Antifa supersoldier White House Chief of Staff John Kelly took a break from his duties as “adult in the room” Monday to go on Fox News and explain why we need to honor all American heroes of history, especially the ones who fought to preserve the institution of slavery and who owned slaves themselves, because “honor” and shit. Kelly explained to Laura Ingraham that Robert E. Lee was just a man who loved his home state, and that’s why he fought against the Union. “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly told Ingraham, explaining that the Civil War was pretty much the result of people just not being able to find a compromise, what a shame, and so much like today’s fractious political landscape, huh?
He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state which in 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand.
Huh! Somehow he failed to actually say anything about “states’ rights” in there, though we suppose perhaps as one of the allegedly smart fellows in the administration, Kelly took that as a given. Kelly had more to say about how imposing today’s standards — “slavery is a violation of everything America supposedly holds dear” — on the past, because that’s just so unfair:
I think it’s just very, very dangerous. It shows you what — how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is[.]
And to think these guys are always slagging liberals for “moral relativism.”
Funny thing about history: Lots of people actually have studied it beyond the level of a Fox News clip, and it’s clear to us that John Kelly knows nothing of Lee’s work, or the very deliberate myth-making of Southern revisionists who treat Lee as if he weren’t a white supremacist who defended the institution of slavery, justified it as necessary for slaves’ “instruction as a race,” contrived to keep in bondage slaves who should have been emancipated, broke up slave families by selling human beings to other masters, and brutally beat at least two slaves after they escaped. Even the Arlington House website acknowledges much of that history. Honorable man? Lee was as thoroughly entrenched in upholding slavery in his private life as he was in defending the Confederacy.
As for that “failure to compromise” nonsense, author Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose latest book you must buy (link gives Yr Wonkette a tiny kickback with each purchase!) is more than a bit of a Civil War history fanboi, and he’d just like to point out the history of “compromise” in the fourscore and four years prior to Southern secession and the outbreak of war. Coates isn’t especially kind to Kelly’s “creationist theorizing”:
And then there’s Coates’s masterful takedown of the notion of “imposing today’s standards,” which rather misses the point that enslaved human beings were quite able to evaluate the morality of slavery by their very own contemporary standards:
As we say, you should read the whole thread. Coates goes on to dismantle, using the Atlantic piece we link to above, the myth of Lee as an “honorable man” who just sort of found himself defending his home state, which is revisionist rubbish. He cites the Southern states’ Articles of Secession. He points out that really, John Kelly has no damned excuse for being so wrong:
Again. This is knowable. Not hard to find out about Lee. You do not have to sit in a Harvard history colloquium to understand the Civil War.
And if the “adult in the room” really believes such myths, lies about an African-American member of Congress and then refuses to apologize for lying about her, then yeah, it’s fair to talk about the influence of white supremacist thought. Coates isn’t in the mood for happy thoughts at the moment, and closes:
Gosh, why do people have to be so negative? Can’t we just agree that there were fine people on many sides, and that what we really need to do is recognize that the Civil War was the result of economic anxiety?
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[Politico / Atlantic / Ta-Nehisi Coates on Twitter]