Story on Robert E. Lee completely misses the point

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It was astonishing to read the headline “Why would anyone want to tear down the statue of Robert E. Lee?” in the Lifestyles section of your Sunday, July 28, 2019 edition.

I, for one, object to maintenance of icons of white supremacy. The article lauds the general for his great leadership, which even the article admits was questionable. It goes on to describe how Lee inherited 200 slaves from his father-in-law with the instruction to free them within five years.

The truth is that the slaves were Lee’s responsibility as executor of the estate, never his property. In order to pay estate debts without loss of land or wealth, Lee cruelly separated and sold members of slave families that had been kept intact since before the revolution — all but one family was affected. Runaways were brutally flogged. Lee’s wife was the only child of George Washington’s ward — they were abolitionists and none of their circle of friends believed in separating families. Wouldn’t the descendants of those slaves want to tear down his statue? How about the descendants of the abolitionists, including Lee’s wife and at least one of his brothers?

This is not about rewriting history but about remorse and remembrance. The author goes on to say that America has learned its lesson. I am not so sure. Shouldn’t we at least be thanking these involuntary immigrants for their great contribution to the wealth and the infrastructure of our nation?

VAL THORNTON

Sandpoint

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