• Live
    • Audio Only
  • google plus
  • facebook
  • twitter
News > World

White House Digs In Heels, Defends Slaveholding Confederacy

  • Left to Right: White Houes Chief of Staff John Kelly, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

    Left to Right: White Houes Chief of Staff John Kelly, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 October 2017

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have stirred a backlash defending Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The White House appears to be firmly entrenched in its defense of slave-owning Confederate General Robert E. Lee, noting that every U.S. leader has had “flaws” while a "lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War."

Black Man Beaten in Charlottesville Riot Faces Felony After Neo-Confederate Complaints

The comments from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders come on the heels of Chief of Staff John Kelly's comments about “compromise” that sparked a raging debate over Confederate monuments commemorating those who fought and died defending the systematic enslavement of Black people.

In her comments to the press, she accused media of falsely presenting the narrative that the Trump administration is “racially charged and divided.”

“Because you don’t like history doesn’t mean you can erase it and pretend it didn’t happen,” she said during the press briefing. “And I think that’s the point that General Kelly was trying to make. To try to create something and push a narrative that simply doesn’t exist is just frankly outrageous and absurd.”

In an interview on Monday night with Fox News, Kelly was asked whether a Virginia church should have removed plaques honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee and President George Washington, both Virginians. Kelly said figures of the past could not be judged retroactively through the lens of a modern social outlook.

"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," Kelly said. "I will 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,” the former Marine Corps general added, appearing to defend the capital crime of treason.

"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 added.

Defending the inflammatory remarks, Sanders cited alleged “historical documentation” to support Kelly's claim, saying: “There’s a pretty strong consensus from people from the left, the right, the north, and the south that believe that if some of the individuals engaged had been willing to come to some compromises on different things, then it may not have occurred.”

Critics, however, note that the United States had made a number of compromises on slavery before tensions finally burst into a war between the North and the secessionist South in 1861.

Lee himself was a slavemaster with a reputation for cruelty who personally whipped slaves who attempted escape or instructed overseers to show no mercy in the meting out of brutal punishment.

“History’s history,” Kelly said.

The general was also known for breaking up slave families, resulting in a form of mental torture that ensured Lee's slaves deemed him “the worst man I ever see,” according to historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor.

Lee separated family members and hired them out to other plantations, so that “by 1860 he had broken up every family but one on the estate, some of whom had been together since Mount Vernon days,” Pryor explained in her book The Reading of Man.

Under Lee's command, Confederate soldiers at the Battle of the Crater in 1864 summarily massacred Black Union soldiers who fought for the Union. The general also abducted free Blacks during his invasion of Pennsylvania, bringing them back to the South as chattel slaves.

Critics accused Kelly of encouraging white supremacists by saying Lee was honorable.

"It's irresponsible & dangerous, especially when white supremacists feel emboldened, to make fighting to maintain slavery sound courageous," Bernice King, the daughter of American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., wrote in a Twitter post.

Daily Caller Publishes Neo-Fascist as Objective 'Journalist'

Replying to another question about whether figures such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general accused of war crimes and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, deserved to be honored, Sanders said: "The president has said that those are something that should be left up to state and local governments, and that's not who I'm here representing today."

President Donald Trump stirred tensions after a deadly rally by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, by insisting that counterprotesters were also to blame, drawing condemnation from some Republican leaders and praise from white supremacists.

Kelly had a long and uncontroversial military career and led the Department of Homeland Security before Trump tapped him to be chief of staff.

Trump has said Confederate monuments, many of which have been removed in recent years, should remain in place to preserve the country's heritage.

Opponents of the Confederate symbols say that they invoke white supremacy and the Confederates' exploitation, rape, and murder of Black people.

Supporters claim that the Confederate statues and infamous “Stars and Bars” battle flags represent “heritage, not hate.”

For decades following the Confederacy's defeat, a nostalgic myth of the so-called “Lost Cause” — noble Southern “rebels” rising up despite the odds to defend their way of life from federal government overreach — proliferated across the U.S. south among white people.

The revisionist pro-Confederate history has formed a crucial ideological pillar for the resurgence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, while also serving to justify Jim Crow segregation laws that systematized the continued oppression and exclusion of Black people throughout much of the 20th century.

Post with no comments.