August 26, 2018
Confederate Monuments and the Destruction of a Nation’s History
By James Longstreet
They tore another Confederate statue down. A mob of misinformed lawless miscreants in North Carolina, ignorant of history but allowed to alter history. Violating law and allowed to do so by gutless local authorities guarding not history or law but their positions and municipal pensions.
Where is the concern for facts or even the greater concern for a destruction of national identity conducted by the uneducable twenty-year-olds?
Enter an expert, a person not wet behind the ears with a sledge hammer, but rather an astute historian who possesses knowledge beyond any level which the mobsters could imagine.
Meet James “Bud ” Robertson. If you have read Civil War history, you might have read one of his books. He has published forty. If you are a statue remover, you most assuredly have read none.
Mr. Robertson is professor emeritus Virginia Tech. He has studied the politics of the great war for nearly six decades. He assisted the Kennedy administration in the commemoration of the Civil War Centennial. He provides great wisdom regarding the importance of history to a nation’s identity and insights into the Civil War. His one hour speech can be seen on his video. It is remarkable collection of observations, both past and present, regarding a nation’s history and the peril that comes with its altering. He corrects the misconceptions that fuel much of this Confederate statue controversy.
His opening line is dramatic. “For the first time in my sixty year career I must say I take no pleasure in the talk I am about to give. Yet, it is time that the other side be heard in this monument fury…I will address the factors that lay behind the insanity under which we live in many sections. I understand and I respect those whose friendships I may damage here.”
Here are some salient points from Mr. Robertson:
- Forgetting the War is impossible
- Slavery was the underlying issue but not the only factor. States rights and limitations on federal power were also in play.
- Probably 90% of our citizens could not pass a history exam. Cultural illiteracy is fast becoming a way of life in America.
- History is the greatest teacher you will ever have.
- Monuments compel us to look back, and learn from our history.
- Demagogic propaganda that purges fact and extols fantasy is destructive.
- Great men are being slandered by the noneducable.
Robertson points out that there are laws on the books to prevent monument removal by local authorities. The wisdom of these laws is to disallow the ideological fashions of the day, implemented by fleeting politicians, to erase a history revered by the previous generations who were witnesses and participants.
In 1906 a federal law was passed which state Confederate soldiers would be treated the same as any other American veteran.
The statues in Virginia memorialize those who defended their state. Section 2742 of the Virginia code, passed in February 1904 protected all monuments from removal: “It shall not be lawful for the authority of any county or any persons whatever to disturb or interfere with any monuments. (Prohibiting removal, damaging or defacing was included later.) It is still the law in 2018. In short, monuments may not be removed due to the whims of a local agency or “loud mouths” seeking notoriety. Authorities in Leesburg and Alexandria sought to take down monuments but such proposals were quickly shot down.
Robertson suggests individuals memorialized should be considered in the “context of their time”, and that too many local politicians are to willing to bend to the politically correct trend of the moment.
“It is sad that so many of my Democrat friends who have respect for history are having to take the other side merely because if the Republicans are for it, they must oppose.”
Politics must never supersede principle, says James Robertson.
We must not ignore the presence of a mob mentality that is long on noise and short on knowledge.
General John Kelly was castigated for commenting that the Civil War was caused by a “failure to compromise”. Robertson notes that “failure to compromise” has been a staple of Civil War causes ever since the war ended. Noted historians including Columbia’s Allan Nevins and Randall of the University of Chicago wrote extensively on just that point and thus General Kelly took the position of experts.
According to polls, at least 70% of the electorate do not want monuments removed. There are laws on the books to prohibit removals. Yet, laws are ignored, historical fact is ignored. Why are bona fide references to history and its analysis, widely held for decades such as General Kelly’s comments, now castigated? Is this intentional ignorance or anarchical globalist machinations? Or both?
Robertson maintains eliminating the past has never been a successful means for healing.
Winston Churchill said, “The farther backwards you can look, the farther forward you can see.” But “When the present argues with the past, you have likely lost the future.”
Robertson notes “When we remove statues erected by previous generations we are destroying more than bronze and marble, we are tearing down our nation itself…all the things.. good and bad and inadequate that made it. Why should we want to learn from an imperfect past. We could learn from it and move to a more perfect future.”
But there are those who wish to “tear down” and there are those who choose not to “learn”. Their mission is to erase history, to eviscerate and carve out the foundations of a nation’s heritage. What could be more distasteful to a globalist than that which is the foundation of a nation, that being a nation’s history?
Only when Americans learn more of their history will they become more respectful of it.
Nothing is more critical to the future of liberty than the manner in which we educate our children.
We can not sit idly and watch these incendiaries run loose, for protection of heritage is patriotism.
Robertson closes with a call for more history, not less.
We need more memorials. We yearn for more reminders of how far we have come and the obstacles we have overcome and the long journey. Eliminating memorials will not change yesterday. Learning from them can change tomorrow.
And as Robert E. Lee stated, “It is the study of history that teaches us to hope.”
© American Thinker 2018