I have had a few interesting discussions about the confederacy and specifically general Lee in the past few days. They have mostly centered on my perceived ignorance of the facts which are, I was told , contrary to what I had been taught in my inadequate history classes. My ability to comprehend the subject matter and critical thinking skills were also questioned. when I persisted to not see the “good” in general Lee and the confederate cause defending against the “overstepping” of the federal government against States rights.
In my opinion the argument is NOT about if general Lee was a good man in many areas of his life or if the confederacy did not have legitimate claims that their rights to self govern were being trampled upon. They were.
The argument is that the underlying governing structure of the south, based on racial superiority and exclusion is inherently corrupt. It does not matter if Lee held personal beliefs that perhaps were contrary to this view. Undoubtedly he was a much “better” man in this respect that many union officers. And yet…
The decision for general Lee to choose to honor his oath to the state of Virginia over his oath sworn as an officer of the Union army was his to make. History has shown that choice to have been the wrong one.
After the war in a bid at reconciliation confederate troops and many leaders were granted pardons and repatriated into society. This forgiveness should not be confused as saying no crimes were committed. On the contrary it should be seen as an explicit acknowledgment that the crime of treason was in fact committed by every person who took up arms against their own country.
A law in 1958 granted Veterans benefits to surviving confederate family members. Amongst many people this is seen as acknowledging confederate soldiers as full veterans whose sacrifices are equal with any other American service member. I agree that the inclusion of confederate soldiers who were pardoned is interesting considering that when they were fighting against union soldiers they most certainly were the enemy and absolutely not brothers in arms.
I find the argument that this law erases confederate treason much less likely. than another attempt at coming together as a unified nation. Which I absolutely think is necessary for our continued success as United States. In that same spirit I think we should take down all battle memorials of confederacy. Not because the men were inherently evil, but because elements of the cause they were fighting for most certainly was, and is doing more now to divide us than unite us.
In any event this here is a very good case for remembering general Lee for the positive aspects of his life.