Lies and name-calling are preferred tactics of the Lincoln “scholars” (cultists)
I found out the hard way that Lincoln scholars (read, apologists for ever-increasing political and economic centralization) have no interest in debating any point of law, Constitution, or even history when it comes to the deeds of America’s original and greatest of presidential centralizers, the incomparable Abraham Lincoln. They prefer lies, name-calling, and the hyperbole of smear against anyone who challenges the Lincoln myth.
No less than Harold Holzer, the high priest of Lincoln cultists has taken a swipe at my book Lincoln Über Alles: Dictatorship Comes to America (Pelican, 2009) in a review in the current issue of North and South magazine (Nov. 2010).
I said in my book, Lincoln Über Alles: Dictatorship Comes to America:
Abraham Lincoln opened the door to the Leviathan central state that mandates, manipulates, and regulates virtually every aspect of life in America and seeks unilateral hegemony around the globe.
For this statement Holzer labeled (should I say libeled?) me as “paranoid,” “hysterical” and a “wacko.”
The mere mention in my book that I disagree with the view of Lincoln espoused by former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (one of Holzer’s many sponsors in the leftist political Establishment) drew the charge of being “especially mean-spirited.”
I suppose it has never occurred to Mr. Holzer to apply the word “mean” to a man like Cuomo who used the police power of the state to pile tax upon tax on the citizens of New York while blowing that money in a thousand frivolous ways that did little more than enrich his cronies. But you don’t see the world this way when your job is to provide political cover so the plunder of taxpayers for the benefit of the privileged, ruling elite (do the names Holzer and Cuomo come to mind?) can continue unabated. Now it’s Cuomo’s son’s turn.
Actually, Holzer’s intolerance to even a word of disagreement about the book he co-wrote with Cuomo in 2004, Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever is quite understandable. That particular book is boring political drivel that makes a Walter Mondale speech seem passionate and inspiring by comparison. Holzer claims it is a “keenly observed book.” The only thing keen about it is its magic ability to cure insomnia. They open the book with a hand-wringing chapter on what to do about “three-tiered democracy” in America – the few rich at the top, the large middle class barely getting by, and the large, impoverished underclass. It makes you wonder how bright these guys are when they see the results of 15 decades of ever-increasing centralization of political and economic power and they don’t seem to notice that Lincoln was the president who started it all. The Cuomo/Holzer book compiles a long list beloved government programs starting with the WPA and ending with the Jimmy Carter-era bailout of Chrysler. (That one really helped in the long haul, huh?). Along the way Holzer and Cuomo fall in love with AIDS research, the Marshall Plan, the space program, EPA, Social Security, Medicare/Medicade, Hillary Clinton’s doomed health care monstrosity, the United Nations, and even the 1980s savings & loan Resolution Trust Corporation (which someone noted wasn’t really a corporation, nor did it resolve anything, and you couldn’t trust it) – all of which Holzer suggests would be on Lincoln’s approval list were he alive today.
Holzer’s review contains two quite predictable lies about my book. His first lie is about race (which is intended to intimidate into silence anyone he doesn’t like), and the second one is about states’ rights (which is also intended to silence debate if the lie about race fails to do so).
Holzer’s review falsely states, “the author actually argues that socially-restricted life for free blacks in the North was far crueler than that facing enslaved blacks in the South.” I made no such argument in my book and Holzer’s assertion that I did is a lie. I said there were no clean hands – North, South, East, or West – in regards to pre-war racial justice in America. Much has been published about “Jim Crow” laws in the South, generally along the lines that Jim Crow was an exclusively southern phenomenon that is a patently false idea. I compiled a long list of Jim Crow laws in the pre-war North (of which little has been written), not as an attempt to justify racial injustice elsewhere, rather to demonstrate there was no racial justice anywhere. Having made this point, the Civil War could not have been about the establishment of racial justice in the South if such justice was nowhere to be found.
If Mr. Holzer wants to take the position it is irrelevant that New York voters rejected a statewide black suffrage referendum (for a second time) the same year Lincoln was elected president, so be it. All twenty-five statewide referenda to give blacks the vote in the pre-war northern states failed. If Holzer would like to defend the racial exclusion amendment to the Illinois constitution enacted by voters in 1862 while, as he claims, their farm boys were off fighting for racial justice in the South let him. When Lincoln signed the bill admitting Kansas to the Union as a “free” state in 1861, it prohibited blacks from voting just as its territorial legislature had done. The same is true for Nevada whose admission was signed by Lincoln in 1864. Are all these things some twisted notions of racial justice in Mr. Holzer’s mind? I’d like to hear what he has to say on the topic. I might even read that book, but he will never write it.
