Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: An interesting post at the Imaginative Conservative website today by my buddy Stephen Klugewicz, “Abraham Lincoln, Vampires, and False Idols.” As soon as we reach a certain threshold, as soon as I can convince another 10,000 of you that What Lincoln Killed: Episode I is worthy of your historical dollar investment, then we can start making What Lincoln Killed: Episode II. If you’re wondering why Episode II isn’t forthcoming, it’s because we need ROI on Episode I. There’s a lot of resurgence and interest about old, dishonest Abe. This summer we had the Vampire Hunter movie. It’s next week, I think, the Spielberg Lincoln movie.
AG: I think the 9th, so the Friday after the election.
Mike: Friday after the election, the Spielberg love fest with honest Abe, our hero and savior, comes out. Well, Mr. Klugewicz is not having any of it. Klugewicz writes, in part:
Near the end of 2009’s Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, he suddenly appears, deus ex machine, in the form of that gargantuan white marble statue by the Potomac to defeat the armies of darkness and save our heroes. He is goodness incarnate, a super-sized action hero who swats aside evil ancient Egyptian warriors as he had once stamped out those nasty Southern slaveholders. Now Hollywood has taken the Lincoln Myth even further, portraying the sixteenth president of the United States as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Though its self-explanatory title might cause some to dismiss it as mere harmless silliness, the film, in combining the genres of historical fiction and monster tale, promotes a starkly black-and-white view of history: Lincoln good, vampires bad. And who are the vampires in the movie? Well, American slaveholders, of course.
Yes, the premise of the movie is that slavery existed in America so that people who were secretly vampires could feast on human flesh. Lest one laugh this off as ridiculous, it seems that some critics—and undoubtedly some viewers too—have no trouble equating American slaveholders with such fictional monsters. The New York Times reviewer, for instance, expressed his delight in watching the axe-wielding Lincoln decapitate “slave-holding ghouls.” [Mike: Oh, but we’re the radicals and they call us neo-Confederates, as if that’s a bad thing.]
The troubling fact about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is that the average moviegoer [Mike: Now this will be DVD renter, which is why I bring it up] will have difficulty separating on-screen fact from on-screen fiction. It will be easy for many viewers to presume the vampire story to be the film’s sole fictional element and assume that the rest is pure history. In other words, the movie’s silly premise makes its false assertions about Lincoln’s biography seem like solid history. For example, the movie depicts Lincoln as an enemy of slavery from boyhood and portrays his 1860 campaign for the presidency as an open crusade against slavery. Both are terribly misleading characterizations. [Mike: You’re being kind, Stephen. That’s an outright lie.] Sadly, few moviegoers will question these simplistic depictions of Lincoln, given the long-standing elevation of Lincoln to God-like status in the nationalist narrative of American history that dominates high school textbooks, academic scholarship, and the culture at large. [Mike: Well, Stephen, that’s until What Lincoln Killed: Episode I came along. With Episode I, we begin the process of deconstructing this.]
How many Americans will know that Lincoln used the “n-word” three times in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, an epithet whose use was characteristic, even among nineteenth-century Americans, of someone with an unusually racist bent of mind? Will any moviegoer be aware that Lincoln advocated the mass deportation of blacks to Africa, believing that the two races could never live side-by-side? Will they know of Lincoln’s many documented racist statements, such as his comment that he was content “to having the superior position assigned to the white race” in society as long as the two races had to co-exist?
It is sad but true that the vast majority of conservatives embrace, every bit as eagerly as those on the Left, what might be called The Nationalist Narrative on American History. This is an astounding development given conservatism’s traditional animus against centralized power and its historical championing of localism and of society’s “little platoons,” as Edmund Burke, the godfather of Anglo-American conservatism, called the mediating institutions of family, church, and voluntary associations.
The nationalist reading of the country’s history embraces the consolidation of political power achieved by the enactment of the Constitution, sees that document as a holy text, and lauds the centralized economic system of national banks, paper money, and government regulation. It bemoans the South’s “unconstitutional” attempt to dissolve the “sacred” Union and lauds Lincoln’s use of any and all means to “preserve the Union.” This narrative praises militarism, nationalism, and the idea of progress. Secular at its core, it has attained the status of a national religion in the hearts and minds of most Americans.
Mike: As I said, folks, you will suffer, as will your children and grandchildren, under the mighty tyranny of the centralized behemoth known as Washington, DC, Mordor on the Potomac River more appropriately, until that stain and that blight upon history is honestly revealed for what it was and then reparations are made to repair it. What is that stain? That is that the Constitution forms an indissoluble union, and that ginormous central governments are an inherent good. They are only good inasmuch as they can be managed and be kept in scale. Ours is so unbelievably, amazingly out of scale that future historians will marvel that it has survived as long as it has. It is not going to submit to your will. It is not going to submit to Governor Romney’s will, regardless of intentions. Maybe he’s doing this whole song and dance with the decepticons and plans to get in there and actually start acting like Ron Paul or Gary Johnson. Let’s just assume that he does.
The Congress will fight him every step of the way. The federal judiciary will fight him every step of the way. The think tanks will fight him every step of the way, and the lobbyists and corporatists. In other words, there is no undoing this without actually undoing it. I love saying that because people think that is a double negative; it’s not. There is no undoing it without actually undoing it. How do you undo it? You have to devolve the power, you’ve got to dissolve it. You have to return it to the [r]epublican enclaves to which it belongs. You can’t do that as long as you’re pledging allegiance to Mordor on the Potomac River. Sorry folks, them’s the truth.
End Mike Church Show Transcript