Posts Tagged ‘Robert E. Lee’

Welcome Students, Let’s Talk About Confederate Statues — (Amid some sanitization of American history)

August 22, 2018

In the South, colleges grapple with historical markers; Silent Sam falls at UNC

Shadé Shepard, 18, a first-year student from Washington, D.C., said she appreciated that Sewanee was blunt about its history and that people have been welcoming.
Shadé Shepard, 18, a first-year student from Washington, D.C., said she appreciated that Sewanee was blunt about its history and that people have been welcoming. PHOTO: STACY KRANITZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

SEWANEE, Tenn.—Shadé Shepard recently attended an orientation session addressing the slave-owner connections of her new college, Sewanee.

Also known as the University of the South, the liberal-arts school in the Tennessee mountains was conceived by slave owners who didn’t want their sons going North for an education, and many ex-Confederates taught there after the Civil War.

“I appreciated them being blunt about it,” said Ms. Shepard, an 18-year-old African-American first-year student from Washington, D.C. Life on the predominantly white campus “will definitely take some adjusting,” she said, though so far, people have been welcoming.

The toppling of a Confederate statue by protesters on Monday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the latest skirmish in an intense debate over the future of such monuments and imagery on southern campuses. Institutions from Virginia to Mississippi are trying to come to terms with statues, markers and building names linked to their Confederate past, without alienating alumni and donors.

While Sewanee removed Confederate banners from the All Saints’ Chapel and moved a general’s monument to a cemetery, the campus still has stones commemorating Confederate officers and a stained-glass window bearing the Confederate Seal in the chapel.

A stained glass window inside the All Saints’ Chapel at Sewanee, also known as the University of the South, includes the Confederate Seal, above right.
A stained glass window inside the All Saints’ Chapel at Sewanee, also known as the University of the South, includes the Confederate Seal, above right. PHOTO: STACY KRANITZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

“We are all wrestling with this in one way or another,” said John M. McCardell Jr., vice chancellor at Sewanee. He said he has to walk a fine line between acknowledging the school’s history while no longer paying homage to “the Confederate shadow that looms over our institution.”

For many Southern schools, a core issue is economics. They need to appeal to a more diverse student population, and Confederate symbols can scare off black and Hispanic families or prospects from outside the region.

The population of new high school graduates is expected to increase nationally by 23% between the 2000-01 and 2025-26 school years, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. While the number of new white graduates will shrink by about 5%, the number of new Hispanic high school graduates is projected to triple during the same period, and new black graduates will increase by 40.5%.

The fast-growing South is diversifying, but Sewanee has struggled to keep up. Black students made up just 5.8% of the first-year class in the 2017-18 school year, up slightly from a decade earlier, according to the school.

Caroline Graham, 20, a sophomore, said all “images of hate” should be removed. The school’s history cannot be erased, “but we don’t have to keep worshiping it,” said Ms. Graham, who is white.

Rising FastChange in high school graduates in the Southsince 2000, by raceSource: Western Interstate Commission for HigherEducationNote: Dates are start of academic years. Projectionsfor years beginning in 2011.

Tim Huebner, a history professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., who has studied the legacy of Confederate memorials, recommends contextualizing Confederate markers with signs or new courses rather than removing them.

“I don’t think you take all of these remnants of the past, take all these artifacts, and grind them into dust,” he said.

Last summer, after a white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville, Va., erupted in violence, Confederate statues and symbols were removed across the U.S., including in Baltimoreand Helena, Mont. The gathering in Charlottesville was to oppose the removal of a Confederate statue from a city park.

Earlier this month, Duke University President Vincent E. Price announced the school would leave empty a space at the entry to its chapel where a statue of Robert E. Lee had stood. That statue was vandalized last year, and Dr. Price said the void would “provide a powerful statement about the past, the present and our values,” representing, as the chapel’s dean phrased it, a hole left by the sin of racism.

Black students comprised a near-record 11.6% of Duke’s first-year class last year.

For some, scrubbing campuses or contextualizing memorials may not be enough. Terry Ward, director of college counseling at Providence Country Day School in East Providence, R.I., said students at his school occasionally consider going to Virginia or the Carolinas but rarely look further south.

“How do you get kids to get interested and apply and feel like this is a place they want to be?” said Nicholas S. Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt, which draws students from across the country to its Nashville, Tenn., campus, announced in 2016 that it would pay $1.2 million to the United Daughters of the Confederacy to rename Confederate Memorial Hall as Memorial Hall.

The school said the prior name contradicted its goals of inclusion. Last year, 12.5% of first-year Vanderbilt students were black, nearly double the number from a decade earlier.

Administrators at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va., are expected to respond in coming weeks to a commission report, released in May, that recommended a building erected with proceeds from a slave sale be renamed, and that Confederate leader Robert E. Lee no longer be referred to as a general. It also recommended that official college functions no longer take place inside Lee Chapel—or if they do, to remove the memorial to Confederate soldiers and use a portrait of Lee in civilian dress.

“W&L’s affiliation with its namesakes—particularly R.E. Lee—greatly limits the school’s ability to attract diverse students, faculty and staff,” the report said. The percentage of black students at Washington & Lee hovered between 2% and 3% for most of the past half-dozen years; this coming fall, it is 6%.

