August 16th, 2017

Revising history?

Several people have mentioned in the Durham statue thread—the post entitled “Meanwhile, the revision of history…”—that pulling down a statue is not obliterating or even revising history, it’s merely getting rid of a tribute.

Yes, it’s a tribute, and of course a statue is just a statue and not history itself. But it is symbolic of history, and the mob’s tearing it down represents (at least in part) a wish to revise and obliterate the story of what happened and make it into propaganda. Of course, history turns into propaganda all the time to a certain extent. We can never know the full truth of history, and history is written by the winners yada yada yada. In this case it’s an interesting although perhaps parenthetical fact that these particular tributes to Confederate soldiers or people such as Robert E. Lee are not created by winners but by losers of the Civil War, although the losers are also survivors.

Such tributes are actually part of the history as well. The point is that soldiers fought and died in the South for many reasons, and there was a great deal of suffering which is being acknowledged by the statues. That said—and as I wrote yesterday—I have absolutely no problem with these statues being pulled down in an orderly and lawful manner, by public vote or whatever other mechanism is in place to do it legally. In fact, I couldn’t care less if they’re up or down, and I’m not the least bit fond of them. It’s the history I’m much more concerned with.

With Robert E. Lee, for example, the history becomes more and more reduced to a single thought: he fought for slavery. Who Lee actually was as a person and leader, and who he became postwar, and why many people revere him for those reasons, is being or has been obliterated and simplified into Emmanuel Goldstein and the Two Minutes Hate. The same with Thomas Jefferson and several other Founders.

This troubles me. I prefer my history complex rather than simple, but perhaps that’s a lost cause.

42 Responses to “Revising history?”

  1. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    Actually, National Public Radio’s newscasts, are five minutes long, not two.

  2. Griffin Says:

    Where does it end? By our modern standards Abraham Lincoln was a raging white supremacist racist so lets purge him from history too. Every school out there named after Woodrow Wilson MUST have it’s name changed immediately. Right? Theodore Roosevelt had some very interesting thoughts on race so we MUST remove anything honoring him. FDR? Straight out racist in his treatment of Japanese Americans so lets remove anything honoring him. Harry Truman was pretty damn anti Semitic in many of his comments so even though he was instrumental in the creation of Israel all things about him should be removed.

    I could go on…

  3. Manju Says:

    Such tributes are actually part of the history as well. The point is that soldiers fought and died in the South for many reasons, and there was a great deal of suffering which is being acknowledged by the statues.

    There’s an element of truth here but this leaves out so much that its wildly ahistorical.

    Most confederate memorials were not built not right after the Civil War but either

    1. During the Civil Rights Era (mid 50’s – 60’s) or
    2. Right after Plessy v Ferguson and the beginning of Jim Crow (the majority)

    This should tell us something.

  4. Bill Says:

    When will activists dismantle the FDR memorial in Wash DC because of his internment in WW2 of American citizens who were of Japanese descent?

  5. Orig Bill Says:

    For what it’s worth, the Bill who just commented isn’t the Bill referred to in the post above. I may have to come up with a less generic tag (and I’m not for tearing down FDRs monument)

    I’m against Emmanuel Goldsteining people as well. But you can read fully fleshed out histories of German generals and politicians from WW2 and they generally don’t have statues.

    I would argue that the statues also communicate bad history. The “marble model” theory of Lee, that he was nearly infallible is a bit of southern mythology that the statues perpetuate as well.

    History will be fine.

  6. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Erasing history is always done with a singular purpose: to trick the public into supporting something that, were they aware of the true history, they would never under any circumstances support. It is always done by people with the cruelest intentions toward the largest number of other people, and is the closest thing to an objective evil that can exist in subjective social science.

