The Trump administration hasn’t yet learned that saying “both sides” were at fault for a national calamity involving racial tension (as with Charlottesville) tends not to go over well. Yet Ta-Nehisi Coates showed up on Twitter to set the score straight after White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly used the “both sides” term in reference to the Civil War. Kelly also called Confederate General Robert E. Lee “an honorable man who gave up his country to fight for his state.” Kelly told Fox News, “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.”
Coates, The Atlantic‘s national correspondent and author of Between the World and Me, happens to be a self-described Civil War buff who has spent the better part of the past decade taking his family on trips to Civil War battlegrounds and reading and writing extensively on the subject in an effort to better understand the war. So when he tweeted early this morning that “it’s worth pointing out a few things” in response to “John Kelly’s creationist theorizing on Lee and the Civil War,” you knew it was on.