History

Newly Reopened To The Public, Miami’s Iconic Freedom Tower Has Positioned Itself As An Ideas Hub

What’s News In This Story?


 

–The Freedom Tower (600, Biscayne Boulevard) is Miami’s most historic landmark.

-Known as the Ellis Island of the South, the tower recently reopened to the public with a slew of new features.

-And with the changes, the facility is poised to be a center of action for those who want to move the Magic City forward.

–The additions to the museum include the Kislak Center- a 2,600 square foot space that includes books, manuscripts, maps, and other artifacts from both before and after Christopher Columbus’ journey to the new world. 

The museum also features the Cuban Legacy Gallery, a space that looks at the impact of Cuban’s to South Florida’s history. 

–The museum is trying to position itself as a place where Miami can come to learn about its past while also brainstorming ideas for its future. 

The museum also features the Cuban Legacy Gallery, a space that looks at the impact of Cuban’s to South Florida’s history. 

–Opened in 1926 as the original home for The Miami News, the tower became iconic after it was pressed into service as the processing center for Cuban refugees who were fleeing the rise of the Castro regime.

The building has been owned by Miami-Dade College since 2005 and in recent years the offices for the Miami Film Festival and the Miami Book Fair were moved into the tower. The building was previously owned by a number of private owners, including the Mas family, who donated it to MDC. 

 

**IF YOU GO: Open 1-6 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays; and 1-8 p.m. Saturdays.

The Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College- Freedom Tower (600, Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, 33132)

Admission: $12 general, $8 senior and military, $5 students, children under 12 enter free. MDC students, faculty and staff enter free. Ticketed events vary in price.

——Here’s Something Completely Different: ——

The TV Weatherman Who Is Trying To Save Miami From Drowning

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Have a news tip about this topic or something completely different? Send it to editor@risenews.net.

Miami’s Secret Native American Burial Mound

The Tequesta burial mound in El Portal, FL is not well known outside of the small village in which it is located.

But it should be.

Here’s why:

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Is The Biggest Badass In American History

The Civil War is inarguably full of badasses.

From generals like Ulysses S. Grant to spies and medics like Harriet Tubman and Clara Barton, they’re spread out all over the battlefields, like coffee cups in a college library during Finals Week.

“Come with me if you want to live.” Photo Credit: Keith Rowley/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

With all these candidates, it’s hard to say any one of them is the bravest or most accomplished.

But this isn’t about any quantifiable accomplishment.

It’s about fancy battle shenanigans that would look awesome if they were adapted into a movie (which they were).

It’s about explosions and bloodshed and battle-lust and glory.

Which brings us to our biggest badass of American history: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

Pictured: Chamberlain’s drink of choice. Photo Credit: Jon Roberts/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This dude was a college professor from Maine who heard there was a war going on, so he saddled up and volunteered to join the Union army.

Said Union army was only too happy to get him, and made him lieutenant colonel, which is a phrase that usually refers to people who’ve had at least some experience with military strategy, with the exception of our man Joshua.

Luckily, Chamberlain was a fast learner, and after scanning every military work he could get his hands on and going through a steeper-than-Everest learning curve, he was all set to be second-in-command of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Fast-forward to the Battle of Gettysburg.

While the Union forces were suffering setbacks, Confederate soldiers attacked their left flank.

The 20th Maine happened to be at the far left, next to a small hill called, appropriately, Little Round Top.

They hold position, and after a period of harsh fighting, Chamberlain orders a bayonet charge on the Confederates.

That mustache tho. Photo Credit: NightThree/ Wikimedia. Photo Credit:

They run down the hill, the entire line swinging nonstop, until finally Chamberlain gets to the guy leading the assault.

He orders the Confederate officer to surrender, and the officer whips out a pistol and shoots him in the face.

And actually misses, but Chamberlain doesn’t even flinch, just puts his sword to the guy’s throat until he gets an official surrender.

They take 101 Confederate soldiers prisoner.

Chamberlain gets a Medal of Honor for this, and goes on to top that at Petersburg.