  7. John Guilfoyle Says:

    If you are wondering where the next step in the re-writing of history attack leads…

    In Australia there’s a fairly significant leftist push to change the date of Australia Day from January 26th to some other day. Why? Some indigenous Australians and self-loathing whites call January 26th “invasion day” as that’s the noting of the arrival of the first fleet from Great Britain in 1788. All those white guys showed up and made ruin of whatever the stone age people were doing…sorry…that last bit was my editorial comment. 😉

    And just this week the Yarra (Melbourne suburb) City Council voted to not acknowledge that day as Australia Day & not to hold citizenship ceremonies on that day as municipalities all over the country traditionally do. Just search for Yarra City Council Australia Day in your favourite “engine”

    So…you get fake history when you give in to the re-writers. US History devoid of Jefferson, Lee, Bedford-Forrest & all those other “bad white guys” eventually leads to a US devoid of anything of intrinsic foundational value…and the destroyers have won. Yes Virginia it is a fight for our very survival as a Western Constitutional Republic. And Yes Virginia…sad as it may seem…there will be more blood shed not less. I pray for a different outcome…but I can’t see one.

  8. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Robert E Lee was one of the officers that stopped John Brown’s raid of Harper’s Ferry, as part of a long range strategy to give freedom to slaves by providing them with arms, training, and motivation. This, in his eyes, would prevent the NOrth from having to declare war or change the US Constitution.

    The South could not have their property declare independence the way the Americans declared independence from Britain, so the South increased their totalitarian methods in Slavery 2.0.

    If Lee owned slaves, so did the Israelis. Solomon and David all had slaves, but they were 1.0 slaves. 1.0 slaves were not a caste system, they could be freed, often times at the end of their contract or because they were paid enough to buy their freedom.

    Slavery 2.0 “fixed” the problems of this issue, probably with the advice of Lucifer. Slavery 3.0 then fixed the defects of Slavery 2.0

  9. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Lucifer, after having used generals like Lee under the control of slave lords, promoted his fight for slavery of humanity once. Now he wants to get rid of these symbols and traditions, in order to incite his previous white slaves, to revolt, a war that would finally finish his plan for the US.

  10. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Tatterdemalian Says:
    August 16th, 2017 at 3:09 pm
    Erasing history is always done with a singular purpose: to trick the public into supporting something that, were they aware of the true history, they would never under any circumstances support.

    Which is why factions in the Alt Right promote a certain kind of epigenetics that concludes that whites are superior on a genetic level and always will be.

  11. Julia Says:

    I don’t have to agree with every battle to see that they are all part of the overall Culture War. So while I don’t have a strong feeling for the statues, I can recognize enemy action when I see it.

    I really wish this wasn’t my opinion, but I’ve changed a lot of my thinking over the years.

    “They” will not stop. I was involved in the defense of the 2nd A as an activist for several years. They don’t stop, they never stop, they fight at the national level, the state level, the municipality level, they fight over background checks, over lead in ammunition, etc etc etc. Every year, every month, for decades. So I see the parallel here.

    Again – ‘you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you’.

  12. carl in atlanta Says:

    What are they going to do about Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University? And for that matter, about the name of the university itself?

    Another photo.

  13. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “US History devoid of Jefferson, Lee, Bedford-Forrest & all those other “bad white guys” eventually leads to a US devoid of anything of intrinsic foundational value…and the destroyers have won.” John Guilfoyle

    In a nutshell, that’s what it’s all about.

    ““They” will not stop. … They don’t stop, they never stop, they fight at the national level, the state level, the municipality level, they fight over background checks, over lead in ammunition, etc etc etc.” Julia

    They can still be stopped but the time is late. All we have to do is sacrifice what we’re fighting for but if we hold to our principles, we’ll lose anyway because only in fairy tales do the good guys win a fight where one side brings guns and the other side insists that it’s a fist fight.

    They’ve corrupted the system such that if we don’t start fighting fire with fire, demographics alone guarantee their victory.

    Though that demographic victory will be transitory, a Pyrrhic victory, for to achieve it they’ve had to throw open America’s gates to the Barbarians.

