder what percentage of confederate statue-bashers are actually born and bred southerners vs. rent-a-mob out of staters?

    Anyway, apparently the sublime tragedy of certain aspects of antebellum Southern culture can be also be appreciated by people not indoctrinated by 'Lost Cause' historiography:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jREUrbGGrgM

  • DerKase

    There is a very big difference between Civil War statues and Soviet-era statues. That is the fact that all Civil War statues and memorials were purchased and erected by the veterans themselves. No government money was used. When the veteran organizations died out, they donated the statues to the government, so the government is now the owner and caretaker, but they originally came from private individuals. Even today that's the way is works. The US Air Force memorial outside the Pentagon in Arlington was paid for by veteran donations, then was given to the government. No tax dollars were used to buy and build it.
    Soviet-era statues were financed and owned by the government.
    The point is that no government foisted the CW statues on us. Veterans and veterans' relatives paid for them, not faceless bureaucrats.
    When the Soviet government fell, nobody owned the statues. They could be destroyed with impunity. The US government or the states/cities own the CW statues. Those who destroy them should be charged with destruction of government property at the very least.

  • wreckinball

    Mostly the monuments are not a federal issue so I take the Charles Barkley view point, i.e. who cares. I guess if local residents care and their local government affirms that belief go ahead and take them down. This certainly doesn't justify mobs forming and just ripping them down.

    Which would be a typical Warren libertarian view point minus the whole "lost cause" thing. But equating confederates to Stalin and Lenin seems way off base and seems to be based on this notion of the Confederacy being treasonous and thus not worthy of recognition.

    Is the USA like the Hotel California, you can check in anytime you like but never leave? State's rights is a very valid reason for secession.

    If the Federal government over reaches (which they do now) thus violating the agreement between the states why can't they just leave. They voluntarily joined? "Cal Exit" is supported by many of the same folks who call the Confederates traitors. Is Cal Exit treasonous?

    Many a liberal champions the secession movements in Scotland and Quebec and I agree that folks should be able to leave. Ironic that Warren brings up the Berlin Wall which was there solely to not let people leave.

    Surprisingly non-libertarian post by Warren.

  • wreckinball

    Good point. Amongst all the hand wringing regarding Nazis and how often and forcefully you denounce them the notion that violence is OK if you don't like someone's free speech is not getting the attention it should. It is actually the only issue.
    Everyone including Nazis have the right of free speech. So yes its allowed and protected. You have no right to be violent in response to someone's free speech. And if you become violent you will be arrested. Start doing that , i.e. no room to destroy, and problem solved.
    Free speech is not a problem. Violence in response to it , which seems allowed by the police now, is the problem.

  • mx

    When the memorials are really monuments to Plessy v. Ferguson and a backlash against the Civil Rights Movement, yeah, winning wasn't enough.

  • kidmugsy

    "it was doomed almost from the beginning of the founding of the American Republic": how so? Some of the people who fought, or at least pressed, for independence seem to have done so out of alarm at the rise of abolitionism in Britain. About two-thirds of the men who signed the Constitution were slave-masters. Add to that that Lincoln said that he didn't fight to free the slaves but to preserve the Union and it seems to me to be mere hindsight to make your claim.

  • kidmugsy

    Surely 1 was also achieved by France and Russia? Maybe China too. Perhaps much of Latin America?

    As for 2: but it wasn't the usual civil war where two groups fight for control of the government; it was the suppression of an apparently constitutional secession. Anyway what makes you think it unique? The Irish managed it in 1922-23, the British in the 17th century, and I'll bet there are plenty of other examples. Come to think of it, Rome survived horrific civil wars before the rule of the five good emperors. Spain did it in the 20th century. France survived a series of civil wars in its history.

  • Matthew Teague

    Does a solution to specific monuments you think are more about Plessy v Ferguson fit for those that are not?

