A history lesson on the Confederacy for President Trump
© Getty Images

It is 2017, 152 years after the last shots of the American Civil War
were fired in south Texas between Union Mexican and Mexican American
cavalry and Confederate Mexican American forces, but the war continues.

As more books and articles have been written about the mighty war
(1861-1865), most literate Americans know who was involved and what
the issues were. There appears to be some important exceptions to that
posit.

ADVERTISEMENT
Watching President Trump conflate Presidents George
Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee and his fellow
traitors against the United States absolutely stunned me.

President Trump asked if those who demand the trashing of
Confederate statues because of the slavery they defended will now turn
on Washington and Jefferson. They, after all, owned slaves, he said.

What?

Protesting statues of Confederate soldiers is not protesting
slavery, it is protesting treason and making war on the United States.
Does Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE know that? It doesn’t sound like he does. Where are
his learned advisors?

History lesson: Every Confederate officer was guilty of
treason against the United States, specifically of making war on the
United States. Accepting an officer’s commission from the Confederacy
or any state within the Confederacy was “an open confession” to
treason. Officers make war, privates just fight them.

Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution -- “Treason
against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against
them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No
Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two
Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

Mr. President, any statue to a Confederate soldier or politician
honors treason to the United States. Presidents Washington and
Jefferson did not give “aid and comfort” to enemies of the United
States nor did they levy war “against them.”

Another argument by supporters of Confederate statues and monuments is
that they honor their “heritage” or as Southern sympathizing writer
Pat Buchanan puts it, their “history.” Intellectually, that position
lacks legitimacy and depth.

That “heritage” and “history” was decapitated by the Union Army directed by Commander-in-Chief Abraham
Lincoln. Most historians rank him as the best president ever of the
country with the possible exception of President George Washington.

Let’s carefully look at President Trump’s suggestion that Presidents
Washington and Jefferson might be dishonored because they owned
slaves.

What do the words “history” and “heritage” mean to these people who use them to rationalize their protests?

It is estimated that only a third of colonial Americans supported revolt
against England. If so, should we honor British “loyalists” who fought
Washington’s army? There are plenty of descendants of these British
“loyalists” around. Shouldn’t their “history” and “heritage” be
honored? No. In fact those that fled to Canada weren’t allowed back
into the U.S. nor were they allowed to keep any property they owned.

That “heritage” and “history” argument suffers beyond belief. Are
Germans allowed to honor their “Third Reich” history? Are Japanese
allowed to blame hundreds of thousands of Chinese victims for dying by
Japanese bayonets? Are Korean “comfort women” who “serviced” Japanese
troops to be blamed? No. American occupiers made sure that such
actions weren’t acceptable. It is illegal in Germany to honor anything from the Nazi Era; the national anthem was changed, the Nazi salute is illegal; sympathetic articles about the Nazi era cannot be published.

The Chinese have not forgiven the Japanese. Anyone blind to what the Japanese did in China need only read or see “The Rape of Nanking.”

So, why should the great treason of 1861 be forgiven or honored in the
United States? It shouldn’t. Why did it take over 50 years to build
the Lincoln Memorial in the quintessential southern city of
Washington, D.C? Why was Lincoln’s birthday never a national holiday?
Answer, because the former Confederate breakaway states refused to
recognize February 12 as a holiday. Voila! That is why we have
“President’s Day.”

Enough accommodating. It’s 2017.

Monuments to and about traitors to the United States is a bridge too far.

The Civil War was over a long time ago. Every monument, statue and
Confederate flag should be confined out of view, not in public parks,
or schools or anywhere that public tax monies are used to maintain
the location and/or the statue or monument.

Strife-ridden Charlottesville, Va., probably wishes it had
removed and retired its statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee
long ago. I do too. 

Raoul Lowery Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
(Berkeley Press, 2017) and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a
Trillion Dollars in Trade” (Floricanto Press 2016). He formerly wrote
for the New American News service of the New York Times.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.