Ta-Nehisi Coates Demolishes John Kelly’s Claim That ‘Lack of Compromise’ Caused Civil War

By Kenrya Rankin Oct 31, 2017

President Donald Trump’s newest chief of staff, John Kelly, has some revisionist views on the Civil War that completely ignore super important things like the enslavement of Black people.

In an interview yesterday (October 30), Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham asked Kelly for his thoughts on a Virginia church’s decision to remove plaques that honored former parishioners Confederate general Robert E. Lee and the slaveholding first president of the United States, George Washington.

Kelly’s response echoed his boss’ assertion following the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that when it came to White supremacists and anti-racist counter-protestors, “you also had people that were very fine people on both sides”:

History is history, and there are certain things in history that were not so good, and other things that were very, very good. I think we make a mistake, though, as a society, and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong, and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say, “What Christopher Columbus did was wrong.” Five hundred years later, it’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then. I think it’s just very, very dangerous, and it shows you how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.

I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 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 them make their stand.

Kelly is the same administration official who attacked Black Congressmember Frederica Wilson (D-FL) for exposing details of Trump’s tear-inducing interaction with a Black woman whose husband was killed in service to the United States.

Twitter lit up with rebuttals, but it was writer Ta-Nehisi Coatesthreaded response that most completely dismantled Kelly’s argument. A portion of it appears below: