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History, warts and all

To the editor: The photo of Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina that appeared in The Times last week was a portrait of an extraordinary woman surrounded by applauding black and white men and women as she signed the bill removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. (“S.C. Confederate flag to come down, but fight isn't over,” July 10, and “No place for Confederate school names,” Column, July 13)

Her valor in immediately calling for the removal of the flag after the massacre of the nine church members in Charleston should inspire all of us to greater courage in standing up for what we believe in despite possible negative consequences.

Quite amazing also that South Carolina would elect an Indian American woman as its governor and that she would become a symbol of racial harmony in the new South.

Benjamin J. Hubbard, Costa Mesa


To the editor: This has to be the perfect example of why this country is going downhill. Columnist George Skelton is worried about the name of two high schools rather than the curriculum that is taught at the schools.

I suspect that the children at the two Robert E. Lee schools have no clue who Lee might be.

Also, it appears that Fort Bragg, a sleepy little city on the Northern California coast, is in trouble too. It is named for Braxton Bragg, who apparently owned slaves.

Our history is our history and we cannot change it. Trying to change names does not work.

Ed Freeman, Moorpark


To the editor: Strong views on insurrectionist symbols? My family wore blue. My grandmother's grandfather was thrown into the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville.

Perhaps I ought not to have given my daughter's music teacher righteous hell for teaching my child “Dixie.”

But strong personal views aside, how far do you go with figures of a despised history?

Sure, Lee led the insurrectionist military against the Union and was the Confederacy's greatest strategic mastermind. But do we follow Skelton's view — that his name fall from all state buildings?

Does the American government start by shedding the general's confiscated mansion and lands, by divesting what is now Arlington National Cemetery?

Let's be open and curious about our past, so that we can know it, and then endeavor through honest discussion to learn from it, and heal.

Bill Orton, Long Beach


To the editor: Our vast history is all relative — both the good and the bad. It provides us with constant reminders of things that should never happen again.

How do you suppose Native Americans and their ancestors view Old Glory?

We need to be careful when we start to jump on the history-censoring bandwagon of removing our unfortunate past from public view.

This action might force us all to dig deeper and look at the uglier side of the history in the Stars and Stripes, the Founding Fathers and what they represent to all Americans.

Bernie Anderson, Irvine


To the editor: Skelton writes that unlike Confederate political and military leaders, “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson ... didn't rebel against their country.”

King George III, for one, would disagree.

But, as John Harrington explained five centuries ago, “Treason doth never prosper/ What's the reason? /Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

Henry D. Fetter, Los Angeles


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