Quote of the Week: January 4-10, 2015Some things the veddy, veddy knowledgeable and edumucated Professor Simpson fails to take into consideration:
For this week’s quote we go back in time to 1869, when the president of Washington College, Robert E. Lee, sat down to reply to a letter from the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association. The association had asked him to join in an effort to memorialize the field with monuments to those who had fought there. Lee declined, adding:
I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavoured to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.Those people who plan to travel to Lexington, Virginia, this coming week to honor Robert E. Lee should keep what Lee said in mind. Not that they would be the first to ignore the wishes of someone they claim to honor. The same holds true for the first effort to erect a monument to Lee on the battlefield. Eventually, of course, Virginia honored its general, and every year thousands of people gather there to embark upon a walk across the very same fields where Confederates charged on July 3, 1863.
1. Lee was speaking in the aftermath of the bloodiest war in American history, the memory of the carnage still fresh, the loss of the dead still an excruciating wound in the living, the people of the entire region enduring the yoke of the conquerer's oppression and still suffering devastation and privation. Anyone who thinks that did not influence his thoughts on the matter is either an idiot or a deceiver.
2. Lee did not know what we see when we look back to the past; he could not look into the future and see what we know today.
There's no way to know this, but if he could have, maybe his thoughts would have been different. No guarantee that they would; but there's no guarantee that they wouldn't.
People can believe what they wish. We -- or, at least, I -- won't tell floggers and floggerettes what to believe, or how to interpret historical writings. Too bad their obstinacy and arrogance prevents their extending the same courtesy to us.