Following through on earlier comments, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that sits in the state’s capital city of Richmond. Northam called for the statue to be removed as soon as possible.
“Yes, that statue has been there for a long time. But it was wrong then and it is wrong now, so we’re taking it down.”
The removal comes amid protests and riots over George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis, MN.
In Richmond, protestors, many wearing face masks to guard against COVID-19 spread, gathered around the defaced statue on Monument Avenue, holding high a raised fist and taking a knee in symbolic denunciation of racism. The pedestal, which has been repeatedly vandalized in recent years, this week was disfigured with spraypaint reading “Stop White Supremacy” and “ALM,” which means “All Lives Matter.”
To be clear, populations large and small get to pick their heroes. The city of Richmond and state of Virginia at some point picked Robert E. Lee, and now they are choosing to remove him, in keeping with the times.
Among many, there is one interesting person, albeit long dead, who surely would be glad to see it go… Robert E. Lee himself. The General, who was asked to lead the Union forces before he resigned to lead the Confederate forces, passed in 1870.
“As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; [and] of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.”
Lee Biographer Jonathan Horn said:
“Lee believed countries that erased visible signs of civil war recovered from conflicts quicker. He was worried that by keeping these symbols alive, it would keep the divisions alive.”