The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Screenshot: CBS)

Call it a distraction from the gathering storm of criminal charges against the Trump administration if you want, but current White House Chief of Staff and former Marine general Robert Kelly said some genuinely stupid shit on Fox News on Monday. Calling the removal of Confederate Civil War monuments an act of applying modern morality to long-ago events—a Donald Trump, Breitbart News, and racist uncle talking point—Kelly also told notorious race-baiter Laura Ingraham that the Civil War was really the fault of the North (meaning the United States and not the traitors attacking it) for being unwilling to “compromise” on the issue of slavery. Slavery. Compromise. Okay. Well, Stephen Colbert was typically unwilling to let such ignorant nonsense float on by, thankfully, laying into Kelly—who Colbert says, as a retired general, should damned well know better—for rewriting U.S. history in order to stick to the Trump game plan of appealing to a shrinking base of disgruntled, resentful, truth-optional white folk.

“Nope, sorry—a lot of people thought slavery was wrong back then,” responded Colbert, adding, “like black people.” Also, he notes, there was the whole Civil War brouhaha itself, a bloody conflict Colbert dramatized by reading a supposed letter from a bewildered Southern soldier, confused as to why the Union won’t compromise on that whole slavery thing. Not even, as Colbert’s Ken Burns-style narration intones, with proposals of a slavery casual Friday, or an every other day arrangement in which black people could be forced against their wills to toil for their masters’ financial gain only on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and every other weekend. (“They’re being total Nazis about this,” concluded the fictional soldier, right before taking his brother’s bayonet to the gut.) Colbert went on to rebut Kelly’s racist pandering (or pandering to racists, or both) by pointing to the times the country did, in fact, make the nose-holding compromises, like the “3/5 of a person” deal, and that whole Missouri Compromise (see, it’s right there in the name, Johnny), none of which were sufficient to placate Kelly’s “honorable” Robert E. Lee.


Colbert, finishing harsh, suggested that Kelly most likely knows exactly what he’s doing and is “just being willfully ignorant” to “defend the positions of an idiot.” And, while Colbert conceded that he is indeed judging Kelly by the morals of today, the supposed “voice of reason” in that idiot’s White House only spouted his stupidity yesterday.