I originally wrote this piece prior to the devastating hurricane and ensuing flooding that our friends and countrymen/women down in Texas/Louisiana now have to contend with.
I guess we all’ve found about where to donate but I’d like to recommend some others if it suits ya:
Actor and Philly native Kevin Hart opened his heart, wallet and a website for donations at https://cdn.crowdrise.com/o/en/team/kevinhart
Next, there’s always the good ol’ Red Cross at www.redcross.org/Disaster-Relief/Hurricane
Here’s the intended post:
As I dragged my sorry ass out of bed one morning last week, clicked on the TV, slumped in my slightly stinky, cockeyed yet noble comfy chair and reacquainted myself of the surroundings here at The Ponderosa I became aware of a news story whereby ESPN allowed itself to reassign a perfectly good and talented man from broadcasting the upcoming football game between the University of Virginia and William & Mary University. All because his name is Robert Lee (see link here…http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/ncaafb/espn-moves-announcer-named-robert-lee-off-virginia-game/ar-AAqz0tG?OCID=ansmsnnews11).
Thru a series of rhetorical questions, historical quotes and sensible thinking I shall now attempt to make some sense of this…
First off, here’s a pretty good profile of Confederate General Robert E. Lee (from 1856, 5 years prior to the Civil War) in a letter to his wife and his attitude towards slavery…
“… In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.”
From Wikipedia I found this (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E._Lee): “Lee inherited a number of slaves with Arlington House. He proved not to be a very good slave master. He tried kindness and refused to use torture. But the slaves knew their freedom had been granted them in the will and refused to work. Lee wanted to grant them their freedom but needed them to help him see out the work at Arlington House. Personally, Lee hated slavery calling it an “evil” to both blacks and whites. But he tought (sic) it had to be ended gradually or the economy of the South would wikt:collapse. (sic) But Lee did agree with other Southerners thinking that blacks were inferior. He believed God would work out the problem in his own time. Lee, like Thomas Jefferson had mixed feelings about slavery. ”
Considering the momentous issues of that time period, four years of war resulting in over half a million casualties, half the nation thrust into poverty, the resulting Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights movement plus our current struggle over which monuments come down and which remain, I got a question…
How does Robert Lee, ESPN broadcaster, get dragged into this? Are there people who can’t tell the strategically, tactically brilliant yet clearly morally conflicted Confederate general from a modern day guy who calls football games? Besides that, there’s gotta be a million guys walking around with the name “Bob Lee”. Are there really people who would demand that others with a similar name be subject to a lifetime of social semi-banishment? Now how about other Confederate leaders names? Apparently they’re less offensive insomuch as they tend to be less monumented and therefore less well known. That’d mean we also have to shun anyone currently named Jeff Davis, Tom Jackson, Al Johnston, Jim Longstreet, Dan Hill, Harry Heth, Joe Johnston, Bill Pender, Bill Rhodes, Dick Ewell, Ike Trimble, Jim Kemper and Dick Garnett among many others.
What I’m getting at is simple enough. How far do we want to take this? As far as I know, any community in the USA can erect or take down monuments at it’s own discretion. While we ALL have the right to freely assemble and exercise our right to free speech at such an action, that community is also entitled to be free from violent activities under both state and federal law.
One more thing. The National Civil War battlefield parks (Gettysburg, Antietam, Spotsylvania, etc…oh, and wonderful places to visit btw) host voluminous amounts of statues and monuments, so that we can learn about American history and teach our kids about how this country got to where it is and hopefully inspire them to meet the ideals that we always aspire to. Do we tear them down too? Luckily, the history has already been made as Lincoln said:
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. ”
In short, we can do what we want but the the land won’t forget. Like Edmund Burke once said “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it”
Sorry to be preachy. It’s normally not the way I like to write but sometimes things need to be put back in the prism of history.
What I’ve written here is no reflection on anybody on this blog but me. It’s just the way I think sometimes and I take full responsibility for it.