White House chief of staff John Kelly described the general of a traitorous war against the United States as an "honorable man." The brilliant journalist and scholar Ta-Nehisi Coates completely destroys Kelly's revisionist history.
Donald Trump has fully embraced celebration of the traitorous war against the United States, and leading the charge to defend Trump’s support for “beautiful” statues of Confederate war criminals is former general and White House chief of staff John Kelly.
Appearing on far-right conservative Laura Ingraham’s new Fox News Monday night night, Kelly proclaimed that Confederate commander Robert E. Lee was “an honorable man” who “gave up his country to fight for his state.”
“[T]he 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,” said Kelly.
Leaving aside that “states’ rights” as a cause of the Civil War has been repeatedly debunked, Kelly’s claim that the North failed to compromise is absolute fiction.
And celebrated journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates was outraged.
“I mean, like, it’s called The three fifths compromise for a reason. But it doesn’t stand alone. Missouri Compromise. Kansas-Nebraska Act,” wrote Coates. “Lincoln’s own platform was a compromise. Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He proposed to limit slavery’s expansion, not end it. During the Civil War, Lincoln repeatedly sought to compromise by paying reparations–to slaveholders–and shipping blacks out the country.”
Further, as he explained, the majority of presidents, congressional leaders, and Supreme Court justices on the prewar era were pro-slavery Southerners — an arrangement Northerners accepted.
“Shocking that someone charged with defending their country, in some profound way, does not comprehend the country they claim to defend,” Coates added.
But Coates did not stop there. He pointed out that Kelly’s claim that we cannot apply modern standards to the Antebellum South is a racist notion in and of itself, because it “implies only white, slave-holding, opinions matter.”
“Majority of people living in South Carolina in 1860 were black — they did not need modern white wokeness to tell them slavery was wrong.” Coates wrote.
Nor did Coates have any patience for Kelly’s claim that Lee was an “honorable” man.
Coates also considers it telling that in the exact same interview, Kelly said he would “never” apologize for lying about Rep. Frederica Wilson taking credit for an FBI field office. As far as Coates is concerned, his treatment of an outspoken Black woman is part and parcel of his — and much of the country’s — white supremacist inclinations:
“When that dude portrays a sitting member of Congress as some shucking and jiving hustler … When he sticks by that portrayal of a black women, in the face of clear video evidence, when he has so descended into the dream … You really do see the effect of white supremacy,” he concluded.
It is worth remembering that Kelly — despite his media reputation as one of Trump’s “adults in the room” — has a clear track record of hateful policies that mainly target nonwhite people. As secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, he oversaw the Muslim ban, as well as immigration busts on battered women and churches. And he has defended some of Trump’s most egregious behavior.
Coates’ words are a wake-up call to anyone who still hoped Kelly will save us from Trump’s darker nature — he is part of the same ugly forces that put Trump in power. We as a nation must stand firm against racism, and that means standing against the powers that be.