Politically Correct Plaque Attack

Garry Reed's picture

As one might expect in today's virulently aggressive politically correct culture, a movement is afoot to rewrite history, which includes "amending the plaques, statues, and memorials of historical figures to reflect their racist sentiments." (Christian Science Monitor)

One movement afoot is to footnote a bust of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney as a racist because he wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case which, to simplify for today's Attention Deficit devotees, was a ruling that a slave entering a non-slave state could not become a non-slave since that would deprive his master of his property.

For another example, some South Carolinians want to tack a plaque on the base of the big bronze likeness of Reconstruction-era Governor and US Senator Ben Tillman who, according to the Charleston City Paper, had a hand in rewriting the state constitution that "disenfranchised blacks and established the segregation laws which stood for 70 years" and, incidentally, advocated lynching Negroes.

And folks in Lee County, Florida, want to rename their county because its namesake is General Robert E. Lee, even though Lee himself once penned, "...slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil."

On its surface, historical revisionism isn't a bad idea. What passes for "history" in government propaganda mills (typically called "public schools") is a whitewashed sanitized politically dogmatic spin of what the ruling classes want their peons to believe.

What today's politically correct plaque-rewriters propose to do, of course, is to foist their own whitewashed sanitized politically dogmatic spin of history on the rest of us.

Unfortunately, as some sane observers warn, rewriting bronze statuary markers "threatens to turn historical interpretation into a politically driven free-for-all."

So, to prevent a lefty-righty rewriting culture war, the anti-South history-twisters should consider putting on a show of "diversity" by whacking a plaque on a Northern racist.

That, according to many, would be our nation's sixteenth president.

In spite of his copyrighted catchphrase "The Great Emancipator," Abraham Lincoln's famous wartime Emancipation Proclamation failed to free a single slave and didn't even apply to the slaves held by Yankees in Yankee-held holdings.

Then there was that business of Lincoln voting to keep all Negroes out of Illinois because, well, they were Negroes.

And of course he was greatly in favor of "colonization," that being the act of forcibly removing people from the United States who had previously been forcibly removed from Africa and forcibly removing them back to Africa, or to Central America, or to anywhere else that wasn't the United States.

Lincoln not only supported the Fugitive Slave Act (a law that required escaped slaves to be forcibly repatriated to their masters) but even took the case of one Robert Matson, whose slaves had run away. Fighting for their forcible return in court was Matson's mouthpiece, Abraham Lincoln, Esq.

Or one could selectively lift a quote from the Honest Emancipator's epistle to Horace Greeley (a mainstream media mogul back in the day) and chisel it into the base of the Lincoln Memorial: "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it."

In short, it illustrates the idiocy of making pin-ups of politicians.

None of this Lincoln lore is generally known to the general public, yet it's all easily uncovered with a few minutes of Googling or Yahooing or DogPiling.

Note too that Lincoln revisionism is less a sectarian North/South battle than an intellectual authoritarian/libertarian tussle.

Honest historians know full well that the Northern states were loaded with racist sentiment. Numerous Northerners wanted to secede. They may have been anti-slavery but they still didn't want bands of black folks frolicking in their own backyards.

The whole point being that history-rewriters eager to excoriate Southerners like Taney and Tillman and Lee as racists need to look northward as well if they wish to avoid this plaque flack of their own: "Hypocrite."

Your cynical comments on Lincoln aid our enemies

I share your outrage about the plaque attacks. But out-of-context quotes, selective quoting, and baseless assumption of motives? That's a no-no. Here is one example: You write that "Abraham Lincoln's famous wartime Emancipation Proclamation failed to free a single slave and didn't even apply to the slaves held by Yankees in Yankee-held holdings." Well, Lincoln was a rule-of-law guy most of the time. He knew he had no authority under the Constitution to free all slaves by executive order. It would take the 13th amendment to do that. However, as commander-in-chief, he did have considerable martial-law authority over Union-controlled areas of the South. The EP freed all slaves in those areas. Many Confederate political leaders and large slaveowners in border areas panicked and demanded that nearby Confederate army commanders provide security to prevent mass slave runaways. As intended, it was fairly disruptive to Confederate military operations in those areas. Also, Lincoln was barely able to keep the North united in the War effort. Focusing too much on the slavery issue was politically dangerous because the North was deeply divided on abolition. In fact, abolitionist New England was ready to secede years before the South was!

Another example: You have part of the famous from a Lincoln letter to Horace Greeley "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave [or just some of the slaves], I would do it..." Again, slavery was not a "winning" issue in the North. Preserving the Union was.

Lincoln hated slavery (his personal writings prove that), but his job as President was to preserve the Union. He was comforted by the realization that preserving the Union, i.e., defeating the Confederacy, would eventually free all the slaves. As he wrote in that same letter to Greeley: "I intend no modification of my oft-expressed wish that all men everywhere could be free."

Some historians (and maybe you) believe that Lincoln was opposed to slavery solely for political expediency. I think the preponderance of the evidence is that it was the other way around.

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