Christ Church and the slavers’ blood money

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY CHARLES HURT

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 churt@wash­ing­ton­times.com and on Twit­ter via @charleshurt.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Christ Church’s de­ci­sion to tear down mark­ers of President Ge­orge Washington and Con­fed­er­ate Gen. Robert E. Lee alien­ates those who honor th­ese men.

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