(A version of this article originally appeared in the Johns Hopkins News-Letter on April 14, 2011.)
On April 19, 1861, four days after the surrender of Fort Sumter and 86 years to the day after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the City of Baltimore witnessed an outbreak of violence that resulted in the first combat deaths of the American Civil War.
Over the last several days, white nationalist terrorists descended on the city of Charlottesville, Virginia in order to protest the recent removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. As a direct result of their actions, at least three people are dead.
This is merely the latest outrage perpetrated by white nationalists in defense of Confederate symbols in general and memorials to Lee in particular. Yet there are “moderates” on the right who would have us believe that Lee was a good and noble man, that the use of him as a symbol by bigots and terrorists represents a perversion of his legacy.
Two years ago nine African American worshipers were killed in a racially motivated terrorist attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In the wake of the attack journalists discovered that the perpetrator had been regularly photographed with Confederate flags. Since that time a growing number of people have called, often successfully, for the removal of Confederate flags and symbols from public places.
While I disagree with Steve Scalise on essentially every important issue, I wish him and all those wounded in Wednesday morning’s vile attack a speedy and full recovery.