In a scathing editorial, the full Editorial Board of the New York Times slammed John Kelly’s racist retelling of the Civil War in an opinion piece titled, “John Kelly’s Racist History Lesson”.
In an interview with Fox News on Monday night, Kelly weighed in on the Confederate statue debate by calling Lee “an honorable man” who gave up his country to fight for his state.
Kelly seemed to echo President Trump’s controversial “both sides” Charlottesville claim while offering his own historical analysis of what led to the Civil War, attributing it to a “lack of an ability to compromise” rather than the Confederacy’s insistence on keeping the institution of slavery.
“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 said.
When he was asked about a Virginia church’s decision to remove a plaque honoring Lee, Kelly said, “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,” Kelly continued. “Now it’s different today.”
In response to his remarks, the Times Editorial Board writes:
This has been Donald Trump’s only consistent theme since he began building a political base around birtherism. Mr. Trump’s course has been erratic in most respects, but one can draw a sharp, clean line from his lie that Barack Obama was not born in the United States to his calculated attack from the White House on black National Football League players protesting injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. (“Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,” the president of the United States said at a political rally, giving advice to team owners.)
Mr. Kelly had a reputation as a man of honor. Only in the context of Mr. Trump’s toxic political strategy can one understand his attack on an African-American representative, Frederica Wilson, whom he accused of grandstanding — and his continued refusal to acknowledge the truth even after video evidence flatly contradicted him.
It is a sorry development that even Mr. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, a former leader of one of our nation’s most racially diverse institutions, is choosing to sacrifice his own reputation to abet the president’s race-baiting.
Read the Times’ full editorial, here.