Robert E. Lee’s Family Requests His Name Be Erased From His House

A clever historian is behind the drive to significantly upgrade how American history is taught.

The group is pushing to change the official designation of Arlington House to drop Robert E. Lee’s name and make it a national historic site that embraces the full history here. It will take an act of Congress.

Lee’s direct descendants support the name change.

“I don’t feel like we’re taking the name away,” says Rob Lee. “I think when you call it the Arlington House, you’re just opening it up to more of the families who lived there, honestly. And I think it’s just more appropriate.”

Great stuff, and here is the part that really had me jump out of my chair to salute this historian.

Descendants of enslavers are into accepting their family’s deep guilt, which is framed as a sincere appreciation for the descendants of their slaves.

The generosity coming from the descendants of people who my ancestors hurt so horribly, it feels like an incredible gift,” says Sarah Fleming. Her fourth great-grandfather was Robert E. Lee’s uncle.

“We all grew up being very excited that we were connected to the Lees,” she says. “We also grew up knowing slavery was horrible, but the family didn’t talk about the space in between, that the Lees were enslavers.”

The space in-between… being related to one of the worst men in history and knowing that he fought for the worst things possible in the worst ways?


That space described is in fact no space at all, which is why this historian’s sharp logic bursting an old propaganda bubble is so profoundly needed.

Generosity from real victims of slavery was and indeed continues to be a gift, an undeserved one. It was literally what President Grant created as a path forward for the country after he won the Civil War, even personally intervening to prevent Lee from being hanged.

The fact descendents of pro-slavery have so grossly abused the gift and framed themselves as victims after they lost a war they started is pure tragedy. The fact they refused any guilt (e.g. Lost Cause) is what threw America back into a perpetual tailspin of repression and violent terrorism under Lee’s name.

…there were over 4,000 lynchings between the 1860s and 1960s in the united states, with over 500 happening in Georgia.

Lee often was used as inspiration for lynchings, cold and cruelly planned acts of domestic terrorism.

Civil Rights activist and investigative journalist, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, life was profoundly changed on March 9, 1892, when three friends (and successful businessmen) were lynched in Tennessee. This incident stemmed from their opening a grocery store too close to their white competitors. After she spoke out against this outrage in print, her newspaper office was destroyed, and her life was threatened. […] What she uncovered was lynchings were not for acts of sexual violence, but for attempting to register to vote, for being too successful, for failure to demure acceptably to whites, or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In addition, she showed that lynchings were not the act of out-of-control whites horrified over a grievous act. Rather, lynchings were often planned several days in advance and had police support. Not only were men lynched, but women and children were, too. Wells-Barnett’s work uncovered the thin veneer which was used to justify lynching.

Lynchings were gross denial of guilt, fraudulent claims of individual defense used as a thin veneer over widespread orchestrated terrorism. This has been the horrible legacy of the horrible traitor Robert E. Lee.

His name is a threat, whether on street signs or schools; a precursor and warning to racist violence. Robert E. Lee, like an Osama bin Laden Avenue or Timothy McVeigh Park is the detestable name of terrorism.

The story about Arlington being a house of reconciliation brings forward the obvious question what restorative work can his descendents really do to stop further perpetuation of heinous crimes under their name?

Removing the name from his house is a good start. First from his house, then maybe from their own.

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