Tarnished Stars

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I was disappointed but not surprised when I read President Trump’s Chief of Staff, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly turn to false narratives of the American Civil War in an interview Fox New’s Femme Ideologue Laura Ingraham. Kelly described Robert E. Lee as an honorable man and said that the war was caused by a lack of compromise. Kelly’s description of both is mind boggling to me as a historian in 2017 because the narrative that he evoked was that of Jim Crow, the noble south, and Confederate revisionist history that began in the years after the war and became for many people the truth about the the war, its causes, and the men who led the Confederate armies in a war that was based on the expansion of slavery and the rejection of decades of compromise in which the Free States continuously surrendered their rights and freedoms to Slave Power.

Kelly’s comments surprised many military men, especially those who have some actual advanced education in history, as well as respected historians of the period who are not political ideologues. I fit in both categories. I am a career military officer and I am a historian. My first book, which hopefully will be published sometime next year, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Race, Religion, Ideology, and Politics in the Civil War Era, deals extensively with the subject. I found Kelly’s comments coupled with his continued refusal to apologize to a Gold Star Mother, and a Congresswoman who he lied about completely dishonorable and actions which stained his honor as a Marine. I can only imagine what Smedley Butler would say to Kelly, and based on what Butler said in his book War is a Racket I cannot imagine them being sympathetic to Kelly. Butler wrote:

“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

In his defense of President Trump as well as his apology for the traitorous General Lee and the Southern Confederacy which valued slavery and race supremacy over the Union Kelly lost every bit of respect that I had given him. He has surrendered his honor to be a partisan hack for a politician who has shown no respect to the Constitution, the rule of law, or our form of government. Kelly may end up becoming, to paraphrase the words of Butler, a gangster for Trump. When I think of that my heart sinks, and I wonder why more officers cannot heed the words of Butler, or German General Ludwig Beck who said in opposing Hitler:

“It is a lack of character and insight, when a soldier in high command sees his duty and mission only in the context of his military orders without realizing that the highest responsibility is to the people of his country.”

I sign off tonight shaking my head sadly thinking about how John Kelly has forever tarnished his reputation, and if he continues down this path may help destroy the Constitution that with every promotion he has sworn to support and defend.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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4 Comments

Filed under civil war, History, Military, News and current events, Political Commentary

4 responses to “Tarnished Stars

  1. It makes me vomit. I am about to do some reserve time at HMAS Waterhen and so to be thinking about putting the uniform on again and reminding myself of what that means, its so disheartening to see a flag officer debase himself just to get close to power. Sad

  2. I too, was appalled. But my own sister insists that the Union Army was fighting for “States Rights” because that’s in the Constitution & the Army always “fights for the Constitution”. I have a paralegal degree & got an A+ in Constitutional Law & I know she was talking about the 10th Amendment but I wasn’t going to argue with her & her Fox News misinformation.

    I love your blog. I read every posting you send & I am going through your backlogs.

  3. Bill McReynolds

    The tyrants and demagogues of the past have always relied heavily on such men as General John F. Kelly to enable their path to absolute power. The sad thing is, that for the master he serves (and debases himself for), the General would be dropped in a ‘Hot Minute’ for a hint of any disloyalty, pure political expediency or just an act of petty malice. Maybe the General will learn, that no matter what level of humiliation and degradation he endures – it will never be enough for, The Donald.
    But, I doubt it.

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