Sunday, July 22, 2007

Evil Emperor Lincoln

People seem genuinely surprised, if not offended, when I note that I am no fan of Lincoln. Libertarians would consider a screed on Lincoln preaching to the choir, even if such a sermon were enjoyed. But republicans and democrats alike seem to find the fellow to be, if not the nation's best president--shouldn't that title belong exclusively to Washington?--then certainly one of the best. We libertarians, on the other hand, tend to rank him dead last.

The adoration of Lincoln can be partly explained. After all, the winners write the history. Thus Lincoln is credited with freeing the slaves; this despite the fact that he didn't give a damn about doing so in waging his pernicious little war until very near the end, and the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation was a political ploy meant to further injure the south. Getting shot by John Wilkes Boothe didn't hurt matters; the most surefire way to save one's legacy in American politics is by taking a bullet to the head.

Republicans like them because he was their first president. It goes to prove, somehow, that republicans care more about black people than the holier-than-thou Democrats. Maybe. It's really beside the point. Democrats like Lincoln because he freed the slaves, and they do like black people, more than the republicans. That's why so many blacks vote for the democrats. Again, maybe, but not really the issue.

A pertinent point, on the other hand, is made by L. Neil Smith:

Lincoln brought secret police to America, along with the traditional midnight "knock on the door", illegally suspending the Bill of Rights and, like the Latin America dictators he anticipated, "disappearing" thousands in the north whose only crime was that they disagreed with him. To finance his crimes against humanity, Lincoln allowed the printing of worthless paper money in unprecedented volumes, ultimately plunging America into a long, grim depression -- in the south, it lasted half a century -- he didn't have to live through, himself.

Lincoln then, is all that democrats see and fear in Bush, only more so. Both presidents cared little for Habeas Corpus. Both presidents tried to dismiss political enemies, only it appears that Lincoln was actually successful. And though it is unlikely that years hence people will quote Bush as extensively as they quote Lincoln, alone on the matter of public speaking could a case be made that Lincoln was the better man. Bush may be just as evil as was Lincoln, but the formers incompetency precluded him from enacting as much harm as the latter.

Bush has largely gotten his comeuppance during his presidency. One day, Lincoln may get his. I close as does Smith:

The troubling truth is that, more than anybody else's, Abraham Lincoln's career resembles and foreshadows that of V.I. Lenin, who, with somewhat better technology at his disposal, slaughtered millions of innocents -- rather than mere hundreds of thousands -- to enforce an impossibly stupid idea which, in the end, like forced association, was proven by history to be a resounding failure. Abraham Lincoln was America's Lenin, and when America has finally absorbed that painful but illuminating truth, it will finally have begun to recover from the War between the States.

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