In response to reporters who questioned whether the White House thought John Kelly’s recent comments regarding the Civil War were offensive, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders replied with one word: “No.”
“Because you don’t like history, doesn’t mean that you can erase it and pretend that it didn’t happen,” she told the press, according to Breitbart. “I think that’s the point that General Kelly was trying to make, and to try to create something and push a narrative that simply doesn’t exist is just, frankly, outrageous and absurd.”
In an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Kelly had said that it was wrong to judge historical figures by modern standards, and had called Robert E. Lee an “honorable man” who chose to fight for his state, reported Breitbart. Kelly said that in that era, it was more important for an American to maintain loyalty to one’s state, as Lee did.
“It’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then—I just think it’s very very dangerous. It shows you how much a lack of an appreciation of history and what history is,” he said.
He added, “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.”
On Tuesday Sanders defended Kelly’s comments by citing Shelby Foote in Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary, who cited failure to compromise as a cause of the Civil War, saying, “There are a lot of historians that think that, and there are a lot of different versions of those compromises.”
Sanders delivered strong words to reporters who were trying to push, in her words, a “racially charged” attack meant to paint the White House as divisive on the issues of race.
“I think it is absurd and disgraceful to keep trying to make comments and take the words out of context to mean something that they simply don’t,” she said, adding that past Americans need to be viewed with the understanding that they were flawed, citing former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Kennedy and Roosevelt.
“Look, all of our leaders have flaws. That doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country and certainly can’t erase them from history.”
In response to Sander’s comment, Ken Burns tweeted that “Many factors contributed to the Civil War. One caused it: slavery.”
In a subsequent tweet, Burns said that the Civil War is still going on, and can still be lost.
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