Remembering Robert E. Lee

Gomez Adams

Grammar Fascist
Staff member
Dec 1, 2020
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Suwanee, Georgia
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As the statue of Robert E. Lee was removed in Richmond, Virginia a couple of days ago I saw, once again, how divided this country still is. It was essentially a shit show of finger pointing, blaming, accusations and insults on both sides.

On the one side you had the southerners claiming that it was their heritage and their history and their hero. On the other you had the northerners yelling traitor, usurper, insurrectionist and more.

It showed me that not much at all has changed since April 9, 1865 when Robert E. Lee walked into the Appomattox Courthouse and surrendered his sword to Ulysses S. Grant.

Not much at all.

Which brings me back to General Lee himself. I've thought about him more the last couple of days than I have in my entire life. The times we live in now as far as division goes are not much different than they were then. We still have enough hate on both sides to fuel another war, black folks are still mistreated at the hands of police on a wholesale level, anti-immigration and pro-immigration people are at each others throats, right to life people are killing doctors that perform abortions; it goes on and on.

"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Those words were spoken by Henry Lee, Robert E. Lee's father, about George Washington at Washington's funeral. Henry Lee gave the eulogy for the father of our country, as we've come to call him. It would be just over 7 years later that Robert was born.

Many people look back at the Civil War, which started 160 years ago this past April 12th and often overlook the fact that when the Civil War broke out, the Constitution as we know it today had only been around for 70 years. We were only up to the 12th amendment. It was, quite literally, a completely different world and a completely different country.

Robert E. Lee to me is this country. He represents everything about it. He was, in my humble opinion, a very torn and conflicted individual.

On the one hand he had the oath he had given to the Army and the United States. On the other, a way of life, the sovereignty of the State of Virginia and the way things always had been.

Most people today will look at that as they do most things and shout out how they would keep their oath and "do the right thing" and all sorts of statements like that. But the truth is that more times than not, we don't. We choose our way. We choose what we're more comfortable with or what we love more.

It's why people lie to protect a friend, why you speed on the highway because it's "not that big a deal", why when nobody else is around you almost always find yourself doing what you shouldn't rather than what you should.

Lee's conflicts of interest then is the same as our conflicts of interest now. Most of us know the right things to do, but we simply choose not to do them.
  • We know that police reform across the board is needed, yet nothing has happened to that end.
  • We know we're killing the planet with carbon emissions yet we pile into our gas guzzling SUV's and head to the beach.
  • We know we live in a nation of income disparity so massive it actually violates the 13th amendment, yet nothing is done about it.
  • We know we live in a nation of misinformation, lies, propaganda and more that is leading to the propagation of a global pandemic that has already killed more people in a year-and-a-half than 4 years of bloody civil war, yet we do nothing about it.
  • We know we live in a nation more dangerous than any other thanks to essentially no gun laws at all and yet nothing is done about it.
All of that is just the tip of the iceberg of our problems and yet we do nothing about any of them.

And we're somehow OK with that while we look down our noses at a man that made his own personal decision 160 years ago.

From April of 1861 to today, General Robert E. Lee has been many things to many people. He's either a hero or a villain. The great leader or the Benedict Arnold. Left or Right. Black or White. Right or Wrong.

Just like this country is today.

Slavery is an ugly thing. Always has been, always will be. The fact that it was legal at the time and was propagated by both sides escapes most people today. They choose not to remember that because it doesn't suit their narrative.

They also tend to forget that the emancipation proclamation wasn't written until January 1st, 1863, nearly two years after the civil war began.

The civil war was about different things to different people. To Robert E. Lee, it was about the Federal Government overstepping it's limits. It was about a State having sovereignty over itself, which is part of what the 10th amendment, passed just before Lee's birth, was all about.

It was a difficult time.

The nation was divided.

There was much finger pointing and blaming and passing the buck on both sides.

And one man, for some reason, has been appointed the scape goat of it all when the truth of the matter is, it is not that one man. He did nothing other than what he thought was best at the time.

The truth is, it's all of us. It's our fault. Collectively.

To this day, not much has changed.