Hating the Confederates

By Edward Achorn

While rioters in American cities in recent days have damaged or destroyed monuments to George Washington, Ulysses Grant, and even the black 54th Massachusetts Regiment, those honoring Confederates seem especially targeted for destruction. Everyone from violent Marxists to conservatives look down these days on the Confederates from their high ground of moral superiority.

Abraham Lincoln had plenty of reason to despise the Confederates and seek vengeance on them. Rather than accept his legitimate election in 1860, they led their states to break off and form their own nation.

Determined to prevent the severing and destruction of the United States, Lincoln embarked on what turned out to be four years of brutal and anguishing war, American against American. He sent hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths.

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Erasing Abraham Lincoln

By Edward Achorn

Abraham Lincoln is in the news again. A statue of Lincoln that has stood for over 100 years in Park Square in Boston is the latest target for historic obliteration.

The statue shows Lincoln standing above a crouching half-dressed black man in broken chains. The man is looking up with strength and determination, as if ready to rise.

With American cities in flames, and an all-out propaganda effort underway to depict America as systemically racist, the time seems ripe to destroy symbols of American history that were once deemed to celebrate freedom and its inseparable companion, courage.

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Knavery at universities

By Edward Achorn

It makes me sad, if not anguished, to see liberal values under constant assault on college campuses. Rising totalitarianism, political conformity, and bullying are taking over, with the blessings of administrators who are worried about protecting their own careers. This is occurring, sadly, at our most distinguished institutions.

Administrators and many faculty members are retreating from the thing that once made colleges great: free and fearless intellectual inquiry.

And they are retreating from something else. Common decency.

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How ex-slaves freed America

By Edward Achorn

It is one of the supreme ironies of American history that our nation and our freedoms were saved by men who had been enslaved.

I think this story is not as widely told as it should be. Perhaps it does not fit today’s ideological narrative that black Americans are eternal victims of white privilege, and that blacks and whites must remain enemies.

But the heroism of the 180,000 black Americans who served for the United States during the Civil War ought to be recognized, remembered, and honored. They filled the Union ranks, fought, and died, and ultimately made it impossible for the Confederacy to fight on.

They saved the United States and, in doing so, radically transformed race relations in America.

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Torching Abraham Lincoln

By Edward Achorn

In recent days, numerous friends have sent me pictures of a charred bust of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago. I (and perhaps they) erroneously believed that the torching occurred during this spring’s riots, but in fact the statue was vandalized three years ago.

The mistake may be understandable, because the cultural war on statues and America’s past is definitely heating up.

My friends know I admire Lincoln and that my book, Every Drop of Blood, about his extraordinary call for charity and mercy after four years of harrowing war, has just been published.

“What an absolute disgraceful act of vandalism,” Alderman Ray Lopez wrote on Facebook in 2017, posting the picture.

“This bust of Abraham Lincoln, erected by Phil Bloomquist on August 31, 1926, was damaged and burned,” he added.

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MLK preached love, not violence

By Edward Achorn

The most popular quote of Martin Luther King Jr. these days is one that seems to extol violence: “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

But, of course, the people pushing that quote leave out the rest: “I would hope that we can avoid riots because riots are self-defeating and socially destructive.”

And the cherry-picked statement absolutely obscures the reason many Americans revere the slain civil-rights leader — his courageous opposition to hatred and violence, and his belief in the transforming power of love.

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Black lives really should matter

By Edward Achorn

Black lives matter, virtually every American believes. Unfortunately, some of the people carrying that banner seem to be advocating policies that have the opposite effect of protecting black lives.

Vast majorities of Americans, thank God, still believe in equal justice under the law, which is the American ideal. Virtually no one wants police officers to bully and kill minorities (or even whites). The outpouring of grief and outrage by Americans across the political spectrum after the death of George Floyd argued that point. They care and want things to be better.

But making the latest act of police brutality emblematic of the American people is not only a gross distortion of reality but a prescription for disaster, including for black Americans.

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Riots and the danger to America

By Edward Achorn

A 28-year-old country lawyer made a prescient observation in an 1837 address in Springfield, Illinois. He argued that, given its strengths, free America could only be destroyed from within.

“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!—All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years,” the young lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, asserted.

“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

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A blast of greatness

By Edward Achorn

I needed that: A blast of fresh air, relief from our incessant focus on sickness and ugliness — the coronavirus and the mob violence following an act of police brutality.

I loved this reminder of the greatness that is at the heart of America, and of our profound good fortune to be living here and now.

In an extraordinary private-public partnership, Elon Musk’s SpaceX Saturday launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into space on board the Dragon spacecraft. They are now on board the International Space Station.

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