If Abe Lincoln Were Alive He'd Defend General Robert E. Lee
“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell’s 1984
Before they descended on General Robert E. Lee’s statue in the middle of a Charlottesville park, and started spitting on, kicking and demolishing the lonely man on his horse as he pondered the future of the defeated south, the angry mob of Antifa [Anti-Fascist Movement]and Black Lives Matter [BLMs] engaged in a mock trial. The BLM’s, known for marching through cities chanting “Pigs in a blanket,” and the Antifa found him guilty of slavery. What they obviously didn’t know was that Lee was a hero of reconciliation, did everything possible to achieve it, and was respected by Abraham Lincoln.
Using Jay Windsock's brilliant book, April 1865; the Month that Saved America, these authors could have served as Lee’s public defender. First, let us remind leftist youngsters what they have not learned at their politically correct universities and colleges. In Winik’s words, most civil wars “end quite badly.” Think of Russia, China, Spain and Mexico but also Cambodia, the Baltics and the Caucasus nations, countries where we conducted comparative research. In all these countries you can find mass graves of the soldiers of losing sides, and photos of men shot and hanged from the gallows. The tradition of removing or destroying venerable statues has usually depended on the changing of a regime.
Mikhail Gorbachev pictures the fate of White Cossack s [losers in Russia’s Civil War] in his memoirs “…the Reds, too, were ruthless…As a Red general of Russia’s Civil War confessed to the idealistic younger, communist reformer, Gorbachev, “We massacred the entire village during the Civil War…we slaughtered them…”
Winik posits that in America we could have had a Russian style ending of the War. Confederate President Jefferson Davis favoured a continuous war of attrition and anarchy, carried out by hundreds of roving bands of southern ex-soldiers until the weary North gave in. The United States, writes Winik, could have ''come to resemble a Swiss cheese, with Union cities here, pockets of Confederate resistance lurking there, ambiguous areas of no man's land in between.'' This is what Russia looked like in 1918-21.
On April 9, 1865, a day that would remain in glory, two great soldiers met at Appomattox court house in Virginia, General Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and Commander-in-chief of the northern forces and future president, General Ulysses S. Grant. Lee could have opted for attrition and anarchy, but unlike Jefferson Davis, he rejected continuous guerrilla warfare. Grant could have behaved less generously. Luckily our president was Abraham Lincoln, whose powerful voice during his Gettysburg address and Second Inaugural, pledged a new dawn for a united America. Thus in Winik's words, ''Men were not hanged, they were saluted . . . they were not humiliated or beaten, they were embraced. Some of this was by design; much of it occurred spontaneously. They [the defeated] were even allowed to keep their horses.”
Donald Trump is not Abraham Lincoln. A patriotic builder, yet at times erratic, he is learning on the job the art of politics and even our history. He is also beset with continual harassment by the alt left while trying to fulfil his awesome presidential duties. A thoughtful, yet fallible and emotional human being, he is making elementary mistakes.
He is simply not politically correct like most of the members of the Washington swamp. He refuses to be scripted with the standard declamations of moral righteousness. The daws pecking at him are thus having a field day distorting what he said and what he meant. Yet with his Orthodox Jewish daughter Ivanka, the former Democrat is surely neither a bigot nor an anti-Semite. And with his history of opening his golf courses to blacks before almost anybody, he is no white supremacist. “Bigot,” “racist” and “alt right” are names and tales the donkeys automatically pin to any elephant.
Like Trump these writers, both of whom had Jewish relatives killed in the Holocaust, view left wing BLMs and Antifas, as dangerous to our democracy as the neo-Nazis and ultra nationalists in America. Did we forget how the BLMs used to disrupt Bernie Sanders’ rallies while helping sly Hillary? Or how they carried signs at large rallies with murderous calls for killing cops-- pigs in a blanket?
Trump was also right that some demonstrators in Charlottesville were “good people” who came to show respect for Robert E. Lee as a matter not just of southern pride but because of the statue’s cultural and historical value. Many others would defend the statue from destruction if they knew the crucial role Lee played in national reconciliation.
Trump also asked a crucial question: Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves. Should we take down the monuments our Founding Fathers too?” Should we judge them in their time by the standards that prevail in ours?
Let us rather, in the spirit of our national martyr, Abraham Lincoln, l display once again that we are an exceptional nation. Providence calls upon us in Lincoln’s tradition, to forgive the sins of the Confederacy and move on.
Again let us recall that without brave and wise general Robert E. Lee, generous Grant and compassionate Lincoln we would have ended up with a Russian kind of denouement. Instead, we were able to forge the beginning of our long and arduous reconciliation. The final liberation of our black and brown brothers and sisters. Сame with another national martyr, Dr Martin Luther King, and with the support of another white southerner Texas-born, President Lyndon Banes Johnson and his civil rights under his Great Society.
We are in need now of another reconciliation and President Trump must finally demonstrate that he can lead the nation in that direction. He must try to do it as Lincoln did, “with malice towards none, with charity for all.”
Firstly published: LinkedIn