  14. Lizzy Says:

    These are the same people who talk about “abolishing whiteness,” right?

    Strikes me as similar to what ISIS is doing with its destruction of historical landmarks: they don’t want to just kill us, they want to kill our ancestors by wiping all record of them off the earth.

    Tell me that there’s not a similar intention here, that those who want to wipe Confederate and US founders’ monuments off the map are not doing this in service of their greater desire to abolish whiteness. Maybe the idiot activists doing it haven’t thought it through fully, but the people funding this, the people training them to be good little vandals surely have.

  15. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Griffin asks, “Where does it end?”

    America thrown into history’s dustbin…

    Chicago: “Pastor Wants Presidents’ Names [and statues] Removed From Washington, Jackson Parks Over Ties To Slavery”

  16. John Guilfoyle Says:

    GB – thanks for that link…

    “Liberation Christian Center” – that guy’s a pastor in the church of perpetual victimhood aka – let’s go back to being separate tribes known only by the colour of our skin & the magnitude of our grievances.

    Wolf in sheep’s clothing. False prophet. That man has likely lived off the public teat & labours of his “flock” for his entire life…What has he contributed besides his newfound 15 minutes of fame?

  17. neo-neocon Says:

    Orig Bill:

    “History will be fine”?

    History already isn’t the least bit fine. Most people, particularly young people, are profoundly ignorant of it. By design.

  18. Yankee Says:

    The real history is a lot more interesting than the superficial understanding that is too common today. This is what Joshua Chamberlain, Union General and later Governor of Maine, had to say of the surrender at Appomattox Court House:

    “Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?”

    General Grant and General Lee both well understood the need for reconciliation back then. We should not reduce the Civil War to only the most negative elements. Other countries have had civil wars in the past, but ours had a truly epic one.

  19. Ripple Says:

    We need to change the name of our nation’s capital post haste to Martin Luther King City, for social and racial justice.

  20. Mr. Frank Says:

    Applying present day standards about slavery to practices common over 100 years ago makes no sense. Next we will learn that Jesus was a sexist because he had no female apostles and a racist because he had no African blacks.

  21. John Guilfoyle Says:

    Hey Frank…check the New Testament. Jesus had more women in his retinue than any other spiritual leader of his day…and while we have no way of knowing it’s likely that there were some fairly darkly complected among the followers…maybe not the 12, but certainly soon thereafter. See Acts chapter 8…Ethiopian eunuch.

    Just sayin’

  22. groundhog Says:

    Maybe conservatives can argue the more speech is better argument. Don’t like a confederate statue in the park? Put up your own statue in the area.

  23. Les Says:

    “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

    The vision is fading.

  24. Barry Meislin Says:

    Precisely so.

    Most unfortunately, the “spirit of the age” seems to be repudiating Abraham Lincoln with a vengeance…and so we are, alas, reviving the malevolent age of Andrew Johnson.

    But it is more than merely repudiating Lincoln: the stage is being set for Civil War, round 2, whose intent is to destroy the country.

  25. ErisGuy Says:

    Statues are just statues, not history, and books are just books, so we won’t care if certain works are removed from libraries which represent hateful points of views.

  26. ErisGuy Says:

    Strange how we’re all supposed to hate Washington, Jefferson, and Lee for owning slaves, but not hate socialism for its slave states.

  27. DNW Says:

    ErisGuy Says:
    August 17th, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Strange how we’re all supposed to hate Washington, Jefferson, and Lee for owning slaves, but not hate socialism for its slave states.”

    Being a socialist slave for your own or others’ good is not a bad thing. Especially, recent reports indicate, because when socialist females who live off of the redistribution of “social wealth” and don’t have to worry about their future because others are bound to them by the state rather than by matrimony, they will then experience more satisfying climaxes as their nerve endings are stimulated.

    What could be more important than that? And how can anyone place your freedom not to participate, above that?

    Why do you hate women, Eris guy? [your very name smacks of a fascist obsession with strife rather than solidarity.]