Some older alumni see the changes as an effort to abandon history and tradition.

Sewanee alumnus James K. Polk Van Zandt, a 65-year-old retired Episcopal reverend, said he was on the university’s board for decades but became frustrated by repeated efforts to erase the institution’s past.

“Whether we like it or not, it is part of our history,” said Mr. Van Zandt, who is white. “If they got kids from New Jersey who don’t want to go there, let them go somewhere else.”

Write to Cameron McWhirter at and Melissa Korn at


John Kelly calls Confederate general an ‘honorable man’ — Chelsea Clinton attacks

October 31, 2017

The New York Post

 Image may contain: 1 person, suit

“Men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

Chelsea Clinton blasted Kelly’s version of history in a tweet Monday night.

“General Kelly, there is no “compromise” regarding slavery. Ever,” Clinton tweeted. “And, the Constitution’s original 3/5ths Compromise was an abomination.”

More then 600,000 Americans are estimated to have died in the Civil War.

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Trump Backers Cheer Economic Agenda, Blame GOP for Setbacks

September 22, 2017

President’s responses on North Korea, white supremacist violence draw slightly lower rating

Image result for Donald Trump in Florida after hurricane, photos

By Valerie BauerleinArian Campo-Flores and Quint Forgey
The Wall Street Journal

As President Donald Trump approaches his 10th month in the White House, The Wall Street Journal revisited voters in six counties representing the economic underpinnings of his support. In each county, the Journal spoke to supporters, converts, abstainers and opponents to see how their economic situation is changing, and whether their expectations are being met.

Supporters of President Donald Trump generally approve of his overall performance on what they see as core issues such as jobs and taxes, and they blame Republicans in Congress for failing to support the White House agenda.

“I think he’s doing great,” said Emory Terensky, 66 years old, a former steelworker in Monessen, Pa. Similarly, Patti Thompson, who lives in the Phoenix-area retirement community of Sun City, said her support of the president hasn’t wavered, though she continues to be frustrated that “we can’t get Congress and Trump on the same page.” She puts the fault for that on congressional Republican leaders.

On a few issues, such as tensions with North Korea and clashes with white supremacists in the U.S., Mr. Trump received a slightly lower rating. “I’m very concerned about the North Koreans,” said John Golomb, 65, a former steelworker, in Monessen, Pa. “Is Donald Trump talk, or is he action? That’s the $64,000 question.”

Robert Lee, the 62-year-old owner of Rockingham Guns & Ammo in Richmond County, N.C., gives the president an overall grade of “B-minus, at best.” He is holding out hope that Mr. Trump will begin successfully working with Congress to get his agenda passed. “He is more intent on fighting,” Mr. Lee said. “You can’t fight all the time. You’ve got to step back away from it, take a look at the broader picture of what’s taking place and do something about it.”

Trump opponents, for the most part, remain angry, and, in some cases, disheartened, with his handling of several key issues over the past few months. Trish Collins, a 40-year-old human resources manager in Pinellas County, Fla., said she feels exhausted by the “roller coaster” of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Rachel Kalenberg, 35, who voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate, said she hadn’t yet seen evidence of an economic boom in energy-rich Gillette, Wyo, where she owns a pizza shop. But she acknowledged that many people here still believe Mr. Trump’s support of the coal industry could ultimately mean more jobs and other good things. “I think Gillette is very hopeful, and we have seen a little bit of growth,” she said. “Maybe it’s not enough.”

Among Trump supporters, views were mixed on his response to the Confederate statue protests in Charlottesville, Va., which descended into a fatal confrontation. Some, including Mr. Lee in Richmond County, N.C., believe that Mr. Trump created unnecessary problems by blaming white nationalists for violent confrontations with counterprotesters in an Aug. 14 prepared speech, then saying there was “blame on both sides” in a news conference the next day at Trump Tower in New York.

“He added a little bit more to it than should’ve been added and that drove a wedge,” Mr. Lee said. “If you keep on tossing something into the wind, it’s going to blow back on you, and it did.”

But others, such as Earl Cassorla, 61, agreed with Mr. Trump’s stance, and blamed the media for not reporting his remarks accurately. “The president denounced white supremacists and neo-Nazis,” said Mr. Cassorla, co-owner of a fireworks shop in Battle Mountain, Nev. “The president said there were good people on both sides of the statue protest. The media responded that ‘No, there are no good Nazis.’ Fake news.”

Mr. Cassorla also agreed with Mr. Trump’s assertions in various tweets that removal of Confederate statues is wrong. In the case of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose statue in Charlottesville was at the center of the Aug. 12 protest, Mr. Cassorla said the Southern war commander wasn’t the racist he has been portrayed to be.

“People were protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, who fought for the rights of his state, despite his desire for the country to remain undivided,” he said. “Some opposing the removal of Lee’s statue were a fringe group of white supremacists. Additionally, some protesting were just people who simply opposed the removal of a historical statue.”

Jocelyn Golomb, a 20-year-old Monessen, Pa., store clerk, who voted for Hillary Clinton in November, said she has always hated Mr. Trump. But her contempt for the president reached new heights following his response to the violence in Charlottesville.

