The recent apoplexy over White House Chief-of-Staff John Kelly’s comments about Robert E. Lee and the Civil War have revealed on ongoing problem in the thinking of many Americans when it comes to history and politics in general – the inability to see any issue or event in anything but the most oversimplified terms. In the particular context of the criticism of General Kelly’s comments on the Civil War, the South as a region and the Southerners as individuals could not possibly have had any other motivation to fight than the protection of slavery (in the eyes of the media). For example, witness Paul Begala’s tweet made in response to Kelly’s comments:
“The Civil War was fought over slavery
The Civil War was fought over slavery
The Civil War was fought over slavery.
This will be on the test.”
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