Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Friday, September 10, 2021

R. E. Lee Comes Down From His Pedestal

Finally, the statue of the general who betrayed his country and symbolizes "The Lost Cause" comes down.

But not everyone is happy. And that's because they refuse to read history and instead believe in myths. 

Is anyone surprised then that these same folks continue to support Donald J. Trump, a man who hasn't a decent molecule in his body and who has managed to fool his followers into believing he's some sort of messiah come to make America great, when reality shows he's done the opposite?

 What they believe:

ROBERT E LEE power-sawed off its base from Richmond, Virginia.

Such a significant part of our history… And I think we all know Lee did not like slavery but knew it would be hard to overcome in that day…..and that God would put things to right in the future when it was more possible.

I SO wish these people who demand the destruction of our history at least knew it ­čśŽ

“Lee in his well-known analysis of slavery from an 1856 letter (see below) called it a moral and political evil. While both Robert and his wife Mary Lee were disgusted with slavery, they also defended it against abolitionist demands for immediate emancipation for all enslaved.[69]”

Lee was a slave owner—his own views on slavery were explicated in an 1856 letter that is often misquoted to give the impression that Lee was some kind of abolitionist. In the letter, he describes slavery as “a moral & political evil,” but goes on to explain that: 

 "I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy. "

The argument here is that slavery is bad for white people, good for black people, and most important, better than abolitionism; emancipation must wait for divine intervention. That black people might not want to be slaves does not enter into the equation; their opinion on the subject of their own bondage is not even an afterthought to Lee. 

Lee’s cruelty as a slave master was not confined to physical punishment. In Reading the Man, the historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s portrait of Lee through his writings, Pryor writes that “Lee ruptured the Washington and Custis tradition of respecting slave families” by hiring them off to other plantations, and that “by 1860 he had broken up every family but one on the estate, some of whom had been together since Mount Vernon days.” 

The separation of slave families was one of the most unfathomably devastating aspects of slavery, and Pryor wrote that Lee’s slaves regarded him as “the worst man I ever see.” [skip] Lee’s heavy hand on the Arlington, Virginia, plantation, Pryor writes, nearly led to a slave revolt, in part because the enslaved had been expected to be freed upon their previous master’s death, and Lee had engaged in a dubious legal interpretation of his will in order to keep them as his property, one that lasted until a Virginia court forced him to free them. 

 When two of his slaves escaped and were recaptured, Lee either beat them himself or ordered the overseer to “lay it on well.” Wesley Norris, one of the slaves who was whipped, recalled that “not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”


Rational Nation USA said...

Donald J. Trump is, as his neice vividly shows in her book Too Much and Never Enough severly damaged goods. He, like all of us, is merely a product of his experiences, parental influences, societal conditioning, fears,and insecurities. IOW DJT is a produst of his enviroment, condqitioning, and experienceqs. As we all are.

Trump is no doubt a miserable unhappy soul who, because of his egregious narcissism, is incapable of changing. He has deluded himself into believing he is infallible. He is not but he will never question his own beliefs because in truth he is but a frightened child crying out for the help he would likely never accept.

That aside Shaw, I believe Ddonald J. Trump has goodness buried DEEP inside his heart. I also believe he will die a lonely person. You may be ble to fool millions, but in the end, you will not be able to fool yourself.

At this point why not choose to be compassionate and let it go. For if WE do not we then are no better than those we criticize.

Isn't it time to stop the missles and bombs? Really, It Only Takes One To Tango.

Dave Miller said...

Shaw... is this the group that supports Larry Elder for Governor in CA? The same Larry Elder who recently spoke in support of reparations for slavery... to the owners who lost their property?

Here's a snippet of the views of that crowd, now the mainstream of the Republican party and fully supportive of Trump... "PROPERTY can’t be taken away, and YES, slaves WERE property, but …nobody should be property and to equate people with property may have been beyond the thinking of our founding fathers….hopefully.

May have been? On what planet? Maybe a few of them, but by no means a majority. And certainly not Thomas Jefferson.

Such hagiography towards our beloved mostly slave owning founding fathers. You can hope all you want, but Geeez... the facts, and history tell a different story.

Bluebullamerica said...

As someone who's lived in the South most of my long life, it gives me GREAT pleasure to see these monuments to hate being brought down. I remember 'white towns' where you just didn't go after dark. My grandfather made that mistake trying to get to a veterinarian for the family's sick milk cow. They hanged him in the town square and the white christian townsfolk gathered to watch as just another redskin was taught his place. This was before my time but my grandmother (mele usde) never fully recovered.
It's way past time for these trinkets of bigotry and racism to be tossed in the wastebasket of history.

Mike said...

You don't see those stories about Lee in the history books. That's the good thing about the internet. Unlimited storage.

Anonymous said...

A different generation (knowing history) let this statue stand. The statue was never a focal point for bigoted racists, nor was there a demand to take it down during the racial unrest of the 1960's. So why now in the 21st century has it become essential for it to be taken away? Should we take away the statues of our founding fathers because they were slave owners?

