Last night, Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore discussed Fox News's Andrew Napolitano's bashing of Abraham Lincoln over ending slavery by means of a Civil War.
Americans, we take certain things as gospel. George Washington never told a lie. Benjamin Franklin invented everything. James Garfield was our first lasagna-loving cat President. But what of Lincoln? Well here's one network's tribute to him during Black History Month.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO (2/14/2014): I am a contrarian on Abraham Lincoln, and I bemoan the fact that he's been mythologized.
I believe the Judge is referring to Lincoln's ability to kill vampires.
But I'll bite. Why would you bemoan a President that most of us be-like?
ANDREW NAPOLITANO (2/14/2014): I prefer to look at Lincoln this way. At the time that he was the President of the United States, slavery was dying a natural death all over the Western world. ... Instead of allowing it to die, or helping it to die, or even purchasing the slaves and then freeing them, which would have cost a lot less money than the Civil War cost, Lincoln set about on the most murderous war in American history.
D'oh right! Compensated emancipation! Why didn't Lincoln think of that? That was.... (listens to earpiece) What's that? Oh, he did think of that. Oh, he spent most of 1862 trying to convince the border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and West Virginia to free their slaves in exchange for money. And everybody said "fuck off". OK. (audience laughter) Yeah, all right. 'Cause it wasn't economically feasible and the slave states had a deeply vested socio-political interest in maintaining a two-tiered culture based on cheap forced labor. Yeah, OK. (wild audience cheering and applause)
Frankly, I don't even know why we're talking about slavery. I mean, why are we even talking about slavery? It seems that wasn't what the Civil War was about.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO (2/14/2014): Look, it's not even altogether clear if slavery was the reason for secession. But largely, the impetus for secession was tariffs.
Sure. Unless he's talking about a slave named Tariff (audience laughter), he's talking out of his ass because in their own declarations of secession, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi all clearly put slavery as the number one issue for wanting to secede. With Mississippi saying, "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world."
So I guess you can read into that however you want. Going on to say, though, "Although for future whitewashing purposes, please replace the word 'slavery' with 'tariffs'." (audience laughter)
JON STEWART: For more on the issue, we talk to our Senior Black Correspondent, Larry Wilmore. Larry, thanks for joining us. Larry, so what about this idea that Lincoln should have just waited, because slavery would have eventually died of natural causes?
LARRY WILMORE: Uh, Jon, the South was so committed to slavery, Lincoln didn't die of natural causes! (shocked audience laughter)
JON STEWART: That's a good line.
LARRY WILMORE: It's true. And look, if the free market was "just" about to end slavery then, why is it still going on in some places 150 years later? Slave trade is the literal exact opposite of free market!
JON STEWART: Yeah, but Larry, this isn't just the Judge's opinion. There's articles, books, some by libertarians, Confederate apologists. It is an industry, a school of thought.
LARRY WILMORE: Do they teach history at this school? No, because their facts are all fucked up, Jon! I mean, these people think Lincoln started the Civil War because the North was ready to kill to end slavery, when the truth was the South was ready to die to keep slavery. You're welcome, libertarians, I just unfucked your facts. (audience laughter)
JON STEWART: Well that is very kind of you. I'll enjoy the e-mails thanking you for that, that I will receive. (audience laughter) But what about this idea that, OK, Lincoln could've stopped slavery by buying all the slaves? Buying them.
LARRY WILMORE: Yeah, that's how the free market works. Yeah, when a product is bought up completely, it just goes away! It's why McDonald's motto is "1,000 served, and we're out!" (audience laughter) Plus, buying all the slaves wouldn't have been practical. Do you know how much it costs for just one fine specimen that could work in your field and also represent you in the house? A breeder, I'm talking about. Come on, Jon, what would you pay for such a versatile young buck? (audience laughter)
JON STEWART: Um, this is very uncomfortable for me. (audience laughter)
LARRY WILMORE: BECAUSE WE SHOULD NEVER BUY PEOPLE!!!!!!! (wild audience cheering and applause)
JON STEWART: Right! That's what I meant!
LARRY WILMORE: That's right!
JON STEWART: That's why I was uncomfortable.
LARRY WILMORE: The problem here is Napolitano's economic argument still considers people as though they're property. And the same people who feel the Civil War was too high a price have no problem shedding American blood for a more worthy cause.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO (2/13/2012): The Founding Fathers risked — as they like to tell us — their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors, for the freedom and independence they won, and we have inherited.
LARRY WILMORE: So it was heroic to fight a war for the proposition that all men are created equal, but when there's a war to enforce that proposition, that's wack? You know, there's something not right when you feel the only black thing worth fighting for is tea. (audience laughter) But I get it, I get it. That's a good war, because it's about taxes.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO (12/12/2010): Taxation has become theft in America ... and our sheep-like acceptance of it seems to avoid the moral issue of government taking property from us against our will.
LARRY WILMORE: I know, I know, you think it's immoral for the government to reach into your pocket, rip your money away from its warm home, and claim it as its own property. Money that used to enjoy unfettered freedom is now conscripted to do whatever its new owner tells it to. (nervous audience laughter) Now, I know this is going to be a leap, but you know that sadness and rage you feel about your money? Well, that's the way some of us feel about people. (audience cheering and applause)
JON STEWART: Thank you very much. Larry Wilmore, ladies and gentlemen. We'll be right back.
And yes, you can already see the comments section of this Daily Show segment are being inhabited by angry libertarians trying to twist what Jon and Larry said to defend Napolitano.
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