(CNSNews.com) – The White House on Tuesday defended Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly’s comments on the Civil War, saying “all of our leaders have flaws” – including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, and Theodore Roosevelt – but it doesn’t erase their contributions to the country.
In an interview on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” Kelly said that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee “was an honorable man” who “gave up his country for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country.”
“The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stands where their conscience had them make their stand,” Kelly added.
When asked about Kelly’s comments and whether Kelly was suggesting that there be compromise on the abolition of slavery, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “ Look, all of our leaders have flaws — Washington, Jefferson, JFK, Roosevelt, Kennedy. That doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country, and it certainly can’t erase them from our history. And General Kelly was simply making the point that just because history isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean that it’s not our history.”
“You’re a proud daughter of the South. When you see Nathan — like a statue as they had in Memphis of somebody like Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was responsible for the Fort Pillow Massacre, and other folks like that, is there a differentiation? Do you think there are certain Confederate figures who don’t deserve to be honored, like Nathan Bedford Forrest?” a reporter asked.
“Look, I don’t think that we should sit here and debate every moment of history. I think those moments took place. There are moments that we’re going to be a lot less proud of than others, but we can’t erase the fact that they happened,” Sanders said.
“I think you have to determine where that line is. The president has said that those are something that should be left up to state and local governments, and that’s not who I’m here representing today, so I’m not going to get into the back and forth on it,” she added.