The media is preoccupied with supposed Russian attempts to sow confusion and division in the US but the leadership in the White House is doing a good job all by itself. Chief of Staff and military man John Kelly apparently doesn’t know why the Civil War was fought saying in an interview it was caused by “a lack of ability to compromise.”
Was General Kelly suggesting that it would have been better for Black folks to remain enslaved in the South and free in the North? And we thought it safe to assume that Americans agree that the “peculiar institution” holding human beings in involuntary servitude as chattel (property) was immoral.
Yet White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders when asked about Kelly’s remarks added to the confusion saying, “we aren’t going to re-litigate the Civil War,” as if to imply US chattel slavery was ended by some kind of agreement, rather than the Union having to subdue the treasonous slave-holding South. This should be no surprise coming from Huckabee Sanders. White Southern Christians have long nursed the romanticized version of the Confederacy as honorable people fighting for States rights: that is the right to own human beings and treat them as property.
In fact, Huckabee Sanders doubled down suggesting that Kelly’s interpretation of why the Civil War was fought was the correct one. When pointed out by a reporter during her White House briefing earlier this week that, ”Kelly’s comments are deeply offensive to some folks and historically inaccurate,” The smug Southerner said, “because you don’t like history doesn’t mean you can erase it and pretend that it didn’t happen.”
However Kelly’s interpretation flies in the face of the facts. The South was determined to keep human beings in bondage! There is nothing in the historical record that indicates that the South were willing to free slaves, which were the backbone of the Southern economy, thus the term slavocracy. And the North’s economy depended on free labor. Northern capitalism and Southern slavery could not be reconciled, a clash was inevitable.
Truth is, compromises had already been reached. When the Civil War began in 1860 the US was comprised of Slave states and Free states. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which replaced the Missouri Compromise of 1820 allowed new states entering the union to democratically decide whether they would be free or slave-holding. The feds had even accommodated the Southern slave states efforts to capture escaped slaves, by passing the Fugitive Slave Act. But compromise was not sufficient for the South, they wanted the entire nation to be slave holding.
Nothing complicated about the reasons for the Civil War, despite the prevarications of revisionist historians, the South wrote why they were succeeding from the Union and wrote that it was because of slavery.
In a speech to the Confederacy Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens made it clear why the South broke from the North. “The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions-African slavery as it exists among us-the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”
Incidentally, after the war, compromises of sorts were reached, whose effects on the country linger to this day. The South though uncompromising in its defense of slavery and its desire to separate and even destroy the Union, was welcomed back into the fold with little consequences. They didn’t even have to say they were sorry. Yet with the help of the Compromise of 1877, the US government allowed the South through the Democratic Party, (yep that party) to nearly re-enslave Black folks using the political and legal system and at the same time attempted to socially justify their dirty deeds, with the creation of the fake science of eugenics, which sought to prove the inferiority of Blacks.
Kelly a former general, in the same interview defended Robert E. Lee calling him “an honorable man.” But Lee took the side of the slave masters and turned against his country, making him a traitor. And in a statement that is reminiscent of President Trump’s take on the racists, Nazis and Klansmen parading in Charlottesville earlier this year, Kelly added that there were “men and women of good faith on both sides, made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”
One can’t imagine Kelly being so forgiving of someone who refused to fight in any of the US wars of aggression, based on their “conscience.” They would be called traitors and that would be the end of it. It makes one wonder why the lenience with Lee and the Confederate slave masters? What could possibly make him so soft on the “peculiar institution” (as some named chattel slavery) and its supporters and practitioners?
When reporter April Ryan asked where the White House stood on slavery, Sanders without any hint of irony said she thought the question was “disgusting and absurd.” Disgusting is right, Huckabee Sanders side stepped during the same briefing a reporter’s direct question, “Do you think there are southern figures who deserve to be honored like Nathan Bedford Forrest?” Forrest was a racist Civil War criminal, and founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Why couldn’t she simply that the treasonous, slave holding Confederates didn’t deserve to be honored?
Any place else this would be an embarrassment, but folks in the US revel in their ignorance.
Russians? Seems like folks especially, “People of Color” better pay close attention to the Confederate sympathizers running the US government, who thought some kind of compromise could have been made with chattel slavery and who think it proper to honor traitors, while claiming that slave masters and their minions (who committed treason) operated in “good faith” and were people of “conscience.”
justice then peace