As the History Channel's recent documentary Grant reminds us powerfully of what a real General Officer looks like and what that real General stood for, we are compelled to point an accusing finger at the Confederate fan and sympathizer who sits at the head of the nation's Department of Veterans Affairs.
Robert Wilkie is an unabashed fan of the ultimate traitor and president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, who led the rebel effort to compel by military force the continuance of human slavery as a principal part of the U.S. economy and to dismember the Union created by Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison and others at the end of the 18th Century. In fact, it's reasonable to assert from Wilkie's speeches to pro-Confederate groups that he not only cherishes the memory of Davis, he puts a positive spin to what Davis represented and what his treason personified.
It's reasonable to assert from Wilkie's speeches to pro-Confederate groups that he not only cherishes the memory of Davis, he puts a positive spin to what Davis represented and what his treason personified.
Here is what the leader of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), Mikey Weinstein, had to say recently about Wilkie after the VA Secretary refused to remove Nazi swastikas from grave markers in two U.S. national cemeteries:
He is a well-known and documented advocate of the Civil War Confederacy who has praised Confederate President Jefferson Davis as a 'martyr' and an 'exceptional man in an exceptional age' while also condemning, in the most ignoble and vicious terms, the abolitionists who opposed slavery as 'radical', 'mendacious' and 'enemies of liberty'....during Wilkie’s U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, he deliberately spewed inaccurate information to U.S. Senators as to how long it had been since he last spoke to his beloved pro-Confederate gatherings, thus, making it seem as though it had been a much longer time than it actually had been.
Further, he failed to disclose his membership in the Confederate Memorial Committee and omitted his event speeches from responses asking for the details on them. Wilkie publicly called Civil War-era civil rights activists laboring to abolish slavery the names that clearly apply, instead, to him. It is VA Secretary Robert Wilkie who is “radical" (in his support of the Nazis) and is likewise 'mendacious' as to the falsehoods and deceptions he has delivered to the United States Congress and, thus, the American people.
Our first questions should be, why is this man, a man who supports Nazi symbology in U.S. National Cemeteries, our Veterans Affairs secretary? (Indeed, why has he been in and around the US government or its private contractors for some time now, starting many years ago?) Who put him at the helm of the VA and why? What might his agenda be while in the position? And our last question should be: when are we going to get rid of him?
The answer to the first, second, and third questions is identical: because Donald J. Trump and his base and the Republicans in Congress, wanted Wilkie in that position to titillate and appease the fundamentalist "Christians" who help compose the President's alleged base. Many of these rabid, fundamentalist evangelicals are Confederate sympathizers at best and rabid racists at worse, or both. Trump also put Wilkie in place to effect his agenda to privatize veterans care, further bastardizing essential public functions and increasing the obscene profits of private interests bent on taking over as many government functions as possible, from prisons, to schools, to the waging of war.
Like Grant, the man who made him a brigadier general on what most thought was his death bed after he was grievously wounded at Petersburg, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a real soldier. Leading his 20th Maine Regiment at the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, his fame was seared into the annals of U.S. history. Years later, at the ceremony on October 3, 1889 at the Gettysburg town courthouse to dedicate all the monuments there set up to the regiments of Maine, Chamberlain spoke to members from all those regiments. Chamberlain said:
There is a phrase abroad...which distorts and falsifies history: 'The War Between the States". There are here no states outside of the Union. Resolving themselves outside of it does not release them. Even were they successful in intrenching themselves in this attitude, they would only relapse into territories of the United States. Indeed, several of the States so resolving were never in their own right either States or Colonies; but their territories were purchased by the common treasury of the Union, and were admitted as States out of its grace and generosity....There was no war between the States. It was a war in the name of certain States to destroy the political existence of the United States.
And Robert Wilkie's hero, Jefferson Davis, was in charge of that war. As the documentary Grant depicts, when General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House tells General Grant that he will have to pass the articles of surrender to his President for approval, Grant laconically responds: "There is only one president in this country now."
Unfortunately, President Trump and Veterans Department Secretary Wilkie do not seem to be aware of that reality. Indeed, Trump seems intent on dealing with that reality by trying to eliminate the considerable portion of the United States that triumphed in the U.S. Civil War. He seems incapable of being anything but the new Jeff Davis, the president of the traitors among us, with Wilkie as one of his right-hand men.
The answer to our final question above is of course when we, all of us citizens ofthe United States, un-elect Donald Trump.
Lawrence Wilkerson (Colonel, U.S. Army - retired), Member of the Advisory Board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.