When things fall into my particular area of expertise, being a non-entity as far as the national (or even local) media is concerned can be crushingly disheartening. Watching people with next-to-no knowledge on a topic have their opinions broadcast to millions while your demonstrated mastery and expertise in a field make it plain to you that everyone involved in an important national conversation is missing out on some very, very important basics is horribly frustrating, as anyone who has ever studied any of the fields on which an Important Political Consultant pontificates can attest. Imagine if you will, that in the aftermath of some horrible tragedy involving vaccines produced by in vivo exposure of embryonic zebra fish to a virus Our Hero PZ Myers is forced to listen to David Brooks pontificate
Well, of course if you give this vaccine to farmed salmon you’re going to see a higher incidence of anadromous autism, the evolution of the zebra fish practically guarantees it. Then that autism is inevitably going to cause a collapse in fish stocks because if you’re autistic you won’t breed, and these sick farmed salmon are eventually going to pass that trait on to the wild salmon through genetic mixing of farmed and wild fish, which ends up hurting the livelihoods of fishermen in the Pacific NorthWest and leading directly to the tragedy we saw this week.
Well, I’ve felt something like that a time or two, as have many actual experts in their fields, I’m sure. What doesn’t typically happen, however, is having your idiocy immediately challenged by someone who is both an actual expert in the field and a writer of special magnificence. So even though John Kelly was clearly spouting idiocy (and evil) in the interview I’ve already critiqued, I did not realize what was coming: a thorough and complete trashing by someone with very practiced communication skills, strong connections throughout the national media, and legitimate expertise in the US Civil War. Oh, John Kelly, what have you done? You’re a general, you’re not supposed to be ignorant enough to walk blithely into a big gun’s field of fire. Pissing me off is one thing, but pissing off someone who actually knows the history of slavery? I hesitate to continue. It’s over, Kelly. Ta-Nehisi Coates has the high ground:
Regarding John Kelly’s creationist theorizing on Lee and the Civil War, its worth pointing out a few things.
— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) October 31, 2017
Yes. A few things. Go read Coates’ tweets, and prepare for what I expect will be a devastating long-form piece in the near future. In the meantime, it is, of course, worse for Kelly than just that. He’s actually walked into overlapping fields of fire, and I don’t think it’s going to help him much that his allies are going to say some of these blazing guns sound a bit shrill:
While they raped my Grandmother, lynched my Uncle, broke up my family to lost history, you find honor & compromise in that, you racist, prick? https://t.co/bOihrwd67N
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) October 31, 2017
Yeah, I think racist is the least of the criticism Kelly has (deservedly) coming his way.