    What about monuments placed by northerners after the war, including those at gravesites for southern POWs? http://althouse.blogspot.com/2017/08/theres-cemetery-just-few-blocks-from.html

    What about monuments erected by surviving confederate soldiers as peace symbols (one of these was vandalized recently in Atlanta)?

    Do you feel one size fits all for removal? All should go regardless of time period they were erected, original intent of those who erected them, etc?

  • mx

    I don't think there's one size fits all policy, no. Local communities need to decide for themselves, and the history and context of a particular site is important to that decision. Which is why I'm particularly opposed to state laws that prevent cities and towns from removing monuments.

  • borepatch

    Union General Charles Francis Adams, Jr was later a Harvard history professor and the first president of the American Historical Association. He spoke about General Lee and (coincidentally) statues in a speech to the Phi Beta Kappa society. It is in a book which you can download for free: Shall Cromwell Get A Statue?

    The essay begins by questioning whether or not England should build a statue to Oliver Cromwell. The purpose of the essay is really to discuss whether or not the US should build a statue to Robert E. Lee. (Please keep in mind that Mr Adams fought on the Union side against Lee).

    Adams' answer is unequivocally "yes."

    He goes through a long argument about how Lee was not a traitor. For if we wish to call Lee a traitor, we would have to call Washington, Cromwell, William of Orange and Hampden traitors as well. Lee was loyal to his state, which was where he believed his primary loyalty lay.

    It's almost as if those who lived through that furnace had a more grounded view of the causes than we do today. Revisionism has a long trail from those days.

  • Matthew Teague

    You seriously think post revolutionary Russia was a stable state?

  • Matthew Teague

    Well and good. I think you mistook my meaning. The statues are part of the price paid for peace, in that the losing side was allowed to save face. Of course the monuments went up decades later, when they were put up by veterans now in the ruling class.

  • gwvanderleun

    Another man who wants to be eaten last heard from. It's not the principle here. It's the precedent.

  • cc

    Everyone needs heroes. That is why every city has streets named Washington and Jefferson. The real world of course leads to heroes with some flaws. The South romanticized its Civil War generals. I lived in the South for many years and never even noticed statues except on Stone Mountain, nor did that bother me--ancient history.
    The Left prides itself on being revolutionaries, opposing corruption and evil. They see the imperfections in society (seeming to believe that the remnant imperfections in the US are as bad as slavery) and want to tear it down, which is a childish response because they ignore the fact that civilization is fragile and if torn down the result is much much worse. Even a dictatorship is better than anarchy (look at Somalia or Libya). But they need their heroes too, and choose Castro, Che, Stalin, the Black Panthers. The flaws they overlook for their heroes are 5 orders of magnitude worse than the slaves that Jefferson owned or the civil war generals. The NYT is busy this summer romanticizing communism under Stalin, which is one of the most reality-challenged things I have ever seen.

  • John O.

    The economics of slavery is terrible for a society, especially one that was totally agrarian. And it showed increasingly over time, the only thing that kept slavery entrenched for as long as it did was technological improvements made slave workers slightly more profitable, but the eventual over supply of slave picked crops caused prices to plummet back down further hurting the slave economy. At the same time, the North rightfully so viewed it as a major contradiction of the American concept of liberty and freedom enshrined in the Constitution. The Northern states that had already abolished slavery were able to experience the industrial revolution well before the Southern states did; the South didn't become a region for industrial activity until the later half of the 20th century when the Northern states started wrecking their own economy.

  • John O.

    Considering they were the once the heros not too long ago of the Party that is taking them down, very much so.

  • Dan Wendlick

    The history of the Civil War is replete with men who did the wrong thing for the right reasons and men who did the right thing for the wrong reasons. Trying to reduce it to a simple good guys/bad guys situation oversimplifies the conflict to meaninglessness. What ultimately doomed chattel slavery was the steam engine and the McCormick Reaper

  • fotini901

    deleted, wrong place

  • fotini901

    This. These statues were erected decades after the war, as a direct middle finger against the expansion of civil rights. Many, including the one recently taken down in New Orleans, bear inscriptions that specifically assert and support white supremacy.