And that’s saying a lot considering that he probably saved the Union from defeat at Gettysburg and therefore the country from splitting in two.

Unfortunately, there’s no Medal of Superhonor, but if there was, he’d totally have earned it.

If you imagine a storm with bullets instead of raindrops, that might look something like Petersburg – Chamberlain’s directing the action, the bullets are flying, and all of a sudden a Confederate bullet tears through his side, crushing his hipbones and ripping into his bladder and urethra.

So Chamberlain’s suffered what’s basically a mortal wound, by the standards back then (and also, probably, by our standards, just from the sheer pain factor).

Surprisingly, his first thought isn’t “oh, jeez, I’m gonna die,” but, rather, “dying right now would be bad for morale, so I’m just gonna walk it off.”

Which he does.

He uses his saber as a crutch to stay upright, while blood is POURING from his vitals, and continues to direct the assault.

He holds himself up by spit and stamina until he can’t anymore, and he collapses, and when the surgeons get to the field he yells at them to go and save his men instead.

Now that’s badassery.

But, of course, the surgeons don’t take orders from commanding officers, so they go ahead and treat his wounds anyway.

He survives, continues to survive for a bunch of other battles, literally getting his horse shot out from under him a few times, and goes on to preside over the surrender at Appomattox.

Proving that he’s a gallant winner as well as a badass, he orders his men to stand at attention and carry arms in a show of respect for their defeated countrymen.

A general would later call him “one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army.”

Now here’s the part where it gets gross.

The Wikipedia article states that he suffered from complications due to his wounds in the Battle of Petersburg, but that doesn’t even begin to describe how much it just. Sucked.

To get shot in the Civil War era and have to live with a hole in your bladder burning like the fires of hell for decades.

He had to wear a Civil War era catheter, which was like a modern-day catheter except ten times worse.

…not fun. Photo Credit: Wellcome Image/ Wikimedia

Because sanitation at the time was not exactly the greatest, his wounds got infected, and left him in what he described as “unspeakable agony” for almost fifty years.

Still, he kept going, running for governor of Maine and getting elected with the support of the Republican Party – this was back when the Republicans were the guys up north – giving speeches at soldiers’ reunions, and even helping to found the Maine Institution for the Blind.

His later years lacked the glory and excitement of his battlefield, but were at least as commendable, if not more so.

At 85, in 1914, he died as he lived – a major badass.

Moment of silence for this BAMF

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Library of Congress/ Wikimedia Commons

Post-truth politics actually dates back to Aristotle

By Kevin Morrell

Following Donald Trump’s inauguration as President the world is anticipating a new, and potentially radically different era for the US.

The inauguration also prompts questions about this new style of politics.

Trump’s surge to leading the most powerful nation in the world was fuelled by a rhetoric we associate with a new term: ‘post-truth’.

The Oxford Dictionary named post-truth its word of the year in 2016, and defined it as “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

Brexit, and Trump’s success were new lows for many of us, particularly in higher education, precisely because facts came a distant second to populist appeals.

But, as a number of people have identified, post-truth didn’t begin with Trump.

One reference point for the two campaigns 2016 will be remembered for has been the propagandism of the 1930s, and two wickedly cynical pieces of advice: repeat lies often enough until they are accepted as true, or remember if you are going to lie, tell a big lie.

But almost a century earlier, in the 1850s, there was a far dirtier US election campaign where an anti-immigration party, the “know nothings”, actively thrived on pretending to be ignorant of their own party’s activities.

Further back still, before US independence, the satirist John Arbuthnot wrote: “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it, so that when Men come to be undeceived, it is too late… like a physician who has found out an infallible medicine after the patient is dead.” The title of his 1712 essay? The Art of Political Lying.

And way, way before Arbuthnot, in 350 BC, Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens describes the demagogue Cleon in a way Trump critics might recognise: “The cause of the corruption of the democracy by his wild undertakings.”

