One hundred and fifty-four years ago this week, nearly at the peak of the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee cemented his legacy in American history with his triumph over Union forces at the battle of Chancellorsville, a victory often referred to as a perfect battle. It is an example of how sangfroid and strategy and chutzpah and cunning have together the potential to overcome overwhelming odds. It was a disgraceful performance by the north’s General Joseph Hooker and it cost Lee his “right arm” in General Stonewall Jackson, who was killed by friendly fire on the second of May. It’s an episode in our history we should be reminded of often.
They say history is written by the winners. General Lee may or may not be a hero and, in spite of his martial brilliance in Spotsylvania, Virginia, he was and will always be a loser. The Confederacy didn’t get to write the history books. Two months after his perfect battle, without his best general, and emboldened beyond justification, General Lee was defeated in tremendous fashion in Pennsylvania at the battle of Gettysburg. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia never recovered from the loss which marked a significant turning point in our Civil War.
Some twenty years later, Ulysses Grant wrote In his personal memoirs, “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.”
Having served under General Lee in the Mexican-American War, and having bested him in the Civil War, the general-turned-president understood full well the valor and genius demonstrated by the Confederates. He was also not hesitant to condemn them for the immorality of the cause for which they fought. Grant was capable of appreciating the honor of the Confederate spirit while simultaneously denouncing their root motives. He didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater the way many people do these days.
You know the people I’m talking about.
Last week, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was crowing over the removal of the Battle of Liberty Place monument. He said we shouldn’t be putting the Confederacy up on a pedestal, as if a visual reminder of valorous villains is the same thing as glorifying them. The Confederacy represented some of the most flagrant abuses of human rights in our country’s history and they must be seen as the tyrants they were. But preserving a Confederate statue isn’t the same thing as putting oppression on a pedestal. It’s putting history on a pedestal.
Landrieu, and those of the same mind, have missed the forest for the trees. We can’t and won’t erase history by removing reminders of it and we certainly can’t learn from it if we refuse to allow people to observe it and draw their own conclusions. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind is a well-known turn of phrase and, in this instance, it’s the ambition of Landrieu, and his cohorts on the Left, to blind future generations to an objective understanding of a conflagration that for over a century has created a chasm in our nation.
It is often said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The revisionist history of the Left knows few boundaries, whether it be censoring Bill Nye the “Science” Guy’s past admonition that gender is determined by chromosomes, or the mass murderer Stalin erasing unfavorable former allies from official political photographs. Toppling statues is merely one of the latest manifestations of the Left’s rabid insistence on influencing the present and future by airbrushing the past. And by doing so, the Left is paving the way for future generations to follow in the failed footsteps of our forebears.
In the dystopian epic 1984, it is written that he who controls the past, controls the future. Orwell warned us of Landrieu and those of his ilk.
Suffering from a wicked bout of sore-loser-syndrome, the Left is sending its cowardly cannon fodder to do battle in the streets of Berkeley and other cities with true patriots of our nation. They are itching for a fight. Since the election of President Trump, they are chomping at the bit to rip our country in half and their goal is nothing less than a scorched earth, winner-takes-all victory condition. The Confederacy wanted autonomy but they didn’t want to destroy the entire country. The Left is upping the ante: They hate America, they hate their fellow Americans, and they want to destroy the entire country if they don’t get their way.
They’ve gone beyond not learning from history. They’ve gone beyond repeating history. They’re repeating history on steroids. The relics they demolish are meant to remind us of the horror of a nation torn asunder. Leave them up. We all need to take a good long look at what we were, what we overcame, what we have become, and what we may yet become. By tearing down these monuments they make themselves into what they hate: An intolerant, hostile, and violent faction of belligerents who seek to enslave their fellow man, not with chains of iron but in a state of ignorance. They’re worse than the Confederates who at least fought with honor and brilliance. Grant saw their noble audacity at Appomattox Courthouse and he saw it in 1885 when he wrote his memoirs. And he was their enemy.
What a difference one hundred and fifty-four years makes.