Why Now?
Saturday, February 26, 2005
  Continental Divide
If you have cable television and an interest in American history Book TV on C-Span2 is showing on Sunday, May 23rd at 6:30 pm EDT and Monday, May 24th at 6:30 am EDT, Sam Waterston delivering Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union Speech. This is the full text of this important piece of American oratory.

Digby of Hullaballoo uses the Cooper Union speech, arguably one of the major reasons Lincoln was nominated by the Republican Party for President in 1860, in his continuing effort to understand the rightwing.

Digby has been trying to make sense of the incomprehensible: why the rightwing continues to cry of discrimination when they are in control of the government. I agree with his analysis that they have to have the total acceptance of their ideology, not simply the political power they have managed to win.

The Cooper Union speech is important beyond this point. Lincoln constructed an argument and proof that should be studied for its effectiveness in dealing with many of the claims of the so-called conservatives. In the speech Lincoln uses the original sources to show the actual opinions of the "Founding Fathers", not the opinions later created to justify a break with the true history and traditions of the country.

By now we all have groaned at the revisionist history that is used to justify every bad idea anyone has ever come up with, and this is not limited to any particular group, although some are more egregious than others.

Having lived through the last half of the previous century I can assure you that there was no "Golden Age" in that time span, and based on the personal testimony of relatives that extend back to the last half of the 19th century, life was not a "bed of roses" in the 100 years before I was born, although there were a lot of thorns. People remember the fun they had as children, but if you got serious they would tell you that life at the time was harder and more brutal than modern times. People forget that until the 1950s and antibiotics the hospital was where people went just before they died, not where they were cured.

If people think that things were so wonderful at some previous period of history they should become re-enactors. I would warn you that serious re-enactors do real research and demand authenticity. Spend a summer in the clothing of 150 years ago and then we can talk about how great things were. Pick your period and try living with nothing available that was invented after that time.

To quote myself: How can people learn and understand history when so many spend so much time and effort distorting it?


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