The Atlantic

Lee's Reputation Can't Be Redeemed

The question isn’t whether Robert E. Lee was a successful military commander—it’s why American communities continue to honor a Confederate leader.
Source: Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

On Sunday, I published an essay on the myth of Robert E. Lee. The fascinating thing about Dan McLaughlin’s response to that essay in National Review is how little it takes issue with.

McLaughlin does not dispute that Lee was a cruel slavemaster who engaged in dubious interpretation of his father-in-law’s will to maintain possession of his slaves until a court ruled against him; that Lee betrayed his country in defense of slavery; that Lee turned a blind eye to the massacres and humiliations of black soldiers by his subordinates; that Lee kidnapped free blacks and returned them to slavery during his invasion of the North; that Lee publicly opposed the rights of the freedmen after the war; or that Lee, as president of Washington College, turned a blind eye to his students engaging in racist terrorism while punishing them harshly for trying to take extra time off on Christmas. Indeed, McLaughlin concedes, “Lee was no hero; he fought for

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