Photo Credit: Martin aka Maha

A closer look at Cleon invites several parallels with how critics see Trump. Cleon inherited his wealth from his father in the form of a tannery – a leather factory: certainly the Athenian equivalent of blue-collar.

He rose to power in 430 BC, during a desperate time for Athens – it was at war with Sparta and was devastated by plague. Plutarch describes him as someone who “catered to the pleasure of the Athenians” with a combination of “mad vanity”, “versatile buffoonery” and “disgusting boldness.”

Cleon had a distinctive and shocking communication style, one Athenians had never seen before.

While speaking, he would hitch his cloak up and slap his thighs, running and yelling at the crowds.

Aristotle says he was “the first to use unseemly shouting and coarse abuse”. Aside from this radically new communication style, Cleon’s populism was based on attacking two enemies.

First, though wealthy himself, he was an anti-establishment figure, pursuing a “relentless persecution of the upper classes”.

Second, he was a flag-waving xenophobe, antagonistic towards Athens’ rival and (partly thanks to Cleon) bitter enemy Sparta, as well as to the city of Mytilene, who wanted independence from Athens.

The Athenian general and historian Thucydides even records a speech where Cleon expresses admiration for Mytilene’s “unassailable” walls.

Parallels don’t end there. A later Athenian writer, Lucian, suggests Cleon profited from exploiting his office as some warn Trump is set to do and that he was “venal to excess” (as Trump detractors suggest).

He was boastful, once bragging that he could win a war against some Spartans by himself. He was thin-skinned and censorious, as well as a litigious bully.

Cleon tried, unsuccessfully, to have the satirist Aristophanes prosecuted for writing The Babylonians, which he considered a treasonable play – in the process turning Aristophanes into a life-long enemy.

He accused Athenian generals of incompetence and, in establishment-bashing mode tried, unsuccessfully, to prosecute one of them, Laches.

Cleon was held responsible for the eventual exile of another, Thucydides, who as well as being a general is sometimes described as the founder of history.

Indeed Thucydides’ contribution was to found a tradition of historians as being concerned with facts and the truth.

Throughout this period Cleon was the biggest obstacle to normal relations with Sparta and within a year of his death a peace treaty was agreed.

History was certainly not kind to Cleon, and perhaps Trump will not be showered in praise either.

In Cleon’s case this was no surprise perhaps given that he exiled the most eminent Athenian historian and tried to silence the most eminent Athenian satirist.

Nowadays Cleon is most well-known through Aristophanes’ play, The Knights (far ruder than Saturday Night Live).

This has an unusually small cast because it is essentially a relentless assault on the character Paphlagon, who is obviously based on Cleon: “the leather-seller” with a “gaping arse”, “a perfect glutton for beans” who loudly “farts and snores”, an “arrant rogue” and “mud-stirrer” with a “pig’s education” and the “stink of leather” – “this villain, this villain, this villain! I cannot say the word too often, for he is a villain a thousand times a day”.

Cleon may well have had a front-row seat for The Knights, where he would have seen Aristophanes playing Paphlagon/Cleon, presumably because no-one else dared to.

Characters in these plays were masked, but no prop-maker dared make a mask resembling Cleon.

We might imagine Cleon later reviewing The Knights as: “A totally one-sided, biased show – overrated! The theatre must always be a safe and special place. Apologize!”

What matters is that Aristophanes’ contemporaries awarded The Knights first prize at the Lenaia festival (something like Athens’ Cannes Festival).

Cleon’s brand of post-truth politics flourished because when life is extremely hard, facts are not as novel or distracting as sensationalism.

Some Athenians were won over by the novel spectacle of yelling, coarse abuse and thigh-slapping – and distracted by diversionary ranting against Sparta.

Critics of Brexit and Trump might say voters were won over by bus-sized gimmicks or tweet-sized slogans – where both camps painted “enemy” over an anonymous other.

2016 was a bad year in which millions were desperate for change, but perhaps what we saw was an age old spectacle. Populism and appeals to emotion always work on some people. When times are bad enough they work on enough people.

