Virginia lawmakers seek to remove General Robert E. Lee statue from U.S. Capitol

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https://www.aoc.gov/art/national-statuary-hall-collection/robert-e-lee and https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/72/Governor_Ralph_Northam_Gives_Inaugural_Address_%2839348612584%29_%28cropped%29.jpg and https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Jennifer_Wexton%2C_official_portrait%2C_116th_Congress_%28cropped%29.jpg and https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6a/Donald_McEachin_portrait_116th_Congress.jpg
Statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee at the U.S. Capitol, Gov. Ralph Northam, Reps. Jennifer Wexton, A. Donald McEachin

Democrats from Virginia are seeking to remove their state’s statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Reps. Jennifer Wexton and A. Donald McEachin sent a letter on Friday to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam asking him to make it a part of his agenda for the 2020 Legislative Session to replace the statue with one of several other possibilities. Among their suggestions are the 20th century civil rights leader Oliver Hill or prominent educator and thinker Booker T. Washington who passed away in 1915.

Each state nominates two statues to be displayed at the Capitol as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, and the Lee statue is in a prominent location that tour groups typically pass by.

The selection of Lee to be represented as one of the statues came in 1909 at a time “when dozens of Confederate monuments were erected across the country,” the Democrats said. “These statues aimed to rewrite Lee’s reputation from that of a cruel slave owner and Confederate General to portraying him as a kind man and reluctant war hero who selflessly served his home state of Virginia,” wrote Wexton and McEachin.

“As Virginians, we have a responsibility to not only learn from but also confront our history,” they said in their letter. “As part of this responsibility, we must strive for a more complete telling of history by raising up the voices, stories, and memories of minorities and people of color.”

The letter went on to summarize the state’s history of embracing slavery and racial segregation and said that obstacles remain. “The ramifications of this institutionalized racism are still seen today through racial disparities in income, health care, schooling, and many other areas in the Commonwealth,” they wrote.

On Monday, Northam’s office released a statement saying that he will indeed push for legislation to replace the Confederate general’s statue in the U.S. Capitol. “This is something the governor has long wanted to do – he is looking forward to working with the congressional delegation and members of the General Assembly to get it done this year,” the statement said.

Northam is of course the Democrat who refused to resign after it emerged earlier this year that his 1984 medical yearbook showed him and a friend in blackface and a KKK robe, and that evidence showed his nickname at the time was “Coonman.”

Conservatives have generally been opposed to the removal or destruction of Confederate statues or any monuments that depict historical views, regardless of current perspective.

It is unclear at this point what position Virginia Republicans will take on this proposal, but according to the Stamford Advocate, GOP State Senator Bill Stanley called the move “unbelievable yet predictable.”

“And while they are at it, they should wheel out the marble George Washington statue,” Stanley said. “What’s next, are he and Wexton going to ask Ralph to knock down the Old Capitol building because it was designed by Thomas Jefferson? Geeesh.”

Virginia’s other statue in the collection is George Washington, who was also a slave owner.

The progressive movement to alter past views of history includes two other states that are in the process of replacing Confederate and Civil War-era statues in the U.S. Capitol. Arkansas is changing out statues of Uriah Milton Rose, an attorney who backed the Confederacy, and James Clarke, an Arkansas governor of the state who held racist beliefs, with civil rights leader Daisy Bates and country music star Johnny Cash.

Florida is replacing a statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith with one of civil rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune.

The ongoing global assault on historical statuary that was begun by the despotic Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 continues to pick up steam in the U.S. with leftists aiming to erase and obscure lessons from our past.

 

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Victor Rantala

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