. . . we will remove these reproductions from their current location and will enter into an agreement with the American Civil War Museum, in Richmond, to receive on loan one or more of the original flags, now restored, for display on a rotating basis in the Lee Chapel Museum . . .I find the response disappointing, but not surprising; although I must scratch my head over a handful of students forcing a university to remove the flags from what is arguably a historical context and proper setting. Prediction: The issue will not end here. I think I already know what the next target will likely be. Like the compromise over the Confederate flag above the South Carolina state house, this will not be enough in the minds of many.
But along those lines, don't those who find the flags offensive find the *Recumbent Lee even more so, given Lee's obvious connection to the "offending" flags? After all, the Recumbent Lee shows Lee in a Confederate uniform. I see a glaring inconsistency here, which is why I don't think this is over.
Update: While I disagree with the decision to remove the flags, I commend W & L President Ruscio for this part of his announcement:
In five years as president of Washington College (and in three as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy), Robert E. Lee displayed his estimable skill as an innovative and inspiring educator. I personally take pride in his significant accomplishments here and will not apologize for the crucial role he played in shaping this institution. Affection for and criticism of historical figures living in complicated times are not mutually exclusive positions, however, as the scholar Joseph Ellis concluded after his study of Thomas Jefferson. Ellis found it difficult to "steer an honorable course between evisceration and idolatry" when it came to Jefferson. As I have listened to and read comments about Lee these past few months, I have felt the same way. Lee was an imperfect individual living in imperfect times. Lee deserves, and his record can withstand, an honest appraisal by those who understand the complexities of history. His considerable contributions to this institution are part of that record.
Given today's political climate, along with the fact that some of the more vocal critics of Lee and others from our Nation's past DO NOT, "understand the complexities of history", that statement took some courage.
Update #2: Some Boston bloggers are deflecting some of the criticisms about this issue by trumpeting the fact that W & L will be displaying the original flags in the museum below Lee Chapel. So? That could have been done without removing the other flags. Nice try. Note how these folks believe THEY are the ones to determine what is the "proper" way to exhibit these flags. Rather elitist, wouldn't you say?
*I don't believe the next target will be the Recumbent Lee, but for fear of giving someone some ideas, I'd rather not mention it - just in case I'm wrong.