The VA secretary praised the Confederate president as "martyr of" The Lost Cause "in the 1995 speech – CNN


Wilkie, who delivered the speech before a statue of Davis at the United States Capitol during an event sponsored by the Daughters of the Confederation, also said that while he was "no apologist of the South", he saw the "confederate" story and the ferocity of the Confederate soldier only through the lens of slavery and the sloppy standards of the present is dishonest and a disservice to our ancestors. "

Wilkie's speech, whose transcription was published in the journal United Figlie della Confederazione, reveals his belief in the theory of the "Lost Cause" of the Civil War, which portrays the Southern States that have separated as heroic and denies the central role of slavery causes for conflict.

A review by KFile also found that Wilkie attended a pro-Confederation event in 2009, giving a talk on Robert E. Lee to a Maryland division of the Sons of Confederate veterans.

CNN's KFile found references to Wilkie as he sought the neo-confederate movement, which sought to promote a more comprehensive view of the Confederate states during the civil war, and obtained copies of the speeches of Edward Sebesta, a scholar of the neo-Confederate movement.

Curt Cashour, press secretary for veterans' affairs, did not address the content of Wilkie's remarks when asked by CNN, but stated in a statement that the events Wilkie participated in were "strictly historical in nature," and as Secretary Wilkie said in his June confirmation, in them once the problem became divisive. "

"Today marks the 187th anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis: planter, soldier, statesman, president of the Confederate States of America, martyr of" The Lost Cause ", and finally the phoenix dressed in gray —- a man exceptional in an exceptional age, "Wilkie, who at the time was a staff for Republican then Rep. David Funderburk, said in the 1995 speech, according to the transcript.

Wilkie later said, "I have to add, as the distinguished scholar and historian James I. Robertson of Virginia Tech did here last year, I'm not a Southern apologist, and I've never bought what Penn Warren and his colleagues called the school in the moonlight and magnolia, "where the decorative past replaces the usable past".

"The South has many warts," he continued. "Chattel's slavery and its consequences are a stain on our history because it is a stain on every civilization in history, but slavery was an American collective tragedy." (President Abraham) Lincoln realized that there was enough guilt to spread from Maine to Key West See our history and the ferocity of the Confederate soldier exclusively through the lens of slavery and the sloppy standards of the present is dishonest and a disservice for our ancestors We can not give up American history to an orthodox policy set dictated to our children by politicians hungry for attention, demagogues on street corners, and entrenched university campuses. "

Professor David Blight, Yale Civil War historian, told CNN in an interview that Wilkie's comments were "right from the neo-confederate book".

"This is the standard ideology of Lost Cause around 1890-1910," he said. "This man, that language right there, is the standard defense of the Lost Cause built over the decades as an ideology that explains Confederate defeat, but also as a racial ideology."

Wilkie was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Veterans Affairs in July. Prior to his confirmation hearing, the Washington Post reported that Wilkie was a former member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and attended memorial services for Confederate veterans. Wilkie told the Post that in a statement that events have become "part of the politics that divides us" and that he has not attended them anymore.

& # 39; Their cause was honorable & # 39;

In his 1995 speech, Wilkie said that Davis's life is a reflection of "a proud people" and that not all "noble experiments of man are successful".

"In the case of Jefferson Davis, we have to tell America the truth about the complicated man who brought with him the dreams of southern independence," he said. "His life was the reflection of the simplicity and perseverance of a proud people, men and women who endured the horror of the defeat and its equally infernal consequences, men and women who through their Christian prism understood fall of man and the imperfection of human institutions – that not all noble experiments of man succeed. "

He also said that Davis' "disdain for radical Republican Party abolitionists" was not about slavery, but rather about fear "would violate any law and would reduce the freedom to impose one's idea of ​​the right society on others". Wilkie said that radical abolitionists in Congress were "as misguided as the Jacobins of revolutionary France" and defined those who financed the abolitionist raid of John Brown on Harpers Ferry "enemies of freedom".

Wilkie added the "uninterrupted spirit" of Davis after the war as a reminder to the people of the south "that their cause was honorable and that in the end everything would be fine".

Wilkie concluded his speech by linking Davis' struggle to the struggles in Congress at that moment, shortly after the Republicans obtained a majority in the House of Representatives in the 1994 seminar elections.

"Once again, Congress halls reverberate with hate for harsh individualism, state sovereignty and contempt for the centralized super-state," Wilkie said in closing. "These are bloodless battles that Davis could never fight but are not less vital to the future of American civilization, as our cities deteriorate and spiritual standards and traditions deteriorate, America is looking for a better way. Walker Percy invited us to look south to recover the community, stability and sense of place in the order of God that we have unfortunately lost. This is a high proposition but it is certainly something that Jefferson Davis would have understood and surely one for which he would have fought ".

More recent pro-Confederate links

In 2009, Wilkie spoke with a Maryland division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans – Jefferson Davis Camp 305 – who meets in the DC area.

The web page of the group at that time contained a Confederate proclamation of 1862 which called the occupation of the Maryland Union "oppression" and "tyranny" and "terrible despotism". The head of that field at that time, according to reports and archived web pages, was Richard T. Hines, a prominent member of the neo-Confederate movement.

Wilkie began his career as an assistant to Senator Jesse Helms, the Republican of North Carolina, known for criticizing Martin Luther King Jr. and for opposing a holiday in his honor. Wilkie later worked for Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, who resigned as a Republican leader in 2002 after praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregation campaign. Wilkie later served in the Bush administration, working for Condoleezza Rice at the White House National Security Council and under Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

Wilkie's past work with Helms and Lott was carefully examined at his confirmation hearing in June. Democratic senator Mazie Hirono has asked Wilkie, citing his past bosses and a Washington Post article, if he "would like the scrutiny you will probably face based on his previous positions to make sure you are dealing with women and minorities in fair way and with respect as the head of the VA, should you be confirmed? "

Wilkie replied: "Well, Senator, I will say – and I say it respectfully – I welcome the thorough examination of my entire record: the Washington Post seemed to stop at my record some 25 years ago, if I had been what Washington Post implied I do not think I could work for Condoleezza Rice or Bob Gates or Jim Mattis. "



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