“He kind of didn’t really have anything to say until after he was pushed to say something, and that wasn’t right,” she said. “I don’t think he’ll ever have my support. Ever.”

Ms. Collins in Pinellas County, Fla., who voted for Mrs. Clinton, thinks Mr. Trump’s handling of the Charlottesville violence was abysmal. “If I had to guess what is the worst way to respond to this, he nearly hit it, ” she said. “It was terrifying to see that.” At the same time, “this is not a surprise,” she said. “He’s been saying racist things from the beginning of his campaign.”

Some Trump supporters, such as Curtis Chambers, a 54-year-old financial adviser, in Pinellas County, praised the way the president has handled the North Korea problem. “It is the question no one seems to have an answer for,” Mr. Chambers said.

“I think the Obama period was a period of appeasement,” Mr. Chambers said. “The Trump approach is different. It will be more confrontational, highlighted by his rhetoric. I feel like he’s being strong with North Korea. … I wish there was a better answer, but at least he’s standing up to [ Kim Jong Un].”

“It’s a tough situation,” said Steve Lang, a 54-year-old contingency planner in Pinellas County. He backs the way the president is working with allies such as Japan to try to contain the threat. “I don’t think the American people want us to go to war with North Korea.”

But Mr. Golomb, the former steelworker in Monessen, Pa., who feels more “cheated” than ever after voting for Mr. Trump in November 2016, fears a growing threat from Pyongyang that he believes is exacerbated by Mr. Trump’s bluster on social media.

“I’m very concerned about the North Koreans,” he said. “Is Donald Trump talk, or is he action? That’s the $64,000 question.”

To Ms. Collins, the Clinton voter, Mr. Trump’s handling of hostilities with North Korea has been unsettling. “He and Kim Jong Un are very similar in what they say to each other, and it’s terrifying to see our president saber-rattling,” she said. “I can’t see how his approach is making things better.” Moreover, she said, Mr. Trump is alienating key allies such as China that could help defuse the situation.

The president’s August speech on Afghanistan, in which he backed a continued commitment there despite a campaign pledge to quickly pull out, earned mixed reviews from his supporters.

“I don’t think putting more troops on the ground in Afghanistan is the answer,” said Samme Engelson, 40, owner of an embroidery shop in Battle Mountain, Nev., who voted for the president. “I worry about the counsel the president is getting as far as this ‘war’ is concerned. We have been there so long.”

But Mr. Lang, who also backed the president, said the president’s change of heart was a positive step. “He sounded like he listened to his generals,” he said.

John Golomb, the former steelworker from Monessen, Pa., who early into Mr. Trump’s presidency began to regret his Trump vote, was particularly worried about the shift in Afghanistan which he hopes “doesn’t turn into another Vietnam.”

Responses to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma split along partisan lines, even in Florida, where Irma did the most damage.

Mr. Chambers, a Trump supporter in Pinellas County, thinks Mr. Trump performed well in the wake of the recent hurricanes.

“He went there right away,” Mr. Chambers said. “That kind of hands-on leadership, and showing up at the front where the trouble is, is a morale booster to everybody.”

But Ms. Collins, the Clinton supporter from Pinellas County, faulted Mr. Trump’s response.

“It seemed pretty obvious on his first visit [to Texas] that he was there just to promote himself,” she said. She credited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mobilization of resources, but said “this is another example of the career government staffers around him doing the best they can.”

Outside the hurricane zone, reactions were similarly divided.

“The president has behaved in a most compassionate manner related to the victims of this terrible storm,” said Mr. Cassorla of Nevada.

But Ms. Golomb of Monessen, Pa., viewed the president’s trip to Corpus Christi, Texas, in late August as nothing more than a glorified photo opportunity. “He wasn’t talking about, ‘Oh, we have a natural disaster, ‘” she said. “He was talking about, ‘What a huge crowd.'”

The president’s moves on DACA won praise from supporters for his initial move to toss the topic into Congress’s lap, but became more divisive when he began negotiating directly with Democrats. The suggestion to press for a continuance of such protections for young immigrants is also in line with a majority of Americans, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Ms. Engelson, of Battle Mountain, Nev., expressed concern about the president’s handling of DACA.

“I originally thought that the president did the right thing in canceling DACA in six months,” she said. “Let Congress do their job. Now I am a bit worried that he is going to sacrifice immigration law to advance other items in his agenda, such as repealing Obamacare and tax reform. If that happens, I think he will have done great damage to his political future and perhaps our country’s future.”

But some supporters were willing to cut him more slack.

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

September 22, 2017 07:14 ET (11:14 GMT)

The Making and the Breaking of the Legend of Robert E. Lee

August 29, 2017

In the Band’s popular song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” an ex-Confederate soldier refers to Robert E. Lee as “the very best.” It is difficult to think of another song that mentions a general by name. But Lee has always occupied a unique place in the national imagination. The ups and downs of his reputation reflect changes in key elements of Americans’ historical consciousness — how we understand race relations, the causes and consequences of the Civil War and the nature of the good society.