One consolation for Trump’s opponents and Remainers is that the Athenians kept Cleon partly in check using existing governance mechanisms – the courts.

They can also take comfort that contemporary culture remembers Cleon through the eyes of his bitter enemy Aristophanes. Cleon’s era was horrific yet it also became a golden age for satire and saw the birth of the discipline of history.

The worst fears for the Trump presidency are bleak, but civilisation survived Cleon. Shortly after his death we saw another kind of Athenian golden age – with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle laying down the basis for Western philosophy and civilisation.

They taught the importance of scepticism and scrutiny, and of virtue. They placed the ultimate premium on the search for knowledge and truth.

In the Rhetoric Aristotle gave us all the tools we need to see through a Cleon. Indeed, he wanted rhetoric to be widely understood so politicians’ arguments were evaluated on their merits rather than the wrapper (or bus) they arrived in.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Kevin Morrell is a Professor of Strategy at Warwick Business School, UK. He researches rhetoric in politics. 

Cover Photo Credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

History Under Threat: Could We Be Near The End Of Street Markets In Hong Kong?

By Jessie Pang

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The Millennial Intel In This Story: 
-The Central’s Graham Street Market has been in operation for 140 years.
-It has survived Japanese Occupation and decades of urban development but is now in danger of closing because its vendors are being priced out.
– The status of the market has raised questions about the survival of historical significant businesses in the ever modernizing Hong Kong.


It seems nothing has happened.

The Central’s Graham Street Market is still in operation normally ten months after the rumor that “Yesterday was its last day in operation.”

However, the disturbing noise coming from the adjacent construction field indicates that the wet market has been struggling against the city’s redevelopment plan.

The market has survived Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong and previous rounds of urban development for 140 years.

However, the redevelopment plan announced in 2007 by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has put it into the edge of sword.

property-agent

“We are afraid that Graham Street will become another Lee Tung Street which have utterly been changed and had no relations with her history,” the spokesperson of Central and Western Concern Group Law Ngar-ning said. “We have discovered three heritage sites, which are believed to be built in late-19th century, within the Graham Street Market area, but they are not reported by the URA. They become extremely vulnerable and may be destroyed at any time.”

Concerns have arisen not only because of the historical values of the street market, but also the survival and relocation of those old residents.

“Although URA guarantees you will be able to find all daily necessities in the new market, the price will rise and the market won’t be as comprehensive as the original one,” said a 60-year-old property agent Mr Lai.

“Only 20 tenants can be relocated in the new market and the rent will be too expensive for them. It’s about $10,000 per inch but each shop is about 300 inches big.”

Currently, 11 vendors are willing to join the Local Fresh Food Shop Arrangement after the redevelopment.

They will have the priority to rent shop spaces at a retail block being built.

But they will have to give up ex-gratia business allowance worth about tens of thousands of dollars and are required to pay rent at market prices, according to the URA spokesman.

graham-street

“What I say is useless. Nobody would bother listening to poor people like us,” Song Yin-wai, a 65-year-old stall owner said. “I don’t even know whether I would be relocated or not.”

Her stall named Marilyn mainly sells small electronic gadgets and women’s bags. Some small lights are switched on all the time to attract customers.

“I have been running this stall for more than ten years. In the past, it was easier to make profits. But now, fewer people are willing to stop by because of the ongoing construction sites and road maintenance,” Song said. “Sometimes the income is not even enough to cover the rent. I have lost around $2,000 for this month.”

Meanwhile, some remains positive towards the redevelopment plan.

“The redevelopment plan won’t affect me as my stall is not within the redevelopment area and won’t be relocated. Actually, it will attract more people to stop by and buy desserts from me,” Wong Tai-jie, a 70-year-old Chinese dessert stall owner said.

“The development plan is good for the community since the streets will become wider, safer, tidier and more hygienic,” said Wong Tze-nin, 24, one of the construction workers, “what’s more, two new residential buildings will also be built alongside the new commercial area.”

