SEY,Why? What part of history does this book revise, and what cause
does it promote, that I should read it? If it is just a tabloid
style expose`, I have no need of it. I have no illusions that great historical
figures were perfect, but I choose to focus on the good rather than the bad. It
sounds like this book focuses on the bad.
In that case, Christian, you should read The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo.
Well, I thought I would go see the movie, but now I think I would prefer read
the book. I prefer my information to more factual and appropriate. Thanks for the heads-up.
Bravo, Mr. Erickson, on an excellent column. Thank you for setting DN readers
straight on a few key facts about one of our greatest presidents, Abraham
Lincoln. I have chosen not to see the movie for some of these exact reasons.
Too often, "artistic license" is used today for political
purposes--which is what I believe Spielberg did here. I suppose I
am one of the few people who believes I do not have to see a movie to understand
history. In truth, I believe I learn more from well-written and well-researched
biographies such as "With Malice Towards None," "Team of
Rivals," and "Did Lincoln Own Slaves," than from Hollywood's
musings. I believe, like you, that the greater story is not the one Spielberg
told. The best story involves a man, Abraham Lincoln, who, though flawed and
occasionally vulgar, chose to be an instrument in the Hand of God to end slavery
in this country. That is the story that matters most, not his flaws or any
"possible" deals. If an imperfect man like Lincoln can accomplish such
great things, what can regular folk like the rest of us do with God behind us?
I've read as extensively about Lincoln as has this author, and I certainly
understand the impulse to defend his legacy. At the same time, these specific
objections to the Spielberg film strike me as unfounded. First, Lincoln
doesn't use bad language in the film. He does, on one occasion, use what
we might call the 's' word. But that would not have been regarded as
objectionable for a Midwestern farm boy in the mid-nineteenth century, any more
than it was regarded as objectionable by my farmer (and stake President) uncle.
Second, when it comes to the arm-twisting and deal-making that allowed the
Thirteenth Amendment to pass, I take the word of Thaddeus Stephens, who was
there and watched it happen, over the opinions of subsequent writers intent on
maintaining the 'saint Abraham' legacy that Lincoln himself would have
found risible. Finally, Lincoln's religious beliefs were distinctly
equivocal, and became more so as the war progressed. He was certainly a
believer, but the depiction of him in this film is consistent with his
historical legacy. Where we agree is that it's a tremendous film.
" Bad language is the expressions of a weak mind."...no sir, bad
language can be the sign of many things..but, platitudes..are absolutely the
sign of a weak mind.
I have wondered about the intent behind the "artistic alterations" of
this film. I have heard people who lean more Libertarian talk about how Lincoln
overstepped his bounds, in their opinion, in exerting Federal Power in many
instances during this period. In the circumstances, those actions perhaps may
have been justified. But regardless, they occurred, and have impacted the
precedent of what the Federal Government can do ever since.I bring
this up, because Obama says that Lincoln is his favorite president. I wonder if
it's because many of the questionably constitutional things Obama does has
precedent in Lincoln. Obama sees himself as "morally in the right" (in
pushing for his ideological entitlement, nanny-state, etc. agenda) the same way
that Lincoln did in exerting his power during the Civil War. That's an
important thing to recognize. And kind of scary, too, when you realize that
many of the things that he sees as so profoundly "morally right", well,
aren't. And he's willing to overstep his bounds the same way that
Lincoln did to enforce them. And I wonder if this portrayal of Lincoln is being
"artistically altered" to justify Obama's actions.
Excellent article. In viewing Spielberg's Linclon I realized I had seen
some of the finest acting about one of the greatest figures in our history. I
however, just like Mr. Erickson, left the movie disappointed at the artistic
alterations of Hollywood. Bad language is the expressions of a weak mind.
Abraham Lincoln was anything but weak minded and he respected, feared and relied
on God. Use of the f-bomb in this day and age is all too frequent but its use
in 1860 America is totally out of place and shows poor artistic direction in
this movie (the word is not by Lincoln but by others).
Oh my word!
I haven't seen the movie, but I appreciate the insight given in the
well-written article. Thank you for the warning.