John Kelly's Civil War Comments Left Twitter In A Blind Rage
When a white man tries to defend the Confederacy's position in the Civil War, it usually doesn't go over well — and White House chief of staff John Kelly was no different. President Trump's right-hand man told Fox News on Monday the Civil War began because of "the lack of an ability to compromise" from people of "good faith" on both sides. Twitter was not pleased by Kelly's Civil War comments.
How did this topic even come up, you ask? Kelly was initially talking about the push to remove Confederate flags and monuments throughout the U.S., arguing that modern-day Americans shouldn't "take what we think now and apply it back then."
After describing Confederate general Robert E Lee as “an honorable man” who "gave up his country to fight for his state," the White House chief of staff said:
Twitter users were quick to point out that saying people fighting to keep slavery were acting on "good faith" is blatantly racist, as well as the fact that "compromise" would have never freed the enslaved.
I mean, like, it's called The three fifths compromise for a reason. But it doesn't stand alone. Missouri Compromise. Kansas-Nebraska Act.— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) October 31, 2017
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out that compromises were constantly made on behalf of enslaved Americans, most notable the Three-Fifths Compromise that counted a slave as three-fifths of a person when determining states' population for representation in Congress. Even with all these "compromises," slavery still persisted.
On Why The U.S. Even Exists
Dear John Kelly: The United States of America exists because President Lincoln did not compromise. https://t.co/ciEienHASx— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 31, 2017
Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu notes that the United States wouldn't exist if President Lincoln had compromised on slavery. After the Civil War, the Confederate States were forced to join the North and carry on as one nation.
On The Absurdity Of Compromising
Black slaves: "we don't want to be slaves"— Pé Resists (@4everNeverTrump) October 31, 2017
White Southerners: "we want you to be slaves"
John Kelly: "they could've totally met halfway!" https://t.co/UAtybCSNvM
Compromise in its essence requires two parties to meet in the middle. But what's the middle of slavery and no slavery?
On Changed Perceptions Of Kelly
Well, we now know @JohnKelly is a racist. Don't know why I thought he was righting the ship, but it's clear this ship is iceberg bound.— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) October 31, 2017
When Kelly stepped in as chief of staff, he was perceived as a moderating force in the White House who would attempt to reign in President Trump's behavior. However, comedian Chelsea Handler said his Civil War comments opened her eyes to the fact that he can't steer the ship away from an iceberg.
On Dispelling Rumors
Thank you John Kelly for finally dispelling the rumor that John Kelly is a better man than any of Trump’s other racist enablers. https://t.co/cjT3PgdFdP— Danny Zuker (@DannyZuker) October 31, 2017
Those who never thought Kelly was better than the rest of the Trump administration were glad to see others coming around to their side.
On "The Adult In The Room"
John Kelly, the adult in the room who also thinks Robert Lee was a cool dude and wishes America would have compromised on slavery— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 31, 2017
In the same vein, Judd Legum pointed out that someone who think Robert Lee was "a cool dude" probably shouldn't be "the adult" in the Oval Office.
On Kelly's Moral Framework
John Kelly wanting to compromise with slave-owners actually tells you all you need to know about John Kelly's moral framework.— Colin Diersing (@cdiersing) October 31, 2017
Of course, many wanted to talk about what Kelly's comments highlighted about his beliefs. Suggesting that he would have compromised with slave owners sends the message that Kelly would have been okay with keeping slavery partially intact.
On How The White House Treats Black People
John Kelly let Trump ignore the death of a black soldier for 12 days, lied about a black congresswoman, and defended a racist traitor.— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 31, 2017
Examples of how Kelly and President Trump responded to news involving Black people recently were also brought up. After Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson was killed in an ambush on the Niger-Mali border Oct. 4, it took the president over a week to call his widow. Even then, Army Sgt. Johnson's family accused Trump of disrespecting the fallen soldier.
After Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson publicly accused Trump of this, the president claimed to have "proof" she was lying. Said proof has yet to be shown.
On Kelly's Halloween Costume
It appears John Kelly is going as a racist for Halloween. I suspect he's also going as one for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday... https://t.co/r1RGD6LBK0— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) October 31, 2017
In one of the most topical reactions, Walter Shaub, former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, said he suspects Kelly will be dressing up as a racist for Halloween (and every other day).
On The Right Side Winning
Today I’m dressing up as a person who is confident the right side won the Civil War.— Kashana (@kashanacauley) October 31, 2017
Kashana, on the other hand, will dress up as someone who's confident not compromising was the way to go.
On A More Serious Note...
We are sick and tired of an America where John Kelly and Stephen Miller can collect WH salaries for emboldening hate groups .— Omar Vaid (@omarvaid) October 31, 2017
We call for the resignation of John Kelly. We won’t tolerate the defense of slaveowners.— Omar Vaid (@omarvaid) October 31, 2017
Some believed Kelly's comments were grounds for resignation.
On What America Should Expect
The fuck did you think John Kelly’s opinion of the civil war was gonna be— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) October 31, 2017
But after all the drama that inevitably builds on Twitter following a political blunder in 2017, someone always has to ask: "What did you expect?"
It's worth noting that Kelly's Civil War comment came the same day it was revealed two Trump campaign aides had been indicted and a third had pled guilty to lying to federal agents. It's not unusual that Kelly didn't want to talk about the FBI investigation into potential collusion with Russia, and — intentional, or not — his Civil War comment diverted some attention away from the Russia saga.