Wednesday, 23 August 2017

ESPN removes sports broadcaster who has the same name as Confederate general

After the white supremacist violent rally in Charlottesville, U.S. based global cable and satellite sports television channel, ESPN has removed announcer Robert Lee from broadcasting University of Virginia football games for sharing a name with the famous Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

White nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee. They marched on Virginia’s campus with torches, chanted racial slurs and intimidated counter-protestors. One woman was killed when a white supremacist drove a car into a group of counter-protestors.

CNN reports that, on Tuesday night, the network confirmed that its management moved the Asian-American announcer, Robert Lee off the University of Virginia’s home opener football game “simply because of the coincidence of his name.”

“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue,” ESPN spokesman, Derek Volner told The Washington Post in a statement.

Robert Lee was scheduled to cover a University of Virginia game in the city for the broadcaster on 2 September but, has been reassigned to another game between Youngstown State and Pittsburgh which takes place on the same day.

It’s been over 150 years since the last shots were fired in the US Civil War, but a debate still rages over how history will remember the losing side.
Hundreds of statues dedicated to the Confederacy and serve as an offensive reminder of America’s history of slavery and racial oppression.

Recent decisions by local governments to remove those statues have triggered a backlash from a vocal group of Americans who see their removal as an attempt to subvert US history and southern culture.

Most Confederate monuments were built after the war ended in 1865. It was not until the turn of the century, as southern states began to enact so-called Jim Crow laws designed to deprive recently freed slaves of equal rights that the monuments began to go up in public spaces.

Most defenders of Confederate statues say they are not meant to memorialise slavery, which the South fought to preserve.

They say that the war was fought for “state’s rights” and against the federal system, adding that symbols such as the Confederate “battle flag” commemorate the region’s history and culture.

But most historians agree it was about slavery. Racial minorities, especially black Americans, feel that their presence in public life is offensive.

Robert Edward Lee was an American general known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. A son of Revolutionary War officer Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee III. Lee was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. During this time, he served throughout the United States, distinguished himself during the Mexican- American War, and served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.

However, ESPN has been strongly condemned especially in conservative circles for injecting political issues into sports coverage and for allegedly taking sides in various controversies which saw two of the prime time shows on Fox News mocked ESPN for the decision.

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