According to the URA website, the redevelopment plans will provide 293 residential flats and a total of 44,575 square meter commercial area. It will also include new community facilities for the public and more open space to serve as a green lung for the city.

Over the years, the URA has also taken various measures to maintain the vibrancy of the street market, such as market promotional campaigns, installing electric meters for stall operators and redesigning safer and user-friendlier stalls.

Although the future of Graham Street remains uncertain, the bargaining noise between the shopkeepers and residents tells you life goes on in spite of all the circumstances.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

You can also like our RISE NEWS Hong Kong Facebook page to stay engaged with our local coverage. 

Photo Credits: Jessie Pang

What The Election Of Florida’s Racist, Conspiracy Believing Governor In 1916 Should Teach Us About 2016

By Patricia Ray

A successful businessman with no political experience decides to run for office and finds success while taping into populist sentiment.

Sound like a modern political tale, huh?

As the old saying goes, nothing is ever truly new under the sun.

The 1916 Florida gubernatorial election was not an ordinary election and Sidney Johnston Catts was not an ordinary candidate.

He was a political outsider to say the least – an ordained Baptist minister in Alabama who later moved to Florida and became an insurance salesman.

Only a few years after moving to Florida, he decided to run for governor as a Democrat, despite having no prior political experience.

In addition to his lack of experience, Catts also was known for having outlandish beliefs.

He was staunchly anti-Catholic and anti-African American, and he believed that monks from St. Leo’s Abbey and the African American population of Florida would take over the state for Kaiser Wilhelm II, and if Germany won the war, Pope Benedict XV would move the Holy See to San Antonio, Florida.

Yep. He seriously believed that.

He even carried a gun in fear that the Pope has sent an assassin to kill him.

Cats giving his inaugural address. Photo Credit: Florida Memory.

Catts giving his inaugural address. Photo Credit: Florida Memory.

Catts advocated for radical ideas such as women’s suffrage, taxation of church property, and a state income tax, much to the chagrin of the conservative, Democratic-controlled Florida legislature.

Read More: The Incredible Story Of How A College Student Singlehandedly Changed The Constitution

At the same time, his racism went so far as to claim African Americans were “an inferior race” in response to lynchings in Florida.

Catts supported prohibition and did not attend his own inaugural ball because he opposed dancing.

Catts’ slogan was “Florida Crackers have only three friends in this world: God Almighty, Sears Roebuck, and Sidney Johnston Catts,” and he became known as the “Cracker Messiah.”

political-cartoon

A political cartoon depicting the isolationist mood felt by many in 1916. Photo Credit: Jena Fuller/Flickr (CC by-SA 1.0)

“People did not take him seriously [as a candidate], and when they finally did, it was too late,” Dr. Gary Mormino, a Florida historian and the Professor Emeritus at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg said in an interview with RISE NEWS.

As eccentric as Catts’ beliefs were, many of them resonated with the public.

Due to the anxiety of World War I, anti-German sentiments were high, and Catts’ fear mongering heightened anxieties.

Florida was a primarily Protestant state, with Catholics comprising less than 5% of the population at the time.

In the years before 1916, millions of Irish, Slavic, and Italian Catholics immigrated to the United States, and many people felt uneasy about these immigrants. The Protestant population largely was also in favor of prohibition, and Florida was already in the midst of becoming a dry state.

Catts played into the zeitgeist of the prohibition movement.

These views went hand in hand, and Catts claimed, “There is no question and rum and Romanism go together.”

Dr. Mormino describes Catts as a “larger than life figure” and attributes some of Catts’ success to his charisma and strength as a speaker.

People liked his message and viewed him as “one of them”.

In past elections, whoever won the Democratic nomination for Florida governor typically won, as the Republicans were a minority party in much of the American South.

Read More: The Infamous Borgia Family Is Still Around And More Important Than You May Think

But in 1916, the Democrats were spilt in Florida.

Catts originally won the Democratic nomination by a margin of 544 votes but then lost it to William Knott by a mere 23 votes after a recount.

