The National Cathedral in Washington DC has finally decided to remove two large stained glass windows paying homage to Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. The cathedral had initially decided last summer to take out two panes displaying the Confederate flag, a year after the 2015 murders of nine worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. And now the cathedral’s leadership has finally voted, in the aftermath of Charlottesville, to take the windows down for good. They’re set to be taken down today and will be “cleaned, conserved, stored and potentially moved to another part of the church to be used in an educational setting unaffiliated with worship.”
Dame Peggy Noonan was so upset by this desecration of history at an Episcopalian cathedral that she was moved to Yiddish, naturally enough.
So hooray for Lee and Jackson (only one of whom actually died on the battlefield, if you want to nitpick) for their part in finally resolving the issue of slavery. Let’s just overlook the question of which side they were actually fighting on, because aren’t we all Americans? Again, if you want to get technical about it, those who fought and died on the Confederate side were damn dirty foreigners who had decided they were no longer Americans, even if the federal government never recognized the Confederacy’s legitimacy.
After her Wednesday-night tweets took both-siderism to a new weird level, Noonan returned to her complex thinkering about history this morning, even if the concept of Twitter threads escapes her (we’ve helpfully re-ordered her tweets in sequence):
Nihilists! Fuck me. Say what you will about the tenets of white supremacy, Peggy, but at least it’s an ethos. Noonan wants us to think about history, argue it out, contemplate it, and apparently all that should be done in a place where people go to worship the Prince of Peace. Putting the windows in a museum display — which so far is just an idea, not a certainty — would prevent that why, exactly? If you’re going to talk history, then great — get the full history of the windows in a museum display, and be very clear about the fact that these windows were donated to the National Cathedral in 1953 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Gee, was anything going on in 1953 that may have had a bearing on why the Daughters might have thought it especially important to venerate Confederate heroes and show them reading the Good Book (which does, after all, approve of slavery)?
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After the Second Battle of Manassas, an officer on the general’s staff said, “We have won this battle by the hardest kind of fighting.” Jackson disagreed: “No, No, we have won by the blessing of Almighty God.” After victory in the Battle of Port Republic during the Valley Campaign, Jackson turned to General Richard Ewell and said gently, “General, he who does not see the hand of God in this is blind, Sir, blind!”
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Those discussions seem very much worth having, and Confederate kitsch like these stained glass windows would certainly be a valuable part of such discussions. How about we put them in a museum, where they really can be placed in context, instead of putting them in a place of honor, where there’s no reason to see them as anything but a monument to the Heroic Southern Cause? Nah, says Peggy, we can take care of that by adding a little plaque, maybe:
If you’re going to do it right, that’s gonna be one hell of a crowded cathedral — just when it comes to the stuff about the South’s “imperfect” attempts at reconciliation.
In other Peggy Noonan Has Thoughts About Religion news, the Pegster took some time away from defending the brave Confederates who took part in settling the question of slavery so that she could also defend poor oppressed Christians from their own majority, being thuddingly wrong about whether people of faith are being excluded from the judiciary. A Heritage Foundation legal analyst had tweeted about an article she’d written claiming that Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin were “hostile to religion” for asking a judicial nominee whether her conservative Catholic tenets would influence her judicial impartiality. Peggy was very, very sad to see two senators doing war against Catholicism:
Yr Editrix raised her hand and asked, Excuse me, what does God need with a judiciary?
Now, maybe the Pope will finally get recognition for ending slavery. And since Darth Vader has a grotesque at the cathedral, where’s the statuary honoring the Rebel Alliance, huh?
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