Tuesday, July 27, 2004

... meanwhile

Meanwhile, we are getting word back from Iraq that "Farenheit 9/11" downloads are making the rounds of U.S. military bases in Iraq and dragging down the morale of soldiers.

Moore quoted Abraham Lincoln ("... you know the old saying from Abraham Lincoln, give the people the facts and the Republic will be safe") in a "Today" interview recently. Lincoln, too, knew such men as Moore in his nation when he was a president at war. They did their best to demoralize his soldiers and turn the nation against him, using their media bully pulpits to inform on his administration's flaws and secret agendas.

Old Abe did not hesitate to strip them of their property and power, throw them in jail, and sometimes have them banished or sentenced to death. Here's what he said in defense of it:

And yet again, he who dissuades one man from volunteering, or induces one soldier to desert, weakens the Union cause as much as he who kills a union soldier in battle. Yet this dissuasion, or inducement, may be so conducted as to be no defined crime of which any civil court would take cognizance.

... Must I shoot a simpleminded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend into a public meeting, and there working upon his feelings till he is persuaded to write the soldier boy that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked administration of a comtemptible government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that, in such a case, to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional but withal a great mercy.
[Letter to Erastus Corning, June 12, 1863]

I think it was wrong when Lincoln did it. I think it certainly would be wrong to even suggest doing it now. But the interesting part is, many people today believe Lincoln did everything right. He ended slavery, after all. Certainly such an ends justifies rough means. The jailed dissidents were the broken eggs on the way to the great omelette.

Besides, Lincoln was doing this to "conservatives." The Democrats of the North were the conservatives of their day. Those jailed American dissidents, who numbered in the tens of thousands, had complex and varied opinions about union and war and slavery and government. (They were racists, by modern standards, but so was everyone else, Lincoln included.) They bitterly denounced Lincoln's trampling of the Constitution to wage a war in which the dissenters, who called themselves patriots, saw only national destruction and narrow partisan advantage.

Sound familiar?

Ah, but when you sit in the present and see them only in the rear-view mirror, they were defending those Southern racist rednecks that progressive intellectuals today just love to denigrate. The curious thing is, the same people who think political repression in the name of homeland security was a great move by Lincoln, valid and justified, are the ones who have been to see "Farenheit 9/11" three times, and celebrate the news that it is spreading demoralization among the U.S. troops in Iraq.