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Lincoln, Lies and Black Folk

Special to Informer From Final Call | , Nnpa | 12/11/2012, 2:25 p.m.

* In 1861, when General John C. Fremont freed all slaves in the state of Missouri, Lincoln fired him. When General David Hunter freed the slaves in three states, Lincoln cancelled and reversed the order.

* Union military camps were closed to runaway slaves, and some poor Black souls were actually captured by Union soldiers and returned to their rebel owners!

* Most abolitionists were White workers who HATED Blacks but wanted an end to slavery so that they--Whites--would not have to compete with Black workers.

* Lincoln had no intention of establishing "integration" and in 1862 sent 450 "freed" slaves to an island off the coast of Haiti in an ill-fated colonization scheme. The navy had to be sent to retrieve the beleaguered Blacks.

* Lincoln publicly voiced support for the Fugitive Slave Law, which made every American citizen--North and South--responsible for catching runaway slaves.

Contrary to popular belief, Lincoln's famous Emancipation Proclamation did not "free" a single Black person from chattel slavery--not one. When it looked like the Union was losing the war, Lincoln "freed" slaves in the South so that they could fight against their masters. In that same document he made sure that slavery was not disturbed where it existed in the North!

These are hardly the acts of a Saviour or of a Salvation Army. But they are truths that dirty the image of Lincoln, whom Spielberg is posing as America's very own Christ figure--the man who died for the racial sins of a nation.

Spielberg is intent on hiding these important facts, portraying his subject as the avuncular oracle of racial kindness. But Spielberg is not so charitable with the Black characters that appear throughout his wartime fairytale. It opens with a combat scene, but the first death we see is a Black man stabbed in the chest with a bayonet--Spielberg preserves an honored Hollywood tradition that Blacks must be the first to die.

President Lincoln is then shown in the midst of a Union camp earnestly listening to the battlefield accounts of two Black soldiers. Spielberg puts them with the Second Kansas Colored Regiment, an actual Black military unit, though their encounter with the President is totally fictional. What is troubling is that one of the soldiers describes a combat event in which, he says, his colored unit "killed them all"--every last one of them. This is a description of a war atrocity--not a battle in which the enemy was beaten badly--and it is Spielberg's way of making the Black race responsible for the extreme brutality of America's deadliest war (750,000 dead). The Jenkins Ferry battle was indeed brutal and bloody, but if an order were given to "kill them all" it would have had to come from the White leader of the "colored" unit.

Spielberg's other Black soldier presses the President for equality in an unrealistically brash dialogue that would have earned him time in a dungeon after many lashes. Yet Spielberg's brazen Negro has the temerity to ask Lincoln for a job! This again is a bold falsehood that misstates the actual condition of the Black race. Blacks were not asking for jobs--because during slavery and for a time after the war they dominated all of the skilled crafts in the South and were capable builders, inventors, and independent-minded believers in their own talents and skills. The fact is, Whites feared that freeing Blacks would leave Whites totally stranded and uncared for. In many cases, the Black slave of a White family was the only breadwinner in that family! If America were to actually allow the ex-slave 40 acres, a mule, and the vote, Whites would be homeless, friendless and hopeless in a matter of days.