Remember Donald Trump, the former nativist president of the United States, businessman, reality TV star, and renowned shark hater? He released a statement Wednesday lamenting the removal of the “magnificent and very famous” statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a “beautiful piece of bronze sculpture,” from the Virginia state capitol.
Trump called Lee, who lost the Civil War even in his home state of Virginia, “the greatest strategist of them all” and asserted that Lee would have definitely won the War in Afghanistan (bolding ours):
Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the Radical Left, and we can’t let that happen! If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don’t have the genius of a Robert E. Lee!
Ah yes, if only Robert E Lee were born about 150 years later. Then, we would have, uh, been victorious in our cavalier attempt at nation-building. I, too, love shitty alternate universe fanfiction. Please, somebody, get that on AO3 pronto.
Trump’s statement is, of course, breathtakingly historically inaccurate. He claims that President Lincoln wanted Lee to command the North, “in which case the war would have been over in one day. Robert E. Lee instead chose the other side because of his great love of Virginia, and except for Gettysburg, would have won the war.”
No, Donald, Lee’s decision to side with the South wasn’t just out of love for the state of Virginia, but his love of the slave economy, which he, a notoriously violent slave-owner, benefitted from and hoped to continue to benefit from. And Lee’s “commitment to reunification after the war” was probably little consolation to the free Black northerners he allowed his army to capture and send into slavery.
Luckily, Trump’s latest nonsense hasn’t become a trending topic and isn’t driving a whole news cycle. Maybe it’s because deplatforming works, and that banning Trump from social media platforms should have happened six years ago or so. Or perhaps there are too many simultaneous calamities occurring for the average person to give a shit about what Trump has to say about a man who lost a war. But of all the insipid things Trump has said since the end of his presidential tenure, at least this one was mildly—albeit unintentionally—funny. It’s refreshing to be able to have a detached chuckle about the former president’s bizarre racist fever dreams instead of Twitter allowing him to blowhorn these things into our faces.