    Also, it is important to remember that if everyone is a so-called slave, then no one really is a slave, because all are then equally free to do all they are told and anything else that is allowed; and are therefore really free.

    They are free to be perfectly equal. Insofar of course, we understand this equality as taking place in a system wherein the maxim “From each according to his abilities , to each according to his need” applies … and is properly administered by persons ideologically competent to make these judgments as to who needs, and from whom they are entitled to receive.

    After all, it is invidious distinctions that are the problem for the socially conscious satisfaction seeking progressive organism … not abstractions like your “freedom”.

  28. Ymar Sakar Says:

    They can still be stopped but the time is late. All we have to do is sacrifice what we’re fighting for but if we hold to our principles, we’ll lose anyway because only in fairy tales do the good guys win a fight where one side brings guns and the other side insists that it’s a fist fight.

    That is a pretty strange thing for someone that claims to follow Jesus the Christ as a disciple.

    Are all the stories of Jehovah saving the Israeli tribes from their enemies, merely a fairy tale?

    Pretty sure the Israelis had little chance against 30 feet tall giants from the Amorite tribes, without divine intervention. Humans are so arrogant they think they got everything, including technology from their own “evolved” brains.

  29. Ymar Sakar Says:

    John Guilfoyle Says:
    August 16th, 2017 at 8:30 pm
    Hey Frank…check the New Testament.
    …..
    Just sayin’

    That is a valid point, but people who went to watch the DaVinco Code now think Jesus was a playboy and only got women like Mary Magadalene and other whores, because he was in physical love with them.

    Point, counter point. The culture “war” is a real war, and is merely part of the 6000+ year divine war, which is merely a proxy war for the Angels of the Divine Counsel vs the rebels.

  30. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Tell me that there’s not a similar intention here, that those who want to wipe Confederate and US founders’ monuments off the map are not doing this in service of their greater desire to abolish whiteness.

    Welcome to the war, Lizzy.

    All the mortals that called me crazy here for talking about Civil War 2, where are they now, hahaha.

  31. Bill Says:

    Neo: “History will be fine”?

    History already isn’t the least bit fine. Most people, particularly young people, are profoundly ignorant of it. By design.

    You won’t find me arguing with you that our schools aren’t teaching history as well as they could. But the statues haven’t prevented the profound ignorance you speak of.

    No one really learns history from a statue. I’ll stand with you against anyone wanting to ban books. Or produce a history of the United States that doesn’t include the Civil War (is there such a thing? Why would the winners want to do that?)

    If you’re afraid of history books misrepresenting guys like Lee, not giving them a full-orbed treatment, I’m with you. But it’s ironic because I grew up with history books that presented our founding father’s as infallible, Christian, Godly men. “I cannot tell a lie” and all that. That’s how history was taught in the US back in the golden era of the 60s and 70s.

    It’s only through reading more modern histories (particularly one I read recently about George Washington) that a far more realistic, fully rounded character emerges.

    I’ve said before, I’ve been ambivalent in the past about CW statues. But – reiterating and repeating, I realize – is it very common to have statues raised for the losers in a war?

    Go to Amazon and look at the number of Civil War histories that are available. History is not being erased.

    What I’d like is decent conversation about the civil war, how it relates to today, how we should relate to it. There are still a large number of people in this country (I live in the south) who wish the Confederacy had won. This also used to seem more innocuous to me, because I wasn’t thinking it through and I was so impressed with the greatness of the south’s generals, the impetuosity of their battle plans, etc. The North had less passion, and just ground the south down because it was richer and had more men and materiel. Lee is a more compelling character than Grant (although I still find Sherman to be one of the most rounded and interesting characters of the whole bunch).

    But mooning over guys like Beddford-Forrest . . . the first grand wizard of the KKK. Really interesting, and horrible, person.

    Keep him in the history books. Marvel at his genius on the battlefield. Be thankful that he lost. But – for my part – he doesn’t need to be treated as a hero.

