Friday, June 28, 2019

The Lincoln Blind-Spot

Lincoln Unmasked by Thomas J. DiLorenzo is an excellent analysis
I attended the Acton Institute's annual conference Acton University for the second year in a row.  It was an impressive conference with nearly a thousand attendees from over ninety countries. 

The Acton Institute is a think tank whose mission is "to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles."  Acton promotes free market economics as the proven economic path to human dignity and flourishing, one that offers the best hope for elevating the poor out of poverty.

The speakers at Acton events are impressive.

The opening plenary session for 2019 was a remarkable woman named Mari-Ann Kelam, a freedom-fighter for Estonian independence, as well as an advocate for political prisoners during Soviet rule of Estonia.  Mrs. Kelam went on to serve in the Estonian Parliament, and her husband continues to serve there.

She gave an impassioned speech for human rights - especially over and against Communism.

She was raised and educated in the US, and so she speaks flawless American English.  She attended schools in Ohio, and thus received education in American History.

Several times in her strongly anti-Communist speech, she quoted Abraham Lincoln.  This was ironic for several reasons:

1) Estonia was seeking to secede from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  Mrs. Kelam and her associates were secessionists.  The UN recognizes the right of "self-determination of peoples" and international law supports secession as an expression of self-determination.  In the case of Estonia in 1990 and 1991, had USSR President Gorbachev likewise lionized US President Abraham Lincoln (as did Karl Marx and Adolph Hitler), he would have sent in tanks and ruthlessly put down the "rebellion."  He could have also followed Lincoln's precedent by suspending habeas corpus, shutting down critical newspapers, arresting opposition legislators, jailing or exiling political prisoners, and turning a blind eye to war crimes carried out against civilians.  Thank God that President Gorbachev was no Lincoln, and Estonia was permitted to leave the Union peacefully.

2) Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party was Communist-friendly, and many of the early Republicans (including those serving in the Union war effort and in the government) were communist refugees from the failed European revolutions of 1848.  This is explored in the book Red Republicans and Lincoln's Marxists: Marxism in the Civil War by Walter Kennedy and Al Benson (2007).

3) Lord John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton (1834-1902), for whom the Acton Institute was named, was a friend of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and a supporter of the secession of the Southern states and their War for Independence, writing in a letter of November 4, 1866:
I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.

Mrs. Kelam is a true heroine of liberty and took a heroic stand for human dignity against the Communist totalitarian menace.  She and her colleagues played a valuable role in the liberation of Estonia from the USSR.  But her education in the United States - which clearly was incomplete with regard to Lincoln, Marx, and Acton - led her into a blind spot.

As a sort-of fourth irony is this quote from Mari-Ann Kelam: "Education is the most important thing, and children are not being taught the truth today."  The Lincoln Blind-Spot - of which so many in the United States suffer - is one such area.

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