Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart was attacked on Saturday by a mob of protesters in front of the Robert E. Lee monument in Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the latest liberal assault on Southern history and heritage.
“The Charlottesville City Council is trying to erase history. They are desecrating the monument to one of Virginia’s greatest heroes,” Stewart said, surrounded by hostile, chanting protesters. “I ask all Virginians to stand with me to protest the Council’s decision and reverse this politically correct madness.”
“This is our heritage. It is our history … Robert E. Lee was a great American and Virginian. After the Civil War, General Lee spent the rest of his life working to reconcile and heal the country.”
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The Lee monument in Charlottesville is the latest Confederate monument targeted by left-wing activists for removal. In November 2016, a Confederate monument near a University of Louisville campus, which had been erected in 1895, was removed.
In September, the Alexandria, Virginia, city council voted unanimously to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway and request permission from the Virginia General Assembly to move a statue of a Confederate soldier that has long stood in the city’s historic Old Town.
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Also in the fall of 2016, a Baltimore city commission recommended that the city’s Lee and Jackson Monument be removed.
At the end of 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments in the city, monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard, and the Battle of Liberty Place.
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In July 2015, the Birmingham, Alabama, parks and recreation board voted unanimously to look into removing a Confederate monument from the city’s Linn Park. The stated reason for this effort to erase the nation’s history is that Confederate monuments are offensive and inherently celebrate racism.
“Those who call for their removal believe that to celebrate the Confederacy is to ignore the role of white supremacy in the Confederacy, the use of Confederate symbols by segregationists in the civil rights era, and perhaps most important the attempt since the end of the Civil War to deny the importance and heritage of slavery and racism in American society,” said Gaines M. Foster, professor of history at Louisiana State University and author of “Ghosts of the Confederacy.”
That position, however, assumes that slavery was the sole raison d’être of the Confederacy, a point that has been widely disputed by historians. Other motivations for secession put forward by historians have included “states’ rights” — a desire for liberty in the face of an overbearing, anti-constitutional federal government — and a desire to break free from the North’s increasingly industrial economic system.
“The radical Left is not satisfied with mere political correctness,” Stewart, the GOP gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, told LifeZette Monday. “Unsurprisingly, they’ve decided to ratchet up the violence and militance. The Left’s tyrannical political correctness is aimed not only at destroying Virginia’s proud heritage, but further seeks to oppress all those who think differently than they do until there are no more among us who think differently. Diversity of thought is not allowed in the Left’s utopia, even if it requires literally erasing history.”
Others point to the fact that secession and slavery were driven and protected, respectively, by the Democratic Party as a possible motivation for liberals’ desire to see Confederate imagery removed.
“It’s pretty simple to see why Democrats hate history that pertains to the Civil War. It reminds all Americans of the time the Democratic Party ripped the country apart,” said Eddie Zipperer, a political science professor at Georgia Military College.
“Republicans, who were on the correct side of the Civil War, believe it is an important event in our history. Democrats, on the other hand, would love to erase it from the American memory,” Zipperer said.
Regardless of the real intent behind the drive to remove Confederate imagery from the public sphere, using individual subjective offense as criteria for removing monuments or renaming highways sets a dangerous precedent.
Yale announced recently that it was changing the name of Calhoun College. “The decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly, but John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values,” Yale President Peter Salovey said in a statement.
It’s not difficult to see where this could end. There have already been calls to remove statues of President Andrew Jackson in various places, and he is slated to be erased from the $20 bill and replaced by Harriet Tubman.
Students at two colleges, the University of Missouri and the College of William and Mary, have petitioned for the removal of statues of Thomas Jefferson. In 2015, students at the University of Texas actually petitioned to remove a statue of George Washington.
If the possibility that a monument to, or symbol of, an event or figure in American history might offend non-white people is the sole criteria for justifying its removal, almost nothing of historical significance is safe.
“This is our heritage. It is our history,” Stewart said on Saturday. “Robert E. Lee was a great American and Virginian. After the Civil War, General Lee spent the rest of his life working to reconcile and heal the country. He deserves our respect.”
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“We’re fortunate we’re intervening while they’re just destroying books and statues before they move to fully do away with our ability to hold opinions contrary to theirs,” Stewart said Monday. “Make no mistake about it. The Left’s behavior is pure, unadulterated totalitarianism. That is why we must draw the line in the sand right here and right now. “
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