If Holzer believes there already was racial justice in the North in 1860 I suggest he find a single jurisdiction where free blacks were actually citizens, much less welcomed. Well, he can’t, so I’ll even give Mr. Holzer a hint that he won’t like it because it doesn’t fit his fictitious story line. Under North Carolina common law, at least for a time in the decades before the Civil War, slavery was merely a disability to citizenship. Thus once freed, (and there were various paths to freedom as the growing number of freedmen in the Census shows) a former slave who was born in North Carolina automatically became a citizen once his disability to citizenship was removed. No other state worked this way in any section of the nation. The big mistake the U.S. Supreme Court made in the Dred Scott decision was it rejected North Carolina Supreme Court precedent and adopted instead a ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court that barred blacks from becoming a citizen under any circumstances.
There are other problems with Holzer’s view of the Civil War was a war of racial justice. I point out in my book the Lincoln administration committed itself to a war of racial genocide in the West in order to get the Indians out of the way of the railroad robber barons who backed Lincoln. After all, Lincoln was a railroad lawyer as Tom DiLorenzo has pointed out. Apparently Holzer thinks Lincoln – an admitted white supremacist who openly advocated the forced-deportation of free blacks back to Africa – was carrying out a war of racial justice in the South while his military commanders were simultaneously perpetrating a war of racial genocide on the Plains Indians. Come on Mr. Holzer; tell us how you resolve this. But what if Holzer is correct in his assertion that Lincoln was a man for equality and justice? If this is so, why didn’t the Great Emancipator end slavery in the “loyal” slave States of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, and the newly created state of West Virginia?
It appears Holzer’s first lie is meant to smear me falsely as a racist in order to avoid debating an important analysis contained in the book.
The fact is my book critically analyses a body of information that has been overlooked in the debate about whether secession is a lawful and legitimate power of the States. Lincoln Über Alles analyses thirty precedent-setting cases before the U.S. Supreme Court from 1793 to 2001. The principles adopted by the Court in these cases support the argument that secession is an attribute of state sovereignty, and no Court has ever attempted to draw the boundary where one attribute ends and another begins, or to determine where one attribute trumps another (including Chief Justice Chase’s discredited and irrelevant Texas v. White opinion in 1869). And this is where Holzer tells his second lie, that this body of newly analyzed information is nothing more than a rehash. It exists nowhere else in print, yet he says it is “flailing argumentation” and a rehash of “breast-beating about states rights.”
I establish in the book that the U.S. Supreme Court has long held unconstitutional the principle known as “legislative entrenchment.” Legislative entrenchment sounds complex but it is the simple principle that any act a prior legislature (or congress) had the authority to pass, a future legislature has the same authority to modify or repeal. The power to enact, modify, or repeal law cannot be separated one from another. This principle goes all the way back to the Roman Republic. It is one of the foundational principles that make representative government in western civilization different from the rest of the world. The U.S. Supreme Court has never deviated from striking down any law that attempts to take away from future legislatures the authority to modify or repeal any act of a previous legislature.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s long tradition against legislative entrenchment is important in the debate whether the states have, or have ever had the authority to secede. The Constitution was ratified individually by conventions in each of the original 13 states in 1787–90. If the legislatures in the four Southern states (that would secede in 1860–61) were competent to call a convention to ratify the Constitution in 1787–90, they were equally competent to call a convention in 1860–61 and enrobe it with the same authority as the original convention. This is precisely what South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina did; they called a second convention with the same authority of the first, and repealed the ratification of the first. Holzer’s review did not even mention this, much less attack it. If he found fault in this idea, why didn’t he dispute it?
It is obvious Mr. Holzer has never read or considered any principles of constitutional law in the thirty Court cases I cited in my book – unless he somehow discovered them but dared not discuss them. Since he failed to dispute even a single point I cited regarding these cases, it is equally obvious by silence he acknowledges my analysis is correct. Smears, name-calling, intimidation, and dismissing new material as old won’t do – even if you make the immodest claim of being “one of the country’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era,” as Holzer does on his website. Holzer, like other Lincoln cultists, is generous with self-praise.
Holzer’s non-review review is all bark and no bite.
This soi-disant Lincoln expert concludes I have been reading too much Tom DiLorenzo, a charge to which I would happily plead guilty, except for the fact it is impossible to read too much DiLorenzo.
November 12, 2010
John Avery Emison [send him mail] is a former science reporter and environmental consultant. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee and is very proud of his three grown children. You can find him on Facebook.
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