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Drawing the Line on the Confederate Monuments

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Current arguments over Confederate monuments often involve the question of drawing a line. The majority of the first nine American presidents owned slaves, so should we destroy memorials to all of them?

The obvious answer is no—unless such monuments specifically honored these men for their support of an evil institution, and none of them do. The Jefferson memorial, for instance, focuses on his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and his support for religious liberty, but there’s no endorsement of slavery or racism.

Equestrian statues of General Robert E. Lee tell a very different story, and in nearly all of them he’s wearing the uniform of a hostile Army that killed more American soldiers than any foreign power. Lee could be honored appropriately for his post-war role as peacemaker and college president, but it’s wrong to hail him for waging needless war in defense of slavery and threatening the very existence of his own nation.

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  1. Nani Tavares  •  Aug 21, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Wait a minute, Washington led an army that killed his countrymen (remember there was no USA, he was an Englishman). He fought for a way of life rarely if ever practiced by the cultures of his day. Lee led his army in defense of a way of life practiced by most nations of His day. We can't tear down the former's statues but it's ok to do so for a man who would have been called a hero if his side won? How about if we don't go down those judgements waters? Let's do a grown up "turn the channel and just don't go there? I am so tired of having to be sensitive to the feelings of a group of our society when they so clearly don't care about anyone else's.

    • Ty  •  Aug 22, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      Washingtons cause was a revolutionary war against Britain, SLAVERY was NOT the the prime motivation of that conflict. In the civil war, it was. Anyone who raises a statue to that cause, or the man who lead the rebellion to PRESERVE that cause, does not deserve the same honor. This is extremely obvious, and I am SICK of sniveling confederate apologists trying to prop up their TRASH cause and their TRAITOROUS heroes.

      Same CRAP with the resurrection of the confederate flags being put up on state houses DURING the civil rights movement to STICK it to blacks. To let them know, even if we lose, we STILL have this symbol that shows what we REALLY think if you sub humans.

      • Nani Tavares  •  Aug 23, 2017 at 12:10 am

        At the point of Washington leading an army, slavery was not the issue. In fact, he could have, himself a slave owner, given up his own slaves. The issue was breaking away from your country. In that, if it was a sin and it was treason, then BOTH are guilty as there was no America or Americans to fight for or kill. The reason why equating the two generals makes people awfully nervous is because Washington:

        1- Was a slave owner, thus participated in the evil that is slavery. Made no effort to do away with this evil.
        2- Led an army against his homeland and if Britain had won, would have been branded a traitor

        These are all sins that can be contributed to all confederate generals.

        Only if Washington is guilty, then, do we need to look at the Founding documents? My answer is no, on truly sound and logical reasons.

        I do not apologize for Lee, anymore than I do for Washington for each man fought for what AT THE TIME were, they believed and a good portion of this land believed was right. Apologist are those who suspect the slippery slope that tearing down statues will take this country. So they simply dismiss the morals and the beliefs of a culture centuries apart from our own, and find themselves in the difficult position of trying to justify one and condemn the other.

  2. Robert S. Jones  •  Aug 24, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Michael—I could not disagree with you more about Robert E. Lee. I am a proud owner of Right Turns and The Ten Big Lies About America. For years, you were a hero of mine—your defense of traditional marriage was inspired and cogent, and I always appreciated your insistence on referring to the conflict as the War Between the States, which it was. Your current refusal to fairly judge the South, and Robert E. Lee breaks my heart. Have you no respect for Southern honor, courage and valor? They fought against ultimately impossible odds in defense of their homes as they understood it then. I am a criminal defense attorney, and I have a BA and Master's Degree in History. I have given all your history CDs as gifts to my children. I completely agree with you that God's hand was upon America. It must still be. It must. It took time and over 600,000 dead to forge this country. The South had to lose the war. It had to. But for God's sake, please apply both your mind AND heart to this issue. The South is the bedrock of patriotism and traditional values in America. The South is the backbone of the U.S. military. There are more US flags displayed in Alabama than you'll find in any Northern state. Southern hospitality is a real thing. When you demean and diminish Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson and the Army Of Northern Virginia, you attack the South. The South lost. It had to, and it was a good thing that the Union prevailed. I doubt, however, that the author of the 2nd Inaugural Address in 1865 would share your harsh views. Robert E. Lee was one of the finest Generals this country has ever produced and when he surrendered his army at Appomattox he displayed the finest qualities of leadership. General Grant thought so. I think Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's account is absolutely compelling. The South had to lose this war. Agreed. But the South is on the right side in our second, cold civil war. When Robert E. Lee is honored in Virginia it is a good thing. We honor both sides in that horrific conflict. They are "us", after all. I adore Abraham Lincoln and I have great respect for Robert E. Lee. My heart is filled with love and sadness for all the boys, blue and gray, who fought so valiantly and with such courage. Think of The Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. It was the sense of Duty that informed the actions of these men. It took the War Between the States to really make us one nation.

