The Reckoner!

Should an interracial couple get married at a beautiful - and otherwise perfect - wedding venue named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee?

In my Southern hometown, the most conveniently-located venue that also meets our specifics (pretty, outdoors, fits our guest list) is a big, historic house in a small park named after Robert E. Lee.

It gets worse.

  • The park has a statute of him on his horse.
  • One wing of the house is named after him.
  • In the 1930's, the statute was commissioned and the park renamed in his honor following a campaign by a women's group who were dedicated to "preserving the culture, history, traditions, and spirit of the South."

Other than that, it's perfect and way better than the other venues in consideration.

Should we nix it?  Would our East Coast wedding guest contigent be too offended? 

Or should we book the place anyway -- but put a sombrero on the statute, drape a Thai flag over it, and/or rename it the Bruce Lee Park for one night?

P.S. Fifty-percent of the wedding couple is not white.

Reckoning Results!
Stop being so P.C.
Find some place else.
No stars & bars, no prob
U can't whitewash history
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Reckoning Comments!

I'm a white guy, so I don't really get an opinion on this one.  Nonetheless, I plunge ahead, because I'm asking for it.

I look at it this way -- out of the 2200 kids who attend Washington and Lee University, the University for which Robert E. Lee was president after the Civil War (which is no doubt also loaded with Lee-related paraphernalia) -- about 11% are non-white.  That's about 250 kids.  Now, these kids may be particularly self-loathing kids, but I think it's more likely they just went there because it was a good school and they liked the campus.

Same deal with the venue.  It's a good campus and a nice place to get married.  After all, you're already living in a country whose greatest heroes owned slaves and which was founded by a document that declared that slaves only constitued 60% of a person, so there's really no getting away from it.  Get married, and consider that showing Lee's ghost that he was on the wrong side of history.

So I have a hard time actually replying to this on either side; much like Mr. Koch, I feel like my authority to reply to this is limited. BUT:

I'm trying to imagine how I'd feel, as the Jewish descendent of Holocaust survivors, if I had the opportunity to get married at Hitler's vacation home. I'd probably start giggling uncontrollably and accept with glee. How better to mock, disparage, and show your general disdain for that ugly part of American history, than by holding your interracial marriage there?

That said, I have to worry that your own opinions may be less critical here than the potential to really freak out your guests. And god knows I have a pretty dark sense of humor, which you may not share. But man, the idea of an interracial couple getting married in a Southern Civil War park does make me grin.

I read a biography of Lee a few years ago.  If memory serves, he inherited about 20 or so slaves from his father in law as part of the Custis Lee estate outside DC. After some time he was hoping to free his slaves but there were laws on the books that made the freeing of slaves fairly expensive.   Per the fiighting for the South, Lee was loyal to his state of Virginia, not the idea of slave owning.

Lee was a decent man...don't worry...have the wedding where you want it.

It's really how you look at things. If the couple sees this venue as a beautiful place to exchange their wedding vows and begin a beautiful life together...and the place is named after a very famous Civil War general, then this is the way this couple should be looking at it if they are even considering being married there!

However, if they are looking at it as a beautiful place, but with negative feelings and perceptions because of its name and what its name may mean to the guests, why is there a question???  Why would they even consider it as a venue?

They should not worry about the guests opinion. This is their wedding. The guests should be happy for them and celebrate the union no matter where they chose to have it!!!!!

Actually, I think having a celebration of love that happens to be interracial in a place that represents a racist history would be both beautiful and also a hilarious middle finger to jerks of the past. I say go for it. 

I think everyone above stated excellent opinions.

The only thing I might add would be to conjure the ghosts of Washington and Jefferson, among others. Interracial affairs, marriages, loves have always been and always will be, and they are certainly indigenous to the southern states. Might be the heat.  

If the couple feels it might be an issue, they might consider reconsidering their chosen location or the guest list. 

The Reckoner!