Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Knox GOP's historical blunder

It would be hilarious if it weren't such a disgrace.

Tonight, the Knox County Republican Party will hold its annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser. If you become curious why a Lincoln Day Dinner would be held in April, you'd be right. Common sense should tell you that the dinner would be held in February, either the Saturday before or after Mr. Lincoln's birthday. But, that isn't even the worst part.

Today is the day Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.

I do not know whether this happened on purpose or by happenstance. Either way, it is gross negligence on somebody's part.

But, in a way, it is apropos for the current incarnation of the party of Lincoln.

The modern day version of the Republican Party in no way resembles the GOP of Lincoln's day. The party was founded in 1856 by an interesting melting pot of varying political interests -- former Whigs, abolitionists, those opposed to the Democrats and Stephen A. Douglas's support of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Believe it or not, at one time the Republican Party was progressive -- culminating with Teddy Roosevelt's bully pulpit presidency at the turn of the last century. (As late as 1960, blacks were still voting Republican because of the party's support of civil rights.) The GOP (and the Progressive movement) also strongly supported women's suffrage in the late 1910s.

Even the Republican Party of recent history (beginning with Barry Goldwater and culminating with Ronald Reagan) barely resembles the morally bankrupt Republican Party of the moment. I am no fan of the Democrats, but the GOP has been hijacked by neo-conservatives who are directly responsible for the philosophy that led to America's first preemptive war in 2003. The party's obsession with so-called wedge issues all but ensure that it will be on the losing end of national elections as American culture continues to shift.

Not that you care, but I have become a libertarian in my old age. Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. Don't you dare let the federal government tell me what to do. The two reasons I don't associate with the official Libertarian Party are that I actually appreciate the Food and Drug Administration and realize that the party has no chance of winning an election.

But, back to Lincoln. What burns me about this Knox County debacle is the lack of historical awareness. At least I hope that is the case. If this was done on purpose, it pops open an entirely different can of worms.

I am sickened also by neo-Confederates that accuse Lincoln of everything from speculating land to being the Devil incarnate. Anyone with a brain knows that Lincoln's death was the worst thing that could happen to the former Confederacy. In his absence, Radical Republicans initiated a revenge-minded version of Reconstruction that did not mesh with Lincoln's vision. Peaceful reconciliation died with him on that blood-stained pillow in the house adjacent to Ford's Theater.

For the record, I don't have one bit of a problem with an appreciation of true Southern heritage and study of the former Confederacy. Everybody knows that Robert E. Lee was a master strategist for much of the war and that, in general (pardon the pun), the South had more colorful commanders. I myself have ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. I have many friends who are members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

But I do have a major problem with revisionists who distort the historical record in order to perpetuate an agenda. Lincoln was a human being with the usual faults. He was a calculating politician. He took extra-legal steps to preserve the Union.

But look, folks. This was civil war. I pray we never have such a situation again.

And, honestly, I love the example of William G. "Parson" Brownlow, who defiantly hoisted the American flag up the pole at his Knoxville Whig newspaper office [the paper that became the Knoxville Journal] after Knoxville was captured by Confederates and Tennessee seceded from the Union. Don't forget, by the way, that Knoxville and all of East Tennessee were staunchly pro-Union. Most of them didn't like the rich plantation-owning assholes in Middle and West Tennessee telling them what to do. We've always been independent cusses. The 2nd Congressional District hasn't sent a Democrat to Washington since 1856.

I sadly allowed myself to be lowered into a discussion by some morons on Facebook who called Lincoln a despot, a dictator, and a few other names that aren't worth mentioning. Idiots like that aren't worth it. It is a passion with me, though. I almost got into a fistfight with one of these neo-Confederates at a Civil War Roundtable discussion who compared Lincoln to Hitler. We can disagree about history -- that's what makes it fun -- but all I ask is that we stick to the record and not look at it through the lens of our modern era. It isn't fair.

I won't go on and on about Lincoln. I did so on his 200th birthday in February.

But for the life of me I'll never understand why the Knox County Lincoln Day Dinner is being held on the day he was assassinated. Part of me thinks that not recognizing the significance of April 14 is worse than doing it on purpose.

That, you see, says something about historical ignorance.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Dewayne said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Dewayne said...

Glad to know that your support of the FDA is still the reason you're not real Libertarian.

Lest we forget, I was a 'card carrying member' once....

8:59 AM  

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