Update From Washington and Lee University

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.

Now word comes that Confederate heritage groups are planning their own protest on campus on September 1, which is both the deadline that students set for the administration to take action as well as the anniversary of the city of Lexington’s decision to ban Confederate flags from city poles. One can easily anticipate that the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Virginia Flaggers will make their way to campus.

This is going to be a real whoot to watch because it is so easy to imagine how this is going to play out. The fastest way to rally the entire W&L student body behind “The Committee” will be if Tripp Lewis, Brandon Dorsey, Karen Cooper, Susan Hathaway and the rest of the traveling circus that is the Flaggers and SCV shows up on campus. Perhaps they will bring along some of their Southern Nationalist friends.

One thing is for sure, they will do more to bring down the flags from Lee Chapel than these students could ever do.

Oh, I do hope they bring their video recorders.

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“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

17 comments… add one
  • The other Susan May 12, 2014 @ 13:02

    There is a story in the Bible, as I recall of a great leader who was also merciful to his captives in a very similar way as Lee and Jackson. After changing his captives names to ones more suitable with his culture he offered them an education and attempted to convert them to his religion, as I recall three of them, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also quite unappreciative of all this kindness. They seemed to think being thrown in a fiery furnace was a better option. Imagine that, I mean a roof over your head, food, nice new names, new education and religion and they preferred to be burned alive. I’m being sarcastic in case that wasn’t obvious.

  • Johnny Reb May 11, 2014 @ 6:56

    I don’t think he would mind at all.
    You don’t know about Lee’s black Sunday school at his pre war home?

    • Kevin Levin May 11, 2014 @ 6:57

      Mr. Ronnie Williams,

      I think you mean Stonewall Jackson. Please get your Lost Cause ducks in order before pretending to be an expert on Lee’s understanding of race and slavery.

      • The other Susan May 11, 2014 @ 21:57

        I believe Lee’s wife or mother-in-law attempted some kind of school for their slaves didn’t they? Lee’s idea of Sunday School on the other hand seemed to be slavery itself.

        “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.”

        But Johnny if you ever get taken to some far off country as a slave I’ll be sure to let your captors know that you would prefer it if they forcibly converted you to their religion.

        • Kevin Levin May 12, 2014 @ 0:54

          Let’s be clear that even Jackson’s Sunday School was not presenting an emancipationist interpretation of Christianity. It reinforced slavery in the post-Nat Turner period.

        • Jimmy Dick May 12, 2014 @ 14:42

          Lost Causers have a psychological impairment in that they never envision themselves as slaves. It is the same type of impairment that makes them unable to accept factual evidence. It would involve a complete reassessment of their place in the world and they just cannot accept anything but the fantasy they’ve created for themselves.

          • Christopher Shelley May 12, 2014 @ 20:18

            And yet, while today’s Lost Causers can’t envision themselves as slaves, Southerners of the 1850s and 60s constantly referred to themselves as virtual slaves to Northern bankers, or as about to be enslaved by Northerners if the Union won the won, or some such. I’m trying to understand this deeply twisted, paranoid projection.

            • Jimmy Dick May 13, 2014 @ 5:34

              The lowest rung on the Southern social order was that of the slave. By making the allegation that they were slaves, the Southerners of 1860 were trying to make the association that the North was putting the South on the bottom of the relationship in the US. It was just more victimization theory. They obviously didn’t think they were wrong by creating the system of labor and the social order in the South which was predicated upon slavery.
              It really is part of the large overall US vs. THEM theory in action. Instead of identifying as part of the larger whole they tried to create the small Southern image which did work to a large degree, but was inaccurate. We see this throughout history and even today. Take the Lost Causers. They have created a fictional version of the past and actively seek to segregate themselves from mainstream America by embracing the victimization concept. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. It is that type of mentality. There is no room for original thought within that mentality because that would involve going against the precepts that they have constructed for their identity.

              • Christopher Shelley May 13, 2014 @ 8:43

                Agreed. And again, the parallels with the antebellum period are startling: after 1832, no discussion as to the merits of abolition was acceptable. The slaveholding society developed a “you’re for us or you’re against us” mentality. Then as now, no dissent was tolerated.

                So what makes for such an insecure, paranoid, deluded society? Is this just a thing all reactionaries do? Or is it specific to Southern slave society, the fear of “being murdered in their beds”? Or a combination of the two: that slave societies are inherently reactionary? It seems that there’s always a connection between reactionaries and racism. Is there a study on this kind of thing that I’ve neglected?

  • Johnny Reb May 10, 2014 @ 18:21

    So how do you expect this to play out Mr. Levin?
    And just as a reminder if it wasn’t for Gen. Lee that school would have shut it’s doors a long time ago.
    That man put every peace of energy he had into that place and for students at the university to even think of tarnishing his memory sickens me and I personaly think that Lee would have been ashamed of them.

    • Kevin Levin May 11, 2014 @ 1:34

      I don’t know.

      I completely agree with you that Lee played a crucial role in the survival of the college during the postwar period, but I don’t know if he would be ashamed of the students. My guess is it would take Lee time to get over the fact that black students now attend the school.

    • Andy Hall May 11, 2014 @ 6:42

      Don’t forget that Lee testified before Congress during his time as president of the school (February 18, 1866) that “I think it would be better for Virginia if she could get rid of” emancipated slaves, and wanted them to relocate farther south to the cotton-growing states. He also agreed that “the absence of the colored race” would make Virginia “more attractive.” Lee didn’t need to oppose free African Americans attending his college; he didn’t want them in the Old Dominion at all.

      That, too, is part of Lee’s legacy at W&L.

      • Kevin Levin May 11, 2014 @ 6:48

        Thanks for the link, Andy.

  • Pat Young Apr 30, 2014 @ 18:48

    It is good to see that The Committee and “Washington and Lee University” are meeting and working towards a resolution. Interesting how many of the messages sent to the members of The Committee suggested that these students leave if they were not happy with the contemporary commemorations of Lee on campus.

    • Kevin Levin May 1, 2014 @ 2:48

      My guess is that the students and administration will be able to arrive at some kind of agreement. The presence of the Flaggers and the SCV on campus will provide the most obvious reason to get rid of every last reminder of the Confederacy on campus. They just have a way about them. 🙂

      • Rob Baker May 1, 2014 @ 3:21

        The presence of the Flaggers and the SCV on campus will provide the most obvious reason to get rid of every last reminder of the Confederacy on campus. They just have a way about them.

        Agreed. They will only hurt their own “cause” in the process. Thanks for the updates by the way.

        • Kevin Levin May 1, 2014 @ 3:27

          Their response will be to put up an even larger flag along a Virginia highway. 🙂

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