John Kelly’s comments on the Civil War downplay the South’s support of slavery, which should never be tolerated or met with compromise, suggests Jill Filipovic of CNN. Saying that Confederate General Robert E. Lee “was an honorable man,” excuses his crime in having fought to preserve slavery. The Civil War wasn’t fought by good people on either side. Southern states and their leaders were clearly supporting the right to own and abuse black people. Kelly’s words are an attempt to revise history and portray the South in a more positive light. This is worryingly reflective of President Trump’s rhetoric that seeks to minimize America's history of racism.
Minimizing the abomination of fighting for slavery is wrong, but John Kelly is right that not all aspects of the Confederacy were purely evil, holds Ralph Peters of the New York Post. Robert E. Lee was, in fact, an honorable man. He saw that slavery was a thing of the past and disagreed with secession. Nonetheless, once war was declared, he followed his duty in defending his state and home. Similarly, most Confederate soldiers didn’t own slaves but fought for the places they came from. To them, the North was an aggressor that they had to stand against together. Kelly was right in his statement, purely vilifying the South is wrong.