An early Confederate rallying cry

Ok that email that Trump’s lawyer forwarded to like-minded right wing assholes – that’s what it was – a “hey guys looka this” among the prosperous conservative quisling set.

President Trump’s personal lawyer on Wednesday forwarded an email to conservative journalists, government officials and friends that echoed secessionist Civil War propaganda and declared that the group Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.”

The email forwarded by John Dowd, who is leading the president’s legal team, painted the Confederate general Robert E. Lee in glowing terms and equated the South’s rebellion to that of the American Revolution against England. Its subject line — “The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville” — was a reference to comments Mr. Trump made earlier this week in the aftermath of protests in the Virginia college town.

In one way the South’s rebellion is comparable to that of the American Revolution against Britain: in both cases it was a slave state rebelling against a non-slave state*. That’s a shameful fact about US history that should never be ignored or brushed aside.

But other than that, it’s not. Britain wasn’t meddling with slavery in America in 1776 and the rebellion was not about slavery. The South’s, of course, was. There’s no equivalent of the Declaration of Independence to accompany the South’s rebellion. There’s no invocation of the self-evident truth that all humans are created equal, as there couldn’t be, because it would cut the legs out from under slavery.

“You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington,” the email reads, “there literally is no difference between the two men.”

Goodness, what a ludicrous claim. That’s not true of identical twins, and it’s sure as hell not true of two guys who lived a century apart. If that’s a ridiculously sloppy way of claiming that there ideas were identical or that they led their respective armies for identical reasons…that’s not true either.

Mr. Dowd received the email on Tuesday night and forwarded it on Wednesday morning to more than two dozen recipients, including a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, The Wall Street Journal editorial page and journalists at Fox News and The Washington Times. There is no evidence that any of the journalists used the contents of the email in their coverage. One of the recipients provided a copy to The New York Times.

“You’re sticking your nose in my personal email?” Mr. Dowd told The Times in a brief telephone interview. “People send me things. I forward them.” He then hung up.

The email’s author, Jerome Almon, runs several websites alleging government conspiracies and arguing that the F.B.I. has been infiltrated by Islamic terrorists. He once unsuccessfully sued the State Department for $900 million over claims of discrimination.

Mr. Almon’s email said that Black Lives Matter, a group that formed to protest the use of force by police against African-Americans, is being directed by terrorists. Mr. Almon blamed the group for deadly violence against police last year in Texas and Louisiana.

The email’s comparison of secessionists to the nation’s Founding Fathers echoes an early Confederate rallying cry, said Judith Giesberg, a Villanova University historian and editor of The Journal of the Civil War Era. Washington’s face appeared on Confederate money, she said, and secessionists were eager to place their rebellion in the context of the American Revolution.

“The first states to secede drew a straight line back to the Revolution,” she said in a telephone interview. “They said they were the inheritors of this revolutionary tradition that traces back to Washington.”

They would, wouldn’t they.

Mr. Almon listed several reasons Lee is no different from Washington. “Both rebelled against the ruling government,” the email reads, adding, “Both saved America.”

Say what? Lee saved America? How does that work?

Then comes a jolt.

Mr. Almon, who is black, said in his email to Mr. Dowd that the protesters should “go back to the ghettos and do raise their children and rebuild places like Detroit.”

He’s black? He’s black and he’s a fan of the Confederacy? That’s…depressing.

We do get the explanation of how Lee “saved America.”

The email that Mr. Dowd forwarded, however, issues a full-throated endorsement of those comments. It declared that Lee “saved America” by opting to surrender rather than launch guerrilla attacks in the final days of the Civil War.

Professor Giesberg said it is true that Lee rejected such tactics, but his decision did not save America.

“It’s like a history I don’t even recognize,” she said.

In an interview, Mr. Almon said he is not a Republican and that he does not reflexively support Mr. Trump.

“I’m against racism,” he said.

But not a system in which white people held black people in chattel slavery. Ok…

*Updating to add: a reader tweeted me to point out that one can hardly call 18th century Britain a non-slave state. True enough. I meant non-domestically slave-owning state, but that’s a quibble. The slave trade wasn’t abolished until 1807 and it continued illegally after that.

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