Tag: racism

Robert E. Lee’s Treason Still Divides & Kills

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By Harvey Wasserman

Yet another deadly firestorm now swirls around Robert E. Lee. As his statues head to the ash heap, a life defined by slavery, betrayal, and slaughter again divides our nation.

Lee was an icon of the Confederacy and the architect of its defeat. He was a traitor to the United States of America. He cost humanity uncounted lives….right up to now.

Lee’s gentlemanly portraits are a surface illusion. He could be gracious and chivalrous, a dashing strategist and later a beloved college president. .

But his core was medieval and obsolete. He was the ultimate undertaker of a culture of death.

Robert was the son of Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee, a Revolutionary officer descended from Virginia’s early slaveowners. But in the early 1800s he served a year in debtor’s prison, and died when Robert was eleven, leaving the family disgraced and in dire straits.

Robert excelled in mathematics and graduated West Point near the top of his class. He served as an engineer and pathfinder in the American conquest of Mexico, where he fought alongside US Grant, who would ultimately defeat him.

In 1859 Lee arrested and hung John Brown after his legendary attempt to deliver weapons from the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, to a slave revolution.

In personal letters, Lee questioned secession and doubted chattel slavery. But bitter controversy still surrounds his treatment of the slaves on his own plantation.

Abraham Lincoln offered Lee a high command in the Union army. Instead he led southern armies against the nation of his birth. That act of treason cost countless lives and still divides our nation.

Though his first first commands were mixed, Lee was a far superior tactician to most early Union generals. His key campaigns protected Richmond, threatened Washington DC, and inspired the Confederacy to press ahead.

But victory fed Lee’s arrogance. In July, 1863, while foolishly attacking the north at Gettysburg, he ordered the legendary “Pickett’s Charge” that cost some 7,000 lives in a matter of moments, breaking the back of the Confederate Army.

As the slaughter dragged on, droves of poor whites fled Lee’s army. To combat desertion, he ordered a mass hanging, and marched his infantry past the corpses.

Thankfully, at war’s end, Lee resisted calls for a prolonged guerrilla resistance. He surrendered himself and his army in tact.

Lincoln and Grant never put him on trial. They gave his defeated troops safe haven, rations and the freedom to return to their farms—-with their personal weapons—-for spring planting. It was among the most magnanimous and far-sighted amnesties ever granted by a conquering army.

In defeat, Lee advocated moderate treatment for freed blacks but opposed their right to vote. His own franchise was stripped along with ownership of the family estate, which became Arlington National Cemetery.

As an individual, Lee radiated charisma and grace.

But the treatment of his own slaves, his military defense of America’s “peculiar institution” and his treasonous attack on the nation of his birth make him one of America’s most murderous criminals. That statues still stand to him anywhere is an affront to our standing as a human community. That beloved individuals like Heather Heyer should die in his wake is all too consistent with the life he led.

Heather’s racist murder in Charlottesville, and the death of two Virginia police officers along with her, form a tragic epitaph to the decisions Robert E. Lee made and the slaughter he helped perpetrate.

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HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is at www.harveywasserman.com, where his AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF US HISTORY will soon be published.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Cubs Win, It’s Time for Chief Wahoo to Go

 

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by Harvey Wasserman

The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. They beat the team of Chief Wahoo and it’s long past time for him to depart.

With a rare comeback victory from being down three games to one, the Cubbies have ended the longest World Series drought in baseball history, beating the Cleveland Indians, the team with the second-longest drought. Not since 1908 have the Windy City north siders done this.

Congratulations especially to team president Theo Epstein, who put together the team that in 2004 ended the curse of the Red Sox, who had not won a World Series title since 1918. Now he’s done it again in Chicago. How my native Boston let the best baseball operations guy and the best manager (Terry Francona) leave town at the same time is beyond me.

But the real loser this year is Chief Wahoo, and it’s time to bury him forever.

The Cleveland Indians have been soiled for decades with the most cringeworthy logo in all of sports. It is an obscene cartoon that is beyond degrading. I will not describe it in detail. Cover up the feather and it could be an insult to every racial or ethnic group on the planet.

The team name “Indians” is also in contention. It’s a complicated discussion. If Cleveland really wants to “honor” Native Americans, as team ownership says, why not choose a local tribe, like the Shawnee or Erie or Wyandot, and pay them a royalty?

At least Cleveland’s team is not the R*****ns, that pathetic football team in Washington, D.C. How any public franchise could bear such a vile, racist name is beyond tolerance, especially in the nation’s capital.

Dan Snyder, the grotesque, embarrassing owner of the R*****ns, has reconfirmed his inexcusable, pig-headed commitment to keeping the name.

He should follow the sterling example of the owner (Abe Saperstein, now deceased) of Washington’s professional basketball team, whose name he changed from the Bullets in reaction to gun violence. They’re now the Wizards, a terrific choice.

Snyder could open the name change up to the public, hold a contest, a national discussion, and a local vote, and make a ton of money while doing it. All those new jerseys and good feelings and general exposure would be priceless. Instead he clings to a racist “tradition” and confirms his ultimate loser status by putting truly lousy teams on the field, year after year.

In fact, Snyder is now the ultimate argument for public ownership of all major sports franchises, which is long overdue. I am part-owner (two shares) of the Green Bay Packers, America’s Real Team because it is owned by members of the public. Our nation needs to end the shame of our beloved major league sports clubs being owned by billionaires who shuffle them around like portable slave plantations. They manipulate public funding for stadiums designed to serve the corporate elite. They treat the players like chattel. They ignore and abuse the public investment while expecting massive subsidies and royal treatment.

Every community in which a major sports team operates should own and run that franchise.

And Cleveland can join the civilized world by forcing the Indians to change their name and bury that awful logo. It was painful seeing it on the sleeves and helmets throughout this gorgeous World Series. The logo’s presence was a terrible blot on an otherwise wonderful sporting event.

It should not be allowed to happen again. Cleveland needs to take a leap of good faith, bury Chief Wahoo, and get a new name.

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Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is at solartopia.org. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at prn.fm. He edits nukefree.org.

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