Activists calling for the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia have a powerful ally: Robert E. Lee himself. The Civil War general who led legions of southerners against the north was against building statues to commemorate the conflict.

The belated general repeatedly opposed plans to build monuments in honor of himself, Stonewall Jackson and other confederate leaders following the war, according to CNN's Chris Boyette. In an 1866 letter to fellow southern General Thomas L. Rosser, Lee wrote, "As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt...would have the effect of...continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour."

Then in 1869, when declining an invitation to attend the dedication of a memorial to soldiers who died in the Battle of Gettysburg, General Lee wrote, "I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered."

So Lee was arguably with the counter-protestors in spirit last weekend when they clashed with Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and other white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville to protest the city's plans to remove the statue of the general. 

And President Donald Trump basically called General Lee a "fool" earlier today when he tweeted out an attack on anyone who opposes these statues. 

So if these statues are America's 'open sores' - to use Lee's words - then Trump is the nation's orange tumor.

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