Nobody learn no nothing from no history – Gogol Bordello, Ave. B
Last week Judge Andrew Napolitano went on a seven minute screed on Fox News. The object of his derision was Abraham Lincoln.
His admittedly ‘contrarian ‘ view of the 16th President was certainly that – unless you also view Lincoln as a combination of Idi Amin, Oliver Cromwell, and Colonel Kurtz.
Now, I have no problem whatever with someone legitimately questioning Lincoln or any other revered leader. None. Hell, I have a hard time with Lincoln’s suspension of habeas, though I can defend it even while the defense makes me queezy.
Napolitano’s take/opinion/assessment/analysis, however, is anything but legitimate. As far as I can tell, in a seven and a half minute diatribe he got exactly two facts right – Lincoln was president and there was a Civil War.
He began his diatribe by explaining that when Lincoln took office slavery was dying, had already died “in Puerto Rico and Brazil.” Well, no. Not even close. Puerto Rico was still a Spanish possession in 1861, it ‘abolished slavery in 1872 – it took a rebellion in 1868 to force the new law and even then existing slaves had to purchase their freedom from their masters.
As for Brazil . . .
… Brazil? He must have been referring to Brazil, Indiana, because Brazil the country was the last Western nation to abolish slavery . . . in 1888.
There were more, ah, misrepresentations that were as wrong, if not malicious, as they were effectively eviscerated by Jon Stewart and company.
Then, in a crescendo like finale, Napolitano announced that the war wasn’t even about slavery . . . it was about tariffs. The South was tired of paying tariffs that went directly into the pockets of Northern Bankers. (Wow, the amount of bile I just swallowed typing that). In this opinion the Judge joins a small club that includes Robert Rhett whose anti-tariff extremism was matched only by his pro-slavery extremism – he advocated, with heat, re-opening the African Slave Trade.
There’s a lot that can be said here, but I think the easiest, most direct and effective counter to this lie is this: in the Gettysburg campaign Lee’s forces seized dozens of blacks from Pennsylvania – most of them freeborn – took them back South and sold them into slavery. There is no record of them seizing any Northern bankers.
So, Napolitano pulled history out of the air, just made it up to fit some kind of 21st Century political framework on big government. Fine, who cares, easily debunked and Jon Stewart and his gang already ripped the guy.
Thing is, we in the U.S. have a fairly appalling grasp of history – ours or anyone else’s. Napolitano and Alex Jones (the Harry Turtledove of history) reach a disturbingly large demographic – a demographic that for the most part think they are being taught history.
I hear this crap and can envision hundreds of viewers going to work the next day gleefully filling their coworkers in on what a shit Abraham Lincoln was. In less time than I wish to contemplate there’s a better than even chance that the number of people who believe Lincoln was the first American despot will be pushing the percentage of Americans who believe the Sun revolves around the Earth (26%).
Unabated, uncorrected, in the blink of an eye our history will be flushed down an Orwellian Memory Hole.