[Ed. – Even the generally fair-minded McWhorter falls for the usual liberal generalizations about Lee, who was an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years, during which time, he distinguished himself during the Mexican–American War and served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.]
“Where does it stop?” our President has asked in response to the call in Charlottesville, Virginia, to take down a commemorative statue of Robert E. Lee.” …
A person whose only historically resonant contribution was the subjugation of black people need not be celebrated today in public monuments. Robert E. Lee led a long-term military campaign designed to keep black slaves in bondage; this is what statues of him commemorate. That Lee was a gentlemanly soul otherwise is irrelevant: No one would have put statues up of him about that.
However, films like “Gone With the Wind” fail this exclusiveness test. “Gone With the Wind” is set amid a mythic depiction of slavery tragically common in its time. However, the central concerns of the story are romance, adventure and death, not slavery. And more to the point, “Gone With the Wind” resonates not because of its depiction of slavery, but because it is a towering work of Hollywood cinema in terms of direction, cinematography, scoring and acting.