Abraham Lincoln is an American hero and should be commemorated as one. As an avid traveler and student of U.S. history, few men have positively shaped history in the way in which Lincoln did. Let’s not forget that in our current age of conceited sanctimony.
United States Of America? Thank Lincoln For That
Whatever U.S. state I am traveling through, there is a flag that waves. It has stars. It has stripes. It’s red, white, and blue. And we shouldn’t take it for granted, as the insurrectionists on January 6, 2021 reminded us.
I was in the Bay Area over the weekend. It’s a beautiful part of the Golden State and a treasure of the United States. In San Francisco, the school district has recently voted to “cancel” Abraham Lincoln from the name of a high school.
Jeremiah Jeffries, a first grade teacher and chair of the committee, told the San Francisco Chronicle:
“The history of Lincoln and Native Americans is complicated, not nearly as well known as that of the Civil War and slavery. Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that Black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building.
“The discussion for Lincoln centered around his treatment of First Nation peoples, because that was offered first. Once he met criteria in that way, we did not belabor the point.”
I mean, the district is even removing Diane Feinstein, the senior U.S. Senator from California and ardent liberal Democrat, from the name of a school, so I guess this should not come as a surprise.
But talk about missing the forest in the trees…
Humanity is complicated. Humans are flawed creatures. All of them. Lincoln’s legacy on the 1862 Homestead Act and Pacific Railway Act merit discussion and scrutiny. Lincoln’s early willingness to preserve slavery in order to save the Union cannot just be masked behind his Emancipation Proclamation.
But what kind of world do we live in when America’s greatest wartime President is deemed a bad man because his views did not comport to every article of faith of the 2021 progressive Zeitgeist?
Take Raphael Warnock for a moment, the newly-elcted Democratic U.S. Senator from the State of Georgia. Do we view him as a valiant civil rights activist and pastor who overcame great obstacles growing up as the son of sharecroppers? Or do we view him as a violent, egotistical bully whose ex-wife called the cops on him after he physically assaulted her?
Every person is complicated. We are humans. This world is not black and white. But it is proper to honor those who have preserved and defended our nation, blemishes and all. Lincoln is the epitome of that figure.
I’d encourage you to read more on Lincoln this week. I recommend the biography by David Herbert Donald. Perhaps start by watching the 2012 movie called Lincoln. Or read this 1865 article printed in The Atlantic.
Today is President’s Day in the United States, though it is officially known as George Washington’s Birthday. But Washington’s actual birthday is not until next week and today I wanted to remember the life of Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday was on February 12th. It strikes me as dangerous that some wish to be judge, jury, an executioner for men and women who labored mightily for the cause of justice. What are we left with if cannot honor imperfect human beings? Statues of Jesus?
We would do well to guard our veneration of any person, but also realize that perfection does not exist in human beings and that demanding perfection 170 years later and dismissing them on that basis is nothing short of narcissism.