Letter to the editor: An attack on Lee is an attack on Christianity

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, September 2, 2017

To the editor:

In the recent debate and near hysteria over Confederate monuments and symbols, an overlooked victim is the reputation of a great Christian and a great American — General Robert E. Lee.  Just look at any history book that is more than ten years old or any outdated World Book Encyclopedia and you will see a different view of General Lee; a man of impeccable Christian character who came out of the War for Southern Independence having earned the respect and admiration of both sides.

At the time of Lee’s death in 1870, Viscount Garnet Wolseley, a distinguished British soldier, said “I have met many of the great men of my time, but Lee alone impressed me with the feeling that I was in the presence of a man who was cast in a grander mold and made of different and finer metal than all other men…”.

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So what has happened to make General Lee into a villain for so many people across the country? An educational system that has stopped teaching about American heroes and their contributions to this country. Also, a left-wing media that has worsened the situation by only presenting one side to the story.

How many of the people crying for the General’s statues to come down could even identify him in a photograph? How many of those crying for the removal of all things Confederate are aware that General Grant, the hero of the Union, was a slave owner? General Lee did not believe in the institution of slavery and never willingly owned slaves; in the 1850’s, he inherited slaves from his father-in-law and was prevented, by the terms of his father-in-law’s will, from freeing them for five years. He spent those five years teaching the slaves to read and write, in violation of state law. After they were freed, many of the former slaves chose to remain at Lee’s home, Arlington, as servants.

In 1861, slaveholders made up about 10-15% of the Confederate population. 90% of Confederate soldiers never owned slaves. It is easy for us today, in the 21st Century, to judge those who went before us for the things that they did, when we may very well have done the same.

For those who believe that it is better to appease the enemy, the recent vandalism of the statue of Father Serra, the Catholic priest who brought Christianity to California, should show that they will not stop with the Confederates. Indeed, in several cities there are already attempts to remove crosses from churches.

Please remember that both Stalin and Hitler rewrote the histories of the countries they conquered by tearing down statues and renaming streets and cities. 

It is time for Christians to stand up in the culture war and politely say “Our history means something to us”. A great man, Robert E. Lee, once said,  “It is history that teaches us to hope”.  Let us hope that we can learn from his example.

Edward Campbell