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  #1  
Old 08 January 2013, 09:29 PM
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United States "Lincoln" film distorts history, some historians say

He used the N-word and told racist jokes. He once said African-Americans were inferior to whites. He proposed ending slavery by shipping willing slaves back to Africa.

Meet Abraham Lincoln, "The Great Emancipator" who "freed" the slaves.

That's not the version of Lincoln we get from Steven Spielberg's movie "Lincoln."

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/08/showbiz/slavery-pbs/
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  #2  
Old 09 January 2013, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
He proposed ending slavery by shipping willing slaves back to Africa.
I would have thought that this is basically what freed slaves would have wanted. Of course, you would have the problem of it being almost impossible to identify the region that they originated from, especially after 2 or 3 generations.
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Old 09 January 2013, 06:39 AM
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I would have thought that this is basically what freed slaves would have wanted.
I think lots of people thought they would, including many prominent abolitionists and former slaves. But if you think about it, why would they? They didn't speak the languages of those countries, and didn't have any real connection. They hadn't been allowed to keep even a single keepsake. There wasn't anything waiting for them there that they couldn't get as free people in the country they had known since birth. For the vast majority of African Americans it would have been as mysterious and uninviting as anyplace on the globe. By Lincoln's time almost all of the slaves had lived in the Americas for more than 3 generations because intercontinental slave trade had been illegal for many decades. There were those who did try to return and some who succeeded, the African country of Liberia being one legacy of that history.
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Old 09 January 2013, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
By Lincoln's time almost all of the slaves had lived in the Americas for more than 3 generations because intercontinental slave trade had been illegal for many decades. There were those who did try to return and some who succeeded, the African country of Liberia being one legacy of that history.
OK, I wasn't aware it was so many generations that had passed. That would be an entirely different matter, as I assume they would not have been able to speak the language of their ancestors, partly through being forbidden, and partly because they may have been mixed in with other ethnic groups previously.
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Old 09 January 2013, 10:19 PM
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Also, the descendants of the people who sold their ancestors into slavery might not welcome them.
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Old 09 January 2013, 10:41 PM
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By Lincoln's time freed slaves had been volunteering for decades (since at least 1820) to colonize Liberia, so I'm not sure it was entirely unreasonable for him, and others, to believe that many more freed slaves might want to do the same. I don't know whether there were plans for forced "repatriation," which would be an entirely different thing, though.
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  #7  
Old 09 January 2013, 06:40 AM
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Spielberg caring more about telling a good story than historical accuracy isn't anything new. As for Lincoln himself; I'd imagine that almost anybody who lived in the 1860s would probably come off as a horrible person to our modern sensibilities if accurately depicted.
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  #8  
Old 09 January 2013, 10:57 AM
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Default "Lincoln" film distorts history, some historians say

The specifics of this film aside, don't MOST films distort history? This film was, if I understand it correctly, presented as entertainment, not as a documentary. Thus, telling a compelling story that works in the medium of a film is more important than the details of the "truth" as accepted by today's historians. If it inspires folks to look up the real history, and discuss the validity of what is presented in the film, then it has done more than many films placed in historical context with historical characters.

Full disclosure: I haven't seen the film, so I'm just blowin' smoke here.

ETA: I just noticed that fitz1980 mentions that "Spielberg caring more about telling a good story than historical accuracy isn't anything new". I'm slow today.

Last edited by Hummelcat; 09 January 2013 at 10:59 AM. Reason: just noticed
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  #9  
Old 09 January 2013, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fitz1980 View Post
Spielberg caring more about telling a good story than historical accuracy isn't anything new. As for Lincoln himself; I'd imagine that almost anybody who lived in the 1860s would probably come off as a horrible person to our modern sensibilities if accurately depicted.
By the same token, many of the things that we have some to accept and even endorse would come off to the people of that age as terribly destructive of self and society.
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Old 09 January 2013, 12:14 PM
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I'm sure you must be right but what would be some good examples of that?
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  #11  
Old 09 January 2013, 12:35 PM
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Women voting? Women working outside the home?
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  #12  
Old 09 January 2013, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
I'm sure you must be right but what would be some good examples of that?
income taxation, widespread secular circumcision, direct election of U.S. Senators, ready access to abortion (I doubt they would have much opinion on contraception, as the only forms available then were skin condoms, withdrawal and rhythm), obligations imposed on the states by the federal government, public sector unions (even FDR said that those were unthinkable), much of the zoning laws, fiat currency, NATO, the UN, and a substantial standing military are among the things that come to mind ona couple minutes' reflection.
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  #13  
Old 09 January 2013, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
I'm sure you must be right but what would be some good examples of that?
Even today there are people who oppose gay rights while wanting racial equality.
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  #14  
Old 09 January 2013, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Meet Abraham Lincoln, "The Great Emancipator" who "freed" the slaves.

