Dear Editor: I am not surprised, but am nonetheless disappointed, to read of your editorial staff’s support for the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee (“The Insanity of Racism,” Aug. 19).
Your description of the Civil War having been “launched… over the issue of slavery” is, at best, incomplete; questions about the nature of the relationship between the national government and the states date back to 1776 and the Second Continental Congress, and the issue of slavery was just one aspect of this overarching question, along with nullification, enumerated powers, and a host of other matters, which had simmered from the time of the Declaration of Independence until finally erupting in 1861 with secession and war. Indeed, the emancipation of slaves was not a formal objective of the Union until 1863, and was restricted to “states… in rebellion”; prior to this, the sole aim of the Union war effort was to suppress the secessionist rebellion.
As to the statue, the odium which is heaped, in the modern era, upon General Lee and his former comrades in arms willfully, and indeed maliciously, ignores the individual efforts of several, though certainly not all, of these men in the areas of race relations and the relationship between the South and the rest of the Union: prior to the Civil War, General Thomas Jackson spent years as a dedicated and highly regarded teacher of religion to the slaves of Lexington, Virginia; during the War, General Lee endorsed a plan to enlist slaves in exchange for their freedom (a proposal which also enjoyed Gen. Jackson’s support), and at the end of the War, Lee refused inducements to violate his surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; after the War, General James Longstreet was commissioned to lead a militia of freedmen, which he successfully commanded in conflict with armed gangs of white supremacists.
Beyond the issue of these men and their respective personalities, which is admittedly complex and, perhaps unavoidably, wrapped up in great emotion, especially in light of their less tolerant colleagues (such as Nathan Bedford Forrest), the underlying and ultimately frightening issue is the woeful drift towards a cultural and historical iconoclasm which is emblematic of and further begets an appalling lack of thorough education. Consider: would white supremacists be so ardently rallying around, or for that matter, their opponents so ardently rallying against, memorials to men like Jackson, Lee, and Longstreet were either group properly aware of these men’s apparent belief that blacks were indeed capable of practical and useful citizenship?
The enforced revision of the cultural record and subsequent deprivation of a people of the rich fullness of their history, to be replaced with a turgid mixture of outrageous half-truths and gross falsehoods, enjoyed no greater practitioner than the Bolsheviks who trampled across the people and history of Eastern Europe for much of the Twentieth Century, and who themselves had no greater foe than Patrick Scanlan and the editorial page of The Tablet. To advocate for similar grotesque misappropriations of history, and indeed honesty, is unbecoming of Mr. Scanlan’s successors.
JAMES J. EDGELL
Dear Editor: While quite rightly declaiming the racists in Charlottesville, your news write-up omitted examining the culpability of the white racists’ violent opponents, the Democratic party-aligned “Antifa” rioters.
This dangerous, threatening entity has been violently terrorizing speaking events for well over a year.
From hurling bottles of urine at police, lobbing cans filled with cement, pepper spraying speech attendees, to blocking traffic to no discernible goal but terror, Antifa has been the catalyst of violence in our civic discourse.
Indeed, and quite unprovoked, this “Antifa” even rioted in response to the peaceful transition of power at January’s presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.
There has been little to no condemnation of the violent fascistic Antifa from the mainstream corporate media. It will take courage to delve further than the giant news media do, but the wicked Antifa must be loudly denounced, just as we decry the evil of racism.
Dear Editor: Slavery is an abomination to the legacy of mankind! No race or culture is superior to another in basic human rights! I migrated from New York in 1974 to the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia and right away I was greeted by the natives “Damn Yankee! Go Home!”
Yet, I married a Southern belle who had no racist overtones and she among many other Southern folks educated me that the war between the states was never about slavery because they knew that institution was on the way out.
That war had everything to do with state rights and General Robert Edward Lee was nothing less than a noble and honorable man whom his adversaries President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant held in great esteem. It is completely true that our founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners as President Donald John Trump said in his latest press conference at Trump Tower, “Should we not take their statues down as well?”
The lame excuse of our Founding Fathers was our economy could not thrive without free labor and bull whip and even made educating a slave a capital crime! I am sure there were geniuses among the slaves that could formulate solutions with the eventual machinery that came to fruition in the early 20th Century if only given the respect and dignity all human beings deserve.
President Trump was completely right saying both sides in the Charlottesville riot shared the blame for the barbaric violence. He was also right saying not all were white supremacists because so many came to the rally simply to protest the statues removal as I would have done. It is not worth fighting a much more severe civil war when this nation numbers more than 330 million over bronze gods! I pray not!
Let even a statue of Satan stand lest statues of Martin Luther King be harmed and provoke anarchy!
The Son of God wisely said to let the wheat grow alongside with the thistle until the harvest time and we know only God is the reaper.
RICHARD C. BURRIESCI
Dear Editor: The condemnation of racism is right and just. Under no circumstances must racism be the least bit tolerated.
The Civil War was not simply a battle over slavery. If one studies the causes of the Civil War, it was a battle between an industrialized North against an agrarian South. The abolition of slavery was only one factor in this battle. Ending slavery would be a serious blow to the Southern economy.
My problem with your editorial is that it does not go far enough. It does not condemn the violent bigotry of the Left represented by Antifas and like groups.
Throughout history, Leftists have caused the Chuch great harm, killing thousands of clergy and laity. As Catholics, we must condemn all radical groups who display hatred, bigotry, and violence.
CARMELO LO FARO