Robert E. Lee is Prager "University's" racist friend

Robert E. Lee is Prager "University's" racist friend
Robert E. Lee Motel in Bristol, Virginia

 favorite hobby of some conservative “Sabbath gasbags” is to defend racist historical figures. Especially when it gives them a chance to rail against the “socialist mobs” of their imaginations. Most of the time they use dog-whistle language in an attempt to set up (im)plausible deniability later.

But sometimes, they just say it out loud. It’s like meeting someone’s racist friend at a party.

Last month, Prager University (which is similar to Trump University in that it isn’t a real university) posted to YouTube a video entitled “Who Was Robert E. Lee?” providing this description:

Rioters are tearing down statues of great American historical figures, including Robert E. Lee. Why should he be remembered? This video explains.

The two-minute-long explanation actually provides evidence why Lee deserves to be called a traitor and racist. In defense of maintaining monuments to honor Lee, the literal closing argument is that Lee is buried near his horse.

You can watch the short (2 minute) video here, or just skip to the bullet points below.

Edit: There used to be an embedded link here to watch the video on Prager University’s You Tube Channel. Unfortunately, in what was likely an attempt to avoid further embarrassment, PragerU either deleted it or made it private. So, you’ll have to trust my summary below. 


Amazing, right? Keep in mind – this video is, by its own description, intended as a defense of the Confederate general.  Here’s the argument:

  • Lee’s father was George Washington’s cavalry commander, his wife was Martha Washington’s great-granddaughter. But she wasn’t exactly George’s great-granddaughter
  • Lee’s home was 10 miles from Washington’s home at Mount Vernon (they were almost neighbors!) and is the site of Arlington National Cemetery. The video doesn’t mention the mansion and surrounding area were occupied by Union troops to prevent the traitor Lee from returning to his home, which was in a strategically advantageous position on a hill. During the war, the cemetery was established on the site. Lee didn’t donate the site for the cemetery, as a sympathetic viewer might conclude.
  • Lee led Federal troops to crush an 1859 attempted slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry, led by John Brown. Some might say there are “good people on both sides” of how to understand that event. But by including it, the video says “defender of slavery” is a reason to honor Lee.
  • Lee deemed slavery “a moral and political evil in any country” but called it “a greater evil to the white man than to the Black race,” and that, “Blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa.”
  • Lee was a traitor. He opposed secession, but when Virginia voted to secede, he rejected offers to lead Union troops and resigned his commission. Instead, he helped lead the slave states against the country he had sworn to serve.
  • Lee surrendered in defeat, which made him an “icon of reconciliation.” It was either that or conviction on charges of treason, I suppose.
  • Lee favored education for freed slaves, but not their right to vote.
  • Lee died of a stroke and is buried at Washington and Lee University, near his “legendary warhorse Traveller.”

That’s it. He was a traitor, a racist, and a failed military leader. But, says PragerU, we should honor him with statues because he’s two degrees of separation from George Washington and he’s buried near his horse.

What am I missing here?


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Filed under: News, Racism

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