    They need to come out of the public square. The public square belongs to everyone.

  • MJ

    I don't really like the comparison with the Berlin Wall and/or Eastern Europe. For the people who physically tore down the Berlin Wall, the experience of life under communism and/or Eastern Bloc rule was still very fresh and many had first-hand experience. That doesn't translate well to the controversy over Confederate statues, where the current aggrieved parties haven't experienced life under slavery or, in most cases, even Jim Crow laws.
    A second point is that proponents of the "Lost Cause" theory, including the author of the above Wikipedia entry, have a rather limited view of history. Indeed, the description here does not appear to actually solicit the opinions of any adherents this line of thinking. Instead, the author imparts their own views to the adherents. Even the name itself has a rather condescending tone.
    It's important to remember that the Civil War occurred at a point in history when the role of the federal government was still very small and the notion of them overruling individual states, even on an issue like slavery, was very much in question. That is why I have a problem with many on the contemporary Left referring to members of the Confederacy as "traitors" who "fired on their own countrymen". That kind of statement is resolutely revisionist, substituting 20th (and 21st)-century views on federalism for those of the early and mid-19th. Members of the Confederacy didn't view those in the North as "their own people". Like most in the country at that time, they viewed the federal government primarily as a limited bulwark against external threats to the states. And when the Union army approached Fort Sumter, southerners viewed them as the external threat.
    The current controversy over removing Confederate statues seems particularly strange in light of history since then. Why are current citizens so much more troubled by presence of these statues than, say, the few generations before them, who arguably had greater propinquity to the effects of overt and less-overt forms of discrimination? Is the current generation really that much more "aware"? I doubt that. Attacking these symbols just seems like an outlet for righteous indignation, not to mention the ability to do so in very public ways. But I question what of substance these kinds of gestures will actually accomplish even if they are followed through on.

  • mlhouse

    One thing I continuously point out to people who are suddenly "aware" of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals and think they are astute in calling them traitors and guilty of treason: Why does the United States Army have installations named after them? Ft. A.P. Hill, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Benning, Ft. Gordon, and yes, Ft. Lee? Obviously their former enemies viewed their actions in a much different way than Benedict Arnold's former comrades viewed him.

    While some consider the Lost Cause to be revisionistic history, and to a point it is particulalry when it came to disputes about what happened and did not happen during the war and what the individuals did after, it also isn't. One of the major proponents of the Lost Cause, General Jubal Early, opposed succession in Virginia and only joined the confederacy once Virginia left the Union. Others like Longstreet went Republican or continued the disagreements about conduct, tactics, and promotions after the war (particulalry LOngstreet's conduct at Gettysburg).

    The one thing these modern "protesters" cannot do is place themselves in others places and times. THey completely lack empathy, historlcial knowledge, and they are just lemmings following the crowd. They pretend THEY would have done differently than these people from long ago. But, if you are Major James Longstreet. Paymaster in the U.S. Army from South Carolina, what are you going to do? You have no command, like John Gibbon of Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery to take north despite being a native of North Carolina. All of your potential political patrons have went South meaning your chances of promotion are limited and being from the South you would never be truly trusted despite your service record like George Thomas, a major Union commander from Virginia.

  • F.Inahoy

    Frankly, the people pulling down and damaging these statues are little different than the Taliban were when they dynamited and destroyed the statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley.

  • johnmoore

    Coyote's Stalin analogy fails badly. The people pulling down Soviet statues had been ruled by the Soviets just a few years in the past.

    The people pulling down Confederate statues were not harmed by Confederates. The statues had been there long enough to be history, even though they were put up for the wrong purpose in some cases. Also, note how quickly the statue removal has gone from being a non-issue to being a major issue throughout the country. It is a moral panic, not any sort of reasoned action.

