Monday, February 17, 2014

A Racist, a Tyrant, a President: Lessons from President Lincoln

 Hero or Tyrant?

Today we celebrate the lives of those men that hold the highest political office of the land. Unfortunately there is little to celebrate about any of these men. They have done little of good and much evil. Some may disagree with this thesis, but I submit they are not looking at the reality of the situation. Recent presidents are easy targets. Obama and Bush have spied on most everyone and dropped bombs on innocent people in Yemen, Pakistan, and Iraq. It is some of the presidents further back who tend to have a larger illusions of grandeur. In particular, Abraham Lincoln.

Often in polls President Lincoln comes out as the favorite or “best” president. Lots of people think of him as a “founding father” even though at the time of the American Revolution he was still 30 years from being a twinkle in his mother’s eye.  He is praised because he “freed the slaves” and “liberated the south.” Not only is this not true, it is almost the opposite of true. Abraham Lincoln was a racist tyrant, who let power corrupt him, as it inevitably does.

Before I delve further, let me say that this article is in no way a promotion of slavery or even the south and the confederacy. Slavery is an incredibly evil system and wrong. What this article is about is the cult of Abraham Lincoln which is both misinformed and harmful.
To start, let us consider a few examples. A group of boys are building sandcastles. There are multiple groups of boys all working on different sandcastle. They decide to all get together and put all their sandcastles in an unified system with one giant sandcastle in the middle. One boy is chosen to be the “head engineer” of the project.

After some time, one group of boys decides they do not like how the giant sandcastle project is going and disconnect theirs from the group, focusing on their own once more. What would be the correct action of the “head engineer”? Get a stick and beat the boys who do not want to work with them until they cooperate? Of course not, no parents would promote that. The correct thing would maybe be talk to them and try to reason with them. So why when we change sandcastles for government, attacking, sending armies and guns suddenly becomes okay?

This is exactly what Abraham Lincoln did. He was the leader of this group of sandcastles that were united under the constitution. The government of South Carolina felt the U.S. government had breached the contract, so they hopped out. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. If you make a contract with someone and they don’t uphold it, you are under no obligation to stay in that contract. This is common law.

If you offer a subscription service and you stop delivering magazines or whatever you sell, you cannot go to that person’s house and stick a gun at their head and tell them they have to keep paying. If you did, everyone would recognize that as wrong and evil. Yet when Abraham Lincoln does just that, sending armies, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to keep power and force people into his contract, he for some reason is praised as a hero. This is incredibly wrong and destructive.

The war was not over slavery. Period. The notion is somewhat ridiculous. Slavery was legal and practiced in the north. To say that Abraham Lincoln attacked the South to end slavery is so ridiculous it is laughable. This would be equivalent to if California decided to leave the union today and the U.S. government deployed an army to bring them back and then saying it is a war to end pornography because California produces pornography. That is absurd because Pornography is legally produced in many states, to say the government is attacking California to end pornography after it leaves the union is clearly manipulation. The government is attacking them to maintain power over them, to continue bringing in their tax revenue. It has nothing to do with morality. The same was the case with the North. They attacked to maintain power. That is all.

“I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”  -Abraham Lincoln before the southern rebellion.

“But Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves!” say many.  No he did not. After a year into the war the north was weary of killing people, often their own family. They were tired of having to pay taxes to fund a war effort. As is the case with all wars, the leaders deceive the public to get them to follow their cause, but when the reality of the war hits, along with its shear, disgusting immorality, the public wants out. People generally do not want to fund the bloody ambitions of tyrants. So what do tyrants do? They search for a moral rallying cry. People do not want to die for power, but they will for justice and virtue.

At this time is when the idea of The Emancipation Proclamation came up. It “freed the slaves” in the South. Interestingly, only in the South, a place that Abraham Lincoln had no control over. However in the areas where he was president, i.e. the north, slavery was still legal. This of course was to not upset the slave-dependent people in the north, while at the same time rallying people to his cause in the name of “ending slavery.” To go back to the pornography example, this would be equivalent to California leaving the union, Barack Obama sending an army to “bring them back” and then when support was waning for his war, sending out a decree that made pornography illegal in California, and so we are fighting to end Pornography! Then what would happen? Pornography producers in New York and Texas would say, “well what about us?” to which Obama would say, “oh no, your fine, just give me your income tax.” Well then clearly the war is not about pornography and Obama no more ended pornography than I have ended taxation. Anyone can see this. Yet Lincoln somehow gets a pass. He is a hero for doing just that. The truth is Lincoln was racist tyrant and cared no more for enslaved blacks than he cared for the shoes on his foot. During the election campaign he said this, “I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” He only issued the Emancipation as a political shenanigan to get people to keep giving him money and to keep sending their children to be killed. That is horrendously evil. And yet this man is praised as a hero.

There is plenty more to explore on the evils of Abraham Lincoln, this is just the surface, and I have not gone into much detail, however if you are interested there is plenty more out there, Thomas DiLorenzo’s How Capitalism Saved America and The Real Lincoln are both pretty brutal exposés of a man we have been taught to revere. Similarly The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War also show sides of the civil war that are generally ignored. But I want to say detail is not needed. We do not need to know the details of Napoleon’s life to know he was not the best guy. Any person that sends men to their deaths to further his own power cannot in my mind be considered a hero or a good guy.  Case closed. But let us just go a bit further to look at some of the results of Lincoln.

The United States is the only country in the Western world that ended slavery with a war. In Brazil they just stopped doing it. Slavery was dying off. However some say that slavery would not have ended, and only Lincoln’s war made it go away, that it paved the way to the 13th amendment that ended slavery. I disagree. Slavery did not really even end.  Black’s in the south were not treated as equals for over 100 years after the war. Some argue that still they are not treated as equals. The result of the Civil war was not emancipation. It was over 100 years of inequality and horrible treatment of blacks based on color of skin.

The greater lesson from Abraham Lincoln is that violence does not end a system of violence. However you try to force it to end with however many guns you have, violence does not end violence. “For never here / Do hatreds cease by hatred. / By freedom from hatred they cease: /This is a perennial truth.” The Buddha declared this hundreds of years ago, and western culture still has not learned it. Violence and force do not change people. Shooting guns and brandishing weapons does not change people, it only kills then or makes them angry and more determined. “So how could society have ended slavery?” The same way it did in the rest the world, the same way we get people to change in our everyday interactions. When we disagree with someone we do not pull out a gun and tell them they have to agree with us. Of course not, that would be crazy. We reason, we attempt to show the superior logic, or most importantly we live in a way that shows the superiority of our ideas. The same thing happened for slavery in the rest of the world. People just stopped doing it. They recognized it was wrong. They stopped buying slave-made products. If no one is buying your product, you go out of business pretty quick. You stop trading in slaves, you stop associating with people who are in anyway associated with slavery. That is how you end slavery. No pressure is more powerful than social pressure.

If we want to change the world, we must change ourselves. No number of guns will do it, even if your name is Abraham Lincoln.

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