Several years ago, leftist blowhard Richard Cohen at the Washington Post wrote that Robert E. Lee “deserves no honor — no college, no highway, no high school. In the awful war (620,000 dead) that began 150 years ago this month, he fought on the wrong side for the wrong cause. It’s time for Virginia and the South to honor the ones who were right.” He echoed a piece in the New York Times by the equally abrasive “establishment” historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor that portrayed Lee as an abject traitor to his family, a man who was not torn by his decision to side with Virginia and who with equal vigor embraced secession and supported slavery.
A contemporary Internet search for “Robert E. Lee traitor” brings up several articles that lambaste Lee for turning his back on his “country” and violating his military oath. This would not have been the case less than fifty years ago, but Lee has been reduced to a non-American, an insignificant other of American history who had a foot fetish and propagated a “myth” of Southern righteousness. After all, as Cohen wrote, “he offered himself and his sword to the cause of slavery….Such a man cannot be admired.”
Would either say the same thing about Washington or Jefferson, men whom Virginia Royal Governor Dunmore believed were fighting for slavery in 1775? Dunmore “freed the slaves” through a carefully calculated “emancipation proclamation” in the early stages of the American War for Independence.