In a discordant choice of words, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke honored Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and confederate general Robert E. Lee in the same breath at an event honoring black Civil War soldiers, according to a Wednesday Huffington Post report.
“I like to think that Lincoln doesn’t have his back to General Lee. He’s in front of him,” Zinke said. “There’s a difference. Similar to Martin Luther King doesn’t have his back to Lincoln. He’s in front of Lincoln as we march together to form a more perfect union.”
Zinke made the comments at a ceremony during which a recruitment center for black Civil War soldiers was named a national monument.
“To attempt to link Lee’s achievements for the Confederacy which embraced White Supremacy to that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is not a slight oversight but a huge historical misappropriation that the descendants of enslaved Africans cannot accept or tolerate,” NAACP spokesperson Malik Russell told HuffPost. “Dr. King’s work united our nation and bent the moral arc toward justice, while General Lee acquiesced to the ignoble norms of his time.”