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Lincoln the Fascist?

From LINCOLN’S YARNS AND STORIES by Alexander Kelly:

SENT TO HIS “FRIENDS.”

During the Civil War, Clement L. Vallandigham, of Ohio, had shown himself, in the National House of Representatives and elsewhere, one of the bitterest and most outspoken of all the men of that class which insisted that “the war was a failure.” He declared that it was the design of “those in power to establish a despotism,” and that they had “no intention of restoring the Union.” He denounced the conscription which had been ordered, and declared that men who submitted to be drafted into the army were “unworthy to be called free men.” He spoke of the President as “King Lincoln.”

Such utterances at this time, when the Government was exerting itself to the utmost to recruit the armies, were dangerous, and Vallandigham was arrested, tried by court-martial at Cincinnati, and sentenced to be placed in confinement during the war,

General Burnside, in command at Cincinnati, approved the sentence, and ordered that he be sent to Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor; but the President ordered that he be sent “beyond our lines into those of his friends.” He was therefore escorted to the Confederate lines in Tennessee, thence going to Richmond. He did not meet with a very cordial reception there, and finally sought refuge in Canada.

Vallandigham died in a most peculiar way some years after the close of the War, and it was thought by many that his death was the result of premeditation upon his part.

Whenever I hear complaints about the “authoritarian” federal government (or Nazi-fascist-racist-Vader-evil-doers when Republicans own the presidency) I have to remind myself what real fascism looks like. A humanities professor I had once laughed and openly mocked a girl (he was very outspoken) in one of my classes after she complained about the “fascist” government after it shut down a local tobacco store in Dinkytown after it failed to pay rent and was linked to international groups that sent money to terrorists under a humanitarian guise.

This humanities professor was not conservative in any way. More accurately, he was a democratic socialist. He lived through true fascism in Nazi Germany in WWII. From his perspective, the fact people weren’t being hung in the streets was proof enough the US was not fascist.

While that’s a pretty low bar when it comes to civil liberties, it is a good perspective to take currently. Glenn Beck worrying about H1N1 flu shots being forced on people? Legitimate concern? Sure. American Liberal Fascism? Not really, Government has a legitimate role in public health. Real fascism? No.

Whenever other conservatives warn about too much government power, I generally agree. But we should be careful not to label these encroachments improperly. (I don’t know if Beck has used the f-word when it comes to Obama yet, because I don’t watch him, but he’s well on his way.)

Lincoln suspending Habeus Corpus, arresting and confining a citizen for his viewpoints, these are authoritarian and cause for concern, even in times of war.

But we’re still a long way away from fascism.

Heck, as far as forced flu shots go, we’re a long way away from Lincoln.

One Response

  1. As a conservative what troubles me about many of my fellow conservatives is that many of them don’t know how to “pick their battles”. They don’t know when to show restraint and when to resort to over the top hyperbole.

    Case in point, Obama going to Copenhagen for Chicago’s Olympic bid… Was it a bad idea? Probably. But in the grand scheme of things shouldn’t we be focusing our efforts on health care, unemployment, and issues that actually affect us on a day-to-day basis? Is Obama’s short trip to Copenhagen going to negatively impact any of our lives? Probably not… Is Cap & Trade? Is health care? yes on both counts.

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