Trump sounds ignorant of history. But racist ideas often masquerade as ignorance.

tags: racism, Civil War, Confederacy, Trump, John Kelly

Ibram X. Kendi is the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University and the National Book Award-winning author of "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America." Follow @DrIbram

The racial story is often told from assuming lips.

All year, that story has been told from the prevailing assumption that President Trump, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other allies of the Trump administration who have rhetorically rewrote the Civil War are “startlingly ignorant” about American history — not to mention the American present.

The latest backlash and accusations of ignorance came in response to Kelly saying on Fox News last month that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.” There were “men and women of good faith on both sides,” including the “honorable” Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Kelly said. The next day, Sanders gave her defense of Kelly during a news briefing. “There’s pretty strong consensus” that “a failure of compromise” sparked the Civil War. Defenders of Confederates and their statues rallied all year long from Charlottesville to Knoxville, from the White House to the defeated gubernatorial campaign of Ed Gillespie.

“Not a good day for Sarah Huckabee Sanders or the places that taught her history (looking at you Central High and Ouachita Baptist),” an Arkansas editor mourned in her home state. “Kelly’s understanding of American history and the Civil War is piss-poor and willfully ignorant,” a Salon writer raged.

Historians have been no less troubled about “this profound ignorance,” as Yale historian David Blight termed it. Likewise politicians. Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), head of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Kelly “needs a history lesson.” ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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