The underhanded dealings surrounding the nomination and the recount garnered support for Catts and painted him as a martyr the party establishment had robbed of the nomination.

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Catts (bottom left) with members of his family. Photo Credit: Florida Memory.

In wake of this support, he ran for the Prohibitionist party nomination and won, going on to win the election with 43% of the vote and becoming the first Florida governor to win as a third-party candidate.

During his term as Governor, Catts reformed the convict lease system. He also made labor and tax reforms, furthered his prohibitionist agenda, improved transportation systems, and passed legislation relating to the care of the mentally ill.

He supported women’s rights and even appointed a woman to his staff. Despite opposition from the legislature, Catts was able to pass several legislative measures.

As you’ve probably guessed, there are many parallels between the 1916 Florida gubernatorial election and the 2016 presidential election.

Sidney Johnston Catts was a political outsider like Donald Trump whereas Hillary Clinton is seen as more of an establishment candidate, much like William Knott.

Many people also did not take Trump’s campaign very seriously until he won the Republican nomination.

In 1916, the fear of war fueled anti-immigrant sentiments towards Italians, Poles, and Slovaks, and Catts was able to play into the public’s fears, making his crazy ideas seem more palatable.

Today, fears stemming from 9/11 and other recent events has allowed anti-Muslim ideas and policies to gain alarming traction.

Read More: Why The White Working Class Really Supports Trump

For example, Trump has called for a blanket ban of Muslims from entering the country.

In 1916, the conditions were just right for Sidney Johnston Catts to win the seat of governor of Florida.

After leaving office, he ran for governor twice more and once for the U.S. Senate but was unsuccessful each time.

As strange as Catts’ gubernatorial election seems, some aspects of it are paralleled today, and perhaps this oddity of the past should be considered as we look to the future.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Public Domain/ Library Of Congress

The Infamous Borgia Family Is Still Around And More Important Than You May Think

By Nate Nkumbu

Popes by natures are supposed to be holy men, ordained by God and the church to lead the Catholic faith.

Not every pope however follows those church rules.

One pope that was infamous for breaking rules was Pope Alexander VI.

Born Roderic Borgia, Pope Alexander VI was the leader of the papacy from 1492 to his death in 1503.

A controversial pope who had fathered children with many mistresses, Alexander VI’s name is now a stand in for all of the vice and nepotism that was once associated with the Catholic church.

He embraced the temporal role of the church and his family wielded real power in the affairs of war and politics.

Not exactly a Pope Peter lookalike.

One of Rome's few memorials of the first Borgia pope, Calixtus III, from the tail end of the fifteenth century. Photo Credit: Anthony Majanlahti/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

One of Rome’s few memorials of the first Borgia pope, Calixtus III, from the tail end of the fifteenth century. Photo Credit: Anthony Majanlahti/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

According to Lawrence Cunningham, a Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, while Alexander VI might have been a bad Pope to the Catholic Church, he was beloved and respected by people during his time.

“He was great patronage of the arts during the renaissance and commissioned the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael to work for the vatican and for him,” Cunningham said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “He was important to the new world as he corresponded with the Spanish crown about confirming the discovery.”

Interestingly enough, while often thought as a family only found in a history book, the Borgia’s are still around today.

Borgia’s children that he sired with his mistresses left a legacy of their own.

One of his children’s descendants, Rodrigo Borja Cevallos became president of Ecuador in 1988 at a time when Ecuador was suffering one it’s worst economic crisis.

There was not much Cevallos could do to fix the situation and he was ousted within four years.    

But still. How cool is that?

The Borgia family legacy isn’t just held to a descendant becoming president of Ecuador.

Cunningham said that his direct line had influenced The Renaissance and the rise of political realism in a major way.

“Pope Alexander’s daughter Lucrezia would become source for Machiavelli’s The Prince,” Cunningham said. “The Borgia family would have people become dukes, lords and so on. So Pope Alexander VI’s influence still exists to this day.”       