    I’ve gone long here. I understand slippery slope arguments, I truly do. But dismantling some statues does not mean that we’re “erasing” the Civil War from our history.

    These guys fought for slavery. We have a large number of people, our fellow citizens, who are descended from slaves. This is our country’s original sin. I don’t think we should just dismiss what they think about all this.

    I’m good with us repenting of it all and ceasing to honor the men, however brave and brilliant they were, who fought for it. Represent what they did, good and bad, in our histories. But if the population of a city wants to remove their statues, I’m good with it.

  32. DNW Says:

    It took me a bit to find it myself … but

    Speaking of revised history and the like …

    A communication sent to the wife of evil “slaver” Robert E. Lee, from one of her victims, Mrs Burke; Circa … 1856?

    “My Dear Madam — William has written you quite a long letter, yet I thought I could not let this opportunity pass without writing you a few lines to inform you something in regard to myself and family.

    I am at this time, and nearly at all times, in the enjoyment of most excellent health. My children are as fat as pigs: Granderson is nearly as broad as he is long; Cornelia is not tall for her age, but is quite stout; Alexander has begun to grow a little, though he is quite small for his age. They are all going to school, and seem to be learning quite fast. Little Martha does not go to day school, but is very fond of going to Sunday school; she can say some of her A, B, C’s; she has got entirely over all of her sickness, and is now fat and growing very fast.

    You could hardly believe how cool it is in Africa — it is equal to the coolest October nights and mornings in America; we can hardly keep warm in bed at night.

    In the morning I get up early to milk my cow, feed my chickens &c. The last time I churned I had to put warm water in the churn to make the butter come.

    I have thought and dreamt much about you lately. I hope you have got over your rheumatism, and the many troubles of which you spoke in your last letter.

    Please remember me particularly to all of your children, and to Mr. Lee. I often think of them all. Please give my love to Mary Ann, and tell her for me that she must try and behave herself, that it will be for her good in the end. When you write please let me know something about Catharine and Agnes. Remember me kindly to Aunt Elleanor; tell her that I love Africa, and would not exchange it for America. What has become of Julian? When you write, please tell me all you know about father; he never will write to me. I would write more, but have no room.

    Yours humbly,
    Rosebell Burke”

    So good that the masters of nuance and sensitivity and historical perspective take these things into account … as I am sure they do.

  33. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    Of course I don’t think statues teach history. They might spark a discussion of it, but the discussion is based on the historical meme du jour.

    And I’ve made it clear that I don’t care if they come down, as long as it’s by the rule of law.

  34. T Says:

    I guess that I just don’t understand the Left’s (i.e., the Democrats, the MSM, and the identity splinter groups) enthusiasm in removing memorials dedicated to Democrats.

    They gloss over the aphorism that while not all Democrats were pro-slavery, all pro-slavers were Democrats.

  35. DNW Says:

    “And I’ve made it clear that I don’t care if they come down, as long as it’s by the rule of law.”

    You are attempting to argue arbitrating [ruling] law with a guy who’s primarily interested in feelings … as he once made abundantly clear with his explicit rejection of a hypothetical restoration of the rule of law conditioned on the [non-fatal] expulsion of illegal aliens.

    In that hypothetical case, it was the rule of law that went out the window.

    Though I seem to be continually flogging a dead horse point, or attacking a “fellow” commenter personally; the political point is that it a falsely premised shared-moral-judgment-basis assumption which is, in the first place, at the root of these disagreements.

  36. DNW Says:

    ” I grew up with history books that presented our founding father’s as infallible, Christian, Godly men. “I cannot tell a lie” and all that. That’s how history was taught in the US back in the golden era of the 60s and 70s. ”

    LOL

    If that is what the author of that quote was taught, it is unlikely he learned in in the 1960s or 70s.

    1890’s maybe.

