White House chief of staff John Kelly says it is a mistake to remove Confederate-tied symbols and discard markers of historical importance, The Hill reports. Kelly also argued that it’s a “dangerous” practice to retroactively project current attitudes onto past events.
Asked about his thoughts on removing the plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee at a church in Alexandria, Virginia, Kelly said that “history’s history.”
“I think we make a mistake, though, and as a society and certainly as, as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say…’what Christopher Columbus did was wrong. You know, 500 years later, it’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then,’” Kelly said.
According to Kelly, it is “dangerous” to discard the nation’s imperfect marks, saying the moral values of the day may be judged differently by future generations. “There are certain things in history that were not so good and other things that were very, very good,” he noted.
“I mean, human history, our culture is an evolving thing. There will be 100 or 200 years from now people that criticize us for what we do and I guess they’ll tear down, you know, statues of people that we revere today,” Kelly said.
President Donald Trump’s chief of staff added that the push to remove these statues shows “a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.”
Supporters of removing the statues argue that keeping such statues are visual reminders in the community send a message to certain members that they aren’t welcome and that they no longer represent the values of the area they are located, The Hill writes.