John Kelly is Right: The North Refused to Compromise on the Abomination of Slavery

The sickness of American conservatism is that they see this as a bad thing.
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On Monday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly doubled down on his lies about Rep. Frederica Wilson by refusing to apologize and then finished off what little was left of his credibility by spouting "Lost Cause" Civil War nonsense:

The comments, made on the debut night of conservative media host Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News, came after Kelly was asked about the recent decision by a Virginia church to remove plaques that honored the Confederate general and George Washington.“

I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly told Ingraham. “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. Now it’s different today. 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.”

Laura Ingraham is a notorious racist so the fact that John Kelly broke his two weeks of silence on her debut episode is quite telling. But aside from the usual Fox News racist dog whistles, a lot of people are mad that Kelly is putting the Civil War in these terms because they feel it eliminates the role slavery played in the conflict. They're right, of course, that's exactly what Kelly is doing here. But Kelly happens to be absolutely right. Just not the way he intended. The Civil War happened because the North finally stopped compromising on the question of slavery and the South, rather than concede to the will of the majority of the nation, started the bloodiest conflict in American history.

The question for Kelly, of course, is why is North refusing to compromise on slavery a bad thing? There is no moral justification for reducing another human being to property. Kelly tries to justify it with limp excuses about applying modern day values to past times but the fact that we fought a civil war over slavery is evidence enough that even 150 years ago, our sense of morality have evolved beyond slavery. We knew it was an abomination and the South went to war to preserve it anyway.

The problem with Kelly and those like him is that they think the North and the South should have compromised. Specifically, they should have compromised to keep slavery intact. Kelly and his ilk are taking the side of the slavers, the purest form of white supremacy imaginable. Worse, they're still offended that the South lost (badly) and they've been fighting to keep the black community in a subordinate position ever since. The KKK, Jim Crow, redlining, Confederate statues, the "War on Drugs", Voter ID laws, gerrymandering, the white nationalist alt-right, Trump, etc. etc. are all ways to keep white people in power at the expense of black people. The idea of a four star general siding with slavers and traitors against the United States is nauseating but, frankly, unsurprising for the Trump administration. I'm not one to wrap myself in the flag but I've never seen an administration with such contempt for the country it's supposed to be leading. Kelly's Confederate sympathies is par for the course.

It should be noted here that Kelly is no longer speaking to the press or the public at large, he is now talking exclusively to Trump's followers. They're going to lap up Kelly's "Lost Cause" nonsense like candy the way they ate up his "empty barrel" speech. Kelly was hailed by the press as the adult that would temper Trump's childish excesses and calm things down but after the last two weeks, it's clear that he's simply there to feed red meat to Trump's base just like everyone else in the West Wing.

Curiously, even as Kelly rewrites history about the Civil War, we find ourselves at a similar crossroads once again. The country is divided between those who would embrace white nationalism and all the bloody horror it entails, and those that would take the road to freedom and equality. As a student of history, Kelly should be aware of how poorly his side fares in these kinds of conflicts. Even if they enjoy some initial victories, they always lose. Badly.

But before it gets to that point, we can beat them back at the ballot box and take away the power they've stolen. Vote blue every time.

There are 6 days left to the the 2017 elections.

There are 371 days left to the 2018 elections.

- This article kills fascists

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