- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2017

John Kelly, chief of staff for President Donald Trump, went on national television and called out the rampant removal of America’s historical monuments from the public arenas as despicable, and — bravely — spoke of Robert E. Lee as an “honorable man.”

Let the howling from the left begin. Calling Lee honorable in today’s political climate is about as dangerous as donning a Make America Great Again cap — it’ll bring out the baseball bats from the antifa types, for sure.

But Kelly’s quite right. Lee may have been divisive, not to mention contradictory. But what battlefield leader isn’t?

Nonetheless, Lee did the job he was appointed, as a military officer and commander, to do, and he did it well. He served 32 years as a military officer in the U.S. Army, and was the superintendent of West Point, before resigning to fight with his state of Virginia and for the Confederacy. The fact his family owned slaves — the fact he was ambiguous, at best, on slavery — now casts Lee in an evil light.

But that’s not historically accurate and ignores context.



“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly said, during an appearance on Fox News with Laura Ingraham. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

Yes indeed. Lee chose Virginia. He went with state’s rights — which has now been skewed to mean pro-slavery. And that’s a historical half-truth.

But it’s one the left has used with great success lately to tear down the fabric of America’s founding.

Destroying monuments, removing monuments and relocating monuments for the sake of a few who profess to be offended is, as Kelly also said, dangerous. It’s a trend that will only lead to the utter ignorance of what this country fought for — what this country stands for — and what this country, in modern day, is all about. Monuments aren’t just concrete and metal and plaster. They’re our national identity. And Lee, like it or not, is part of that national identity, and his service of honor and courage, challenging and conflicting as it is, should not be destroyed and tossed to the trash.

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