    This action shouldn't be viewed in isolation. It is part of a very rapidly moving trend by the progressives to intentionally transgress on the values and feelings of those they despise - those of us who are not progressive. It is a push for power, not a quest for justice. It is no different from the federal school mandate to force teenagers to share their locker-rooms with those of the opposite sex because: transgender. It is virtue signally, demonstrating who is a good progressive. Those who oppose are beneath contempt - they are racists (or homophobic, or sexist, or choose your epithet) - deplorables who should have no say.

    The people who are doing this are like the Antifa I inteviewed Tuesday in Phoenix at the anti-Trump rally - people who believe that violence is okay against those who say the wrong thing, and who engage in that violence.

    I have little personal interest in the statues, other than preserving history for my grandchildren to see if they choose. I am glad that Christians didn't pull down the Coliseum where they were tortured and murdered. I'm glad that the many monuments around Europe to various tyrants and semi-tyrants, villains and slightly villainous have been preserved. I am strongly opposed to this tearing down of history, because it is more related to Stalinism, Talibanism and Orwellianism than it is to any sort of just cause.

  • wasped

    I am all for tearing down historical symbols with at bad history, if applied evenly. For example the democratic party, with many historical violations of human rights, must surely go. Right?

  • DanSmith

    I didn't grow up in the South, but my Navy family lived there from 1964-1968, and I attended two years of high school before being shipped up North for the last two. My friends were largely upper class and white, and most all subscribed to the belief that what I called the Civil War was "The War of Northern Aggression." They held the conviction that the war was about states' rights, not slavery; that current day blacks had been happy under Jim Crow laws; that it was the work of outside agitators causing all the trouble. I was viewed as the resident Yankee and my contrary beliefs were tolerated. My mother, who spent a year or two working at a black school in Charleston in the library, received threatening phone calls. I think the statues of Confederate generals are inappropriate and need to go. However, race relations are not going to improve, regardless. Income and educational disparities will also not change. Those problems also occur in the North, where there are no Confederate statues.

  • Recovering libertarian

    Wait till he hears about Joe Arpaio.

  • Johnnyreb

    Exactly what it feels like to me also....people piling a bunch of books they don't like on a fire and burning them.

  • stan

    Some people have way more education than common sense. A wise man with a sense of humility would do well to look to the role of the commoner in situations such as these. Anyone in 2017 who tries to argue that poor men who never owned slaves chose to charge the cannon and die so that rich people could keep slaves is afflicted with a bad case of rectal blindness.

  • James White

    Another part of the problem is not distinguishing between monuments and the history behind them. Today in Knoxville there were protesters at a monument to the Confederate dead. East Tennessee voted something like 88% _against_ secession from the US in 1861 after the Ft. Sumnter attack ( TN didn't succeed until after that attack ). East TN wanted to remain in the union so strongly it nearly left Tennessee. Tennessee furnished more Union troops than a few Yankee states.

    50 years after the end of the Civil War, local groups in Knoxville raised money and erected a monument to the Confederate soldiers who died at Ft. Sanders. That's right, a region that bled for Union erected a monument to the Confederate dead. Why? They wanted to respect the dead, all of the dad. They wanted closure. They felt it was the right thing to do. They did it and moved on.

    Today you have a few wackos who seem to think that any ol' piece of stone commemorating the fallen CSA soldiers should be associated with white power. And then you have even more that feel they need to show up and protest because, well, any ol stone commemorating CSA soldiers should be associated with modern racism. Neither sided seems to grasp the simplicity and beauty of the moment.

    They don't seem to grasp that over a 100 years ago, people had settled their differences and moved forward. They didn't put it up to celebrate the Confedercy, for them they, their parents or granparents wanted Union. They put it up to show they had moved on, that there as closure. The monument represents closure and peace.

  • James White

    Some may have been but many were not.