The level of historical antipathy in this country is only surpassed by the level of constitutional antipathy. And both have been on public display the last few weeks.
Leftists have tried to whitewash history for years, perhaps trying to cover up the Democratic Party’s complicity in racism, racial terrorism and slavery.
Now, they are using the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia — for which they were equally responsible for the violence — as an excuse to tear down monuments they do not understand.
Yes, the leftists were equally responsible for the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. An intellectually honest person knows admitting that fact does not equate to a validation of the hate groups that were there.
Indeed, those from the left who showed up with clubs, guns, and other weapons are as much of a hate group as those they wanted to silence with force. Before the Unite the Right rally, the leftists sent out a war call, basically inviting sympathizers to a riot.
The First Amendment was drafted precisely to protect political speech that might be distasteful or downright disgusting.
And the leftists, instead of letting the hate groups protest peacefully, made the idiotic choice to confront them, which gives the hate groups exactly what they wanted, a national forum.
Nor was this a one-shot affair. These leftists have been going from rally to rally trying to silence others. Antifa has been physically confronting neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others expressing views contrary to their own. That is not proper behavior in a free society that relies on mutual persuasion to function.
Ironically, these same thugs are now denouncing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who would have found the views and tactics on both sides disgusting.
And spineless politicians across the country are taking the bait and tearing down statues, often under cover of darkness. A free and democratic society does not act in the middle of the night. The nation is essentially under mob rule.
Lee, though, is a poor target. The man had more honor and character than any leftist calling for dismantling his monuments.
In the last two decades in this space I have often warned against the folly of judging historical personas using modern mores. Lee might be an exception as his beliefs and behavior largely stand the test of time, with a few exceptions.
However, if we wish to compare him to those of his own day, Lee stands tall. He was opposed to secession, despised slavery, and, when the War for Southern Independence ended, he rejected plans for an insurgency and urged reconciliation.
In 1861, as the nation was crumbling, Lee wrote to his son: “The South, in my opinion, has been aggrieved by the acts of the North, as you say. I feel the aggression, and am willing to take every proper step for redress. … But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation.”
In none of Lee’s writings will you find any hint that he took up arms against the United States because he wanted to defend slavery. Indeed, he wanted the Confederate government to offer freedom to slaves in exchange for joining the army. He thought blacks would be as good as whites in soldiering. As president of Washington College, he would expel white students who were violent toward blacks.
Before the Civil War, Lee spent 32 years in the U.S. Army. He fought in Mexico and put down the uprising at Harper’s Ferry. President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to colonel and later offered him a command with the rank of major general. He was a brilliant military tactician who is still studied by military historians. He served as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, from 1852 to 1855.
After the war, his popularity began to grow, even in the North, hence the large number of monuments dedicated to the man. Five times, the U.S. Postal Service put his likeness on stamps.
Yes, he was opposed to war monuments, for both, North and South, as he wisely thought the nation would more quickly heal if it refrained from reliving the war. That does not mean he would be opposed to monuments a century later, after the wounds were healed.
Benjamin Harvey Hill was a Whig turned Republican turned Democrat who was a Confederate senator — though he opposed secession — and later, after the Civil War, became a U.S. senator known for his oratorical skills. In a speech in 1874, four years after Lee’s death, Hill appropriately said: “He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbor without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition; Frederick, without his tyranny; Napoleon, without his selfishness, and Washington, without his reward.”
Meanwhile, as leftists attack monuments to this great man, they ignore the five statues of Vladimir Lenin in the United States.
Where the leftists stand when it comes to liberty is clear. They worship Lenin, an evil man whose actions launched a century of bloodshed, and his communist philosophy while violently protesting capitalism, free speech, and men of honor in the name of political correctness.
I’d almost call that a hate group.