Born in 1807, Lee was a product of the Virginia gentry — his father a Revolutionary War hero and governor of the state, his wife the daughter of George Washington’s adopted son. Lee always prided himself on following the strict moral code of a gentleman. He managed to graduate from West Point with no disciplinary demerits, an almost impossible feat considering the complex maze of rules that governed the conduct of cadets.

While opposed to disunion, when the Civil War broke out and Virginia seceded, Lee went with his state. He won military renown for defeating (until Gettysburg) a succession of larger Union forces. Eventually, he met his match in Ulysses S. Grant and was forced to surrender his army in April 1865. At Appomattox he urged his soldiers to accept the war’s outcome and return to their homes, rejecting talk of carrying on the struggle in guerrilla fashion. He died in 1870, at the height of Reconstruction, when biracial governments had come to power throughout the South.

But, of course, what interests people who debate Lee today is his connection with slavery and his views about race. During his lifetime, Lee owned a small number of slaves. He considered himself a paternalistic master but could also impose severe punishments, especially on those who attempted to run away. Lee said almost nothing in public about the institution. His most extended comment, quoted by all biographers, came in a letter to his wife in 1856. Here he described slavery as an evil, but one that had more deleterious effects on whites than blacks. He felt that the “painful discipline” to which they were subjected benefited blacks by elevating them from barbarism to civilization and introducing them to Christianity. The end of slavery would come in God’s good time, but this might take quite a while, since to God a thousand years was just a moment. Meanwhile, the greatest danger to the “liberty” of white Southerners was the “evil course” pursued by the abolitionists, who stirred up sectional hatred. In 1860, Lee voted for John C. Breckinridge, the extreme pro-slavery candidate. (A more moderate Southerner, John Bell, carried Virginia that year.)

Lee’s code of gentlemanly conduct did not seem to apply to blacks. During the Gettysburg campaign, he did nothing to stop soldiers in his army from kidnapping free black farmers for sale into slavery. In Reconstruction, Lee made it clear that he opposed political rights for the former slaves. Referring to blacks (30 percent of Virginia’s population), he told a Congressional committee that he hoped the state could be “rid of them.” Urged to condemn the Ku Klux Klan’s terrorist violence, Lee remained silent.

By the time the Civil War ended, with the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, deeply unpopular, Lee had become the embodiment of the Southern cause. A generation later, he was a national hero. The 1890s and early 20th century witnessed the consolidation of white supremacy in the post-Reconstruction South and widespread acceptance in the North of Southern racial attitudes. A revised view of history accompanied these developments, including the triumph of what David Blight, in his influential book “Race and Reunion” (2001), calls a “reconciliationist” memory of the Civil War. The war came to be seen as a conflict in which both sides consisted of brave men fighting for noble principles — union in the case of the North, self-determination on the part of the South. This vision was reinforced by the “cult of Lincoln and Lee,” each representing the noblest features of his society, each a figure Americans of all regions could look back on with pride. The memory of Lee, this newspaper wrote in 1890, was “the possession of the American people.”

Reconciliation excised slavery from a central role in the story, and the struggle for emancipation was now seen as a minor feature of the war. The Lost Cause, a romanticized vision of the Old South and Confederacy, gained adherents throughout the country. And who symbolized the Lost Cause more fully than Lee?

This outlook was also taken up by the Southern Agrarians, a group of writers who idealized the slave South as a bastion of manly virtue in contrast to the commercialism and individualism of the industrial North. At a time when traditional values appeared to be in retreat, character trumped political outlook, and character Lee had in spades. Frank Owsley, the most prominent historian among the Agrarians, called Lee “the soldier who walked with God.” (Many early biographies directly compared Lee and Christ.) Moreover, with the influx of millions of Catholics and Jews from southern and eastern Europe alarming many Americans, Lee seemed to stand for a society where people of Anglo-Saxon stock controlled affairs.

Historians in the first decades of the 20th century offered scholarly legitimacy to this interpretation of the past, which justified the abrogation of the constitutional rights of Southern black citizens. At Columbia University, William A. Dunning and his students portrayed the granting of black suffrage during Reconstruction as a tragic mistake. The Progressive historians — Charles Beard and his disciples — taught that politics reflected the clash of class interests, not ideological differences. The Civil War, Beard wrote, should be understood as a transfer of national power from an agricultural ruling class in the South to the industrial bourgeoisie of the North; he could tell the entire story without mentioning slavery except in a footnote. In the 1920s and 1930s, a group of mostly Southern historians known as the revisionists went further, insisting that slavery was a benign institution that would have died out peacefully. A “blundering generation” of politicians had stumbled into a needless war. But the true villains, as in Lee’s 1856 letter, were the abolitionists, whose reckless agitation poisoned sectional relations. This interpretation dominated teaching throughout the country, and reached a mass audience through films like “The Birth of a Nation,” which glorified the Klan, and “Gone With the Wind,” with its romantic depiction of slavery. The South, observers quipped, had lost the war but won the battle over its history.

