James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Sorry, Charley

When Charley Reese is right, normally he is a good read. So a good ole Abraham Lincoln-bashing, always in order, is something to look forward to.

Instead, he begins by whining about the Presidential holiday, how they just made it a 3-day weekend, instead of Washington's actual birthdate.

I have news for Mr. Reese: not only is attaching holidays close to weekends not only appropriate, if I had my way Christmas Day, New Years Day, and the "4th of July" would all fall on Fridays. You have the celebration, then an entire weekend to clean up/relax/travel home. (Thursdays, like Thanksgiving, are even better, but I'm not greedy)

The other fallacy is that Washington is deserving of a holiday in the first place. (Not that I'm complaining; the more holidays the federal government takes, the less opportunity it has to mess up our lives) Washington might have been a great, virtuous man. But there is scant evidence that the Revolution that Washington led really liberated us; Canadians didn't rebel and overall they are freer than Americans today. And it must be remembered that the Constitution, which Washington presided over, made the "free and independent States" unfree and dependent; the Constitution repealed a large part of the Revolution, so that by the late 1790's Americans were far less free than in the early 1770's. Add to that, Washington was a Freemason of high rank, which may have made him a Satan-worshipper.

Nevertheless, if we are to have national governments, the Constitution was the best blueprint ever. It is right to say that Lincoln destroyed it. It is wrong to say that it was perfect (Congress did steal half of Mexico on a Constitutionally-valid declaration of war that exacerbated the sectional conflict)

It is unnecessary to say of Lincoln, as Reese does,

"He was a racist. He was an intensely ambitious man who would say and do anything to win public office. He was belligerently anti-Christian, though once elected he hid his true beliefs from the public. He freed no slaves. And there is some evidence, though circumstantial, that he was homosexual."

The same may or may not be said of lots of Presidents, before and after Lincoln. That is all beside the point. And some of this is doubtful: it is one thing to be anti-Christian, another to be "belligerantly anti-Christian," which I doubt Lincoln ever was. Lincoln didn't free any slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation, but as his armies advanced against the South, slaves were indeed freed.

Lincoln's crimes against the Constitution are not the same as his sins or foibles. A public man, he should be judged on how he unnecessarily raped and destroyed a nation at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. When I think of Clinton, I am angered about Waco and Kosovo; when I think of Bush, I am angered about Iraq. When I think of Lincoln, I think of an illegal and unnecessary war, many hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and the instigation of race hatred that delayed freedom for blacks for a century.

It is wrong to deify Lincoln. But just as wrong to deify Washington, Jefferson, or Robert E. Lee. They were just men. And, if men are to be judged at all, they are to be judged by what they did, especially what they did to or for the people. It is wrong to choose a side on some historical issue, and then assume that the leader of that cause was a genuinely virtuous, heroic figure that we should emulate. We do not know the details of their actions, why they did what they did. There should be no holidays or memorials to men. That is irrational idolatry.

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