Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended Ulysses S. Grant as someone who “had his faults,” but also “accomplished a great deal to get America right.”
During a segment of ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday, Emanuel was asked by guest host Jon Karl to react to a statue of Grant being pulled down by protesters in San Francisco on Friday.
“I found this strange on two fronts,” Emanuel responded. “One, this is Ulysses S. Grant. Number one, he directed his attorney general to prosecute the KKK. The KKK in history doesn’t come back until 1920 because of what Ulysses S. Grant did.”
The former Chicago mayor’s second defense of Grant centered around the fact that, though he signed an anti-Semitic executive order during the Vicksburg campaign which expelled Jews from his military district, he later “realizes when he becomes president what he did was wrong and appoints a number of Jews to his administration and becomes the first president to visit a synagogue.”
“I actually think we should take a step back in all this process,” he continued. “You can’t whitewash history and you can’t white it out. Ulysses S. Grant is a president who had his faults. He was human, but he has accomplished a great deal to get America right.”
Emanuel compared Grant to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who “interned the Japanese in the country” and refused haven to a ship he knew was headed to Auschwitz.
“On the other hand, he accomplished great things,” he said of Roosevelt. (RELATED: Tucker Throws Liberal Professor A Curveball, Drawing A Line From Thomas Jefferson To MLK)
“They are flawed, and rather than reject out history we should learn from our history, and toppling that statue … is a mistake and it’s wrong,” Emmanuel said while also differentiating Grant and others from Confederate monuments.
“He made mistakes, but on the other hand you learn from that and he learned from it and became a better president from what he did wrong,” he concluded.