At the center of the chaos in Charlottesville is a statue memorializing the Confederacy’s top general, Robert E. Lee, which was presented to the city in 1924 at a Confederate reunion. Here is some background on Lee and why I believe that statue should come down.
Robert E. Lee served a rebellion whose main foundation was the preservation of slavery, as the leaders of that insurgency proclaimed. His decision to side with Virginia, because that was his home state, is nothing more than a disgraceful excuse.
Virginians such as General Winfield Scott, George Henry Thomas (the “Rock of Chickamauga”), and Naval Commander Samuel Phillips Lee (Robert Lee’s cousin) stayed loyal to the Union.
Confederate soldiers under Lee’s command captured free African Americans in Pennsylvania in 1863 and dragooned them into slavery. Lee did not stop this practice. After the war ended, he proposed expelling former slaves from Virginia, which is a form of “ethnic cleansing.”
Lee fought for slavery and white supremacy, two causes that ought to be vilified and not honored by letting stand a statue of a man who chose to fight against his country in our nation’s bloodiest war.
His statue in Charlottesville should be removed from the public square.
Martin H. Levinson