Bill Kristol has supported the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol grounds for 15 years. But when he took to Twitter yesterday to criticize the left's "frenzy of self-righteousness" in the wake of Charleston, he brought down on his head a deluge of ugly criticism.
On today's Morning Joe, Jonathan Capehart and John Heilemann eschewed the kind of scatalogical suggestions that had been made to Kristol on Twitter, but engaged in a barrage of criticism of their own. Capehart accused Kristol of "belittling" the families of the Charleston victims, while Heilemann—telling Kristol he was "trolling"—sarcastically said that the Left doesn't need his help.
Kristol had had the temerity to suggest that, just as Lincoln had gone out of his way to show respect to Confederate leaders after the Civil War, so it was reasonable that today's Americans, even if disagreeing with their aims, can take pride in the memory of Robert E. Lee and the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. Kristol also suggested that today's liberals, had they been around during the Civil War, would have been suing for peace when things got tough in 1863, and are today uninterested in fighting dictators who enslave people.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Bill went on Twitter to talk about the flag controversy--oh good God. "The left's 21st century agenda: Expunging every trace of respect, recognition or acknowledgement of Americans who fought for the Confederacy. Next the left will ban teaching of Lincoln's second inaugural in schools. None of that "with malice toward none, with charity for all" stuff. If lefties might have noticed if they visited Arlington or Gettysburg, there are Confederate monuments, statues and graves. Ecrasez l'infame!
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You're trolling!
. . . .
BILL KRISTOL: I dislike the kind of cheap self-righteousness of esspecially the left but there's some on the right these days, too, where they just get into this frenzy of hatred. And incidentally, its not just the flag. Now we can't honor in particular Robert E. Lee. What about the Confederate monument at Arlington? Is that inappropriate? What about the Confederate statues at Gettyburg? . . . The left would have been mostly in the party of peace in 1863 or '64. They would have said we have to end the slaughter. We can't win the war. It's very complicated. We're getting into a quagmire in the South. Sherman is killing a lot of civilians, which he certainly was. The left doesn't want to fight actual dictators today. They don't want to do anything about slavery in Iraq today, but it's very easy to beat up on dead Confederates.
JOE: Jonathan Capehart?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: I'm sorry: I'm just sort of dumbfounded here. We're talking about the reaction to the slaughter of nine people in a church, a historic African-American church, and the conversation that's erupted over seeing their murderer being pictured with a Confederate battle flag who used that symbol of hate to sort of bask in his own hatred and I'm sorry, Bill, but listening you to just now, you're sort of -- to me, you're belittling the pain and anguish not only of those families of the nine who were killed but African-Americans who for decades have had to look at that flag and have it and see it flown over state capitols that are supposed to represent them, seeing it flown in public places that their tax dollars actually go to help pay for.
. . .
JOHN HEILEMANN: No one on the left that I know is talking about banning the teaching of the second inaugural nor is anyone talking about tearing down the monuments at Gettysburg. No one is talking about any of those things. Literally, I know of no one. This the classic exercise of straw man building and then knocking down. I know it's fun for you. And you are trolling by doing these things because no one on the left is suggesting anything you're suggesting. No one.
KRISTOL: If I got people to say that no one on the left should suggest these things, that's a good thing. There was a kind of frenzy and there is a kind of frenzy on the left to expunge anything that is respectful of the efforts of Americans who fought for the Confederacy.
HEILEMANN: I'm pretty sure the left probably came to those views without your help. But I'm sure it's good for you to be making those arguments anyway.