Un-Cancel Robert E. Lee

Cancel culture is all about tearing things down. It is inherently destructive. It builds nothing. It creates nothing. It only destroys.

Like the Vandals who destroyed Rome, cancel culture is destroying American culture. Systematically, it seeks to target and eliminate America’s heroes. It rages against symbols of our cherished traditions, urging its hateful mobs to “burn it down!”  It is fueled by anger, bitterness, envy, and vindictiveness.

It is the same mean-spirited mindset that led French revolutionaries to reject their past, create a new calendar starting with Year Zero, and execute over seventeen thousand of their fellow citizens. Un-Cancel Robert E. Le... Kerr, Gib Buy New $18.99 (as of 11:47 UTC - Details)

The widespread growth of cancel culture in America, with its unforgiving intolerance of all things past, instills a sense of terror—particularly in young people—that they too may be cancelled for saying or even thinking dissenting ideas. This leads to massive self-censorship, the absolute squashing of debate and civil discourse, and ultimately to the suppression of free and creative thinking.

Cancel culture rejects the Western and Christian notions of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. In its place, cancel culture promotes violence, terror, intimidation, intolerance, and retribution.

As Paul Kengor notes in his 2020 book The Devil and Karl Marx, Marx’s Communist Manifesto spawned a twisted ideology that explicitly encouraged violence and terror to abolish private property, destroy religion, and even abolish the family. It called for an unprecedented application of  cancel culture to fundamentally transform society. But transform it into what?

Haven’t we learned from over a century of experience what Marxism, with cancel culture as its constant accomplice, produces? Are the deaths of 100 million victims of communism not instructive enough?  We know from experience where it all leads and what happens when society is “fundamentally transformed.”

Obama famously said in his 2008 campaign that he sought to fundamentally transform America. And now we see the fruits of his labor. Thanks to people like Obama, America is more divided than at any time since the Civil War.

Cancel culture follows Saul Alinsky’s infamous Rules for Radicals, particularly his rule to “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Interestingly, Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley College on Alinsky and his tactics. Beginning with the Clintons, cancel culture has become embedded in modern political discourse.

But it extends beyond politics. It reaches into the depths of our cultural identity to erase our traditions, our beliefs—particularly our religious beliefs—and the men and women who established our uniquely successful American culture. A culture, by the way, that is unsurpassed in human history in terms of liberty, innovation, and high standards of living.

Andrew Breitbart said that politics are downstream from culture. Now, after decades of the Marxists’ long march through the institutions—from academia to the media, entertainment, organized religion, and even the military and Corporate America—our culture has grown increasingly hostile toward the past. And that toxic culture is now influencing American politics.

As an alumnus of Washington and Lee University, I watched with utter dismay as the University’s leadership effectively erased Robert E. Lee from campus in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in 2020. Lee, who served as president of then-Washington College over the last five years of his life from 1865 to 1870, saved the impoverished school after the Civil War. He directed the construction of Lee Chapel, where he worshipped daily and where he located his office. The mortal remains of Lee and his entire family now rest in a crypt beneath the beautiful Recumbent Statue of Lee.

Disregarding Lee’s critical role in making W&L one of the top universities in the country, the cancellers targeted Lee Chapel, renaming it “University Chapel.” They removed historic portraits of Lee and George Washington, along with historic plaques referencing Lee in the chapel and elsewhere on campus. They literally built a wall to hide the Recumbent Statue of Lee in the chapel. They cancelled Founders’ Day, which for generations had honored George Washington and Robert E. Lee, and they removed images of Lee and Washington from diplomas.

The disgraceful erasure of Lee on the campus of W&L prompted me to write my new book, Un-Cancel Robert E. Lee, An Open Letter to the Trustees of Washington and Lee University, which was published this month by Bombardier Books.

The cancelling of Robert E. Lee is a classic example of the radical assault on America’s heroes. Lee was widely hailed as one of America’s greatest examples of noble character as recently as twenty or thirty years ago. He was exalted for his virtue, his devotion to duty, his sense of honor, his Christian faith, his courage, and his flawless, gentlemanly conduct.

Then the haters came for him. Cancel culture picked Lee as their target, using Alinsky’s tactics. They froze him, personalized him, and polarized him.

Cancel culture demands perfection of historical figures. But we know that human perfection is unrealistic. And they know it, too. They’re not interested in hailing any heroes of perfection because—with the exception of Jesus Christ—no such heroes exist. And the cancel mob is certainly not fond of Jesus. States of Rebellion: T... Kerr, Gib Best Price: $5.64 Buy New $18.99 (as of 10:22 UTC - Details)

They simply want to destroy Lee and other similar heroes. And they won’t stop with Lee. They’ve already targeted George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, and countless others.

Yet the destructive wave of cancel culture only creates a void. It leaves an emptiness and an absence of heroes and noble examples for our children and grandchildren to aspire to emulate. Who or what does cancel culture propose to fill that void? Karl Marx? Lenin? Stalin? Mao?

Lee deserves to be viewed in the context of his times. And in his time, he would be considered one of the more enlightened Americans for his views of slavery and blacks.

Keep in mind that, in the 1800s, blacks were not allowed to vote or serve on a jury in almost every state in the Union, including northern states. Women were not allowed to vote anywhere. Was Lee racist by today’s standards? Yes, but so was Abraham Lincoln and almost everyone else. Thankfully, we have come a long way since then. But it’s not fair to apply today’s standards to people who lived in vastly different times.

Are the sanctimonious proponents of cancel culture so morally superior that they would have behaved differently or held modern views on race if they lived 150 years ago? How do they think their descendants will view them in 150 years for their tolerance of slave labor in China to make iPhones, or child labor in Africa to mine rare earth minerals for EVs, and the destruction to the planet from their wasteful consumption? Some people need to get off their moral high horses.

Our task today is to expose cancel culture for what it is: an angry, intolerant, vindictive, and destructive attack on the heroes, values, and traditions that made America great.

And we must un-cancel Robert E. Lee by restoring him to his rightful place of honor in the pantheon of American heroes.

Un-Cancel Robert E. Lee is available now on Amazon.