Uncle Sam's Shrine to Lincoln

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On
the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination this year, I
stopped by Abe's birthplace
in Hodgenville, Kentucky, with one of my professors and two friends
on the way to Lexington for an academic conference. During our brief
visit, we witnessed an appalling level of state worship. Religious
connotations, designed to brainwash Americans into viewing Lincoln
as a godlike figure, permeate the site. The building that houses
the cabin where Lincoln was born is called a "shrine"
and is modeled after the Parthenon, the temple that housed the Greek
gods. The cabin itself is roped off, much like a religious relic.
Uncle Sam prohibits flash photography to remind Americans of the
Vatican and other real religious sites. Interestingly, the
guide told us that this is not even the actual cabin where Lincoln
was born.

As
many others
have pointed out, Lincoln deserves no such recognition. He waged
an unnecessary war, supposedly in an effort to defend the very Constitution
he was destroying. Trying to
arrest the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
for questioning
his violations of the Constitution, ordering troops to shoot draft
resisters, and arresting Northern newspaper editors who courageously
opposed his war are not actions that warrant deification. So why
is Uncle Sam willing to waste thousands of taxpayer dollars to deify
him?

Historical
sites presented in this manner contradict the principles upon which
this nation was founded, and it is imperative that Americans understand
why the State promotes them.

The
founding fathers would never approve such sites. George Washington
rejected any titles that sounded regal; he insisted on being called
only "President." Thomas Jefferson thought that even Washington
had infused the presidency with too much pomp. During his administration,
he replaced the custom of bowing to the president with a simple
handshake. If the founders rejected anything resembling kingship
and the despotism associated with it, efforts to deify a tyrannical
president would certainly horrify them.

The
State insists on deifying Lincoln because his War to Prevent Southern
Independence destroyed the concept of limited government in America.
Many of Lincoln's successors have utilized his actions as precedents
for their own warmongering and unconstitutional seizures of power,
George W. Bush being a prime example, with his crackdown on civil
liberties and wars of "liberation." Franklin Roosevelt
followed Lincoln's example by placing thousands of Japanese-Americans
in concentration camps during World War II. In short, Lincoln's
actions provide power-hungry presidents with a "noble"
precedent for starting wars and aggrandizing State power. Therefore,
the State must uphold Lincoln's reputation as a liberator and great
leader, lest Americans realize that the current Imperial Presidency
lacks a constitutional basis.

Our
group intended to eat lunch at the picnic tables in the park nearby,
but our plans quickly changed when a park worker asked us to leave.
Apparently we were the only ones who thought it funny that my professor
wrote "Sic semper tyrannis" in the "Comments"
section of the guestbook. In hindsight, however, this should not
have surprised us; to Uncle Sam, such a remark is, literally, heresy.

September
20, 2004

Andrew
Young [send him mail] is a
junior history major at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro,
Kentucky.

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