Joan Walsh: Rand Paul Completely Mangles Lincoln

tags: Abraham Lincoln, Salon, Rand Paul, Joan Walsh



Joan Walsh is Salon's editor at large and the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

...[W]hen Paul took on [his social media director Jack] Hunter’s hateful writing about Abraham Lincoln [in an interview with the Huffington Post], including the odious essay “John Wilkes Booth was right,” defending Lincoln’s assassination, that he gave us a picture of his troubling views of Lincoln, which display the toned-down influence of neo-confederates.  He starts off well enough. “I’m not a fan of secession,” Paul told Fineman. “I think the things he said about John Wilkes Booth are absolutely stupid. I think Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents.”

But then Paul presents a view of Lincoln that’s actually only a few degrees removed from the neo-confederate revisionist history of our 16th president as a tyrannical hypocrite who was also a racist. Here’s what he said:

Do I think Lincoln was wrong is taking away the freedom of the press and the right of habeas corpus? Yeah. There were great people who were for emancipation. Lincoln came to his greatness. One Republican congressman described it as ‘on borrowed plumage.’ I love the description, because there were some great fighters [for emancipation] and Lincoln had to be pushed. But I’m not an enemy of Lincoln, like some who think he was an awful person.

OK, fair enough. That’s trademark Rand Paul, who’s trying to cast himself as the reasonable middle between states rights secessionists and the totalitarian Obama state: so he’s “not an enemy of Lincoln.” But the phrase “borrowed plumage” got my attention. It turns out Paul had made similar but more expansive remarks about Lincoln at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in April. There he praised the book “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream,” by Lerone Bennett Jr. Bennett happens to be the former executive editor of Ebony magazine, an African American who became obsessed with proving that Lincoln was not the Great Emancipator but a white supremacist....



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