Lincoln (and Liberty), Captive

Come Out With Your Hands Up.

Come Out With Your Hands Up.

Abraham Lincoln died 150 years ago this morning here in Washington, D.C., as he lay propped sideways on a too small bed, unconscious and insensible.

His costly triumph was the saving of the Union.

In modern consciousness he not only freed the slaves but is a civil rights super hero, too.

Busy man.

Lincoln famously suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1861 in a bid to save liberty as he also defended it.

The writ, a cherished American doctrine, limits the executive power to detain someone by mandating judicial review.

Franklin Roosevelt’s World War II round-up and internment of Japanese Americans is likewise viewed as the subjugation of liberty under the guise of wartime peril.

The apparent saving of liberty, at home or abroad, often means less of it.

The 21st century coup de grace is the post 9/11 Patriot Act where, in a legislative liberty-saving frenzy, the presumption of citizen innocence was the first head to be lopped and go rolling.

Robespierre has not a thing on us.

Jeffrey Rosen has written, “A 2007 report by the Inspector General of the Justice Department found “widespread and serious abuse” of authority by the F.B.I. under the Patriot Act. Many of those F.B.I. cases involved people with no clear connection to terrorism.”

The latest opportunity for an assault on liberty is the assumption that all American adherents to the tenets of Islam are devoted to ISIS and sharia.

The recognition of the 150th anniversary of the death of Lincoln should serve as a reminder that actions in defense of liberty are often a folly where our individual freedom is the ultimate casualty.


(photo:  Shannon Miller)





1 Comment

  • Smitty says:

    Thanks for your big-picture perspective, Eric. I think that when we most need to keep our wits about us and keep in mind a larger context is when we are least likely to do so. Maybe this is why we’re all told to count to 10 before responding when we’re upset.

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