While We Are Rewriting History . . .

I find it interesting that there is a need in this country to rewrite history. I understand that history is written by the victors (just ask the indigenous peoples of the United States). Their sense of history differs radically from the traditional, textbook version. That being said, the removal of Confederate monuments, the removal of Confederate battle flags, and the renaming of parks and highways in an attempt to address the issue of racism is an interesting phenomenon. A phenomenon I find very skewed.

George Washington, the once Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and first President of the United States, has a 555-foot monument erected on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This obelisk commemorates his profound contributions to this country. History depicts President Washington as a hero. He was a hero of the Revolutionary War, he was a hero as the first President of the United States, and he was a hero in the founding of this country. But George Washington was no hero. George Washington should be depicted for what he really was: a white supremacist, a racist, a slave owner. He owned slaves prior to the Revolutionary War, and he owned slaves during and after his presidency. Some accounts suggest he owned as many as 317 slaves. The name “Washington” should elicit a white-supremacy-oriented, racist response. Clearly, the Washington Monument needs to be demolished and his name removed from our nation’s capital.

Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States. The Memorial erected in his honor is a national landmark listed in the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places. The National Park Service website describes Jefferson as a “Renaissance Man.” The statue of Jefferson inside the Memorial was intended to represent the Age of Enlightenment, reflecting Jefferson’s stature as a philosopher and statesman. The architect’s intention was to synthesize Jefferson’s contributions as a statesman, architect, President, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, adviser to the Constitution and founder of the University of Virginia. However, history depicts Jefferson through a skewed lens. Thomas Jefferson, in fact, was a white supremacist and a racist. He owned more than 600 slaves, far more than any other president. DNA testing has confirmed that Jefferson also fathered numerous bi-racial children. While we are re-writing history, we surely need to demolish the Jefferson Memorial as it clearly exacerbates the racial divide in this country.

James Madison was the fourth President of the United States. He is memorialized as a hero and founding father of our country. There are numerous cities, counties, rivers and parks commemorating James Madison. Buildings were constructed in his honor. The James Madison Memorial Building is one of three United States Capitol Complex buildings that house the Library of Congress. Madison Square Garden in New York City is named in honor of James Madison. There is James Madison University, James Madison College, and the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation all bearing his name.  But let me ask you: has history depicted Madison in the proper light? Madison possessed in excess of 100 slaves. He owned slaves prior to, during, and after his Presidency.  He is the author of the “Three-Fifths Compromise,” which counted three out of every five slaves for purposes of taxation and legislative representation. This highly respected and highly regarded historical figure drafted legislation that did not count a slave as a whole person. This clearly was a demonstration of white supremacy and racism. Therefore, Madison’s name should be removed from all cities, buildings, parks, and universities because his name is an obvious manifestation of white supremacy and racism.

Arlington House, the 1,100-acre estate of Robert E. Lee, was seized by the Federal Government during the Civil War for failure to pay taxes. This occurred even though Lee’s wife, Mary Anne Custis Lee, attempted to pay the taxes on several occasions. This seizure ensured that Lee could never return to his estate. Statues of Lee have been removed in New Orleans, Richmond, and a stained-glass image of him was removed from a church in Idaho in an attempt to address suggestions of overt racism. If we follow this logic, then Arlington House and the estate are clear representations of slavery and, therefore, racism as Lee did own slaves and these slaves worked on this estate.

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, clearly needs to be eradicated as a U.S. National Memorial. It needs to be removed from the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The 1,100 acres, which were separated from Arlington House by the Government, also clearly need to be plowed under as a National Monument. It needs to be completely repurposed so as not to reflect any connection to white supremacy or racism.

If you are going to re-write history, you cannot pick and choose what parts of history you want to re-write. You cannot remove a statue of a Confederate general in the name of white supremacy and racism and let stand the monuments to our forefathers who owned slaves and used slaves in the founding of this country. If you do, you are just as racist as those about whom the statues commemorate.

Oh, by the way, Robert E. Lee’s 1,100-acre estate is Arlington National Cemetery!


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