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Old 08-31-2017, 01:19 AM
1964Alum 1964Alum is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2014
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I've hesitated to jump into this but will despite my reservations. I am a 13th generation Virginian and descendant of large land and slave owners. From the cradle on, the romance and glory of the Old South was drummed into my little blond-curled head. I'll offer up something to perhaps offer some more understanding of the controversy around the statues. As Kevin already posted, yes, these statues were erected in the same time frame as the ascendancy of Jim Crow in the South along with the resurgence of the KKK in far greater numbers than it had earlier existed and then with an entirely different population. Most were erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy and yes, it was an attempted revival of the Old Virginia with her notions of supremacy.

But these had less to do with slavery than it did with White Supremacy. Was RE Lee a White Supremacist? Yes! of course he was! Virginia was established with a new world aristocracy from the get-go. Early colonists coming to Virginia came bearing their family coats of arms, and a commission was even created in colonial Virginia to ensure the legitimacy of the bearers of these coats of arms. There was from the beginning a clear caste system from the "aristocratic "whites at the very top all the way down to the black slaves, particularly where marriage was concerned. There was even a class/caste system among the slaves. This class/caste system continued all the way up to and after the Civil War. RE Lee descended from the Washington and "King" Carter families along with the Lees, at the very top of the Virginia aristocracy. This still exists to some but much lesser extent today.

The young men in these families were taught from the cradle on that they were born to rule and that blacks were inherently inferior and only by the grace of God were they brought to Virginia to save them from life in Africa and their primitive religions. Whites not of their social status were considered inferior as well. Great wealth and even more enhanced social status came with these large land holdings which depended on owning slaves to work these lands. Also to have servants in the homes. There was a certain honor code, but it was based greatly upon noblesse oblige of the upper classes toward their inferiors, the slaves occupying the lowest spot on the totem pole.

There was economic devastation in Virginia as a result of the Civil War, and white
Virginians feared that their alleged racial superiority would disappear. There was a saying in the county that my ancestors helped settle that "All we have left is our good names and the family silver, which we buried." RE Lee and some of the other Virginia generals exemplified to them Southern honor and nobility of the highest order. I'm not sure how I escaped this mind set, but neither slavery nor white supremacy in any form is a part of my heritage that I want to embrace or perpetuate. They all belong in the dust bin of history. I have many friends with deep Southern roots who have also come to terms with deeply flawed aspects of their ancestry and have long since discarded them as part of their now value system. The reality is that these statues conjure up the fantasy of the ante bellum South to some and cause great pain to others.

I would hope other Southerners would take a clear-headed look and understanding of what these statues represent. I personally would like these statues put into museums of history along with reality-based teaching opportunities.
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