“Trump Lawyer Forwards Email Echoing Secessionist Rhetoric” NYT August 16, 2017 https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/16/us/politics/trump-lawyer-email-race-charlottesville.html



John Dowd Esq, member of New York and Florida State Bars, evidently a big fan of Washington and Jefferson.  Or at least of their alleged slaveholding.  

We will eventually show that the memo suffers from the most elementary syllogistic fallacy imaginable, but first, the facts;

The Facts

I.  Did Washington & Lee Both Own Slaves?

Well, yes, kind of.  Washington was a landed rich gentry fellow, but he was often away at war, 8 years during the French & Indian War, 8 years during the Revolutionary War and then away 8 more years in Philadelphia during the Presidency.  

Betts, William W. (2013). The Nine Lives of George Washington. 



George Washington, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.

It’s true Washington maintained a large estate at Mount Vernon.  It’s also true he kept and maintained slaves there, and also kept 4-6 slaves at the Presidential Residence in Philadelphia, a fact now attracting substantial scholarly attention since slavery was illegal in Pennsylvania. 

cf Never Caught; The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Simon & Schuster, NY 2017). http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Never-Caught/Erica-Armstrong-Dunbar/9781501126390#

On the other hand, Washington was the first Founding Father to manumit, or free, his slaves, upon his death, so specifying it in his will, indicating he must have had moral ambivalence about “the peculiar institution”.  

cf. Brookhiser, Richard (1996). Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington. New York: Free Press



Mt Vernon above two photos; and another portrait of President Washington. 

Lee

Lee didnt own slaves, or at most owned 1-2 slaves.  Lee was poor growing up, and he never had any property or land like Washington.  Lee married a Custis, a descendant of Washington, but other than military pay, his income was meager and she suffered.  Also, Lee was a womanizer who carried on an affair for years in plain view of everyone, shaming his proud wife, Washington’s cousin.  This was what Lee thought of Washington–he shamed his Cousin.  

cf Korda, Michael (2013). Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee. HarperCollins Publishers.

However, and this is a big point of difference between Washington and Lee, in 1857 Lee came into inheritance of his father in laws estate, which was large with many slaves.  Some escaped in 1859 and were caught, and many contemporary and historical sources state that Lee, an adulterer, whipped and beat the runaway slaves in a brutal and abusive manner.  Cf Korda, id. 

Lee beat the slaves so badly that abolitionists in the North found the incident and Lee personally to be grist for their propaganda war about the evils of slavery and the evils of the fugitive slave law.  in short, Lee was a poster boy for horrendous slave ownership.  Cf. Korda, id. 


Robert E Lee, Adulterer, Confederate Traitor, Slave Beater and Abuser, Dreadful Bastard to his Wife and Family, Brilliant General in the Mexican American & Civil Wars–A Decidedly Mixed Legacy.  

II. Did Both Rebel?

No.  And in this case, results matter. Washington was on the winning side while Lee was on the losing side.  Thus Washington is the Father of our country, and Mount Rushmore, while Lee was a traitor whose inherited estate of 1857 at Arlington, VA was confiscated and used as the burial ground of the Union Soldiers.  It is now Arlington Memorial Cemetary.  cf Korda, id.


Arlington National Cemetary; Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Arlington House & Plantation, former home of Robert E Lee.  

Lee was lucky he wasnt hanged.  He caught a break in that he and Grant had both served in the Mexican American War together, and Andrew Johnson issued a general pardon to the Confederate Principals.  By himself, Lee killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans.  Lee prolonged the Civil War well beyond the point where winning was not achievable by the South.  In short, just as he cheated on his wife and beat his slaves, Lee in the Civil War became a brutal murderer who waded in pools of Northern blood.

Lee was NOTHING like George Washington.  


Lee and US Grant at Appomattox.  Lee is signing his unconditional surrender to the North.  Lee and the South were utterly defeated by the far, far superior US Grant.  Only the Victors get to write history. 

III. Are Both Mens Battle Tactics Still Taught at West Point?

Probably, but this is a fallacious argument, false syllogism using a false implied enthymeme or false middle. 

It would be comparable to saying because I went to Harvard, and Bill Gates went to Harvard, that therefore there is no difference between us.

1) Lee is taught at West Point.

2) Washington is taught at West Point.

