Vicious NYT Editorial on Confederacy
About John Kelly’s Racist History Lesson
By The New York Times Editorial Board
NOV. 1, 2017
Many Americans projected their own feelings of disgust as they watched the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, seem to grimace while President Trump spoke in August of the “very fine people” on both sides of white nationalist demonstrations to preserve Confederate monuments, in which a counter demonstrator was murdered.
It seemed to be an example of how Mr. Kelly, the man brought in as “the adult” to calm the White House chaos, felt pained when he could not prevent the president from saying or tweeting something divisive, hateful or threatening.
At least there was hope that he would speak up, either publicly or privately. Well, Mr. Kelly has now begun to speak up, and, in doing so, has provided sickening clarification of what this presidency stands for.
When asked in an interview broadcast on Monday about plans by a Virginia church to remove plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee, he said it showed “a lack of appreciation of history.”
“Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” he added. He said that in the Civil War “men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”
With those remarks, Mr. Kelly revealed that it’s he, like the president, who lacks an appreciation of history — that he has chosen instead to embrace the mythology that white racists methodically created to hide the truth about the causes and course of the Civil War. The truth is, white Southerners went to war to destroy the United States in order to continue enslaving nearly 40 percent of the people in the region.
As for Lee’s honor, while some historians argue that he held a distaste for human bondage, he nevertheless fought ferociously to preserve slavery, which he viewed as the best arrangement that could possibly exist between whites and African-Americans. During the war, his army kidnapped free blacks, returning them to chains. After the war ended, he advised acquaintances to avoid hiring free blacks — arguing that it was against white interests to do so — and suggested that free black people be forced out of his native state, Virginia.
Mr. Kelly really gave the game away when he went on to argue that it was wrong for us to look back at the past through the lens of “what is today accepted as right and wrong.” As the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has noted, you can only contend that most people believed that slavery was right at the time of the Civil War if you exclude black people from your analysis, not to mention from your moral imagination.
If Mr. Kelly is supposed to be the administration’s disciplinarian, keeping it on message, then echoing his boss’s kind words for slaveholders and those who slaughtered American soldiers to defend them shows that a central message is, “Racists, we’re your guys.”
To Mr. Kelly — and to the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who echoed his view from the people’s podium in the briefing room — the Civil War resulted from a failure to compromise. It might be instructive for reporters to continue to press both of them, as well as the president, about what kind of compromise over slavery they have in mind.
The consequences of slavery continue to distort and stunt lives in America, so it’s quite right that we should engage in what can be an agonizing national conversation about this history. Only when our history is faced squarely can removing Confederate monuments be properly understood, as a small but significant step toward ending the celebration of treason and white supremacy, if not toward ameliorating their effects.
But this White House is not interested in that conversation. It’s interested instead in exploiting racist myths and deepening racial divisions for perceived political advantage.
Vicious NYT Editorial Ignores Its Former Publisher’s Mother’s Role in Loyally Supporting the Confederacy
It is very ironic to see this vicious editorial, since Bertha Levy Ochs, the Mother of the future publisher of the New York Times, was an ardent and loyal supporter of the Confederacy. Her son Adolph Ochs bought the New York Times in 1896.
As recounted by the renowned historian Robert Rosen, in his authoritative book The Jewish Confederates, her brother served in the Confederate army, and she smuggled medicine into the South to help the Confederates overcome their severe shortages of such supplies:
There is a family story that Bertha pushed her baby carriage, which contained contraband material hidden under one of the little Ochs boys, across the river from Cincinnati to Kentucky, to the Confederates. Adolph Ochs recalled in later years that “Mother gave Father a lot of trouble in those days.”
According to their granddaughter, Bertha’s smuggling drugs to the Confederates came to the attention of of the Union authorities and a warrant was issued for her arrest. As a loyal Union officer, (her husband) Julius was able to have the charges dismissed.
In 1928, The Confederate Veteran magazine noted that “for a Mother of Israel to defy her husband and an entire army was no mean assertion of militant feminism in those days.”
Ironically, the family moved to Tennessee in 1964, one of the states affected by Union General Ulysses Grant’s infamous General Order Number 11, expelling all Jews from the Union-occupied states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi within 24 hours, which was eventually rescinded by President Lincoln.
Bertha was a charter member of the A. P. Stewart Chapter of he United Daughters of the Confederacy; she died in 1908, and her coffin, as she requested, was draped with a Confederate flag.
I wonder of the NY Times considers her one of those vicious racists it refers to in its editorial.
Lewis Regenstein is the descendant of over two dozen members of his extended family in Georgia and South Carolina who fought for the Confederacy to defend their Southern Homeland from the invading Union army. Regenstein@mindspring.com