Shaw Kenawe said...

Anonymous, do you know of any country that erects statues of people who betrayed their country and lost a war against it?

"For 131 years it loomed over Richmond, Virginia, once the capital of America’s slave-owning south, sending a chilling message about the resilience of white supremacy to generations that passed beneath."


"...Germany has zero statues of Hitler or Rommel. They learned the lesson and we have to learn the lesson: we cannot coddle white supremacy in this country.”

Lee was the most prominent southern general in the 1861-65 civil war that ended in victory for the Union led by President Abraham Lincoln. But decades after the conflict hundreds of Confederate statues were erected in a sweeping reassertion of white power, often in the cities with the biggest African American populations.


"For more than a century the statue was a constant reminder to Richmond’s Black residents of generational slavery. Four years ago Mitch Landrieu, then the mayor of New Orleans, where another Lee statue was removed in 2017, wondered what it would be like for African American parents to explain to their daughter why Lee stood atop their city. “Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E Lee is there to encourage her?” he asked. “Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story?”


"Arianna Coghill, an African American woman who has lived in Richmond for six years, recorded the scene on her phone. “It’s always been very difficult to see symbols glorifying people who brought my ancestors literally in chains,” she said. “And it’s difficult to see people still defend them. Like, who’s paying you?!”


"Russell Tee, 38, who is white, gripping a Black Lives Matter flag and wearing a T-shirt that said, “Racism is not patriotism”, warned: “This was a physical monument but the mental monument of white supremacy remains. We have to remove it in our schools by teaching the real history.”

A Black man who gave his name only as Abito, 23, got a better view by sitting on top of his car alongside a young woman and her dog. Abito said: “Dealing with the racist shit I’ve had to all my life, it’s a big reversal seeing this go away."


The Honorable, Esteemed And Distinguished Judge Dervish Sanders (A High IQ Bourgeois Elitist) said...

Apparently Lee would have won the war in Afghanistan. That's per Dotard, an admirer.

Shaw Kenawe said...


What a terrible story about your grandfather! I hope your personal story will help "Anonymous" to understand why Lee's and other Confederacy statues have come down. These statues to "The Lost Cause" were erected long after the Civil War; and as historians note, were placed in cities and towns with large African-American populations to intimidate p.o.c. in those places.

None of my relatives were a part of THIS VIGILANTE SLAUGHTER, but the men who were murdered were my parents' countrymen. And when my parents arrived in this country years later in the new century, they understood they should stay away from that area of America.

You've been on my mind. I hope you're okay. Sending my best thoughts to you.


Shaw Kenawe said...

Derv From your link:

Donald Jobless Trump:

"Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the Radical Left, and we can’t let that happen! If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don’t have the genius of a Robert E. Lee!"

It is embarrassingly evident that Trump has never opened a history book, because he certainly knows nothing about the history of the country he once led.

Robert E. Lee lost the Civil War even in his home state of Virginia!

I often wonder if Trump can outdo himself in his colossal stupidity, and then he does!

Shaw Kenawe said...


Your last comment that was in "comment moderation" was full of snark and empty of facts, that's why it's not here. Do better.

Shaw Kenawe said...


I'm not sure what your comment is about.

I continue to document what's happening vis-a-vis the ex-president because it interests me. I started this blog in 2005 as a sort of "diary" of what's happening in the world and in this country, and also to record my opinions on political and social issues.

It's good to believe that somewhere in some unexplored region of Trump's heart there is goodness. If I ever catch a glimpse of it, I'll certainly make note of it here.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Dana Milbank:

"No general in U.S. history was defeated as unequivocally and as totally as Lee. For all his supposed strategic skill, his army was entirely destroyed. One-quarter of those who served under him were killed, and an additional half were wounded or captured. He was a traitor to the United States who killed more U.S. soldiers than any other enemy in the nation’s history, for the supremely evil cause of slavery. To boot, he was a cruel enslaver and a promoter of white supremacy until his death.

It is ridiculous that, in the year 2021, these simple truths are in dispute. But here we are."

Shaw Kenawe said...

Trump called RE Lee "The greatest strategist of them all."

Ty Seidule, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and military historian who is the former head of the U.S. Military Academy history department. Now at Hamilton College, and the author of “Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning With the Myth of the Lost Cause,” had this to say about Trump's stupid assessment of Lee:

Greatest strategist of all? “Well, he’s a loser,” Seidule responded. “He wasn’t just defeated; his army was destroyed. The idea that he’s the greatest strategist of all is just ludicrous.

Lee chose the Confederacy because of his great love of Virginia [according to Trump]?

Seidule said Lee was one of eight U.S. Army colonels from Virginia at the time of secession in 1861. The other seven remained loyal to the United States — as did Virginian Winfield Scott, the U.S. Army’s commander, and 80 percent of all colonels from the South. “Lee’s the outlier,” Seidule said. That may be because at that level of Army officers “no one benefited from slavery more than he did.” Lee ran an enslaved-labor farm — a plantation — from 1857 to 1860. He wasn’t even a resident of Virginia for most of his prewar life; Alexandria, his hometown, was part of the District of Columbia until 1847."

