RFK Jr. Sparks Controversy With Stance On Confederate Monuments

Decrying the removal of statues honoring southern Civil War leaders, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Friday he has a “visceral reaction against destroying history.” In an interview on the conservative “Timcast IRL” podcast, Kennedy asserted “there were heroes in the Confederacy who didn’t have slaves” and that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee possessed “extraordinary qualities of leadership” worth celebrating.

The former Democrat, who is attempting to assemble a coalition of voters dissatisfied with both major parties, positioned himself as a staunch free speech advocate unafraid of controversial positions. However, his comments on Confederate monuments have drawn criticism. Activists have long advocated for removing such statues, viewing them as symbols of racism.

Kennedy argued erasing historical figures based on a single criteria would eliminate much of history. “Values change throughout history and we need to be able to be sophisticated enough to live with our ancestors who didn’t agree with us on everything,” he said.

While roughly 90% of Confederate soldiers did not own slaves, experts note this was largely due to the Southern Congress exempting slaveholders from military service out of fear of slave revolts. Historians emphasize that even non-slaveholding Confederates fought for a vision of a slave-based nation.

Both Biden and Trump allies are warily eyeing Kennedy’s campaign, concerned he could garner sufficient support to influence the election’s outcome. As the race heads into summer, Kennedy’s controversial stances are sure to keep generating headlines.