Prager University, a fake right-wing college, released a video on Monday glorifying the horrific legacy of General Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army against the Northern Union during the United States Civil War.
The unsoliticted video was produced in response to the removal of Lee’s statue from the US Capitol – the latest in a nation-wide campaign to dismantle monuments honoring the men whose insurrections led to the slaughter of more than 618,000 Americans.
The two-minute spot – which was uploaded to Twitter – is an overtly racist jumble of propaganda and historical whitewashing:
Who was Robert E. Lee?
Statues of great historical figures like Robert E. Lee are being torn down across America. Here are some facts about Lee that remind us why his statue should remain.
Prager listed a few factoids that it believes are relevant to and justify Lee’s betrayal of the Union:
Robert E. Lee was connected to George Washington through his father, “Light Horse Harry” Lee—Washington’s Cavalry Commander—and his wife—Martha Washington’s great-granddaughter.
Lee’s Home at Arlington House was just ten miles from Washington’s Mount Vernon. Today, it is the site of Arlington National Cemetery.
The message was unequivically pro-slavery, as was Lee, who wrote in 1858 that slavery was of greater harm to white landowners than to the black peoples they mercilessly subjugated:
After 30 years of military service, Lee led U.S. Marines to crush the attempted slave rebellion by radical abolitionist John Brown in October 1859. Twenty-one co-conspirators had seized a federal armory and all of them were killed or captured, including John Brown, who was tried and hanged for treason.
Sound familiar? Setting aside the romanticized revisionism for a moment, that is exactly what right-wing militia terrorists have been doing in protest of COVID-19 public health safety measures in states like Michigan, Oregon, and Wisconsin, including plots to assassinate governors and other elected officials. Their efforts have been either ignored or boosted by Republican sympathizers such as President Donald Trump.
Lee was not just a traitor, either. He was also a notoriously cruel slavemaster.
Nevertheless, Prager insisted that Lee had an epiphany – which was anything but that – after he was defeated and chose to surrender, thus absolving his mortal sins:
Lee deemed slavery ‘a moral and political evil and any country” but considered it “a greater evil to the white man than to the black race’ since ‘blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa.’
Opposing secession, Lee foresaw ‘no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the union.’ But when Virginia seceded in a close vote, Lee resigned his commission. Despite offers to command Union forces, Lee opted to organize the defense of his native state.
After four years as Confederate commander, Lee became an ‘icon of reconciliation’ upon his surrender.
As president of Virginia’s Washington College, he favored education for freed slaves but opposed their right to vote.
Gee whiz, what a guy:
Lee died from a stroke in 1870 and is buried beneath Lee Chapel in what’s now Washington and Lee University. His legendary warhorse, Traveler, rests in a plot nearby.
The hypocrisy is both mind-boggling and totally on-brand for the extreme American right.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.