As far as Lee was concerned, the culmination of these trends came in the publication in the 1930s of a four-volume biography by Douglas Southall Freeman, a Virginia-born journalist and historian. For decades, Freeman’s hagiography would be considered the definitive account of Lee’s life. Freeman warned readers that they should not search for ambiguity, complexity or inconsistency in Lee, for there was none — he was simply a paragon of virtue. Freeman displayed little interest in Lee’s relationship to slavery. The index to his four volumes contained 22 entries for “devotion to duty,” 19 for “kindness,” 53 for Lee’s celebrated horse, Traveller. But “slavery,” “slave emancipation” and “slave insurrection” together received five. Freeman observed, without offering details, that slavery in Virginia represented the system “at its best.” He ignored the postwar testimony of Lee’s former slave Wesley Norris about the brutal treatment to which he had been subjected. In 1935 Freeman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in biography.

That same year, however, W. E. B. Du Bois published “Black Reconstruction in America,” a powerful challenge to the mythologies about slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction that historians had been purveying. Du Bois identified slavery as the fundamental cause of the war and emancipation as its most profound outcome. He portrayed the abolitionists as idealistic precursors of the 20th-century struggle for racial justice, and Reconstruction as a remarkable democratic experiment — the tragedy was not that it was attempted but that it failed. Most of all, Du Bois made clear that blacks were active participants in the era’s history, not simply a problem confronting white society. Ignored at the time by mainstream scholars, “Black Reconstruction” pointed the way to an enormous change in historical interpretation, rooted in the egalitarianism of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and underpinned by the documentary record of the black experience ignored by earlier scholars. Today, Du Bois’s insights are taken for granted by most historians, although they have not fully penetrated the national culture.

Inevitably, this revised view of the Civil War era led to a reassessment of Lee, who, Du Bois wrote elsewhere, possessed physical courage but not “the moral courage to stand up for justice to the Negro.” Even Lee’s military career, previously viewed as nearly flawless, underwent critical scrutiny. In “The Marble Man” (1977), Thomas Connelly charged that “a cult of Virginia authors” had disparaged other Confederate commanders in an effort to hide Lee’s errors on the battlefield. James M. McPherson’s “Battle Cry of Freedom,” since its publication in 1988 the standard history of the Civil War, compared Lee’s single-minded focus on the war in Virginia unfavorably with Grant’s strategic grasp of the interconnections between the eastern and western theaters.

Lee’s most recent biographer, Michael Korda, does not deny his subject’s admirable qualities. But he makes clear that when it came to black Americans, Lee never changed. Lee was well informed enough to know that, as the Confederate vice president, Alexander H. Stephens, declared, slavery and “the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man” formed the “cornerstone” of the Confederacy; he chose to take up arms in defense of a slaveholders’ republic. After the war, he could not envision an alternative to white supremacy.

What Korda calls Lee’s “legend” needs to be retired. And whatever the fate of his statues and memorials, so long as the legacy of slavery continues to bedevil American society, it seems unlikely that historians will return Lee, metaphorically speaking, to his pedestal.

Charlottesville reschedules ‘community recovery’ town hall

August 24, 2017


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Charlottesville residents will get a chance this weekend to talk with city officials about a white nationalist rally earlier this month that devolved into deadly violence.

The city had planned Thursday evening to host what it calls a “community recovery town hall,” in collaboration with the Community Relations Services of the Department of Justice. But Charlottesville officials said the event has been rescheduled for Sunday afternoon due to conflicts with a local high school’s student activities.

Officials will provide an update on “recovery efforts” and offer opportunities for public comment, according to a news release.

“Our community has been shaken to its core,” City Manager Maurice Jones said in a statement. “We see this partnership with CRS as the beginning of a process of recovery and renewal.”

It’s been nearly two weeks since the event, which attracted what’s believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in at least a decade.

Rally attendees and counter-protesters fought in the streets. Heather Heyer was killed when a car plowed into demonstrators during a march, and two state troopers died in a helicopter crash that day.

City workers covered two Confederate statues in black on Wednesday to mourn Heyer’s death.

Workers in Charlottesville shrouded a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in black on Wednesday in a move intended to symbolize the city’s mourning for a woman killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month. (August 23)

Some residents have criticized city officials for granting a permit for the rally, and others have said police didn’t do enough to keep the two sides apart or stop the fighting.

City officials already got some feedback at a council meeting earlier this week when scores of people packed the chamber, shouting and cursing at members. The angry crowd forced the council to abandon its agenda. Instead, the panel heard hours of public comment.

In other developments on Wednesday, Christopher Cantwell, a white nationalist from Keene, New Hampshire, turned himself in to face three felony charges in Virginia, authorities said. Cantwell was wanted by University of Virginia police on two counts of the illegal use of tear gas or other gases and one count of malicious bodily injury with a “caustic substance,” explosive or fire.

University police issued a brief statement late Wednesday saying Cantwell turned himself in to police in nearby Lynchburg, Virginia, where he was being held at a regional jail pending transport to Charlottesville.

It wasn’t immediately known if Cantwell has a lawyer.

Contacted by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Cantwell acknowledged he had pepper-sprayed a counter-demonstrator during an Aug. 11 protest on the campus of the University of Virginia the day before the rally. But he insisted he was defending himself, saying he did it “because my only other option was knocking out his teeth.” He also said he was looking forward to his day in court.

