Archive for the Dr. Dubois on Robert E. Lee Category

Dr.WEB DuBois On Robert E. Lee

Posted in Dr. Dubois on Robert E. Lee, Guest Commentators with tags , on August 24, 2017 by playthell
Dr. WEB DuBois: Historian, Sociologist, Economist, Poet, Seer
Chastizing the Racial Mythmakers

Each year on the 19th of January, there is renewed effort to canonize Robert E. Lee, the greatest confederate general. His personal comeliness, his aristocratic birth and his military prowess all call for the verdict of greatness and genius. But one thing–one terrible fact–militates against this, and that is the inescapable truth that Robert E. Lee led a bloody war to perpetuate slavery. Copperheads like The New York Times may magisterially declare, “Of course, he never fought for slavery.”

Well, for what did he fight? State rights? Nonsense. The South cared only for State Rights as a weapon to defend slavery. If nationalism had been a stronger defense of the slave system than particularism, the South would have been as nationalistic in 1861 as it had been in 1812.

No. People do not go to war for abstract theories of government. They fight for property and privilege, and that was what Virginia fought for in the Civil War. And Lee followed Virginia. He followed Virginia not because he particularly loved slavery (although he certainly did not hate it), but because he did not have the moral courage to stand against his family and his clan. Lee hesitated and hung his head in shame, because he was asked to lead armies against human progress and Christian decency and did not dare refuse. He surrendered not to Grant, but to Negro Emancipation.

Today we can best perpetuate his memory and his nobler traits not by falsifying his moral debacle, but by explaining it to the young white south. What Lee did in 1861, other Lees are doing in 1928. They lack the moral courage to stand up for justice to the Negro because of the overwhelming public opinion of their social environment.

Their fathers in the past have condoned lynching and mob violence, just as today they acquiesce in the disfranchisement of educated and worthy black citizens, provide wretchedly inadequate public schools for Negro children and endorse a public treatment of sickness, poverty and crime which disgraces civilization.

It is the punishment of the South that its Robert Lees and Jefferson Davises will always be tall, handsome and well-born. That their courage will be physical and not moral. That their leadership will be weak compliance with public opinion and never costly and unswerving revolt for justice and right.

It is ridiculous to seek to excuse Robert Lee as the most formidable agency this nation ever raised to make 4 million human beings goods instead of men. Either he knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense, or he did not. If he did not he was a fool. If he did, Robert Lee was a traitor and a rebel–not indeed to his country, but to humanity and humanity’s God.

Two of the 20th Centuries Greatest Revolutions
Dr. DuBois and Mao Tse Tung: “The Great Helmsman” and The Pan-Afrcanist Seer
Dr. WEB DuBois
New York
1928                                                                  ********************
A Note on Dr. DuBois
Yesterday a former student of mine when I was a Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where I was a co-founder of the WEB Dubois Department of Black Studies, the first Black Studies Department in the World!  (See: “Dr. DuBois Then and Now” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2013/12/15/dr-dubois-then-and-now/) posted the article above by Dr. DuBois on my facebook page.
Since only one person appears to have read it in the 24 hours since it was posted, I have concluded it is because the readers on my page do not have a proper appreciation for the place of Dr, Dubois among 20th century thinkers.  Actually The Doctor’s life and thought spans two centuries.  He came of age intellectually during the 19th century, and was the most broadly learned, prophetic and consequential American humanist intellectual of the 20th century!  He was the father of Black Studies and American scientific sociological investigation of race relations.   He was also the central figure the militant black liberation movement in  the US, and a Father of Pan-Africanism.  He was a prolific writer who combined the rigor of the scholar, the vision of the seer, and the pen of the poet….he has no peer!
Here is the link to a lecture/discussion of Dr. Dubois’ legacy by Playthell Benjamin and Stanley Crouch, from the National Black Writer’s Conference in Harlem, New York captured by C-Span Book World.  See https://www.c-span.org/video/?176136-1/reconsidering-souls-black-folk