"Shame and Disgrace": Editorial in the Atlanta Constitution

Published Saturday, May 9, 1970

The federal government, once a staunch supporter of the Stone Mountain Memorial, apparently lost interest in the project by 1970. In that year, Richard Nixon declined to attend the dedication ceremony and sent his Vice President, the reviled Spiro Agnew instead. The following is one newspaper's bitter response to the news.

It is a shame and a disgrace that Vice President Spiro T. Agnew will make the chief address dedicating Stone Mountain Memorial Park's monumental carving.

Honorable men ride that rocky ledge, Gen. Robert E. Lee foremost among them. He never would have dismissed dissenters as "elite snobs." Never would he have suggested that snobbery had anything to do with the course the country should follow.

A general-in-chief of the Confederate armies (who fought in a dying cause, to be sure), Lee had traits sorely needed in this hour of the nation's history. His temper and patience seldom failed him. Self-control was his nature. On those rare times when his wrath did get away from him, he followed it with a particularly gracious act to the one who had felt his displeasure.

Spiro Agnew has none of those redeeming qualities. He has the grace of a drill sergeant and the understanding of a 19th century prison camp warden.

He has come very close to doing with ill-tempered language what Lee and Jackson and Jefferson Davis failed to do by force of arms: divide the nation.

Among his major targets have been the teachers and students on our college campuses. We remind him that one of those figures on the mountain side, Gen. Lee, was a college president. Another of the figures, Gen. Jackson, was a college professor.

But he is coming to Stone Mountain. He is the Vice President of the United States. He is engaging in the dedication of a monument which pays respect to men who fought honorably in a losing cause.

Southern hospitality should be extended to Agnew. It will do no good to deal on his level of discourtesy and disrespect.

We sincerely hope that his audience will give him a courteous hearing. It is more than he would give some other Americans, but it is proper.

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