Robert Winthrop 
Member since Jul 25, 2013


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Re: “Opinion: Will 2016 Be the Turning Point for Richmond's Confederate Monuments?

In the discussion of the statues on Monument Avenue, one aspect of memorials has been ignored. Memorials, epitaphs and obituaries are almost never historically accurate. No one uses a memorial to express historic truths, or to expose the real character of the person being memorialized. Men are always great, brave and love their families. Women are always good mothers, beautiful and kind.
If you were to construct history using only monuments and epitaphs, you would find it difficult to recognize the real world. The Jefferson Davis monument doesn’t say that is policies caused massive loss of life and destitution for many of the citizens of his nation. He was a man of principles who didn’t care how many men died for his principles. He led his nation to total defeat.
Some of this is due to basic human nature. The widow and children of a dead soldier never write a epitaph saying that he died bravely for an unworthy cause. To the family of a dead soldier, the loss is the same regardless of victory or defeat. A little fantasy is a defense mechanism. He died bravely, not suffering from disease, or due to the bad judgment of his commanding officer. The loss of life and the destruction in the South was horrendous; the defeat total. Monument Avenue is a consoling fantasy for the widows and descendants. It is not an expression of historic truths.
History can be corrected, but not erased. It is more important to deal with modern racial attitudes and discrimination, than to pretend that altering a century old monument will make a difference. It certainly is easier to move a statue than change a mind, but the problem is in the mind, not in a bronze statue.

14 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Robert Winthrop on 03/18/2016 at 10:03 AM

Re: “Remembrance: John G. “Jack” Zehmer (1942-2016)

Some people become influental due to wealth or power. Jack was intelligent and preceptive. He was the first architectural historian to work for a Virginia city. His work for the Commision of Architectual Review Committe guided early preservation efforts on Church Hill and Monument Avenue. His carefully considered advice was valued and he eventually integrated historic preservation in to Planning department policy. At a time when many Richmonders saw old buildings as potential parking lots or a slum clearance project, Jack saw historic buildings as an asset. His vision of Richmond as a city of revitalized neighborhoods, districts and buildings became the core of city development from th 1970s to the present.
Being intelligent and perceptive is good; being right is even better,

22 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Robert Winthrop on 02/14/2016 at 12:03 PM

Re: “Museum at a Crossroad

The BS to content ratio in this article seem unusually high. Is it possible the Museum experience described is normally called growing pains? The increase in exhibitions and visitors would normally require adjustments. The Commonwealth has a tradition of reducing funding for successful institutions. The museum has joined the ranks of UVA, W&M and Virgina Tech. The General Assembly penalizes success.

The public does not share this tendency. The increased attendance testifies to the Museums success. This will eventually result in attracting donors and collectors.

Growing pains are a problem, but a good problem compared to shrinking attendance and the problems of failure.

11 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Robert Winthrop on 09/07/2015 at 10:39 AM

Re: “Confederate Icons Die Hard in Richmond

In some ways going after the symbols of the Confederacy is going after the low hanging fruit. It is easy. The problem is racism, not just the symbols of racism.

There is another aspect of the memorials that played a role. A half million Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded to achieve a total defeat. Major portions of the Confederacy were in ruins. When Jefferson Davis went to bed in April of 1865 Federal troops were within eight miles of his bedroom listening to Federal bombardments. All was lost. one of the last acts of the Government was to set Richmond on fire. It was as if they were afraid something might survive.

The loss of life, property and prosperity was in vain. Emotionally it is hard to admit all of these losses were for nothing. The monument building was an effort to salvage some self respect. The men who died were loved. It was impossible to erect a monument inscribed, "They died in vain fighting for an unworthy cause."

The monuments played an emotional role that is understandable, if not entirely admirable.

42 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Robert Winthrop on 06/24/2015 at 8:15 AM

Re: “Should We Rename the Devil's Triangle? Readers Weigh In

Why not call it the Triangle?

1 like, 4 dislikes
Posted by Robert Winthrop on 07/25/2013 at 7:04 AM

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