Friday, February 17, 2006
A Conservative Org. Bashes Abe Lincoln
I don't know how many of you get the Federalist Patriot report via email, but it is a great source of conservative news and opinion that all of you should get.
You can find their site at:
Anyway, even though I support them, they sent out an email today that bashed Abe Lincoln fiercely. I was so moved to annoyance by their biased and ill thought out email that I had to write them and say how disappointed I was.
You can go to their site and see the anti-Lincoln screed that they put out to know exactly what I am replying to if you desire to do so.
To: The Federalist Patriot,
I have to say that I am a supporter of the Federalist. I have donated money in the past and I enjoy the updates I get via email. So, I must say that it came as a bit of a shock to me when I read your anti-Lincoln screed this week.
Not only was nearly everything you presented about Lincoln skewed badly, but some of it was just plain unfairly attached to the martyred president. Worse yet, you used a quote from Thomas DiLorenzo on whom you laughingly bestowed high credentials of a "Lincoln scholar" to support your positions. DiLorenzo is one of the worst polemicists I think I have ever seen. His MO is one you decry in leftists all the time; arrive at a conclusion, then warp the facts to support it. He is no scholar, and from some of the roundtable discussions I have seen between him and real Lincoln researchers, he ain't much of a gentleman either. You do both yourselves and your readers a disservice to use him as a source.
If you are still bothering to read this, you may want examples of my disagreements with your Lincoln bashing. Well, glad you asked...
Now, I would absolutely agree with you that Lincoln had eliminated the old order of the formation of the country. I agree with you that he instituted a nation of big government. I also lament this to a degree, as well.
However, you act in your piece as if things were going along swimmingly with the Founder's plans until that Lincoln, avaricious of power, came along and destroyed democracy! You are absurd to say so, too. The southern block had quashed democracy in the 1830s with the gag orders on the issue of slavery in Congress long before Lincoln ever decided to run for president. If you want to decry the destruction of the old order, you can thank the slave holding south for starting the ball rolling.
In light of this, I was flabbergasted to see you signing onto the mythical "reunification model" dream that has been touted by people who ignore everything that was happening in this country prior to the war's beginning. Not only that, but to assume that the south would have just meekly returned to the Union after a few decades alone in the wilderness is idiotic to say the least. Nations, once they have successfully assumed that mantle, do not just cast it aside voluntarily and the South would probably have been no different.
Now, I think I can agree that secession was a concept assumed as possible by most politicians of the day and those days previous to the War Between the States. However, I feel that shows a weakness of our system not a strength. And that weakness was exploited dozens of times from before the Constitution was signed to the day the first gun fired at Fort Sumter. Dissolution was a constant threat used by weaker sections to force conciliation. This is a tyranny of the minority and NOT very democratic, I'd say.
The war may have worked for posterity, but I would have stood up at the time in favor of allowing the south to depart in peace, I must admit. So, to this point I'd say Lincoln did overstep his bounds.
But your lauding the ability of the south to separate makes the lie to the very stance you take today on American involvement in the Mideast. Two of the biggest reasons we use to involve ourselves in other countries -- and reasons that are ultimately legitimate in light of American exceptionalism -- are the same ones we have used since the war with Spain; human rights and spreading democracy. If your desires to see the south separate and become a sovereign nation would have come to fruition you would thwart both concepts. The south was neither democratic, nor did it observe the human rights of its chattel slaves. Your inconsistency on this matter is not just incidental, but abhorrent.
Further you assume the consolidation of this southern confederacy was transcendent in the south. But, if you look at the numbers of southern men who fought for the Union from every single southern state, you would see that the Confederacy never had majority support even among its own people. Conversely, few Northern states had anything more than tiny handfuls of men go south to fight for the Confederacy, many states statistically had none. The south forced thousands upon thousands of people in every member state into slavish support of the CSA. So much for your vaunted democratic ideals, eh?
