The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

In Defense of R.E. Lee

Posted on | July 11, 2021 | Comments Off on In Defense of R.E. Lee

Some have asked my opinion on the recent iconoclastic travesty of the savage vandal horde, but I have refrained from commenting directly on such matters for fear I might speak too sincerely. You may take yesterday’s Civil War history thread — including my recommendation of  Douglas Southall Freeman’s four-volume R.E. Lee, A Biography and his three-volume Lee’s Lieutenants: A Study in Command — as sufficient comment. However, there is more to be said on the subject, and I find it from a remarkable source. During the 1990s, Christopher Caldwell wrote something that pissed me off so much I marked him down as a despicable cur. I’ve since forgotten what that was about, but his name had lodged in my memory so that I was pleasantly surprised when (hat-tip to Gail Heriot at Instapundit), I saw Caldwell’s remarkable article in The Claremont Review about the recent assaults on Lee’s memory, an article I highly recommend, despite some unfortunate errors about the War (e.g., the Confederacy indeed manufactured artillery, at the Tredegar works in Richmond, at the Noble iron works in Rome, Georgia, and elsewhere). Caldwell is certainly correct here:

Whereas earlier Americans understood slavery primarily as a problem of liberty, today’s Americans understand it primarily as a problem of race. It seemed for several generations that the end of slavery had removed the only obstacle to honoring both sides of the Civil War. But in the newest generation, the persistence of American racial prejudice can be a reason to honor neither.

Read the whole thing. This whole mess makes me sick. If Virginians today would dishonor Lee, in truth they dishonor only themselves.



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