Tag: Civil War

Donald Trump erected a phony Civil War monument at his golf club in Virginia

Donald Trump erected a phony Civil War monument at his golf club in Virginia

While I’d never support an overt racist like Donald Trump for president or any other public office, one thing that I have in common with Trump is that I like the sport of golf. Although I’ve never played on a regular golf course (I’ve played miniature golf a couple of times, and I’m absolutely terrible at it), I’ve come to like the sport of golf enough that I’ve started watching the four major men’s golf tournaments (The Masters, U.S. Open, The (British) Open Championship, and PGA Championship) on television each year.

However, unlike me, who has never owned, built, or designed a golf course, Trump owns many golf courses, two of which are located at Trump National Golf Club in northeastern Loudoun County, Virginia (TNGC DC).

There are three phony claims made by Trump, both of which involve TNGC DC.

You only need to bring up TNGC DC’s website to find the first phony Trump claim involving TNGC DC: the golf club is not actually located in Washington, D.C., as Trump himself claims on TNGC DC’s website in a signed statement on the front page. However, the course is located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, as Loudon County, Virginia is part of the DC metro area.

For the other two phony claims from Trump, you’ll need to actually play one of the courses at TNGC DC, although this article from The New York Times gives a partial description of the location where the second and third phony claims can be found. Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the two courses at TNGC DC (the NYT article did not specify which course), there is a monument that commemorates a Civil War battle that didn’t happen:

Between the 14th hole and the 15th tee of one of the club’s two courses, Mr. Trump installed a flagpole on a stone pedestal overlooking the Potomac, to which he affixed a plaque purportedly designating “The River of Blood.”

“Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot,” the inscription reads. “The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ ”

The inscription, beneath his family crest and above Mr. Trump’s full name, concludes: “It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”

There’s actually two phony claims made by Trump on that monument. The first phony claim is Trump’s claim that he preserved the section of the Potomac River that runs next to TNGC DC, which is false, since Trump had hundreds of trees chopped down as part of the renovation of TNGC DC, which Trump purchased in 2009. The second phony claim is the claim by Trump that a large number of casualties occurred at the location where the monument is located. As historians who are experts on Civil War battles in Northern Virginia will tell you, this is a false claim:

The club does indeed lie a stone’s throw from Rowser’s Ford, where, as an official historical marker notes, Gen. J.E.B. Stuart led 5,000 Confederate troops including cavalry across the Potomac en route to the Battle of Gettysburg.

But no one died in that crossing, historians said, or in any other notable Civil War engagement on the spot.

Donald Trump has a habit of telling tales that are taller than the trees that he had cut down when he renovated TNGC DC. Even his monument on one of his golf courses at TNGC DC includes inaccurate claims!

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Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s racism goes much further than University of Oklahoma students signing a racist song on a bus

The national organization of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣAE, also abbreviated SAE) fraternity closed its University of Oklahoma (OU) chapter after a video showing OU SAE members singing a song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” that included flagrantly racist lyrics was posted to YouTube.

As it turns out, there’s far more to SAE’s bigotry than just a video posted online by a member of the group’s University of Oklahoma chapter.

First, the national SAE organization touts its ties to the pre-Civil War South and the Confederacy on its own website:

Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded on March 9, 1856, at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Its founders were Noble Leslie DeVotie, Nathan Elams Cockrell, John Barratt Rudulph, John Webb Kerr, Samuel Marion Dennis, Wade Hampton Foster, Abner Edwin Patton, and Thomas Chappell Cook. Their leader was DeVotie, who wrote the ritual, created the grip, and chose the name. Rudulph designed the badge. Of all existing national social fraternities today, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only national fraternity founded in the antebellum South.

Founded in a time of intense sectional feeling, Sigma Alpha Epsilon confined its growth to the southern states. By the end of 1857, the fraternity numbered seven chapters. Its first national convention met in the summer of 1858 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with four of its eight chapters in attendance. By the time of the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, fifteen chapters had been established.

None of the founders of SAE were members of any other fraternity, although Noble Leslie DeVotie had been invited to join all of the other fraternities at the University of Alabama before founding Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

The fraternity had fewer than 400 members when the Civil War began. Of those, 369 went to war for the Confederate States and seven for the Union Army. Seventy-four members of the fraternity lost their lives in the war.

SAE was founded in an era when slavery was legal in many states, and was founded as a fraternity of, for, and by white racists and slavery supporters, most of whom fought for slavery and the right of states to secede from the Union. Sadly, it’s not surprising that SAE is full of racists.

Second, the SAE chapter at Oklahoma State University (OSU), a public university in Stillwater, Oklahoma, had at least one member hang a Confederate flag in the window of his room, and the flag was clearly visible from outside the OSU SAE fraternity house.

Racism in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is absolutely rampant.