I’m going to the cinema tonight in Istanbul to see Steven Spielberg’s biopic, ‘Lincoln’. The other choices of films in English this week are ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’. I’ll catch them later. I’m not expecting much from ‘Lincoln’ apart from some excellent performances and great camera-work. From what I’ve heard, we’re presented with the standard loveable father figure that Americans are indoctrinated from childhood to believe in – the sanctified image of the simple country lawyer from Illinois who heroically defended his country and freed the slaves – not the unscrupulous fascist that he really was.
The fact of the matter is that ‘Massa Lincoln’ was a die-hard racist. When he said “all men are created equal” he meant all WHITE men.
This quotation from a speech he made in Charleston in 1858 shows how he really felt:
“I am not now, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of the white and black races. I am not now nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor of intermarriages with white people. There is a physical difference between the white and the black races which will forever forbid the two races living together on social or political equality. There must be a position of superior and inferior, and I am in favor of assigning the superior position to the white man.”
Over and over again he stated that he was opposed to equality of the races. He was not an abolitionist, he denigrated and distanced himself from them. In 1862 in a letter to the New York Tribune Editor he wrote:
“If I could save the union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it helps to save the union.”
And in the same year, addressing a meeting of freed black leaders at the White House, Lincoln said:
“But for your race among us there could not be a war, although many men on either side do not care for you one way or another. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. You are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoys. It is better for us both to be separated.”
Not only was Lincoln a racist who supported the noxious pre-Civil War “Black Laws,” which stripped African-Americans of their basic rights in his native Illinois, as well as the Fugitive Slave Act, which compelled the return to their masters of those who had escaped to free soil in the North, he was a white-supremacist whose projected plan for dealing with racial problems was ‘colonization’ – the deportation of all American blacks to Africa, Haiti, or Central America – anywhere but the United States, which would be for whites only. If Lincoln had had his way there would be no black people in America today.
The idea of deporting the blacks from the country was that of his fellow-fascist friend Henry Clay, upon whose plan, ‘The American System’, or ‘Everyone for Himself at the Expense of his Neighbour!, the Lincoln regime had been built – consolidating massive power in the hands of a small cabal of manufacturers, bankers, and politicians at the expense of the rest of society, and which called for a regiment of high tariffs, federal support for “internal improvements” such as road building and railroads, corporate welfare, and a national banking system based on fiat money. ‘Honest Abe’ eulogized Clay as “the beau ideal of a statesman,” noting that: “During my whole political life, I loved and revered [Clay] as a teacher and leader.”
In fact, despite President Obama’s reverence for Lincoln as the ‘Great Emancipator’, it doesn’t take much research to uncover him as he really was – a political opportunist, a corrupt corporate insider and a lifelong mercantilist.
Lincoln ruled over an oppressive police state under which a military draft was implemented; income tax was introduced for the first time to help finance a Civil War that killed 620,000 young men; dissenters were imprisoned without trial; ‘habeus corpus’ was suspended in some regions; and legal documents were authored which paved the way for corporations to becoming recognized as the equivalents of “legal persons.”
Before his career as a politician Abraham Lincoln had served as a corporate attorney for some of the biggest interests in Illinois, including “Big Rail”- the prevailing corporate interests of his day, a governmental pie of railroad subsidies in which all the big Republican Party Cats had their fingers. As president he championed protectionism and corporate welfare schemes where the force of law was used to benefit a select group of politicians and their cronies, signing legislation that virtually gave away miles of public land to the railroads for free. His son, Robert Todd Lincoln, went on to a successful career as the president of the Pullman Car Company.
It’s no secret that President Obama is a big fan of ‘Honest Abe’. He made the announcement that he was running for president in Springfield, Illinois, on the steps of the Old Capitol, where Lincoln was a legislator; he traveled to Washington by retracing the final stages of the train trip Lincoln made to assume his presidency; the Bible last used for Lincoln’s oath of office was used for his swearing-in; the theme of his inauguration was taken from a line in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “A New Birth of Freedom”.
Lerone Bennett Jr, executive editor of popular black-oriented Ebony magazine describes the whitewashing of Abraham Lincoln as “one of the most extraordinary efforts I know to hide a whole man and a whole history, particularly when that man is one of the most celebrated men in American history.”
How can Obama support such a charlatan racist as his role model? Is it because he exists in a political environment largely inherited from the Lincoln era where enriching oneself and one’s friends while hiding behind a smokescreen of “humanitarian” propaganda is the norm – a government of the poor by the rich and for the rich?
Although he has never been really poor in his own life himself, in his autobiography an admiring Obama wrote: “In Lincoln’s rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat – in all this, he reminds me of my own struggles. I find him a very wise man. There is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.”
But what would Lincoln have thought about the idea of a black man as the president of the United States of America? Most likely he would have been astounded – and appalled.
Michael Dickinson can be contacted at his website – http://yabanji.tripod.com/