The government of Montgomery County, especially the office of Marc Elrich, the county executive, has recently spoken out quite strongly in favor of racial equality. Mr. Elrich himself has referred to county racial equality legislation as “the most important thing” he has ever worked on. Yet, despite such proud political grandstanding, there remain numerous reminders of racism throughout all of Montgomery County (“Confederate symbols must go now,” June 12). Perhaps the most stark and egregious of these is named “Jubal Early Court” and is located in the bustling community of Potomac.
Outwardly an excellent image of Americana and ending in a cul-de-sac, Jubal Early Court is, in fact, named after a prominent Confederate general and proponent of the racist “Lost Cause” narrative of Southern history. A native of Virginia, General Early initially opposed succession, but joined the Confederacy nonetheless, serving under Stonewall Jackson. Serving (and losing) at Gettysburg, he later attempted to hold ransom the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, burning the site to the ground when denied loot. Performing poorly toward the end of the war, the general was dismissed from service by Robert E. Lee shortly before the Confederate surrender.
Surrender, unfortunately, did not mark the end of Mr. Early’s racist sentiments. In fact, he tried fleeing to Mexico in search of Confederate forces that had not yet surrendered. Finding the Confederacy totally decimated, Mr. Early turned instead to fighting a philosophical war against the Union and against equality, exchanging the rifle for the pen. Over the next three decades, he published a plethora of racist, historically inaccurate descriptions of the Confederate cause, criticizing Southern supporters of Reconstruction, such as his former Confederate comrade James Longstreet, and supporting white supremacy.
Criticizing racial equality, Mr. Early wrote that black Americans had been “stamped” dark by the Lord, indicative of their “inferior physical and mental” abilities. To his deathbed, he insisted that slavery had been “a great improvement” in the “moral and physical condition" of the black race, espousing his racist views across the South.
Neither Montgomery County, nor any other county, should honor traitors and racists like Jubal Early. Jubal Early did not represent American history, he devoted his life to destroying the equal ideals of the Republic and skewing the history of the Civil War. Jubal Early terrorized black Americans and undermined the sacrifices of Union soldiers. It is time that Montgomery County renounce lingering symbols of hate and rename Jubal Early Court.
Gaganjyot Bhatti, Beltsville
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