Lee testified to Congress in 1866 that Black residents “cannot vote intelligently” and that “it would be better for Virginia if she could get rid of them.” In 1868, Lee joined in issuing the White Sulphur Springs manifesto, which argued that Black people had “neither the intelligence nor the qualifications … for political power.” Argued Seidule: “His idea of reconciliation is only if the White South is given complete political control over Black people.”

Shaw Kenawe said...

Trump stated: "Afghanistan would have been a total victory under the “genius” Lee."

Seidule: "If the U.S. military had suffered the same casualty rate in Afghanistan that Lee’s army did, 200,000 American troops would have been killed, not the actual 2,400. Some 400,000 would have been injured or captured instead of 20,000 injured.

“No one has lost more completely in American history than Robert E. Lee,” Seidule said. “There is no general that has been more crushed, more defeated, at the strategic, tactical, operational level. … How much genius does it take to lose absolutely and completely?”

Neither Lee nor his statue deserves a pedestal."

Rational Nation USA said...

In short Shaw, it is, in my apparently limited ability to fully grasp the point of the progrressive agenda, simply time to turn attention COMPLETELY AWAY from tRump and devote efforts just at actual productive achievement. It is time to move beyond the past and focus only on the present moment. The past is gone and the future is not here yet. We cannot act on either. Referencing tRump in anyway at this point Shaw serves only to pour fuel on a festering fire. It serves no useful purpose now.

Maybe one day both "sides" will realize that how they have been functioning IS the problem. As Thich N1hat Hanh says, Be still and know.

I simply believe it is time to give it a pause. And, eat more rice. One grain at a time.

Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

By all means lets purge the country of all reminders of slavery and racism. That would leave a multi century void in our history leaving future generations curious to ask why and what happened in those years. Indeed the Constitution itself would have to be removed as a document of racist slave owners. What good will come from erasing history?

Shaw Kenawe said...


There are such things as history books, museums, libraries, documentaries, learning American history in elementary and high school, courses in colleges and universities etc., that are about the Civil War. A statue hardly explains anything about that subject. A statue only gives honor to the person it depicts. You should understand that.

The Germans know this to be true. There are no statues honoring Nazis in Germany, but Germans do learn about them in school.

My city, to my knowledge, doesn't have statues of Roman emperors, but I know about them from reading.

No one is erasing history. Pulling down statues of men who fought against their own country and lost is not erasing history. I think you actually know this.

Shaw Kenawe said...

RN, we have yet to understand who planned, financed, and carried out the Jan. 6 insurrection.

For the first time in my life, I witnessed Americans attacking the U.S. Capitol with the intention (which they chanted and which gallows were set up at the Capitol) of doing harm to the VPOTUS, and the Speaker of the House, and to disrupt the certification of the electoral college votes.

I'm not ready to move on from that historic attack and insurrection against the United States. It frightened me to my core. I want to know EXACTLY who plotted, financed, encouraged, and helped this attack on our government. We know for a fact that Trump instigated it, but he wasn't alone in his treachery.

I'm not moving on until we know the whole story, and Trump's role in it.

skudrunner said...

Ms Shaw, I forgot I did say something derogatory about the swell guy so understand your not posting it.

RN, Good idea because nothing good will come from laboring on the past except those that can't move forward.

Rational Nation USA said...

Be happy then.

Shaw Kenawe said...


Here's a good answer from James Hohmann to your question about pulling down statues of Founding Fathers who owned slaves:

"What gave me the greatest pause about taking down Confederate statues was a fear of the slippery slope. If Lee statues came down, activists might come after memorials to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other brilliant Founding Fathers because, as Southern planters, they also owned slaves. Is it only a matter of time before society tries to take down statues of, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt because he ordered the internment of U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II?

No. This is a logical fallacy. Ultimately, intent is the critical test to gauge whether statues should go: Why was the monument erected? What was the person originally being honored for? No reasonable person can argue that memorials to Washington, Jefferson and Roosevelt were constructed to celebrate the worst things they did.

On the other hand, voluminous evidence demonstrates that memorials to Confederate leaders were built because of, not despite, their sedition and treachery. The larger-than-life monument to Lee in Richmond was widely understood at the time it was erected as a symbol of white supremacy. John Mitchell, an African American member of Richmond’s city council and editor of a Black newspaper, condemned the statue for celebrating Lee’s “legacy of treason and blood.”

Another window into original intent comes from a time capsule placed inside the 40-foot stone plinth underneath the bronze statue of Lee on his horse. Media accounts say the box included an image of Abraham Lincoln lying in his coffin; a speaker at the installation ceremony blamed the Civil War on the dead president and claimed he freed the slaves only so the North could win the war. The capsule also included Confederate bullets, buttons and a battle flag."