In times of national crises, thoughtful journalists often hit the history books to find precedents and analogies.
Here’s a tip from a retired newspaper scribe turned history teacher: Look no farther than late 1860 and early 1861 to find historical parallels to our current crisis.
One hundred and fifty three autumns ago, our nation elected our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Last fall, we re-elected our first African American president, Democrat Barack Obama.
The white, mostly Democratic, slave state South had an almost pathological hatred for Lincoln and his anti-slavery party.
Before the voters went to the polls on November 6, 1860, Southern politicians and newspaper editors warned that the slave states would secede if Lincoln won. (Eleven of 15 did; Kentucky, my home state, and Lincoln’s, did not.)
Today, many, if not most, House Republicans, and more than a few GOP senators, hate Obama to the point that they are willing to push the country into default and risk wrecking the economy over the Affordable Care Act,
It’s hard to know where to begin. A co-worker walked onto the restaurant floor after her break. She was shaking her head. She’d been on the computer downstairs.
“It’s official,” she said. “Obama was born in Kenya. He wasn’t born in America.”
I took a deep breath. The kind normally reserved for hearing alien abduction stories. The kind of deep breath I have to take before telling my nephews that there is no monster living in their closet. The kind of deep breath I take before watching Fox News.
What I find fascinating, appalling and comical about “Birther” conspiracy theories is that it doesn’t matter how many times Obama himself shows his birth certificate. They all derive from the notion that President Obama is not being honest with us. That he is lying.
A recent post by the right-leaning Breitbart.com might even explain the origin of the Obama birthplace rumors.