Why the Southern Cause rankles liberals
Ta-Nehisi Coates is the semi-literate senior editor of The Atlantic. His obsessive hatred of the South bubbles up in every, oh, two or three blog posts.
His latest post poses a question that only a befuddled liberal could ask: How can we admire men such as Lincoln and Grant when they held such racist views?
I'll pause here for the long, withering sigh from those regular readers who know the obvious answer: The WBTS wasn't about liberating anybody; it was about the consolidation of power. Ending slavery was a strategic move to reimpose that power over the agrarian South, which had long opposed the big-business/big-government coalition that had taken over the central government. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was a brilliant, though thoroughly unconstitutional and Machiavellian move. Not only did it prevent Britain and France from allying with the CSA, it aimed at inciting slave revolts. Achieving one out of two major aims ain't bad.
Coates's post begins with a link to an NPR piece on Marxist historian Eric Foner, whose new book on Lincoln pretties up the Great Centralizer's racial views as flawed, but "evolving." (Yes, it's okay to sigh again.) Foner, of course, admires Lincoln for centralizing power, a necessary step in creating socialism:
Indeed, Foner is such an apologist for Soviet communism that he opposed the breakup of the Soviet Union and, naturally, invoked Abraham Lincoln as his reason. He railed against the secession movements in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Georgia in the early 1990s and urged Gorbachev to deal with them in the same manner that Lincoln dealt with the Southern secessionists.
In an editorial in the February 11, 1991 issue of The Nation magazine entitled "Lincoln's Lesson," Foner called the breakup of the Soviet Union, which at the time was being wildly cheered by freedom lovers everywhere, as "a crisis" that threatened the "laudable goal" of creating a system that demanded "overarching loyalty to the Soviet Union" while at the same time allowing separate republics to exist. No "leader of a powerful nation," Foner wrote, should allow such a thing as "the dismemberment of the Soviet Union."
He concluded that "The Civil War was a central step in the consolidation of national authority in the United States," which he of course views as a great event. One cannot adopt socialism – in the United States or anywhere else – without a highly centralized, monopolistic government. "The Union, Lincoln passionately believed, was a permanent government . . . and . . . Gorbachev would surely agree."
Foner does have a point: Lincoln's USA and Lenin's USSR were built on the premise that bigger is better. Both also used egalitarianism to justify their power and their brutal denial of self-determination for millions. And just as the Soviet Union imploded from its unsustainable bulk, Lincoln's USA is undergoing the same process of internal collapse.