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Sharat Ganapati/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Ten Reasons Abe Lincoln Would Be Rolling Over in His Grave Today

By Andrew Feinberg

President Teddy Roosevelt put a portrait of Lincoln in the oval office and, when confronted with a problem, would ask, “What would Lincoln do?”

Today, the answer, I’m afraid, would be roll over in his grave. There are ten reasons for this and only some contain the words Donald Trump.

1. Donald Trump—In Lincoln’s day, the best people often ran for office. Today, well, maybe not. Being a lying, narcissistic, racist, misogynistic know-nothing does not seem to be an impediment to seeking the highest office in the land. Not yet, anyway. If the sixteenth president heard Trump say he was proud to belong to the party of Lincoln, he would wonder if his name had become a joke while he was away.

2. The new social civil warLincoln would be thrilled that we elected a black president but dismayed this milestone has enraged and emboldened racists. When Fox News ran an online story about Malia Obama deciding to attend Harvard, the piece drew so many racist responses—some with full names attached—that Fox had to shut down its Comments section.

3. Voter cynicism—In Lincoln’s day, citizens were passionate about politics. They flocked to political speeches as if they were sporting events. In 1860, the year Lincoln was first elected president, 81.2% of eligible voters cast ballots. In 2012, the number was a pathetic 57.5%. Lincoln considered politics a noble pursuit and he would be horrified to find that only 11% of Americans hold a favorable view of Congress.

4. The InternetLincoln would love the Internet—in theory. After all, it could spread detailed knowledge to every corner of the nation and create a more enlightened electorate. In theory. Alas, Lincoln would find it has become a wondrous mechanism for spreading lies. It has Balkanized the country at least as much as it has informed it.

5. Science denialLincoln was extraordinarily rational and curious. The only president to receive a patent, he signed legislation creating the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. If he came back and learned that, as the French ambassador to the U.S. put it, the only group of people in the world who do not believe in human-caused climate change are the Republicans in the U.S. Congress, he would not be amused.

6. Income inequalityLincoln believed in a strong and growing middle class. He hated slavery partly because he believed it depressed wages for the average worker. He was a capitalist, but a somewhat unusual one by today’s standards. “Labor is the superior of capital,” he declared. If he learned that real wages for the middle-class had been falling in recent decades and that CEOs now out-earned the average employees in their companies by over 300 to one, he would be heartsick.

7. Crumbling infrastructure—Both the left and right agree that we have “third world” infrastructure. Lincoln wouldn’t know what “third world” meant—unless he landed at LaGuardia—but he would recognize underspending when he saw it. From his days as a state legislator in Illinois, he was passionate about government spending on “internal improvements,” as infrastructure was known back then.

8. Political purity—An irony of history is that Lincoln—the Great Emancipator—spent much of his political life battling abolitionists. He thought abolishing slavery was unconstitutional and believed that whites would never support a war whose primary objective was to end slavery. (The Emancipation Proclamation was permissible because it was enacted as a wartime measure.) Seldom an absolutist, Lincoln said the issue with a law “was not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more of evil than of good.” Our current inability to reach compromise solutions would dismay him.

9. Return of nativism—Donald Trump is stirring up, and profiting from, anti-immigrant feelings—much as the Know-Nothing party did in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Lincoln, who saw America as a haven of opportunity for everyone, would deplore such prejudice and might remind us that many male immigrants in the 1850s and 1860s joined the army and helped preserve the union.

10. Belief in government incompetenceLincoln thought part of the federal government’s job was to do things for people they could not do themselves. He was an activist president. Under his leadership, the government established land-grant colleges (the forerunners of today’s great state universities) and passed the Homestead Act, which gave settlers 160 acres of federal land for a small filing fee. He knew from experience that government could do some things more effectively than the private sector. But times were different then. Oh, were they different.

Andrew Feinberg is the author of Four Score and Seven, a novel that imagines that Abe Lincoln comes back to life for two weeks during the 2016 campaign and encounters a candidate who resembles Donald Trump. Learn more about the book and author at www.MissingLincoln.com.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Jennifer Morrow/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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