My son, Alexander, is a teen columnist for the Tucson Citizen. Last month, when Amphi's winter formal was approaching, he wrote a column about how the student council had moved the formal away from the traditional last Friday of school in December to the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In the column, he mentioned how I had told him that, for a long time, Arizona didn't even have a Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He then wrote about how some Southern states celebrate Robert E. Lee Day at the same time, adding, "Wait, didn't he lead the losing effort to keep slavery in existence? Why not a Custer Day? Or Hitler Day?"
A bit over the top, maybe, but the kid's in high school, where hyperbole is a virtue.
Anyway, two people, Donna and Stan Matthews, wrote a letter to the editor in which they said, "(Alexander) obviously knows nothing about the Old South, Robert E. Lee's military life and his decision on leading the Confederate fight to repel the Yankee invasion of his beloved Virginia.
"Send that kid to an American history class and tell him not to vacation in the South until he has some wisdom."
One of the few pieces of advice I gave Alexander when he started writing the column was that he would have to learn to shrug off hate mail. Being a columnist means you get to have your say, and if, in doing so, you fire somebody up enough to get them to write a letter, then that person gets to have his say as well.
He's been real good about resisting the urge to respond. And he didn't respond this time.
So I will. Stan and Donna, you guys are morons.
You and all your other little revisionist history buddies who are trying to repaint the Confederacy as some pure and noble cause are pathetic. The two biggest lies in all of the study of history are, "The Holocaust never happened," and, "The Civil War wasn't about slavery."
First off, what's all this about Lee wanting to repel the Yankee invaders from his beloved Virginia? Didn't the war start in South Carolina? And wasn't it started by Southerners? The use of the word "invaders" is just plain wrong. Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The North took the fight to the South, where it had been instigated.
More importantly, Alexander has received an outstanding history education in Amphi's Honors Academy and is well aware of Lee's military record. He once wrote a paper on how Lee completely outsmarted Northern General Hooker at the battle of Chancellorsville, when he split his already out-manned forces and sent Stonewall Jackson on a bold flanking maneuver that routed the Union forces. (That's the battle where Jackson was wounded in the arm by friendly fire and then died a few days later for no good reason.)
Everybody knows that Lee was a great general, but he still fought on the wrong (and losing) side. Should we honor Erwin Rommel? Or Admiral Yamamoto? We all know that if Lee had fought for the North, the Civil War would have lasted about a month and a half, not only because Lee would have been in charge, but also because the Union wouldn't have had to suffer through McClellan, Hooker, Burnside and all the rest of the dolts. But Lee was an intelligent and educated man who chose to fight for his state rather than for his country. He was a great military man and a great Virginian, but he forfeited his right to be a great American.
Even my good and learned friend Emil Franzi occasionally tries to sneak in some nonsense about states' rights when discussing the Civil War. Exactly which rights are we talking about? The right of a state's citizens to own other human beings? The right to send bounty hunters into other states to hunt down and kill other human beings because the former slaves don't want to be treated like cattle or farm machines or furniture any more?
I had an idiot professor in college who tried to claim that the Civil War was all about economics. (Yeah, like that stuff makes sense.) I guess, in a very limited way, you could say that the South's economy was in jeopardy. It's real easy to make a hefty profit when you don't have to pay your workers. Just ask the people who run Wal-Mart. Which, just by coincidence, also started in the South.
And what's all this about vacationing in the South? Heat and humidity, plus a tour guide saying, "And over to your left is the tree from which Nat Turner was hanged ..."
The Matthewses ended their letter with the slightly ominous, "They still remember." Who, exactly? The Imperial Knights?
A couple weeks back, The Weekly ran a guest editorial from two clowns who sought to extol the virtues of underage drinking. It was, of course, incredibly stupid and a complete waste of recycled newsprint, but this is America, and people have the right to be stupid in print. And thank God for that.
In the piece, the writers tried to take a police spokesman to task for suggesting that there is a link between alcohol and sexual assaults on campus. The very next week, a joint Harvard-UA study reported that three-quarters of all college rape victims were drunk at the time of the assault. What, is this news? Why not commission a study to find out whether it's easier to read a book outdoors during the daytime rather than at night?
Isn't that why fraternities were originally formed, to get girls drunk and then take advantage of them? Oh yeah, also to guarantee that after college, guys will have the opportunity to get high-paying jobs that they're not in any way qualified for?
You don't think those two guys were in a fraternity, do you?