Lynchburg police, contacted by AP late Wednesday, declined to release further information about Cantwell.‘community-recovery’-town-hall

Trump Tries to Recharge His Base in Arizona Rally

August 23, 2017

President addresses supporters in his first rally after uproar over the white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Va.

President Donald Trump at the rally in Phoenix.
President Donald Trump at the rally in Phoenix. PHOTO: JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS

Updated Aug. 23, 2017 1:28 a.m. ET

PHOENIX—President Donald Trump, in his first rally after the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month, attacked the news media and his fellow Republicans who were critical of his response to the protest.

In an address of more than an hour, Mr. Trump accused the news media of “fomenting divisions” and attacked his GOP colleagues for failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He also urged supporters to press lawmakers on the overhaul of the tax code.

Mr. Trump’s remarks about the Charlottesville violence—which initially oscillated between condemning the white supremacists and saying that “both sides” were to blame—were criticized by lawmakers, business leaders and civil-rights groups. The White House had sought to end those defections on Monday with a somber statement that unequivocally rejected bigotry and racism.

At the rally, Mr. Trump issued a forceful condemnation of “the thugs” who perpetrate hatred and violence.

“What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America,” he said.

But Mr. Trump also reiterated his previous criticism of efforts to remove Confederate monuments, including a statue of Civil War general Robert E. Lee, which sparked the demonstration in Charlottesville.

“They are trying to take away our history and our heritage,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday of the news media.

The rally was the latest example of the White House’s struggle to control its narrative. The White House on Tuesday had sought to highlight the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration enforcement policy with the president’s tour of a border protection facility in Yuma, Ariz

“We’re finally defending our own borders,” Mr. Trump said later in the rally Tuesday.

President Donald Trump toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Yuma, Ariz., on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Yuma, Ariz., on Tuesday.PHOTO: JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS

He also threatened to shut down the government to secure funding for a wall on the southwest border.

Ahead of the rally, protesters denounced the president as supporters queued to enter the arena in downtown Phoenix, where a heavy police presence reflected local officials’ concern about the chance of violence. Supporters of the president chanted “Build that wall” in the direction of a Trump critic waving an American flag, who shook his finger and repeatedly responded, “With your tax money.”

Some of his loudest cheers of the night came when he praised former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for defying a judge’s order to stop conducting immigration patrols in the state. Mr. Trump has hinted in recent weeks that he is considering pardoning Mr. Arpaio, but didn’t do so on Tuesday evening.

“I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine,” Mr. Trump said of the former sheriff.

Mr. Trump sought the support of his crowd to move his agenda. While he largely refrained from naming any Republicans, he pointed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s failure by one vote to pass a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican who cast one of the fatal votes on the repeal bill.

“One vote. Speak to your senator, please,” the president said before a boisterous crowd.

What started as largely peaceful protests turned raucous following the conclusion of Mr. Trump’s remarks, as Phoenix police deployed tear gas, pepper balls and loud flash bangs to disband the crowds.

Protesters dispersed, coughing and with burning eyes. Some Trump supporters exiting the convention center appeared largely unaware of the scene unfolding on the street. Others stopped from a sky bridge to take pictures of the tear gas billowing on Monroe Street as they exited the rally.

Sgt. Jonathan W. Howard, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said there had been “one or two arrests” by around 10 p.m. local time. “A small amount of the crowd” was still in the street, he said, adding that police were “still working to disburse them.”

Protesters after Phoenix police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center.
Protesters after Phoenix police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center. PHOTO: MATT YORK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

There were no significant injuries, he said.

Mr. Trump arrived in town as he is feuding with Jeff Flake, Arizona’s junior senator who has been critical of the president’s trade and border-wall plans and decried his Charlottesville remarks. Mr. Trump in turn has called Mr. Flake, one of the Republican Party’s most vulnerable incumbents in 2018, “toxic” and “weak on borders.”

In a tweet last week, Mr. Trump praised one of Mr. Flake’s primary challengers, Kelli Ward. “Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump on Tuesday didn’t mention Mr. Flake by name, but alluded to him, saying: “Nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who is weak on borders, weak on crime.” He added: “I haven’t mentioned any names, so now everybody’s happy.”

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at, Ted Mann at and Ian Lovett at

Appeared in the August 23, 2017, print edition as ‘Trump Seeks to Recharge His Base.’


Charlottesville: A Made In America Crisis — “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?”

August 19, 2017

By Michael Wilner
The Jerusalem Post
August 19, 2017

History is our guide to what Charlottesville means to racism in the US.

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Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS – JONATHAN ERNST

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia – Many statues dot the Jeffersonian city of Charlottesville, a quaint, red-bricked and well-manicured college town host to the University of Virginia and, this past weekend, a neofascist rally the likes of which Americans have not seen in modern times.

On the campus itself, Homer, the ancient Greek author of the Iliad, takes center stage, while Thomas Jefferson and George Washington look upon each other across the quad. Enter town and you will pass Revolutionary War hero George Clark astride a horse, and then Sacagawea, a native American woman who guided Lewis and Clarke into the West and, according to the plaque beside her rusted base, represents “a symbol of unity and peace for all people.”

Only further in town do you reach the Confederate statues – of which there are many, as well.

