Ann Telnaes provided a quick guide to America this past Wednesday, outlining the hypocrisies by which we live: What we protest and what we cling to, contrasted with what we ignore, and, perhaps more to the point, who we say we are, contrasted with who we are.
I’ve been reading James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, and not coincidentally: I wanted to explore the last time this country broke up, both in how the secessionists framed their argument and in how unionists failed to prevent the war that killed some 750,000 soldiers.
So far, my suspicions are being confirmed that it was a benefit to have the disloyal people largely concentrated in one geographic area and both sides speaking through sincere individuals, though McPherson does quote a few extremist screwballs to indicate the fraught emotions that went with it.
Then, as now, there were people in the South who didn’t want to secede, and people in the North willing to let them leave in peace. And it’s critical to realize that, until the very last years before the war, we weren’t arguing over ending slavery but over containing it.
There weren’t a lot of saints in this debate.
But eventually we got around to killing each other, and then, boyjazuz, we did a fine job of it.
Lincoln declared his position in large part through his “House Divided” speech, which drew upon Christ’s preaching on the topic, that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
This was a few years before he ran for, and was elected, president, at which point he drove a stake in the ground from which his party refused to be moved: Once elected on an abolitionist platform, they declined offers to modify the rules of slavery in order to preserve that divided house.
Telnaes returned yesterday with an April Fools commentary that was not intended to be humorous, but did drive that same “this far, and no farther” stake into the ground.
She focuses on the status of women, and rightfully so: Frederick Douglass similarly focused on the status of African-Americans, and who could blame him?
But at the time of secession, our arguments over slavery involved how slavery might be extended into the West, how the Fugitive Slave Law might be more strictly enforced and how those who opposed slavery might bend in order to let it die out for economic, rather than humanitarian, reasons.
As with slavery then, so with feminism now: We applaud the general goal, but not yet, not so fast, don’t push, and perhaps just wait for things to sort themselves out by themselves.
In the meantime, pardon us if we introduce a few new laws, just in the interests of clarity. Clearer laws about abortion, clearer laws about contraception, clearer laws about who is allowed to call themselves what.
Just like, back in the day, they wanted to clarify whether an owner could take his property into a free state without losing ownership of said property.
Details like that. For the sake of clarity.
And fairness, of course. Fairness definitely matters!
Matt Davies notes the cries of “unfairness” when a former president and current candidate is accused of breaking the law.
Ignoring, mind you, the fact that, as Aaron Blake points out, Trump pressed for “the prosecutions of each of the last four Democratic presidential nominees — every single one since 2004. In two cases, he did it during the campaign, even suggesting they should be ineligible to run.”
And that, when Hillary Clinton was accused of having classified documents on a computer in her home, he cheerfully encouraged chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
That was then. This is now.
Different candidate, different rules.
Witnesses, Steve Kelley (Creators) asserts, must have totally clean records.
The fact that Cohen was convicted as part of the crime in which he has agreed to testify is irrelevant: He’s a convict who told a lie to assist Trump. It would be like trusting Al Capone’s bookkeeper, or Richard Nixon’s chief-of-staff.
And Daniels is an obvious floozy, since she had sex with a man to whom she was not married. There’s nothing in the Bible about “a man taken in adultery,” is there? No, there isn’t!
Gary McCoy is wise enough not to get bogged down in troublesome details. The fact that a grand jury listened to weeks of evidence, pondered the charges and returned an indictment is proof that Justice is a whore.
As Nick Anderson explains, the true Christian message is that Trump did nothing wrong.
But, of course, he’s being sarcastic. We don’t look to Christ for moral guidance. We’re certain that his sermons against punitive, judgmental Old Testament laws — and the hypocrites who promulgated them — were purely symbolic and not intended for anyone to actually follow.
He certainly wasn’t speaking to the religious people who pray on street corners, that all may see them pray. Otherwise, he’d have told them to pray in private.
There are all sorts of things he might have said, if he’d thought anyone was listening.
It’s kind of a shame he didn’t have anything to say to those who, as Christopher Weyant suggests, might have been in a position to put the interests of children ahead of more practical, grown-up matters.
Unless you count this:
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. — Matthew, 18:6
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea. — Mark, 9:42
It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. — Luke, 17:2
He didn’t say you couldn’t allow them to be murdered.
Just that you couldn’t mislead them.
Pay attention, people!
6 thoughts on “CSotD: A House Divided”
Once again one of my favorite songs by Phil Ochs.
I have a version done with a fife and horn and back up singers. Truly magnificent.
Can’t argue (to be fair) with Kelley’s take that Cohen is a convicted liar, but making sure to point out that the woman is a “”floozie” seems a tad judgmental… unless he means it to apply to everyone Trump has had affairs with.
Some of Kelley’s work has suggested that his attitude about women is frozen around 1955 so this seems about par for the course.
Good column today, Mike
And someone on CNBC just pointed out that it would be difficult if not impossible to find ANYBODY who hangs around with Trump who ISN’T a convict.
If they think about it, I’m not sure that the Republicans really want to go with Cohen being a “convicted liar”, since one of the lies he told was that Trump was innocent.
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