3) Therefore, Lee is the same as Washington in every respect.

Obviously this is a false and fallacious syllogism. 

or,

1) The Sophist is a Harvard Man.

2) Bill Gates is a Harvard Man.

3) Ergo, The Sophist is the same as Bill Gates is every respect.

By now, you see the problem.  Bad logic.  The fact that Lee and Washington are both taught at West Point does not make them equivalent.

IV.  Faulty Syllogism Destroys the Entire Memo

By now you must recognize that this is a fallacy of the undistributed middle.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_the_undistributed_middle

A proper syllogism is as follows;

1) all A is B;

2) all B is C;

3) therefore, all A is C.

The Lee/Washington syllogisms above go like this:

Both owned slaves.

1) Lee owned slaves.

2) Washington owned slaves.

3) therefore, Lee is Washington.

This is like;

1) All A is B.

2) All C is B.

3) Therefore, all A is C.

This is the fallacy of the undistributed middle. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_the_undistributed_middle

on fallacies in syllogisms generally, see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllogistic_fallacy

Any elementary intro to aristotelian logic will show this.

If you run thru the remaining statememts, they also fail to prove the point.  

cf David Hackett Fischer Historians’ Fallacies : Toward a Logic of Historical Thought (Harper and Row, NY, 1970).  

V. The Rest of It.

A.  Both Saved America

No. Washington created America; Lee tried to destroy America; and the Mexican-American War did a good deal to bring about the Civil War.  

B. Both were great men, great americans and great commanders.

1) Washington was a terrific man.  Lee other than on the battlefield appears to have been pretty shabby. Lee was brilliant, a great student, but narcissistic, cruel, sadistic, unfeeling and kind of a jerk to his wife.  And, he even cheated on his country–he didnt just flirt with the Confederacy, he went all the way.  Man-slut.  

2) great Americans

Only Washington was a great American.  Lee was a great Confederate General but he lost amd lost badly.  

3) Great Commanders

Washington probably was by far the greater–he defeated the greatest army on earth, the British,  while Lee, the top grad at West Point. lost to US Grant, a guy whose tactics he knew.  Big edge to Washington.  Lee is way overrated as a general.

C  Neither Man is any different than…

and gives a laundry list of generals from history.   Setting aside that none of the generals in the list are remotely similar, the assertion that Lee & Washington are identical with each element of the set of generals is logically false.  It fails on logical fallacy grounds, and it fails the eyeball test.  

Napoleon was a despot, Ramses enslaved millions to build pyramids, etc.  These leaders/generals had obvious and noteworthy differences from both Lee and Washington.

D You cannot be Against Lee and for Washington, there is literally no difference beween the two men.

First, false criterion & false assumption; no one is against Lee or for Washington.  

Rather, the burden of proof lies upon the memo writer to prove Lee is thr same status or class as Washington,  and here it/he fails.  For while Lee and Washington share some class traits, they share many differences.  So they aren’t the same, just like my going to prep school, Harvard, liking poker math and cars makes me the same as Bill Gates. 

The use of the word “literally” is odd–because to prove the case, it must be made logically, mathematically, with facts.

But of course, this memo wasnt written for thinkers and logicians.

It was written for Nazis, white supremicists, bigots and other irrational haters for whom only appeals to emotion matter.

And that is the greatest logical fallacy of all,  to let chaos rule.

For when God came, chaos and darkness rules, and he made light (genesis); and when Zeus married, to defeat Chaos after overthrowing Chaos, he married first Metis, goddess of wisdom, and then Thetis, goddess of law and order.

This, light, wisdom, reason, logic, law and order, are fundamental to the Western tradition.  Hatred, racism, chaos, is antithetical to same.


Thetis gives armor to Achilles; various portraits of Lincoln “a house divided against itself cannot stand” 1858. 

Conclusion

There is one place that equates Washington and Lee–Washington and Lee University.  

Its a long story, but Washington gave a large donation, and got the name, and Lee was President of the School after the Civil War,  and his name was added.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_and_Lee_University

Its a very old and fine school,  and nothing here is intended to denigrate it.  

But these are the times that try mens’ souls. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRpVBTVlQSI&feature=share

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PEsN7mUqa4&feature=share

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHxQmPqaDWw&feature=share

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKeqXyY-9xA&feature=share