Thursday July 19, 2012
The Gettysburg Address, Out of Context
I remember visiting the Lincoln Memorial with my friend Dean in 1989, looking up at the words of the Gettysburg Address engraved on the wall, and asking him, with the news-junkie question of the day: Where's the sound bite? What portion of this speech would modern news organizations focus on? I think we decided on this:
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
Today's question is actually worse. Today's question is: What portion of the speech would Lincoln's opponents take out of context? What would they focus on, and mangle, in the tradition of FOX-News, in order to demonize Lincoln?
My thoughts in bold:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
[1.] Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, [2.] can long endure. We are met on [1.] a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
[3.] But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that [4.] government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The talking points would be:
- Lincoln thinks the civil war is great. He thinks the battle of Gettysburg was great. Try telling that to the mothers and fathers of the young men who died, Mr. President!
- He doesn't believe this nation can endure.
- He refuses to give a blessing to the battlefield!
- Government of the people, by the people, for the people? Socialist! Abraham Lincoln hates America!
This post results, of course, from a recent speech by Pres. Obama, which was taken out of context by the usual suspects. Let it be noted--but not long remembered--that I agree with everything Pres. Obama said. Pres. Lincoln, too.
Remember when Abraham Lincoln refused to bless the Gettysburg battlefield? He hates America!