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Black congressional leaders, historians and commentators blasted White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s assessment of the causes of the Civil War and comments about former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the latest divisive statement on race from the highest levels of the Trump administration. Kelly issued his remarks on Laura Ingram’s TV show on the Fox Network on Monday (Oct. 30). “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly said. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But 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.” Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, criticized Kelly, a retired four-star general, for a “lack of knowledge” about the causes of the Civil War. “John Kelly needs a history lesson. The Civil War was not a disagreement between ‘men and women of good faith on both sides.’ It was a struggle for the soul of this country,” Richmond said in a statement. “Thankfully, the right side won the war and slavery is no longer the law of the land.” Added Sen. Scott of South Carolina, “We need to stop relitigating and referencing the Civil War as if there was some moral conundrum. There was no compromise to make — only a choice between continuing slavery and ending it.” Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate. “We need to move forward together, instead of letting the divisions of the past continue to force us apart.” Hilary Shelton, head of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, called Kelly’s take on the Civil War “dangerously simplistic.” He said that the NAACP would love to sit down with White House officials and provide a history lesson. Shelton said the NAACP would “be delighted to sit down to them to explain what that history was.”