To the editor:

Regarding one of the two Sept. 9 editorials, is it more embarrassing for a state to have had a statue of Robert E. Lee standing in its capital city for 131 years, or to have continuously sent Sen. Ted Kennedy to the U.S. Senate for seemingly the same length of time?

The members of The Eagle-Tribune editorial board have fascinating powers, such that they are able to discern the precise motives of Virginians who lived over a century ago, and commissioned and placed the statue in question.

Those motives were — of course! — all about racism, totally and completely. They had nothing to do whatsoever with Lee’s valor, honor or accomplishments as a military tactician.

Lee was a racist and his admirers were racists. Biographers like Douglas Southall Freeman (to whom, as journalists and editors, the board cannot remotely compare) were racists. End of story, end of statue, end of history. Roll the two minutes of hate.

How fortunate for the Merrimack Valley and readers of this newspaper that the board possesses such amazing insight and certainty, and can untangle complicated history in just a few paragraphs.

With great power, however, comes great responsibility, so the board may be wise to consult a dictionary before issuing their next golden pronouncements.

The Sept. 9 editorial refers to the “pabulum” spread about Lee to cloak him in honor. As a noun, pabulum can mean “material for intellectual nourishment.” Yet for the sense that the board was attempting to convey, the better word is “pablum,” which means “trite, naive, or simplistic ideas or writings; intellectual pap.”

Perhaps the latter definition could be printed under the masthead. It fits.

Matthew May


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