Christ Church and the slavers’ blood money
It is true that Washington had slaves. And it is true that Lee fought for the Confederacy.
But, as one patriot might say, our peculiar history is “full of contradictions.”
“So is independence,” another might reply.
The vestry of Christ Church in Alexandria, however, is not capable of grappling with such complexities. Truly, pearls before swine. After all, it is so much easier just to obliterate painful history than to understand it and learn from it.
“Today our country is trying once again to come to grips with the history of slavery and the subsequent disenfranchisement of people of color,” the vestry wrote, so boldly.
OK, fine. It’s a free country. It’s your church, though it is anguishing to think of the many good, longtime members of Christ Church who are heartbroken and will be left spiritual orphans by this cruel and selfish decision.
But, truly, Great Vestry, why carry out such meaningless bleating of a sacrificial lamb that already been slaughtered? Have the true courage of your convictions.
Taking down a monument means nothing. It helps no one in any real way. Just makes some people feel better for a minute.
Isn’t that, after all, the very meaning of “white privilege”? Paying restitution with fake money? How about real reparations to show real repentance for your two centuries of sinful hatred toward “people of color”?
How much money did Washington donate to start the Christ Church in 1773? You are not really going to keep that blood money, are you?
And what of the personal Bible that Washington’s family left the church after his death? Such a priceless artifact would go for millions and millions of dollars today. Are you going to keep the massive proceeds of that slaver bounty?
Perhaps — at least in your dull eyes — even more odious is the $10,000 Lee’s daughter left you in 1918. A quick inflation calculation pegs that at more than $175,000 in today’s blood money. Will you return that to the Lee Family, thou Great and Virtuous Vestry?
And one other thing. The vestry complains that the markers to Washington and Lee are the reason they have so much trouble attracting “people of color” to their congregation. I look forward to performing random inspections of the church in the months and years to come to learn if the monuments to Washington and Lee really are what repels “people of color” from Christ Church in Alexandria.
Or, is it something else? Something deeper? Guess we will find out.
Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter via @charleshurt.
Christ Church’s decision to tear down markers of President George Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee alienates those who honor these men.