Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Removal of the Memorial Flags in the Lee Chapel


I appreciate the timely reply to my email.  I have read through the links that you kindly attached.  You appear to be in agreement with the university President regarding the decision to remove the flags.  The fact that these flags, whether original or reproduction, and whether owned by the university or the Museum of the Confederacy, have been hanging in place for nearly a century, indicates an intention to make them a permanent part of the display at the Lee Memorial Chapel.  No one, looking at the circumstances of their removal could honestly fail to see that the timing for their removal involves a letter of complaint and a demand that this action be taken.

The university President, in attempting to deflect much deserved criticism for this act, couches his response in references to the need for "respect" and "a spirit of cooperation rather than confrontation".  I would like to ask you, as well as the President, where this respect and cooperation is exemplified in the demand by a small group of W&L law students to completely remove this 80+ year display.  The reality is that their demand only denotes a spirit of "confrontation" and an unwillingness to enter into a dialogue based upon mutual respect for those that revere both Lee and the unalienable rights, oft ignored, that pertain to altering or abolishing political arrangements that are integral parts of the War for Southern Independence.  In fact, it is THE reason why Virginia implemented this "unalienable" prerogative and joined the Confederacy, rather than acquiesce in the violation of this right.  No, opponents of this cowardly and illegal act will not be fooled or cowed by references to the unfortunate place the universal institution of slavery had in history, nor the deliberate obfuscations made related to keeping displays impartial.  We recognize that it is far, far easier to just surrender to the powerful leveling forces of our age, rather than attempt to give honor and respect, and a voice, to the voiceless dead, who risked and often sacrificed all, including their lives, for the unheralded principles all centralized empires deliberately suppress; the right of secession and self-determination.  The purging of a separate Confederate identity has been going on for some time now.  The removal of the flags from Lee Chapel is just the latest in a very long line toward this end.  The Quisling-like participation, by certain members of Washington & Lee's administration, can and will be exposed.  As the pendulum of history swings back, as it always does, the actors in this case will be judged for the courage, or lack thereof, premeditating their course of action.  This judgment will be based, not on what was expedient and easy at the time, but upon basic truths and principles that time and reflection determines best meets and reflects the needs of humanity and justice.  I will choose in this case to take the road less traveled, and that is grounded in my respect for the truths of history...all of them, and for the sacred principles that Lee and his Confederates attempted to preserve, imperfect as they appear to be to 21st century sensibilities.

Wayne D. Carlson
Dublin, Virginia