    • Nani Tavares  •  Aug 25, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Robert Jones…beautifully written. As I keep saying, people have a tendency to judge the past by today's standard. I find it ironic that they sit on their sanctimonious morals, not understanding that we are a constantly evolving species and one day, our children's children will look at what we accepted as right and good and shake their heads. I do not have any Southern history in my lineage, but I never could understand why we (Americans) are constantly told we must respect everyone else' history and culture except the South. Slavery was a sin of HUMANITY, not just the South. You have a right to be proud of your culture; as much a right as all those who conquered, raped and pillaged, yet managed to do away with the fiefdom system, women and children as property, and self governing.

  3. Robert S. Jones  •  Aug 27, 2017 at 3:10 am

    Thank you Nani Tavares for your kind and thoughtful response! I would like to talk to Michael Medved about his position. I feel such a sense of loss when it comes to him. The conservative movement needs him and it seems that he's gone. Our cultural crusader with astonishing powers of analysis levels his sharpest attacks at conservatives, not liberal progressives. I know he doesn't see it. I do. I dearly miss what he was for so many years. Example—years ago he would NEVER have fallen for the Corker Bill's subversion of the Treaty Clause in the Constitution over the Iran deal. Never. Not the author of Right Turns. The Corker Bill was an unnecessary and disgusting abrogation of the Constitution and the Senate's responsibility to ratify Treaties, which the Iran deal emphatically was. I dearly miss the man I listened to for so many years. I do. His unflinching and cold hearted attack on the South, which is the effect of his position on the statue of Robert E. Lee, the Army of Northern Virginia etc…cannot be reconciled with his attitudes 10 years ago. As I argued previously, the South is the most patriotic section of the country, it is the backbone of the U.S. military, it is the staunchest defender of traditional values and it has the healthiest church and faith community in the nation, and all this while honoring, yes honoring, the men who fought so valiently and suffered so much because they adhered to their sense of duty. I'm glad they lost and that slavery was destroyed. But my heart is filled with love for all those boys, North and South, who followed their sense of duty to it's conclusion.

    • Nani Tavares  •  Aug 29, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      Robert Jones, I get where you're coming from. I too loved listening to Medved (at this point, my itouch ipod, is not cooperating; I think I need an application to play his show) but from his posts, I find myself disagreeing with Medved. I always saw him as logical and pragmatic. On this issue, he's shooting from emotion because Nazis and White Supremacist are such hateful enemies of the Jews. He may not be seeing clearly. I've never been to the South but I've been told by relatives two different things: from Texas, I was told that they never saw so much racism but in South Carolina, the friendly people there almost makes Aloha practicing people (where we're from) appear aloof. I heard Dana on The Five claim that her friend moved to Hawaii loving the mixed races only to learn they are as racist as anyone else to Whites.

      So you see, it depends on who you talk to and the people they have run across. There are racist every where and mean and ugly people among all cultures. Michael is doing what he claims he would not do: lump a group and judge. I agree, I wish he would talk to you and be reminded of the elegance and beauty that is the South.

  4. Jim Bird  •  Aug 28, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    I second Nani's reply. Not only spot-on but your eloquence of presentation is much needed in the bombastic halls of Congress. More commentary, please!

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