An unknown infantryman stands above the stars and bars of the 1860s secessionist rebellion and Civil War, exemplifying the “defenders of the rights of the states.” Nearby, a horse-mounted Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson – one of the most revered Southern generals of the war – rides above a winged man and woman, sculpted like Soviet icons of strength and camaraderie.

But it is the statue of one particular man, with a singular grip on the Southern imagination, that is causing so much controversy here in Virginia that locals threaten to pull it down – a prospect egregious enough for white power activists to gather and march in its defense.

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That man is Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate armed forces and the central icon of what is known as the “Lost Cause” of the South. It is, in short, a myth that the American Civil War was not primarily about slavery, and that Lee actually lamented the peculiar institution which brought Africans to the American colonies in chains.

As state assemblies voted to secede from the Union one by one, each explicitly wrote that their right to enslave others was their cause. Lee chose to lead this effort. But admitting this fact in light of defeat is to admit that Southern history is defined – from its origins to its crucible moment– by the inequality of its culture and people.

Thus a campaign began in the early 1900s to change this history, in the interest of moving on and in healing national wounds from a war that remains the nation’s deadliest.

Statues were erected and the Confederacy became a symbol to many – not of states’ rights to shatter the Union or proceed with the slave trade, but simply of states rights writ large. It has remained a consistent conservative principle in the South ever since, as its representatives advocate for local control and limitations on the federal government.

And so, in Emancipation Square here in Charlottesville, Lee still stands tall. A veiled woman has brought her children to play here less than a week after neo-Nazis declared this soil their own by blood. A homeless person idles. Three black residents sit under a tree, their backs toward Lee, in peace.

“Thank you, general!” two white men yell toward Lee from a passing car.

“They descended on us – it felt like bum-rush Charlottesville,” said Hope Jackson, a longtime resident of the city who works with small children. Hope chose not to attend Saturday’s events in order to avoid stress and fear. She now sits reflectively on a bench across from a painted memorial to Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman who was murdered by a rally participant, and a second painting of Lady Liberty stomping out a Nazi Schutzstaffel.

“We were warned ahead of time, but we didn’t know the magnitude,” Hope added. She is black. “It’s the South – it’s part of life.”

Some 100 public schools and roughly 700 statues across the nation are named after Confederate icons, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is a consequence of the unfinished 19th-century history that has now become a flashpoint between those who believe America needs to move on and those who have adopted the Lost Cause as fact.

Many Americans have given little thought to the details or meaning of the Civil War, and rather identify Lee, Jackson and Confederate president Jefferson Davis as the most famous and successful men ever to emerge from the South. To them it is pride of place and little more.

But these are not the individuals who marched on Charlottesville on Saturday, as President Donald Trump asserted in his extraordinary remarks from Trump Tower on Tuesday.

Those who organized the Virginia march fit by their own definition into three camps that have aligned themselves with the Lost Cause: White nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. And this is why understanding the meaning of a statue to Robert E. Lee is critical to understanding this modern surge in American antisemitism.

White nationalists believe the United States was founded by white Christians and is therefore, in every meaningful way, their birthright. They assert that– just like African- Americans, Muslims, Jews, and other minorities– they are entitled to their cultural heritage and to its preservation. They claim the Confederacy is a part of this heritage, and thus statues to the cause are a part of their history.

White supremacists take this cause one step further by stripping away any pretense of concern over discriminating on the basis of race. They believe that whites are not only entitled to the nation by birthright – “blood and soil,” they say – but that laws allowing for the diversification of America, such as the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Voting Rights Act and more recent immigration and civil rights efforts, have all been part of a concerted effort to minimize the power of the white majority.

Neo-Nazis march for Robert E. Lee because they believe this concerted effort to thwart white power has been organized by a conspiracy of Jews. Their lexicon is similar to that of white nationalists who refer to a cabal of globalists, bankers and liberal media working against them – except that these fascists are more explicit, using terms such as Jewish globalists, Jewish money, Jewish media.

Material that promoted the Charlottesville event was evocatively antisemitic: “Unite the Right to End Jewish Influence in America,” read one advertisement for the August 12 rally on The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, depicting a man taking a hammer to the Star of David.

Another promotional poster featuring the names of prominent racist participants highlighted the statues under threat, complete with marching Confederate soldiers and Nazi-era Reichsadler eagles.

In his Tuesday press conference, Trump – the president of the Union and leader of the party of Abraham Lincoln – said that “very fine people” were among those marching here. This was despite the organizers of the event and the failure of any group – conservative or otherwise – to identify participants who have dissociated themselves from its stated original purpose.

Trump defended the Confederate statues that have become the frontline standards of America’s most undemocratic of movements. He compared Confederate icons to the nation’s founding fathers, Washington and Jefferson, as mere slave owners who happened to devise the Union, not secede from it.

Early in his career as a young man, Lincoln issued some of his first remarks on his fears over slavery’s effects on the American experiment.

“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the Earth – our own excepted – in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years,” Lincoln said at Lyceum, Illinois, in 1838.

“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?” he continued. “If it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.”

