The group of students known as “The Committee” which recently published a list of demands regarding the place of Confederate flags and Confederate heritage generally on campus has met with school administrators. While I shared some thoughts about the scope of their demands I believe these students have every right to express their concerns about the state of their school.
Robert E. Lee (1856):
The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. (1856)
Considering the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment, as the best that can exist between the white and black races while intermingled as at present in this country, I would depreciate any sudden disturbance of that relation unless it be necessary to avert a greater calamity to both. (1865)
Cliven Bundy (2014):
They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.
I’m wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were slaves, when they was able to have their family structure together, and the chickens and a garden, and the people had something to do?
Bundy’s views on race and slavery, while shocking to most intelligent and decent people, have a long and distinguished pedigree.
Today’s Washington Post features an essay on the Crater by Forstchen and Gingrich, which focuses on the men of the Fourth Division. You may remember that two co-authored a work of historical fiction on the battle back in 2011. Shortly after its publication I was invited by the Atlantic to review the book. Needless to say, the book has numerous problems even as a work of fiction, not the least of which is its failure to deal honestly with the well documented accounts of the massacre of large numbers of black Union soldiers. The authors also imagine a conversation between Robert E. Lee and William and Mahone in which the former orders that no captured black soldiers be harmed. There is no evidence of such a meeting taking place and even a fictional account has numerous problems. Continue reading
According to the members of “The Committee” both the chapel’s Confederate flags and its use by “neo-confederates” have contributed to “both the past and current racial bigotry and discrimination found on our campus.” I don’t for a minute deny that these students perceive the chapel as contributing to the school’s racial climate, but that shouldn’t prevent us from taking a quick look at how the chapel has been utilized. What follows is not meant in any way as an exhaustive list of the range of speakers and subjects that have been discussed in the Lee Chapel, but as a small sample. Continue reading
There seems to be some confusion about my response to yesterday’s story surrounding a list of demands made by students at W&L concerning their school’s relationship with Confederate heritage. Let me assure you that my response is perfectly consistent with positions taken in the past. Continue reading