Next you lambasted Lincoln with the results of reconstruction, yet Lincoln was dead during that era and never had the chance to offer his guidance to much of what went on then. And it is widely recognized that radical, "bloody shirt waving" Republicans were the ones that drove reconstruction to the oppressive ends it reached. Lincoln cannot be blamed for reconstruction and you are illegitimate to discuss that era in a Lincoln piece tagging him for its failures and excesses, for sure.
And it is obvious you have read nothing but DiLorenzo's prosaic canard on Lincoln's supposed hypocrisy on the Negro question. Both he and you make it clear that you haven't a clue of the racial attitudes and relationships that most whites had with and for blacks of the time much less any grounding in Lincoln's.
Lincoln mentioned slavery over a thousand times in his personal papers. This idiotic claim that he somehow didn't care about blacks just reveals your lack of knowledge all the way around. Yes he used the emancipation as a war aim. Yes he was cagy at times about slavery and did his best not to be too forthright in his condemnation. But his whole career as a candidate for the presidency from the Cooper Union speech to the day he died was backed by his desire to materially alter and hopefully eliminate slavery in the USA.
The fact that he did not feel blacks were the mental equal to whites is so immaterial to that issue that it isn't even funny. Few whites anywhere in the entire world at that time felt a black could ever be an equal citizen to a white person. Even science at the time had arrived at a consensus that blacks were a lesser human being. And those who did think blacks could be equal thought so on the basis on radical, quasi-religious fervor, not societal or scientific principle. Why would you expect Lincoln to be so much above his society and even the scientists of his day on this issue???
Furthermore your claims that the war was not about slaves at the beginning is a meaningless point. The war, every war, was a political animal as well as a security issue. The war could not have been carried on if it was "all about the Niggers" as many of the day put it (in fact two entire regiments of Illinois troops quit the war when the Emancipation was issued). Like I said, Lincoln was enough of a politician to know that politics is more often about the possible than the principle.
Next you act as if the South would have given slavery up and that it didn't need to take the war to do so. In that contention, history would prove you wrong. As each decade passed after the Constitution was signed slave advocates grew stronger in he south. What on earth would make you imagine that could be reversed?
This feeling against blacks was one that was felt by whites on both sides of the Mason/Dixon line. And that is why Lincoln didn't free any slaves in the North with the Proclamation. Again, we see that politics is about the possible and it was not politically possible to free slaves in the Northern held areas. But, Lincoln was the first president that ever succeeded in making this first step toward eliminating slavery. The issue is far more complicated than your superficial assumption that any US president could just have eliminated slavery with the "stroke of a pen" makes it seem.
(Also, the story of Robert E. Lee being offered command of all Union forces is problematic and not one fully proven.)
As to your discussion of the civil rights abuses that Lincoln engaged in, well that is all quite true. And I also find this a dent in his sterling record. But, then again, every president and administration we have ever had has done similar things to one degree or another in time of war. After all, you have written in favor of the Patriot Act, it MUST be pointed out! (And I support that support, by the way)
We have always limited civil rights in some way when we have been faced with war, and that is as it must be. It is a truism that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. But, every time a war is over, we've gone back to a fuller enjoyment of our common freedoms and that is because our system is designed with the flexibility to respond to times of war.
Also, your harkening back to the abuses of Mad King George is also foolhardy. After all, our president was given powers stronger in many ways than that of the King's by the very men who fought a war to free themselves of that same King. Nearly every president until Lincoln used those powers liberally.
In the end, your reputation has taken a sever blow with me I am quite sad to say. This slanted, often illogical, and badly ahistorical polemic against Lincoln has made you look little better than a hood wearing, cross burning southern apologist from the late 1800s. It has also made you look just like the leftists who warp and bend facts to fit their needs of the day. You needed to bash Lincoln, so you warped things to do so.
I suggest you stay with current affairs. Your history seems a bit tarnished.
This is not my kiss goodbye, I feel it necessary to say. It is my democratic right of disagreement with you. I still support your work and look forward to seeing your next email missive. I just hope that I can trust it as fully as I have in the past.