Washington Lee University in Lexington Virginia has become yet another flashpoint for the proponents of liberal militancy. Several news outlets have reported that a movement began on the W.L. campus as several students demanded that the Confederate battle flags be removed from the Lee Chapel. The Lee Chapel sits in the same area where the famed and revered Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his family are buried, along with his beloved horse Traveler. The small contingent of students made demands and threatened civil unrest in the community if their demands were not met by September 1st.
The poorly timed protest and subsequent threats also come on the heels of other serious national problems. Including but not limited to a failed economy, a failed presidential administration, the implementation of the universally unwanted affordable health care act and in recent weeks, the threat of open insurrection in the Nevada desert at the Bundy ranch. The small group of liberal law students have concluded that they have been offended by the flags, and that the flags must be removed to satisfy their own misguided agenda. A student by the name of Dominik Taylor, a third-year law student at Washington Lee, said the students decided to speak out after tolerating for years symbols and events they find offensive. He stated; “When things such as Lee-Jackson Day happen, you’re just sort of feeling left alone and isolated and alienated.” Though no one has made any claims of having been singled out, excluded and / or threatened by any type of racist groups or individuals. And absolutely no charges of institutional racism have been brought forward. The other issue at hand is that the small group of students have formed a group called "the Committee". Though the names of these members have not been disclosed or published in the media (except for the one aforementioned student who chose to speak to the news media and he was not identified as a member of "The Committee") and no leadership has come forward to the media to clearly explain their position or to add any details as to just exactly why the battle flags should be removed (besides having been offended by their presence). Another claim made by mainstream media outlets claimed that "Neo-Confederates" were allowed march on campus during "Lee-Jackson" Day.
On 04/24/2014, I contacted the Communications Department at Washington Lee University to answer some questions that I had. The person who I spoke to chose not to be quoted because there was still a lack of clear information about the intentions of "The Committee". Though they were sure that the university would not release the names of the students for obvious reasons. But despite the lack of available information, our conversation was fruitful.
What I did learn, was that the flags ( that the students are demanding the removal of) are in fact authentic battle flags of the civil war. They were carried by units who served in the Confederate army. They are not a product of post war animosity. They are historic artifacts of the time period. And they are on display in the same manner that you would see an artifact displayed in a museum. And the Lee Chapel is in fact a museum in it's own right. I know this because I had the honor of visiting there some years ago.
Another question had to do with the allegations of Neo-Confederates marching on the Washington -Lee campus. This statement begs to be clearly answered because there are in fact several types of groups that could be improperly labeled as such. Including Civil War Reenactors and Son's of Confederate Veterans. These type of groups can in no way be classified or labeled "Neo- Confederate" and/or racist groups. The connotation here is, that the alleged groups who marched at Washington-Lee have a racist political agenda. Even though this allegation has not been clearly explained or the groups clearly identified.
I also inquired about local people's reaction to the "Committee's" demands. The contact at Washington- Lee said that the Alumni were upset. In reference to that reaction, She simply stated; " Can you imagine"? And rightfully so, Washington -Lee, like so many other colleges are heavily dependent upon the generous donations and support of Alumni. So it seems that the concerns of Alumni may have been dismissed by the "Committee" as they moved forward with their threat.
There is also a public safety aspect involved with the threats made by the "Committee", in that campus crime and violence has been at the forefront of the news for several years now. And campus authorities are now paying much closer attention to any threats that may be made against persons and property under college / university campus ownership. To add to the anxiety, Washington -Lee is close neighbors with VMI (Virginia Military Institute). Though according to W.L. University there does not appear to be any concern from VMI being expressed. However, threats of civil unrest does have the inherent possibility of raising security concerns at VMI.
Coincidentally April is the same month in which Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army Of Northern Virginia to General Grant at Appomattox Court House. It was due to the good manners and outstanding negotiating skills of both Lee and Grant that many years of guerilla warfare was avoided. The terms of surrender were based upon simple respect. I am including a copy of Lee's farewell to his troops.
After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.
But feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.
By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
— R. E. Lee, General, General Order No. 9