At the particular White House press briefing Wednesday, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders defended Key of Staff John Kellyâs comment that the Civil War resulted from the failure to âcompromiseâ by each sides. Kelly told Fox Information that Confederate Gen. Robert Electronic. Lee was âan honorable manâ who âgave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country,â and that âthe 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.â Historians called this particular view âstrangeâ and âhighly provocative,â yet Sanders, defending Kelly, told reporters, âBecause you donât like history doesnât mean you can erase it.â
An uproar about the causes of the particular Civil War shouldnât surprise individuals who have been following Trumpâs White Home. The president, the chief of employees and other senior White House helps have established a pattern of making use of history â? especially issues associated with race and âheritageâ â? since political weapons, promoting historical misconceptions popular with Trumpâs overwhelmingly white foundation of supporters.
Using history within the service of politics is not innately a bad thing. Every politician â? virtually everybody in elective or even appointed office â? invokes days gone by at one time or another to advance a policy, warrant legislation or score points along with voters. Politicians, understandably, view their own decisions on hard issues with the lens of their own experiences and their own interpretations of the past guide their own sense right and wrong.
And the use of history can indeed light up some complicated policy debates. Throughout the 2001 debate over President George W. Bushâs trillion-dollar-plus tax-cut program, for example , Democrats argued that Ronald Reaganâs 1981 tax cuts eventually yielded much higher federal deficits, proof against the proposition that cutting taxes rates would stimulate the economic climate to the point of actually increasing income. They werenât wrong. During the 2002 debate about the congressional resolution permitting the use of force in Iraq, a few war opponents warned that invading Iraq would lead to another âquagmireâ like Vietnam, a war by which more than 58, 000 Americans passed away.
These are debates worth getting. Why did the U. Ersus. lose the War in Vietnam? What were the roots associated with stagflation in the 1970s? What induced the economic expansion of the Clinton years? These legitimate questions may illuminate policy discussions, even if they will yield complicated answers. But feedback about the Civil War coming from the management constitute something altogether different and also downright dangerous.
As Columbia University or college history Stephanie McCurry told the particular Washington Post, Kellyâs remarks monitor very closely with âthe Jim Crow version of the causes of the Civil Warâ plus âall of the major talking points of this pro-Confederate view of the Civil War.â Kellyâs comments are also âprofoundly ignorant,â as Yale historian David Blight succinctly put it. The South seceded and waged war against the Northern to defend their power to enslave a lot of African-Americans, as historians have shown by means of decades of scholarship.
Kelly plus Sandersâs comments also reflect a continuous Trump-sanctioned effort to weaponize background to rally white conservative voters on behalf of the most embattled first-term leader since the advent of polling. Recall that will in February 2016, Trump informed CNNâs Jake Tapper that he wouldnât reject the support of previous Ku Klux Klan Grand Sorcerer David Duke. Trump gave since his rationale, âI know nothing about white supremacistsâ or Jesse Duke, and he had to study all of them first before saying or doing everything. (He did eventually âdisavowâ Dukeâs support. ) But his refusal was actually a way of invoking the Klanâs history as a white-colored supremacist organization that conducted the reign of terror against African-Americans in the 19thÂ and early 20thÂ centuries in order to appeal to white Southerners who nevertheless harbored racist views.
Trump offers argued that in the recent past the political figures have sold out the U. Ersus. to foreign countries (Japan plus Germany in the 1980s; China plus Mexico today), enriching political elites while Americans suffered. When Trump became a leading advocate of the crazy charge that President Barack Obama was not born in the U. Ersus., he sent a clear message for some of Obamaâs most ardent experts (who would become Trump voters): the nationâs first African-American chief executive was not a natural-born citizen and therefore ineligible to be president. Trump has been drawing on a shameful history by which white Americans denied the legal rights of African-Americans, treating them since less than full citizens, to promulgate the idea that an African-American should not be the best choice of the free world.
Under the particular Trump administration, history has become greater than a reference point in arguments regarding policy; it has become the equivalent associated with Teddy Rooseveltâs âbig stick,â which Trump uses anytime he feels endangered politically. Trump and his team distort facts and distort reality regarding some fairly basic questions from the American past for the clear reason for ensuring that Trumpâs overwhelmingly white foundation stays loyal to him. It offers cover to a White House below siege from prosecutors, the push and a large majority of the canton opposed to his conduct in workplace.
Matthew Dallek, a co-employee professor at George Washington Universityâs Graduate School of Political Administration, is theÂ author of Defenseless Underneath the Night: The Roosevelt Years as well as the Origins of Homeland Security
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