Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy birthday, Lincoln

This month marks the bicentennial of the birth of America's sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, Defender of the Union and the man credited with freeing the slaves. When he was elected president in 1860, the South seceded and formed the Confederate States of America. Lincoln gave them the war he'd promised if they made good on threats to leave the Union. Lincoln was the Godfather before there was the Godfather. Total gangster. 

The war resulted in at least 620,000 military deaths and untold tens or even hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. The South was devastated, much of it burned to the ground and rendered "simple waste and destruction." 

Slavery was a central theme of Lincoln's political life. He famously told of his experiences at a slave auction in New Orleans, describing a "comely mulatto girl" at a slave auction and how the bidders were able to make an "examination at the hands of the bidders," who "pinched her flesh and made her trot up and down the room like a horse" so they could see "how she moved." Despite being a pornographer, Lincoln was handily elected and then re-elected by a majority of Northerners. 

[left: Catherine Hardwicke, the director of last year's runaway teen hit Twilight, says Lincoln's sideburns and 'do were the inspiration for dreamy vampire Edward Cullen's coif.]

But Lincoln's alleged hatred of slavery was downplayed in his own autobiographies and it did not emerge as an issue until it became politically expedient. Let's not kid ourselves: The Emancipation Proclamation was a political maneuver to highlight the cruelty of slavery in order to get France and Britain to back off their support of the Confederacy, which was supplying them with cotton, tobacco, and... cotton and tobacco. The British and the French felt threatened by United States and figured it would be wise to help the Americans with their own self-destruction. 

At any rate, this celebrated Emancipation Proclamation didn't even apply to the "slave states" that were under Union control. Talk about a ballsy move — not!

Was the war necessary? The end of slavery was fast becoming a worldwide trend. The British had abolished slavery in 1807, without bloodshed, which seriously calls into question the need to go to war. There's some indication that the southern states would have eventually gone about it on their own — maybe with the help of companies up north and out west that did boycotts or whatever, but without all the killing and the maiming and the burning. 

Close to a million Americans died. That's a 9/11 or a Pearl Harbor every fu¢king week. And don't think that Southerners back then couldn't relate just because they'd never heard of al Qaeda or the Japanese: a death is a death. No wonder the South is so bitter; we instilled them with enmity that will last for generations. And that is one reason why civil rights for former slaves and their descendants were stuck in 1877 for nearly a hundred years. In the end, it was not another war that gave Blacks voting rights and ended segregation: The Supreme Court justices did it — without killing anybody.

Some people say that not going to war would have resulted in a permanent political division, but I doubt that's true. Heck, we beat the sh¡t out of them in the Civil War and by 1870 all of those jerkwads had crawled back into the Union — they wanted to be part of the United States even after we raped their women folk, killed their menfolk, and burned their houses to the ground. Imagine how things had gone if we'd maintained civility instead of Civil War?

So what is Lincoln's legacy? A South still stunted from the ravishes of near-total destruction struggling to rise up economically, and stunted also in its natural progression toward civil rights. Around a million dead and their prospective offspring never able to enjoy the fruits of liberty?

Yet despite the total failure of his presidency, for some reason we stuck him on both the nickel and the five-dollar bill, as if there's nobody else worthy to be on our currency (if you can't think of anyone, let's just say putting foreigners on our money would be preferable). Lincoln and that slave fu¢ker George Washington make me sick, and they are the reasons I pay for everything with a debit card: I refuse to carry cash or coins that might have their picture on it (Andrew Jackson was a genocidal megalomaniac who targeted Native Americans and Ulysses Grant was Lincoln's co-conspirator). 

Oh, and there's some statue of him at his oversize memorial whose land could be used for low-income housing. He just sits there and stares out into space, doing nothing. Oh, if only that's the tack he'd taken 150 years ago.

So, on this, the 200th anniversary of the beginning of your life, here's wishing you a Happy Birthday, asshole.

[left: The state of Nebraska named their capital city Lincoln, after the sixteenth president, even though he never set foot in their corn-husking state. The drive to name the city Lincoln was spearheaded by residents of Illinois, who felt the move would help obscure the fact that this horrible tyrant was from their state.]

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