Trump Chief of Staff

FILE - In this May 17, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump talks with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly during commencement exercises at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Trump named Kelly as his new Chief of Staff on July 28, ousting Reince Priebus. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Susan Walsh

I got to read in They Advocate an attempted defense of General John Kelly's claim that the Civil War was a result of a "lack of compromise," and essentially rehabilitate the image of the rebels as just poor souls who were needlessly shunned by the uppity liberals up north, with the further implication that this continues to this day. According to this defense, why didn't they try a British-style ending of slavery? Because "both sides" were "unreasonable." This is historically ignorant and morally repugnant. This wasn't, as some like to try to paint it, primarily an economic dispute that had little or nothing to do with racism. Blacks weren't willing and happy day laborers who were treated kindly and professionally. No, blacks were seen by Confederate society at large and as a matter of law as not humans. That's racism, plain and simple, and you don't "compromise" with that.

Letters: Kelly right on value of compromise

The South fought primarily to keep two constants: slave labor and the disenfranchisement of blacks. You don't have to take my word for it; just read what the states directly said themselves in historical documents as their stated reasons for secession. I don't know what kind of compromise the good general and his sympathetic supporters picture as their compromise. Half slavery and half rights for blacks, along with tariff reductions? "Oh come on Northerners, don't be so self-righteous about the undeniable evil of slavery and learn to compromise! Have you even thought about the poor slave masters!? They feel threatened and insulted and reacted defensively; you can understand why they'd fight a war in part to uphold the institution of slavery and black subjugation rather than themselves suggest an ending of slavery!"

We should indeed learn from past polarization. Then, just like now, people can still find it in themselves look at those who want to keep slaves/societal racism against those who think slavery is wrong and think "both sides" can be wrong and there should be some "compromise" between the two.

Darren Jones

college instructor

Baton Rouge