Will Confederate Heritage Advocates Take Robert E. Lee’s Advice?

If there is an icon of Confederate heritage, that icon is Robert E. Lee. The recent controversy over the display of Confederate flags at the Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University should remind us of that. However, as this letter suggests, Lee himself might not be too happy with some of the actions being undertaken supposedly to defend his name and honor.

Guess that’s an insight some Confederate heritage advocates ignore all the time. Connie Chastain will point out that this doesn’t cover her, because she’s a woman. Same with Susan Hathaway. Fair enough.

According to David Cox, the author of the letter in question (and former rector of a Lexington church named after Lee), when someone asked Lee what she should do with a Confederate flag, he responded:

Fold it up and put it away.

We know that advice is ignored every single day by Confederate heritage advocates.

Cox offers a second story that seems relevant. Talking to a woman who was still a passionate supporter of the Confederacy, Lee advised:

Madam, do not train up your children in hostility to the government of the United States. Remember, we are all one country now. Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring them up to be Americans.

Guess certain Confederate heritage advocates ignore that one all the time, too.

Remember, folks: as leading Confederate heritage advocate Connie Chastain says, it’s not about honoring the past or Confederate heroes, it’s about making oneself feel self-righteous and mighty good. The display of the Confederate flag in the Lee Chapel is primarily to appease the living, not to honor the dead.

Someone should remind the Virginia Flaggers of what Chastain says the next time they pretend that their display of Confederate banners is to honor the Confederate soldier … and that flying those banners is not something Lee would have liked in any case.

UPDATE: As predicted, Connie Chastain claims she meant no such thing (see what I said?). Then she claims I’m quoting her in this post, and offers not to post until January 1, 2015, if someone can prove she said what she said to her satisfaction. Given that we know she’ll lie and prevaricate, we don’t really care what she promises, because she won’t deliver. Besides, she does us a favor by continuing to post. Her rants always bring a smile to my face. I wouldn’t want to see that end.

That said, she has now said on her blog what I said she said. See here:

Chastain says

This is good enough for me. She’ll just complain that no one followed her rules for submission … loophole lawyer. Besides, what’s “copy and past”? And “put it in a comment to following this post”? Those are incoherent directions for submission.

Then again, it’s easier for her to say she kept her word if no one understands what she said. 🙂 Surely she’ll tell us she meant something else.

6 thoughts on “Will Confederate Heritage Advocates Take Robert E. Lee’s Advice?

  1. Rob Baker July 17, 2014 / 5:07 pm

    Well Lee is that gentleman icon. However, I am becoming more convinced that his character is defined more by his life as an Officer in the U.S. Military than his ‘Southerness.’ However, his decision toward secession leaves a lot of questions in that regard.

  2. M.D. Blough July 17, 2014 / 11:33 pm

    I don’t think Lee ever saw himself as Southern. I’m not even sure of how much he saw himself a Confederate. What is clear is that, first and foremost, he saw himself as a Virginian. I don’t believe if Virginia remained loyal that Lee would have cast his lot with the rebels. Virginia’s price for not joining the rebellion, though, was rightly unacceptable to the U.S. government. It does bother me that Lee was so linked to his home state that he turned his back on and fought against the U.S. government to whose Constitution he had taken an oath to support and which had given him an education and a career.

  3. Edward Drake July 18, 2014 / 7:24 am

    If Lee or most of his generation were alive today they would be at war with the Federal Gov. They couldn’t imagine what this country has become under this gov. Had he known what would come I don’t believe he would have surrendered any way. Shame on you for criticizing those who will stand for what was right then and now.

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 18, 2014 / 7:35 am

      I guess Lee and many who followed him would have had difficulty grasping emancipation and equality. As for myself, I believe slavery was wrong then and is wrong now. I gather you feel otherwise. Lee acted upon his beliefs and risked all. You seem unwilling to do the same. Perhaps you need to revisit who should be ashamed.

    • Michael Rodgers July 18, 2014 / 10:21 am

      People often quote Lee saying something like that, for example here by then SC State Sen. Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston). It’s preposterous.

    • Laqueesha July 12, 2015 / 9:12 pm

      Well, of course the Confederates would be at war with the U.S. if they were alive today, considering slavery is illegal and black people can vote now.

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