Our first time reading Lincoln: We're still waiting for a transcript to appear from last Thursday's 11th Hour. It was on that evening that Brian Williams interviewed Alexis Coe about her very strange biography of George Washington and his mistreated, misunderstood thighs.
Coe's new book, You Never Forget Your First, has provided us with our most interesting fact-checking experience since we fact-checked the three million footnotes to Ann Coulter's 2002 book, Bias.
To recall the first of our many posts about that book, you can just click here.
One after another, Coulter's three million ballyhooed footnotes kept failing to check out. But there was the New York Times, credulously citing their impressive number in a fair-and-balanced review of the ridiculous best-selling book.
(Coulter was pimping the large number of footnotes to give her work credibility. Her work in the book was relentlessly faux, but the Time bought the pitch.)
So it has gone, for many years, as our flailing, failing society slides toward the sea. We'd like to show you what happened last Thursday night as we prepare to move on to an exciting new meta-discussion.
Coe's new book is very odd. But it's being widely purchased wherever prevailing dogma is sold.
At some point, we'll offer examples. For today, we recommend an outstanding piece from this morning's New York Times.
Edward Achorn has written a book about the day on which Abraham Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural Address. The Times' John Williams asked Achorn five questions. We may have liked this exchange best:
WILLIAMS (2/24/20): When did you first get the idea to write this book?We remember, very clearly, the day when we ourselves "first came across the speech." We even have photos of the event. We'll post a few of those photos some day, though it can't be done on this campus.
ACHORN: That’s a hard one because I suppose it was decades ago, when I first came across this speech. It has all this resonant language that sounds like something out of Shakespeare or the King James Bible. Here you have this president who’s been re-elected and virtually won a war that was a struggle for the country’s survival, and instead of celebrating he speculates on the war’s immense suffering. He says it may be God’s judgment for the sin of slavery. It’s not an ordinary speech. I’ve always thought I would want to write about it.
About five years ago, I decided to do it...
We were 25, or maybe 27. We were taking a fifth grade class from Baltimore on a day-long field trip to Washington.
One stop was the Lincoln Memorial. On one of the walls beside the great statue has been engraved the entire text of the Second Inaugural Address.
We'd never read it before! As we read it, we found it hard to believe that any human being had ever said such things on earth.
As Achorn says, Lincoln was the commander in chief who was on the verge of winning an astoundingly bloody war. What did Lincoln say that day?
It's right up there on the wall of the memorial. Paraphrasing, Lincoln said this:
He said that our team did this too. And he said, in religious language, that if we're forced to shed even more blood, and if we're forced to sacrifice even more treasure, no one will ever be able to say that we've been unfairly treated, given the vast wrong we've done.
We remember thinking, instantly, that Lincoln must have come from another planet. We didn't tell our fifth graders that—it wasn't in the curriculum—but that's what we instantly thought on that, our very first time.
We had committed this vast evil too! It wasn't just The Others. We humans simply don't think that way. Some day we'll post a couple of photographs with a whole bunch of beautiful kids looking up at those words.
Lincoln was gone in a matter of weeks. For his full text, just click here. "It's not an ordinary speech."