Part 3—More of Lincoln's nonsense: Let's be honest just for once. By the standards of us fiery liberals, Lincoln just didn't get it.
On March 4, 1865, he delivered his second inaugural address. A conflagration was nearing its end. By the standards of We Who Know Much Better, he delivered one of the most clueless speeches in all of human history.
Lincoln had just won a war, or so such matters get scored. He should have gloried in the pride of his strength, if we might borrow from Homer.
Instead, he gave a short and ridiculous speech. He was soon offering this:
LINCOLN (3/4/65): Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.Say what? "But let us judge not, that we be not judged?"
By fiery modern standards, Lincoln was badly off course. But as he continued, his cluelessness surpassed all understanding:
LINCOLN: The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?Say what? God had given this terrible war to both North and South?
Lincoln, the "victor" in a war, was saying that the terrible war had been "woe due to those by whom offense came?" Woe which had been delivered by God to each of the two warring sides?
Is that what the backwoods bumpkin was saying? We'd say it actually was:
LINCOLN (continuing directly): Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."Did Lincoln mean it would be righteous and just for the others to lose their wealth and shed their blood? The Others, and nobody else?
To our ear, he didn't seem to mean that. Indeed, even as he finished, he seemed to suggest that we humans see through a glass darkly (our italics):
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
"With malice toward none?" Not even toward The Others, the bad people Over There?
"With firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right?" Does that suggest that we, the victors, could imaginably be limited or wrong in some of the things we see? Can that be what Lincoln meant?
Fortunately, the modern liberal has learned to reject such radical constructs. We know that God and/or evolution has given Us to see the right, full and complete freaking stop.
Our leading sages have spent the past week reasserting this divine truth. It's a true belief to which all tribes have clung, extending back into prehistory.
We modern liberals have come to see that Lincoln was pitifully clueless. We know the same thing about Dr. King, who, at age 26, refused to hate the Montgomery city fathers who, he believed, had helped create the atmosphere which led to the firebombing of his home, with his wife and baby inside.
"Even their ministers" had taught them their values, Dr. King said in Stride Toward Freedom. Dr. King was describing the thought process by which he rejected "corroding anger" and reaffirmed "the love ethic of Jesus," an ethic he'd come to fully embrace partly through study of Gandhi.
Crazy old man! As modern progressives, we have come to understand how clueless King's attitude was.
Within the past year, a third clueless wonder has appeared upon the American scene. We refer to Arlie Russell Hoschschild, whose current book is a finalist for a National Book Award—in the non-fiction category, no less!
Professor Hochschild's book is called Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. In his review of the book for the New York Times, Jason DeParle described Hochschild as "a distinguished Berkeley sociologist" and "a woman of the left."
DeParle describes Strangers in Their Own Land as "a smart, respectful and compelling book." He also describes the foolishness which now links Hochschild to historical figures like Lincoln and Dr. King.
The book is "a generous but disconcerting look at the Tea Party," DeParle says.
Good lord! Hochschild's book is a study of attitudes among some Tea Party adherents in Louisiana. In a mid-October book event taped by C-Span, Hochschild described the way the project began:
HOCHSCHILD (10/15/16): Five years ago, I sensed, like so many of us did, a split between left and right that was getting more extreme. Each side was hardening. And that we lived in kind of enclaves, so that I would talk to my husband and best friend, we'd chatter away, and we'd agree, and then I would open the newspaper and say, "Oh my gosh, look! There are two truths here. There's—I'm not living in the whole world." Or I'd look at television and feel the same.Hochschild explained what came next. "So I thought, I want to get out of my enclave, take my political and moral alarm system off and permit myself to get very curious about the lives of people who lived in an enclave as far away and as distant from my own as I could."
And I knew that, actually, other Americans were in the same situation, that we live in media enclaves, in technological enclaves and in geographic enclaves. Berkeley, California, teaching sociology—I was in a super enclave!
Fellow liberals, please! Why would we want to do that?
Hochschild went to Louisiana. She says she chose the Bayou State because only 14 percent of white Louisianans had voted for Obama in 2008. (In California, the corresponding figure was over 50 percent, she noted.)
More specifically, she said she sought out "older whites, maybe especially religious older whites, in Louisiana. So our voyage starts there, with a question," she mysteriously said.
By now, the modern liberal has already turned this lunacy off. Hochschild has already referred to "two truths." In this way, she has produced a clear offense against our modern RightThink.
You might even say she was walking the path Lincoln had walked in that speech. She wanted to "turn her alarm systems off?"
Why would she want to do that?
Already, Hochschild had crossed the line. Having acknowledged that obvious fact, we're going to make a confession.
For ourselves, we've always been suckers for those who want to cross over those lines. For those who, possibly drawn by a certain "love ethic," refuse to loathe The Others, even after their behavior has possibly led to the firebombing of their own homes or the such.
History remembers those people—the Lincolns, the Kings, the Mandelas. For ourselves, we've watched Hochschild's C-Span tape with that puzzling fact in mind.
Hochschild journeyed to Calcasieu Parish to speak with Tea Party adherents. The people she met weren't Trump voters yet; her project predated that episode.
Her voyage started "with a question." By October 15, it had led to that book event which, for us, was highlighted by the first question Hochschild was asked.
The question came from a young woman who said she was a nurse. "So first, I wanted to thank you for bringing some empathy to this election cycle," this young woman said, right around the 25-minute mark on that tape.
Oh, what the heck! Here's what the young woman asked. For what it's worth, we'll guess that she voted for Clinton:
QUESTIONER (10/15/16): So first, I wanted to thank you for bringing some empathy to this election cycle. I've been so disheartened, being sensitive to all the tone of derision that has really permeated, especially among the left—"How could these people think this way?" And there's so much "othering," which is just furthering the process in the first place."There's been so much othering?" Are youngsters permitted to say that?
QUESTIONER: But I think there's a lot of misperception of this election as the endgame. And it's not a—you know, it's just an event. So how do we think beyond the election? Because if Trump gets elected, the left is going to feel hurt and alienated. If Hillary gets elected, it just continues this "strangers in their own land" paradox. How do we continue the empathy after the election?
In response to the young woman's question, Hochschild described her attempt to climb "the empathy wall" in the wilds of the Bayou State. She described drinking sweet teas with a woman who had told her that she loved Rush Limbaugh.
"What's the appeal of Rush Limbaugh?" Hochschild asked her, over sweet teas. The answer took several forms.
We haven't read Hochschild's book; we think her tape is fascinating. We were most struck by what that young woman said after Hochschild replied to her question.
"I would just add, I'm a nurse," that young woman said. "And I would say that it's just incredible what happens when people feel heard."
Hochschild was describing an approach to people in an enclave which differed from hers. We thought of a different reaction to those people, one we observed on the TV machine in April 2009.
We thought about those dueling approaches to those people in Tea Party land. We also thought about this:
We thought about how completely we got ourselves teabagged just last Tuesday night.
Tomorrow: Two attitudes toward Those People