White House Chief of Staff John Kelly disregarded slavery as a cause of the Civil War and praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee during an interview with Fox News on Monday morning.
“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,” Kelly said during an interview on the cable channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” avoiding any mention of slavery, a key part of what “separated northern and southern states when they chose sides in the Civil War.”
Kelly continued: “There will be, 100 or 200 years from now, people that criticize us for what we do, and I guess they’ll tear down, you know, statues of people that we revere today,” he told Laura Ingraham. “It’s dangerous, I think. … It’s just very, very dangerous and it shows you what, how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.”
Lee was “an honorable man,” Kelly also said, despite the deadly violence that erupted at a white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia over the statue’s removal earlier this year.
At a time of heightened racial tension over Confederate statues, Kelly incorrectly remembered the reasons behind one of the most painful wars in American history. The chief of staff brushed over slavery and played into ignorance when he mounted a defense for Confederate monuments and General Robert E. Lee after being asked about the removal of the controversial structures.
Kelly is already being condemned for his tone-deaf and racist comments on social media. Trump faced similar backlash when he previously referred to the removal of the Confederate monuments as “foolish.”
Kelly’s comment may be even more damaging than Trump for disregarding such a traumatic historic flashpoint that still affects African Americans today.