Robert E. Lee was a racist who loved slavery, and if you defend him then you are too!


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Robert E. Lee was a racist who loved slavery, and if you defend him then you are too!

Virginia is only okay

There's a strange, specific mythology that surrounds Confederate general Robert E. Lee that a lot of people outside of the South might not know about.

He's afforded a sort of immunity when it comes to the blame shouldered by high-ups in the Confederacy because of the perception that he didn't actually want to secede. No, he just loved Virginia so much that he had to side with his state over his country, and it definitely wasn't about slavery at all.

That was the sentiment White House Chief of Staff John Kelly echoed on Monday night.

He called Robert E. Lee "an honorable man" and said that the Civil War happened because of "the lack of an ability to compromise" during an interview with conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham on the debut episode of Ingraham's new talk show.

That tried and true talking point is revisionist history bullshit.

Robert E. Lee was a racist who loved slavery. And despite the fact that he was super into Virginia, if he was actually the hero that his home-state supporters make him out to be, he wouldn't have supported the subjugation of an entire race.

But what do I know about Robert E. Lee, right? I only grew up in his hometown, Arlington, Virginia, lived off of a road named after him for 12 years of my life, and dressed up in period garb and performed skits about his life in his actual historical house as part of a class field trip in (public) high school. No big deal or anything!

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This picture was taken in the home of Robert E. Lee, in the middle of a skit that literally no one was taking seriously

I didn't really think critically about Robert E. Lee's legacy until after I left home for college — I wasn't actively defending Lee in conversation before that, I just didn't really think about it.

But once you do like, an hour of independent research, it becomes abundantly clear that you could not hold the sincere, informed believe that Robert E. Lee was a good person.

And thanks to the outrage over Kelly's comments, a lot of that research is now available on Twitter.

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates's account is an especially good resource on why Robert E. Lee and the Civil War were both all about slavery.

Not only has Coates written about the Civil War numerous times for different publications, he also started a Twitter thread today in response to Kelly's comments that I've excerpted below:

If you're still on the fence about whether or not Robert E. Lee was the guy our history teachers hyped him up to be, I really encourage you to do your own reading. Even his own descendent, who's literally named after the man, denounced Lee at the VMAs in late August.

Because for whatever reason, especially if you're from the South, the victors didn't seem to get to write the history books when it comes to the Civil War.


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