Commentary: Lincoln takes yet another hit from those rewriting history

By Judge Michael Warren
Oakland County Circuit Court

San Francisco’s school district has cancelled Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln High School is going to be renamed. Why?

“Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties or wealth building,” Jeremiah Jefferies, the chairman of the school district’s renaming committee and a first grade teacher, virtuously pontificated to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Let’s see if we get this right. The first Republican president, leading a party that was dedicated to stopping and eventually abolishing slavery, who actually fought to preserve the Union against the Slave Power, emancipated the slaves, and died at the hands of a racist southern sympathizer, is not woke enough for the San Francisco’s schools?

Personally, I empathized with those wanting to remove the glorification of Confederate heroes. They were, after all, defenders of secession and defending the dreadful enslavement of people.

But, as many suspected, those who begin seeking monsters to slay never seem to be satisfied, including heroes of the very movements that have allowed our nation to make so much progress. This is a bit like the French Revolution, when yesterday’s revolutionary heroes became the latest victims of the guillotine because the ever expanding demands of the revolutionary vanguard required universal conformity or death.

Let me state the obvious. Lincoln was far from perfect. Regardless of the moral superiority the new woke imposes, no mere human being is perfect now, much less with hindsight and more than a century of changes in the sentiments of morality and justice. The perspective that one must be 100 percent perfect with today’s expectations will doom everyone to cancellation. Give it time, and the current woke will be seen as blind, immoral Neanderthals. Mr. Jefferies should be careful, the worm will turn on him, his allies, and his heroes.

Nevertheless, whatever criteria one might want to conjure, Lincoln is worthy enough of having a high school named after him.

First, he personally believed slavery was evil. With our modern sensibilities we say, “but of course” - but that is just ignorance of history. The whole course of human history was riddled with slavery, and hardly anyone challenged its legitimacy.

Second, he campaigned for president on stopping the expansion of the Slave Power. This was not widely acclaimed. He only received about 40 percent of the popular vote. The South seceded rather than have him as president.

Third, he took the extraordinarily heartbreaking step of going to war to stop secession and preserve the Union. We take this granted. Hardly so. President Buchanan fiddled while Rome burned. Many voices cried for peace - let the South go!

Fourth, with the Emancipation Proclamation, he freed the enslaved in Confederate held territory.

Fifth, he re-envisioned the American experiment. With the Gettysburg Address, he dedicated America to fulfilling the proposition that all men are created. Yes, that was in the Declaration of Independence, but it was not a reality. Lincoln worked to make it real.

Sixth, he worked to ensure that slavery would be abolished through the 13th Amendment.

Seventh, he passed the Homestead Act that aided the settlement of the West.

Eighth, he passed the Pacific Railroad Act and Morrill Land Act. Ironically, it linked San Francisco to the rest of the continent.

Ninth, he approved the National Currency Act, creating a national banking system.

Tenth, he renewed the annual tradition of Thanksgiving.

Eleventh, he was assassinated because of his leadership in abolishing slavery and seeking greater equality. One must wonder what exactly the woke has sacrificed?

Lincoln should be celebrated. In fact, he should be celebrated more than he is today. Let the madness stop.
Michael Warren is an Oakland County Circuit Court judge, co-creator of Patriot Week, author of “America’s Survival Guide,” and host of the Patriot Lessons: American History & Civics Podcast.