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I had missed this entire controversy in Virginia where Glenn Youngkin
fired accepted the resignation of a woman he had recently appointed to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources.
Here’s a quick recap: Three weeks ago Youngkin appointed “historian” Ann Hunter McLean to the Board.
What were Ann Hunter McLean’s qualifications for this posting? She was the head of a “classical Christian” school outside of Richmond. And she has many, many thoughts about the nobility of the Lost Cause. Which makes her a “historian”? I guess?
Here’s a smattering of her considered opinions on the Civil War from the Washington Post:
“This whole tragedy is that these statues were built to tell the true story of the American South to people 500 years from now,” McLean said to a Richmond radio host on Dec. 23, 2021, after state archivists opened a time capsule found under the site where the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee once stood on Monument Avenue. “People want to destroy the evidence of that story,” she continued, saying the Civil War was fought for the “sovereignty of each state and constitutional law.”
It was just about states’ rights! And constitutional law! It had nothing to do with slavery!
Also she is a conspiracy theorist:
In December, when the first of two Lee time capsules was unearthed and opened, McLean spoke with host John Reid on WRVA radio in Richmond to lament the whole process. . . .
McLean then seemed to suggest that state officials had a nefarious plan for using a possible photograph of President Abraham Lincoln in his casket that was rumored to have been placed in the Lee time capsule but was not actually found.
“The dead Lincoln photograph seems to be the thing they are blisteringly interested in achieving and getting,” she said, “and I am very concerned when they get that, what are they going to do with that? You know, central planning is so a part of this, and it’s almost like there’s a folder and a plan they pull out every two or three days or two or three weeks … And we see it with the mandates for the [coronavirus] vaccines but we also see this with history and what they’re doing to our culture.”
I am shocked—shocked!—that this Very Fine Woman found a way to link COVID vaccines with Robert E. Lee.
Anyway, Ann Hunter McLean has some . . . interesting . . . ideas about what Confederate statues are really all about:
In the introduction to her 1998 doctoral dissertation, McLean wrote that the Confederate statues erected from the late 1800s through the 1920s “were created primarily as vehicles of moral uplift at a time of rapid urbanization and social change, when idealism typified the American portrayal of martial art.”
Moral uplift! Hold on. We’re not done.
She goes on to acknowledge that the African American perspective on the statues “is one of several complexities inherent in the subject.” She wrote that the Lee statue was “erected to inspire virtue in the public, and as a tribute to Lee around whom grew a heroic myth embraced by both North and South, [but] today reminds some in society of the open wound of racism.”
McLean also writes for Bacon’s Rebellion, a conservative commentary site, and serves on the board of the Jefferson Council, a group aimed at preserving Thomas Jefferson’s heritage at the University of Virginia. In a recent article for the Jefferson Independent, a student-run conservative website, McLean blasted “cultural Marxists” for tearing down the legacies of Lee — a “Christian soldier” — and Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, “a Sunday School teacher for a class of young black children.”
Umm . . . okay. You get the general flavor here, yes?
So shortly after Youngkin appointed McLean to the Board she went on a local Richmond radio show to offer the following piece of analysis as a historian:
In a July 18 interview with WRVA radio host John Reid, McLean said that “secession is not treason” and that the U.S. Constitution was broken not when the South seceded, but “when Lincoln called up 75,000 troops to fight against secession.”
She compared Lincoln’s action to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said that “so many people want to just flatten the whole Civil War to slavery. And of course we know slavery is not good, but I think … slavery would have been outlawed in the South within five or 10 years but they wanted to do it on their own time.”
Of course slavery is not good! What more do you want from her, you BLM radical Marxists!
Yadda yadda yadda, Youngkin spoke with her and expressed that they had some different views and priorities. McLean resigned. And she seems pretty invigorated that she’s now free to say what she really thinks:
In an email Wednesday to The Washington Post in response to questions about her resignation, McLean struck a defiant tone, saying that Virginians should examine their “actual full and honest history — not a simplified version used for political reasons. I am excited to be completely free now to share that history with people and to speak up to stop the destruction of our shared cultural heritage.”
None of that is code for racism of course. Just a concerned scholar and patriot defending shared cultural heritage.
On the one hand, it’s good that Glenn Youngkin kicked this woman to the curb.
On the other hand, even as he was in the process of kicking McLean to the curb, Youngkin went out of his way to vouch for her, calling her “incredibly well-qualified.”
And also: How the fork does he appoint a Confederate Avenger like this woman in the first place?
What we have is a use case from the Youngkin Model Manual: