The other day another blogger (you can guess who) posted: “The reason I don’t celebrate Lee-Jackson Day is because I don’t celebrate the cause for which Lee and Jackson are remembered. They are remembered for their service in an army that functioned as the military extension of a government that was committed to perpetuating slavery and white supremacy. I find it simply impossible to distinguish between the individuals in question, including their many virtues, and the cause for which they attached themselves to.”
Personally, I find that to be a tremendously over-simplistic view. It’s not called “Confederacy Day,” it’s called “Lee-Jackson Day” and both of these gentlemen are remembered for many reasons. Isn’t Thomas Jackson’s pre-war contributions to the Presbyterian Church, as well as Robert E. Lee’s post-war tenure as president of Washington College worthy of our praise beyond their quote: “service in an army that functioned as the military extension of a government that was committed to perpetuating slavery and white supremacy”?
Of course it is. Why? Because the Civil War does not entirely define them. Ironically, this blogger and his peers often argue that the history of the South should not be limited to the four years of the Civil War. So…in their own hypocritical point of view, the South should not be judged through such a narrow focus, but those who participated in a war on its behalf should. (Do these people ever go back and re-read what they’ve posted in the past? They counter their own arguments.)
Now it is perfectly acceptable that this blogger chooses not to acknowledge Lee-Jackson Day, but according to his logic, we shouldn’t celebrate the legacies of any historically significant, slave-owning “white supremacists” including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and most of their peers, because they also perpetuated slavery and white supremacy. Once again, that over-simplistic viewpoint requires a narrow-focus indeed. How convenient.
So what is my point? My point is that most people today are completely OK with these guys being among many things, racists, because they are able to distinguish the reasons why we should admire them, from the ones we should condemn. Our nation’s entire culture, from the portraits on our currency and most magnificent monuments - to our national holidays and children’s history lessons - celebrate imperfect, racially biased white men just like Jackson and Lee. If we all found it quote: “simply impossible to distinguish between the individuals in question, including their many virtues, and the cause for which they attached themselves to” we would more than likely be left without any historical heroes. How sad.
My response to this blogger is simply this...I believe that the majority of every-day Americans are intelligent and mature enough to determine that our times are very different from our forefathers and to always take that into consideration when acknowledging the past. It doesn’t make someone a racist if they admire these men and it doesn’t mean that they support every quote: “cause for which they attached themselves to.”
As usual this blogger is talking out of both sides of his mouth, but I guess we are not as smart as he is. That must be why I choose to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day.