June 14, 2018
Updated: October 21, 2023
What follows is my answer to a friend who accused some Republican political candidates of admiring the U.S. Civil War Confederacy.
Many in the South today, while they obviously reject civil-war era slavery, would say the Confederacy means more than simply defending slavery.
Militarily there were many brilliant commanders and brave soldiers on the Confederate side, too. One can strongly disagree with the moral and political positions of the Confederacy but at the same time hold people like Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant in high regard for their extraordinary battlefield leadership at an extraordinary time in American history.
The reason Robert E. Lee turned down Lincoln's offer of the command of the Union Army was not because he loved slavery, but rather because he loved his native Virginia.
Do you think Robert E. Lee and other Civil War generals should be removed from history books because they fought on the side that supported slavery? Do you think that we should remove the study of Civil War battles from U.S. military academies because one side happened to be pro-slavery?
Why don't these same academies cease studying World War II battles or Vietnam War battles where one side was Nazi or Communist? Surely the Nazis and Communists who murdered a combined total of around 100,000,000 people did worse morally than anything the Confederacy might have done.
Most wars involve evil people fighting evil people or good people fighting evil people. In rare cases like the U.S. Civil War, good people who believed in good things fought good people who believed in evil things (e.g. slavery). If we airbrush from history all the conflicts involving evil people, or good people who believed evil things, what is there left to study?
Do we remove George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers from the history books because they happened to have owned slaves, at a time when many Americans did so, even though they were personally opposed to the practice and created a Constitutional framework which they knew would eventually lead to the abolition of slavery? The Left would have us do just that.
Historical figures must be judged in the moral context of their times, not by our time.
Santayana said those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
Read more about slavery and the Bible, and slavery, the Left, and truth.
General Robert E. Lee