As a crowd cheered, and Gov. Ralph Northam called Robert E. Lee “a traitor” for turning his back on the nation to lead the Confederate soldiers into a losing Civil War that was fought to keep racist slavery in place, a statue of Lee came down in Richmond Wednesday.
As a native Southerner, I hold no reverence for Robert E. Lee or the Confederacy. I agree with Northam that Lee was a traitor and should have been treated as such. President Lincoln generously granted amnesty and a pardon, but he lost his citizenship and the right to vote– a small price to pay for treason.
Those who attempt to rewrite history still claim the war was fought over “state’s rights.” The only state’s right the South care about was the “right” to own the slaves brought over from Africa to face long hours, no pay, abuse and death.
Lincoln hoped freeing the slaves and the end of the Civil war would bring racism to an end in America. That hope ended on April 15, 1865, when he died after being shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC.
Racism didn’t die. It festered and surfaced in force in the Jim Crow era and again as a result of the Tea Party’s attacks on President Barack Obama. Racists made the difference in the election of Donald Trump, who embraced White Supremacy and welcomed the endorsements of Klansman David Duke and others.
We still see rampant racism in Floyd County, displayed by hose who fly Confederate flags on pickups plastered with racist stickers and those supporting Trump. We see it erupting from the mouths of speakers in verbal diarrhea when they bitch and moan about attempts to build public housing in the county.
Racism now extends to hatred of Mexicans who have immigrated to the county, most legally but some illegals.
At a Floyd County High School football game, I heard an older man make racist comments when the music played included a rap song. Thankfully, we don’t see the same racism among the students who play on teams with African-Americans and Mexicans and mix races when dating.
America still has a long road to travel before racism and bigotry are removed from our culture and our thoughts.
Will it happen? In a perfect world, perhaps, but this is nowhere near a perfect society.