RFK Jr. had a ‘visceral’ reaction to tear-downs of Confederate statues

rfk jr. had a ‘visceral’ reaction to tear-downs of confederate statues

RFK Jr. had a ‘visceral’ reaction to tear-downs of Confederate statues

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he had a “visceral reaction against” the removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville.

Speaking to podcast host Tim Pool in a “Timcast IRL” episode Friday, Kennedy — who is mounting a long-shot bid for the White House — said he doesn’t think “it’s a good, healthy thing for any culture to erase history,” when asked for his thoughts on the removal of Confederate monuments around the country.

“I have a visceral reaction against, against the attacks on those statues,” he said. “There were heroes in the Confederacy who didn’t have slaves and, you know, I just, I just have a visceral reaction against destroying history. I don’t like it. I think we should celebrate who we are.”

He added: “We should celebrate the good qualities of everybody. … If we want to find people who were completely virtuous on every issue throughout history, we would erase all of history.”

The statue of Lee that once stood in Charlottesville was removed in 2021 before being cut into fragments and melted in a furnace last year. The 2017 battle over its removal prompted the deadly Unite the Right rally in which violence erupted when white nationalists and supremacists descended on the Virginia college town to protest. Charlotteville’s action to take down the statue was perhaps the most remarkable of Confederate statue removals around the country, which included a Congress-backed effort to wipe Confederate names and legacies from the nation’s military bases and assets.

On the podcast, Kennedy said he “wouldn’t have done that” and would have allowed the Confederate monuments to stay.

“Values change throughout history, and we need to be able to be sophisticated enough to live with, you know, our ancestors who didn’t agree with us on everything and who did things that are now regarded as immoral or wrong,” he said. “Maybe they had other qualities that we wanted to celebrate, and clearly Robert E. Lee had extraordinary qualities of leadership.”

The Kennedy campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kennedy also was asked about his use of “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” instead of “Columbus Day.” Kennedy argued that he doesn’t think he has ever said the United States “should get rid of Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

“I think it’s important for us to be part of a community where we can recognize all kinds of people. We can recognize Italian Americans to whom that is an important holiday, and at the same time we can recognize the Indigenous people who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

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