That's not the version of Lincoln we get from Steven Spielberg's movie "Lincoln."
Um. Spielberg's Lincoln very narrowly focuses on Lincoln working with a lame-duck session of Congress to get the 13th Amendment passed during the first few months of 1865. It doesn't even address those larger issues discussed in the OP at all. As others have already pointed out it's Hollywood entertainment and not a documentary. Still, as Hollywood historical dramas go its history is pretty darn good (i.e., way better than average).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hummelcat View Post
Full disclosure: I haven't seen the film, so I'm just blowin' smoke here.
If you get a chance to see it I highly recommend doing so. It is one of my favorite 2012 movies. I think it's worth seeing just for the performances of Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones.

Brian
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  #15  
Old 09 January 2013, 09:22 PM
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He once said African-Americans were inferior to whites. He proposed ending slavery by shipping willing slaves back to Africa.
Those are evidence of political practicality, not necessarily racism. He asserted that whites were superior to blacks while campaigning for an office he couldn't possibly have won had he said otherwise. And he entertained schemes for shipping slaves to Africa because he (and many others) felt it was an untenable solution to free millions of slaves into a society that was unlikely to ever accept them as social equals.
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  #16  
Old 19 September 2013, 02:39 PM
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I notice the CNN article uses weasel words like 'some' pretty frequently, especially starting around section 3.

"'The Abolitionists' reveals that some of the most courageous anti-slavery activists were infected with the same white supremacist attitudes they crusaded against. White supremacy was so ingrained in early America that very few escaped its taint, even the most noble."

"Erica Armstrong Dunbar, a history professor featured in the film, says some abolitionists were uncomfortable with interracial relationships. They wouldn't walk with black acquaintances in public during the day, and refused to sit with them in church."

"Tell some historians that 'Lincoln freed the slaves' and one can virtually see the smoke come out of their ears."

Reporters like to do this, use weasel words in conjunction with hand-picked 'experts' who support their personal opinions to make a case that is debatable look more solid than it is. I can agree with the article's first two points but I think the last two they are trying to make their case around are very iffy.
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  #17  
Old 19 September 2013, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
I notice the CNN article uses weasel words like 'some' pretty frequently, especially starting around section 3.

*snip*

"Erica Armstrong Dunbar, a history professor featured in the film, says some abolitionists were uncomfortable with interracial relationships. They wouldn't walk with black acquaintances in public during the day, and refused to sit with them in church."
Perhaps because there were those that did and those that didn't?

~Psihala
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Old 19 September 2013, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Psihala View Post
Perhaps because there were those that did and those that didn't?

~Psihala
The article seems to be trying to portray what could have been isolated occurrences as widespread however when it uses statements like:

"'The Abolitionists' reveals that some of the most courageous anti-slavery activists were infected with the same white supremacist attitudes they crusaded against. White supremacy was so ingrained in early America that very few escaped its taint, even the most noble."

"'No historian would doubt that Lincoln was a man of his times,' says Dunbar, author of 'A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City.' 'He was a racist, and never truly believed that blacks could live in America after emancipation.'"

The article is arguing that essentially all abolitionists including Lincoln had white supremacist attitudes, so when it uses weasel words like 'some' to make its case, my alert meter goes off.
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  #19  
Old 19 September 2013, 05:14 PM
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Are you arguing that Lincoln had no white supremacist attitudes?

ETA: You are being rather sparing with details on your argument. I would argue that "iffy" is a more weasely weasel word than "some".
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  #20  
Old 19 September 2013, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
The article seems to be trying to portray what could have been isolated occurrences as widespread however when it uses statements like:
You were saying something about wiggle words?

~Psihala
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