Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Robert E. Lee broke his oath of allegiance

Ralph Lobdell, Park City

I must take exception to the guest editorial effectively blaming the Charlottesville City Council members' decision to remove a statue of Robert E Lee for the events in their town.

Cadet Robert E. Lee swore an oath of allegiance to his state upon entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (This oath was later changed in 1861 to swear allegiance to the United States.) However, when Lieutenant Robert E. Lee was sworn in as an officer of the United States Army, the oath he took read as follows: “I, Robert E. Lee, appointed a Lieutenant in the Army of the United States, do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the rules and articles for the government of the Armies of the United States.”

Robert E Lee broke that oath, purportedly in allegiance to his state. In doing so, he chose to fight to preserve an economic system that relied on treating certain segments of humanity not as fellow human beings, but as chattel to be bought and sold, even beaten, raped or hanged at the will of his or her "master". Robert E Lee or his wife's ownership and treatment of their slaves is irrelevant, Robert E. Lee had a choice and he chose to take up arms and committed Treason against the United States of America.

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort…" [Article 3, Section 3, U.S. Constitution]

The South lost the war and although Robert E. Lee and other southern leaders could have been punished (and hanged) for treason, the government chose reconciliation and reconstruction to welcome the South back into the family of states. That Robert E. Lee supported the reconciliation and reconstruction effort after the fact is encouraging (and convenient), but too late. Robert E. Lee is no American hero.

Statue or no statue, the concept of a "master" race apparently has lived on and morphed into the White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi movements of today. The "Alt Right" demonstrators in Charlottesville were not chanting "save our statue', they were chanting racial epithets and Nazi slogans. They marched at night, not with candles, but with torches. They marched during the day under flags which were flown by enemies of our constitution and our country. The statue of Robert E. Lee was merely an excuse to terrorize a community. There are no Confederate statues in Seattle and other places where the "Alt Right" might choose to demonstrate. Their apparent goal is not to "Make America Great Again" but to "Make America White Again." Like Robert E Lee, those demonstrators too will end up on the wrong side of history.