  37. DNW Says:

    American liberals at work …

    Oh sorry … just looked like them

  38. Bill Says:

    And I’ve made it clear that I don’t care if they come down, as long as it’s by the rule of law.”

    Agreed.

    A side note on the sorry state of historical knowledge in our country: Exhibit A is our own President.

  39. AesopFan Says:

    Bill Says:
    August 17th, 2017 at 1:07 pm
    …. I’ll stand with you against anyone wanting to ban books. Or produce a history of the United States that doesn’t include the Civil War (is there such a thing? Why would the winners want to do that?)
    * * *
    You are making the assumption that the Leftists pulling down statues supported the winners.
    Leftists are always in favor of slavery, so long as they are the masters; Leftists are always more in favor of contention than of unity.
    Saving the Union was not a happy thing for the Left.

  40. AesopFan Says:

    T Says:
    August 17th, 2017 at 1:37 pm
    I guess that I just don’t understand the Left’s (i.e., the Democrats, the MSM, and the identity splinter groups) enthusiasm in removing memorials dedicated to Democrats.

    They gloss over the aphorism that while not all Democrats were pro-slavery, all pro-slavers were Democrats.
    * *
    Review Neo’s links to the flipping of the association of slavery from Democrats to Republicans in a later post.

    The rather loose syllogism is (a) Democrats want to pull down CSA statues’ (b) Republicans insist any removals be done lawfully; (c) therefore, the statues are not of Democrats.

  41. Bill Says:

    “Saving the Union was not a happy thing for the Left.”

    Honest question, AesopFan – was there actually a “left” back in 1865?

    Saving the union wasn’t a happy thing for southern democrats. But the southern democrats of 1865 weren’t “left” as we currently understand the term. They were conservatives. I am not trying to start a flame war here – I realize that Democrats were on the wrong side (I’m not a democrat remember) and they started the KKK, etc, but they were very much trying to conserve a way of life. It was Republicans who were called the “radicals”.

    I find comparisons between modern Republicans and Democrats to the parties in 1865 to be fairly useless. So much has happened since then – two world wars, the nuclear age, the information age, Vietnam, 911, the Great Society and New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, etc. There’s no comparing the eras.

  42. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Honest question, AesopFan – was there actually a “left” back in 1865?

    My research specialization has some unique views on that.

    One of the earliest movement starters for the Left was Margaret Sanger. What people don’t tell you is that Sanger’s Eugenics was merely a clone copy and re development of the Southern slave lord’s 1830 and Southern Baptist 1850 theology that whites are superior to blacks (justifying slavery as virtuous and Christian).

    So the slave lords weren’t Leftist. They just had the same theology and doctrine that the Left later began to adopt. Different human named factions… same puppet master.

    but they were very much trying to conserve a way of life.

    Do you know why John Brown radicalized and started the Harper’s Ferry Raid?

    It is because of kansas. Missouri sent slave raiders to MIssouri to destroy all the free settlements that were abolitionst, but not well armed or well defended. This ethnic cleansing was designed to put Kansas into the pro slave state, after it was a territory.

    Preserving life? Heh. Sending armed raiders into a different state to “preserve” your way of life, very funny.

    Since Aesop is also involved here, I will make mention of another little facet. The reason why the Missourians gave the Extermination order against the Latter Day Saints, pushing them eventually into Utah during the months of winter, was because the Missourians didn’t like the anti slave vote of the Latter Day Saint block. So they exterminated them, and grabbed all the loot. Very Spanish Inquisition.

    Preserving their way of life, these slave lord states, they did… maybe not.

    Also the Secession Documents clearly a primary document, yet they only rarely mentioned legitimate issues that they were defending against. Most of the time the Southern states claimed that they seceded because they wanted US Territories to become slave states, so that they could dominate the US federal system to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act and prevent abolitionist states like New York from nullifying federal laws. Isn’t nullification a state’s right? Yes. Civil War 1 was about state’s rights? No. They fooled those AMericans good with that line.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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