Murdoch son donates $1 million to anti-hate crime group in Trump rebuke

August 18, 2017


© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, criticized Donald Trump’s response to recent violence in Virginia and pledged $1 million to countering hate

NEW YORK (AFP) – James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox whose father Rupert has been a Donald Trump ally, criticized the US president’s response to recent violence in Virginia and pledged to donate $1 million to countering hate.The unusual political intervention from an executive who has cultivated a more low-key persona than his father, was notable, coming from the top echelons of a media empire that includes Fox News.

Trump is said to assiduously watch the news network, whose viewers include many of his staunchest supporters.

The US president has come under blistering attack across the political spectrum for saying anti-racism protestors deserved equal blame for violence at a neo-Nazi and white supremacist rally that left one woman dead last Saturday.

Nineteen other people were injured when a suspected white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at the rally in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

In an email addressed to “friends,” a copy of which has been seen by AFP, Murdoch said he had been moved to act “as a concerned citizen and a father.”

“What we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the president of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people,” wrote Murdoch.

“The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob,” he said.

“I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.”

Murdoch said he and his wife Kathryn were donating $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League, which calls itself the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism, and which also counters hate crimes and threats to democracy.

The ADL is an “extraordinary force for vigilance and strength in the face of bigotry,” Murdoch wrote, calling on recipients of the email to donate as well.

Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon and Fox News founder, has repeatedly urged Trump to sack his far-right chief strategist Steve Bannon, The New York Times reported this week.

Confederate monuments to stay at Gettysburg battlefield

August 18, 2017

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GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Officials with the National Park Service said the Confederate monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania will not be removed from the battlefield.

Katie Lawhon, senior adviser for the park service’s Gettysburg battlefield office, told the Reading Eagle ( ) the site-specific memorials are important, and the park service’s job is to historically and objectively tell the stories the monuments commemorate.

Her reassurance comes after a heated debate over Confederate monuments spread across the U.S. Three people died amid turmoil in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Four protesters have been arrested in connection with the toppling of a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, and Baltimore dismantled four monuments under the cover of darkness late Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

Barb Adams, a volunteer at the Gettysburg battlefield, said the removal of the statues is breaking her heart.

“It’s just so upsetting to me — these men, these soldiers fought for what they believed in,” she said.

Area tour guide Elaine Leslie suggested putting up statues honoring abolitionists Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass.

The Gettysburg battlefield has more than 1,300 monuments that tell the story of the deadliest engagement in the Civil War. Thirty of them are dedicated to Confederate states, military units and individuals. More than 7,000 soldiers died in the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1 to July 3, 1863.

About 3.7 million tourists visit the area each year, according to a nonprofit that promotes tourism in the county.

Trump says US culture, history being ‘ripped apart’

August 17, 2017


© ProPublica/AFP/File / by Chris Lefkow | Workers load statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on a flatbed truck after they were removed from a public park in Baltimore, Maryland

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A defiant President Donald Trump shrugged off a barrage of bipartisan criticism on Thursday and said US culture and history were being “ripped apart” by the removal of Confederate statues.Trump waded back into the charged racial debate over monuments to the pro-slavery South with a volley of tweets doubling down on his controversial remarks of the past few days.

Trump has come under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike for saying that anti-racism protestors deserved equal blame for violence last weekend at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, held to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 other people injured when a man suspected of being a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Moves to remove statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy have gained momentum since the Charlottesville violence with monuments coming down in Baltimore and other cities.

Trump, echoing remarks he first made earlier this week, made it clear he opposed the campaign.

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Trump said.

“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!” he said.

“Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” he said.

Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson were Confederate generals while George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were among the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Trump critics were quick to point out the difference.

“Dear @realDonaldTrump: Robert Lee and Stonewall Jackson are not the same as Washington and Jefferson. Can’t believe I had to write that sentence,” said Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman from California.

– Trump hits critics, media –

Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, told The New York Times that he believed the president’s views were shared by many Americans.

“President Trump, by asking, ‘Where does this all end’ — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln? — connects with the American people about their history, culture and traditions,” Bannon said.

“The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it’s all racist,? Bannon said. “Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can’t get enough of it.”

Trump on Thursday also lashed out at two leading Republican critics in the Senate and accused the media of distorting his views.

“The public is learning (even more so) how dishonest the Fake News is,” he said. “They totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry. etc. Shame!”

On Monday Trump singled out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis as “repugnant,” but on Tuesday he said counter-protestors in Charlottesville had been “very violent” and equally responsible for the violence.

Trump’s weak condemnation of the racist far-right set off a political firestorm across the US political spectrum. World leaders also criticized Trump’s response.

Trump was forced to scrap two White House economic advisory councils on Wednesday as top businessmen began abandoning him to protest his stance on the racial debate.

The president took aim at two fellow Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona, in a series of tweets.

“Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists… and people like Ms. Heyer,” Trump said.

Heather Heyer, 32, was the woman killed by the suspected white nationalist in Charlottesville.

Graham had said the US president “took a step backward” Tuesday “by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally” and people like Heyer.

Trump also blasted Flake, one of the few Republicans openly critical of the president, saying he was “WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate.”

“He’s toxic!” Trump tweeted.

Flake, who is running for re-election in Arizona, wrote Tuesday: “We can’t accept excuses for white supremacy & acts of domestic terrorism. We must condemn. Period.”

by Chris Lefkow