Andrew D. 
Member since Feb 28, 2013


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Re: “Separating the Lee-Jackson holiday from that honoring Martin Luther King is a mistake.

This comes long after the fact of this publication, but the issue of course lives on. (I am mulling over the similar issue of the name of Washington-Lee High School in Arlington.)

The article makes a good case for a unified holiday as a model of reconciliation. I think however it glosses over the fundamental problem of celebrating the birthdays of prominent Confederates who caused the Union—their Union—much misery. Their notion of honor and loyalty to a state over a nation are not excuses; they had already sworn to the opposite. His superior officer, for example, was also a Virginians and did not break ranks. The generals thus made a mistake in choosing to lead a reckless and needless insurrection, they used their skills to prolong and worsen the terrible conflict, they fought to enslave black Southerners for whom they did not speak, and they are history. Lee-Jackson Day was created as a reactionary gesture to sanitize the war as a difference among states just as Reconstruction was failing and a truly terrible time for African-Americans began. The former slaves did not share that romanticism. Lee-Jackson is not so benign to African-Americans and many others; to us, these generals are disgraces and not heroes. Lee for one was only partially reformed. He hardly regretted the war and expressly fought the Fifteenth Amendment; Jackson never had the opportunity to change. The "solid South" is an ongoing myth. By contrast Dr. King was a liberator and unifier, and Virginia's attempt to pair his holiday with Lee and Jackson (as the only state to celebrate the latter at all) just more embarrassing recalcitrance in an era in which the increasingly blue state must move forward. I am sure it would disgust him.

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Posted by Andrew D. on 02/28/2013 at 9:21 AM

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