Friday, November 18, 2011

Lincoln's Words

“We all declare for liberty, but using the same word we do not mean the same thing. With some the word ‘liberty’ may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name, liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.”

(quoted on page 19 of the New American Library edition of Harry Halleck’s The Civil War: A History)

“Nor should this be a war upon property – property is desirable – is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich and hence is a just encouragement to enterprise and industry. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”

(quoted on page 365 of John Keegan’s The American Civil War: A Military History)

How relevant are the words of Abraham Lincoln to the struggles of today! I would love some media personality with courage and conviction recite these to our current President asking him simply if he agrees or not. Obama would never give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to such a question because the answer for him would be ‘no’, though it would be a firm ‘yes’ from about 75 percent of the American public – even the ones who think of themselves as liberals. The pleasure would be watching him squirm and hem and haw and filibuster in his valiant attempts to give a non-answer.

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