White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed questions from the media about White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly’s comments about the Civil War.
When asked by reporters if the White House thought that the comments were “offensive,” Sanders replied ‘No.”
“Because you don’t like history, doesn’t mean that you can erase it and pretend that it didn’t happen,” she said. “I think that’s the point that General Kelly was trying to make, and to try to create something and push a narrative that simply doesn’t exist is just, frankly, outrageous and absurd.”
Kelly said in an interview with Laura Ingraham that he believed it was wrong to judge historical figures by modern standards, and defended Civil War general Robert E. Lee as an “honorable man.”
“The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand,” he said.
Sanders cited Shelby Foote in Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary, who cited the failure to compromise as a cause of the Civil War.
“There are a lot of historians that think that, and there are lot of different versions of those compromises,” she said, defending Kelly’s comments.
She blasted reporters in the room for trying to push a “racially charged” attack that the White House was divisive on issues of race.
“I think it is absurd and disgraceful to keep trying to make comments and take them out of context to mean something that they simply don’t,” she said.
Sanders pointed to a racially themed ad released by Latino Victory in the Virginia Governor’s campaign, accusing the group of “stoking political racism.”
She reminded reporters that historical figures in the United States had flaws, but that she wasn’t prepared to re-litigate history from the podium.
“Look, all of our leaders have flaws,” she replied, citing former presidents such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Kennedy, and Roosevelt. “That doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country and certainly can’t erase them from history.”