What can we learn from Lee?Posted: August 16, 2017
Lots of conversations about history, how we should remember our history, etc. Amateur historians love arguing about Lee, how can you not, he is interesting.
Robert E. Lee had many noble personal qualities, as did many officers in Hitler’s army.
If there’s anything to learn from him, might it not be that a man of principle and dignity can end up on the outrageously wrong side of the most important moral issue of his time?
Nobody should judge John Kelly without reading this Washington Post profile of him by Greg Jaffe.
About 12 hours later, the elder Kelly e-mailed his extended family in Boston, preparing them for the possibility that Robert might be maimed or killed. Kelly knew that Robert went out on almost every patrol with his men through mine-filled fields. One of the Marines at Bethesda told him that Robert was “living on luck.”
“I write you all to just let you know he’s in the thick of it and to keep him in your thoughts,” Kelly typed. “We are doing a Novena a minute down here and there is no end in sight.”
On Oct. 31, Kelly sent a second e-mail to his eldest sister, the family matriarch. “I am sweating bullets,” he confided. “Pray. Pray. Pray. He’s such a good boy . . . and Marine.”
This is painful to watch:
What a dilemma: the American people have elected a mean angry fool, do I try and do what I can to contain him or resign knowing he might do more damage without me around?
What’s the point of a statue of Lee if not to learn from him?
From this take on Lee by Roy Blount Jr. in Smithsonian mag:
We may think we know Lee because we have a mental image: gray. Not only the uniform, the mythic horse, the hair and beard, but the resignation with which he accepted dreary burdens that offered “neither pleasure nor advantage”: in particular, the Confederacy, a cause of which he took a dim view until he went to war for it. He did not see right and wrong in tones of gray, and yet his moralizing could generate a fog, as in a letter from the front to his invalid wife: “You must endeavour to enjoy the pleasure of doing good. That is all that makes life valuable.” All right. But then he adds: “When I measure my own by that standard I am filled with confusion and despair.”