Rebutting a bully

“Today I looked Robert E. Lee in the eye and said, ‘You have no power over me.’ Now the healing can begin.”

This is what someone wrote in a social media post after Richmond, Virginia’s statue of Robert E. Lee was wrongly and disgracefully removed.

These words could not be more wrong. In this person’s warped version of reality, the losing side of a war that took place over 150 years ago is somehow the side that has always held power, and rubbing salt in the wounds of those who are already suffering somehow constitutes healing.

What I would say to the person who wrote this is, Robert E. Lee has never had any power over you. The Confederacy lost the Civil War in 1865. The Confederacy is the losing side of the war, while the Union is the winning side. Why are you so eager to inflict a new level of defeat upon people who were brutally and mercilessly defeated more than 100 years before you were born? You, and people like you, are the ones who hold power in our society, while the people who share the ideals of the Confederacy (liberty, individual rights, and resistance to authority) are the ones who hold no power.

Dear person who wrote this: Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy were rebels who fought back against authority, while you represent authority and the establishment. Robert E. Lee represents thinking for oneself and daring to be different, while you represent mindless conformity. Robert E. Lee represents the oppressed, while you are the oppressor. Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy were the underdogs, while you are a bully. 

In other words, people like you are the powerful. People like Robert E. Lee are the powerless. It really is that simple. Monuments to Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy by their very nature represent rebellion and resistance to authority. For reasons that I will never fully comprehend, it is these ideals that you and so many other people demonstrate such a vicious, sadistic, and mindless eagerness to tear down and stomp on, both literally and figuratively.

In no way, shape, or form does it make sense for a bully to gloat that their victim – a person who has never hurt them in any way and who died over 150 years ago – does not hold power over them.

Dear person who wrote this: You, not Robert E. Lee, are the one who holds power and who always has. 

How dare you – a person who has always been part of the winning side, the majority, the mainstream, the establishment – gloat about inflicting further pain on an unpopular and powerless minority? You have no right to paint yourself as the victim. That distinction belongs to Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy.

Dear person who wrote this: You write about healing being able to begin, when you have nothing to heal from, because you are the one inflicting the pain, not the one enduring it. What has taken place over the past few years with regards to Confederate statues is an example of the winning side rubbing salt in the wounds of the losing side, of the advantaged stomping on the already disadvantaged. What you characterize as “healing” is actually the infliction of horrific pain on innocent people who have done nothing to deserve it and who have already suffered unimaginable losses. How dare you use the word “healing” to describe something that is its polar opposite?

Dear person who wrote this: You have things completely backwards. You are the authority, you are the majority, you are the mainstream, you are the establishment, you are the winning side of the Civil War, and you are the bully. It is disgraceful that you would gloat about inflicting further pain on those who are already suffering, and then call it healing.