Thursday, July 09, 2020


More proof that conservatives are devolving to cult status -- Helen Andrews at  The American Conservative:
A Lesson From Robert E. Lee
We can't find a reason to honor the Civil War general because we've forgotten why we needed him in the first place.
What do you mean "we," white woman? Andrews laments all the statues, Confederate as well as Non-, that have been torn down or attacked; we've heard that before. What makes her approach different from others (well, outside League of the South types anyway) is that she isn't drawing the line at Columbus or Founding Fathers, she's drawing it at Robert E. Lee: 
For me, a line was crossed this week when the faculty at Washington & Lee University voted to demand the school drop the second half of its name to erase its affiliation with Robert E. Lee. The moderate conservative’s justification for why it’s good to tear down Confederate statues but not those of the Founding Fathers is that Confederates are honored for defending slavery whereas the Founding Fathers are honored for other things despite their slave-owning. Whatever the general validity of that maneuver, it is obviously wrong here. Lee was president of the university; he gave it its distinctive character. His service as its leader was one of the great public-spirited acts of his late career, the most enduring of his many postwar gestures of patriotism and reconciliation.
If you're thinking Andrews will stick with the narrow claim that, sure, Lee committed treason in the defense of slavery but look at his Other Good Works, you read on and learn that it is Lee's personal honor as evidenced by his fight in that cause that makes him worthy to loom over the black and white citizens of America: He fought for the Confederacy because "his loyalty was to Virginia, and he had to follow his state."

Of course, as Adam Serwer has shown, Lee also believed with his fellow Confederates in the "subjugation" of blacks, which may have made separating from his Northern friends a little easier to bear, and he didn't mind whipping his own slaves for running away or splitting up their families for profit. But what has that to do with honor and virtue? That's just good business and household management, and it's not as if they were white.

In contrast, Andrews tells us, there were villains on other side, like this damned Yankee:
Virtue shines best by contrast, so consider Lee next to someone who was his opposite in every way: Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. Even his defenders must admit that Sumner was a man of deep principle but absolutely no honor. He would break any promise, betray any confidence, reverse any position to serve his liberal causes. 
(The liberal cause he is best known for, by the way, is the end of slavery.)
He once won a Senate vote by persuading a Republican nay, who had paired with a Democratic yea who was deathly ill, to break his vow to abstain. He used the Constitution as a cudgel against his Southern opponents while feeling himself at perfect liberty to ignore any provision he disagreed with, on the grounds that nothing “against the Divine Law,” as he liberally interpreted it, could be binding.
So Sumner, deranged by this liberal notion of emancipation, behaved without honor, suh -- and look where it got us: A lot of black people running around free, and some of them and their scalawag white friends are tearing down statues! If only virtue had been rewarded in 1865! This is why patriots resist.

To my surprise, toward the end Andrews tries to get cute, and says if you don't want a statue of Lee you can pick some other honorable slavemaster:
So choose one. That is my proposal. The monument-destroying left should pick a statue they genuinely hate and say: leave it up.
I know not what course others may take, but my offer is this: Nothing.

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