12 September 2014

The Lee Chapel Soap Opera Continues

I've expressed both my disappointment in Washington & Lee President Ruscio's capitulation to political correctness with the Lee Chapel flag removal, as well as my appreciation for his defense of Robert E. Lee's legacy, before. But I have to wonder why the "defense" of the capitulation continues if - as those in agreement with that decision claim - the opposition is little more than a vocal minority.

If the opposition and criticism is little more than "yesterday's Lost Causers", then why did W & L feel it necessary to trot out one of General Lee's descendants to defend the removal of the battle flags from the Chapel? That seems rather odd, particularly if the battle is already won and the controversy has died down and a "majority support the decision." The latest move just stirs the pot further and brings it all back in the headlines. Why do that?

This whole debate is quite enlightening. Would Lee have wanted the flags there? Not during his tenure, no. We know Lee was averse to any military display or pageantry during his time at Washington College. Though Lee was proud of his service for the Confederacy, he wanted to move on. But is Lee's position a legitimate defense for removing the flags? No. The remembrance and the Chapel go beyond what Lee's wishes would have been. Do those using what Lee's desires would be really want to use that as a standard for what takes place at Lee Chapel and on campus? I doubt it. Lee wanted the Gospel presented at Lee Chapel. Does the PC crowd advocate that, since "that is what Lee would have wanted?" And I'm quite sure General Lee would not approve of the current dress code at W & L.

You see how selective these folks are in siding with "what Lee would have wanted"? And now, all of a sudden, the PC crowd gives extra weight to someone with a "heritage connection?" Uh-huh. Flip-flop. 

My suspicion is that the move to showcase one of Lee's grandsons applauding the removal of the flags is meant to deflect what may be going on behind the scenes from alumni who are expressing, perhaps strongly, opposition to the removal of the flags. I believe there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Of course, all the PC folks in academia who spend the majority of their time talking to themselves are likely unaware of that. I suppose they're also too busy trying to carry out what Robert E. Lee would have wanted.

Maybe they should start wearing bracelets: WWRELD?


Jubilo said...

Dear Old Dom.,
WWRELD ? I see your sense of humor has not diminished !!!

Eddie said...

One of the things Lee stated that he wanted was that justice be dine to the South. I do not know how any sense of justice can be claimed if symbols of the South cannot be displayed in public. --

“I am very much obliged for the interest you evince in the character of the people of the South, and their defense of the rights which they believed were guaranteed by the Constitution. The reputation of individuals is of minor importance to the opinion which posterity may form of the motives which governed the South in their late struggle for the maintenance of the principles of the Constitution. I hope, therefore, a true history will be written, and justice done them.”

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Jub - well, Lee's intent seems to be their primary motivation now, doesn't it? I can't help but laugh at these people play Gumby as they contort into every position possible in order to cover their pc nonsense. Does anyone outside their bubble really take them seriously?

ropelight said...

(My comment exceeds the limit so I'll try posting it in 2 parts.)

Flags are important and controversial, they always have been, from the outset of the war to its conclusion and beyond, stretching now 150 years out to out time and likely well into the future flags are and will remain important symbols.

We can speculate, but we can't really know what Robert E Lee would do about Confederate Battle Flags in Lee Chapel, but if we can take the great man at his word, and we should, we can be certain that during his lifetime he opposed secession, and he wanted to see an end to slavery.

Since both those momentous decisions were beyond his control, Lee wanted the federal government to withhold its armed forces from the Confederate homeland till a satisfactory agreement could be concluded.

Before the war and above all, Lee wanted the states to remain united. He had faithfully served the US Army as an exceptional officer and combat engineer for 32 years. Distraught at the prospect of secession, Lee wrote to his son, William Fitzhugh "I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than dissolution of the Union."

But, alas, the decision to secede wasn't Lee's to make, and as he was torn between his allegiance to the Union and his loyalty to Virginia, both sides eagerly sought his services.

While Lee ignored offers of command positions from the Confederate States, Francis Blair, on President Abraham Lincoln's instructions, offered Lee a Major General's rank and command of the defenses of Washington DC. Lee declined and explained, "I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four millions of slaves in the South I would sacrifice then all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?"

On the eve of Virginia's secession provoked by Lincoln's call for armed troops to invade the South, the commanding general of the US Army, Lieutenant General Winfield Scott (himself too old and infirm to lead an army in the field) offered command of the Federal Army to Colonel Robert E Lee. Scott justified his decision to select Lee above officers of higher rank as "the very finest soldier I've ever seen".

However, at the same time (April 17th 1861) the Virginia convention decided to leave the Union pending a ratification vote by the people. Although Lee disapproved of both secession and slavery he could not bring himself to take up arms against Virginia. Consequently, he asked General Scott if he could continue to serve the US Army and yet keep out of the impending war.

Unfortunately, Scott replied "I have no place in my army for equivocal men."

With Scott's fateful words the dye was cast, Colonel Robert E Lee reluctantly resigned his commission in the US Army after 32 years of exemplary service. Enormously sad and filled with foreboding, Lee traveled South to his home in Virginia and into the pages of history to fulfill an unsought destiny.

ropelight said...

(Part 2)

Too soon, the very next day after Virginians ratified the Articles of Secession on May 23rd 1861 President Lincoln impetuously ordered the 11th New York Infantry (the Fire Zouaves) to cross the Potomac River and attack Alexandria, Virginia. For over a month, from the balcony of the White House itself, Lincoln was daily incensed to see a large rebel banner dominating the skyline over the city's Marshall House Inn.

Colonel Elmer E Ellsworth, Lincoln's law student, presidential campaign aide, and close friend, led the 11th NY across the river uncontested and into the city. As his Zouaves deployed to take the telegraph office and the railroad station, Ellsworth entered the Marshall House Inn, rushed to the roof, and pulled down the offending rebel banner.

In his moment of triumph, as he descended the stairs with the flag wrapped over his shoulders, the innkeeper, James W Jackson, an ardent secessionist, shot and killed Ellsworth with a blast from his shotgun and was himself then bayoneted to death by Corporal Francis Brownell, for which he received the Metal of Honor.

Throughout the war the taking of n Confederate flag on the field of battle was rewarded with the Metal of Honor.

The Washington and Lee students, members of the committee and their supporters, may or may not know what they do, its of little consequence, they are but temporary sojourners to the house Lee built. But others in authority there, those entrusted with the legacy Lee left, do know or ought to know what should be done, and in shrinking from a relatively minor task, they have failed to do their duty and they deserve no honors.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks RL - good observations and perspective.

RightsideVA said...

It seems to me that the "PC Police" have felt that they have the upper hand in the last 6 years or so with this administration (DC) and with that the media to back them. Unfortunately academia has been striving even harder with the now found freedom. This past week we even had a grade school teacher having the students compare GW Bush 43 to Hitler and getting away without any real media uproar. I work with 20-somethings that have little memory of 9/11 attack and many only know what the present education system has taught them.... Keep the faith, real people see and know what is going on....

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

RSV - thanks for the comment. I'm sure the grade school teacher was just passing on what he/she learned in college.