Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Atlantic — Why There Was a Civil War


Here we go again. The President of the United States displaying his ignorance. This time it’s the Civil War and Andrew Jackson, with whom Donald Trump has likened himself.

Here is a comment by Dan Rather and a particularly good read of the issue published by The Atlantic.

First, here’s what Trump said that triggered the story:

In an interview with SiriusXM’s Salena Zito, about his admiration for Andrew Jackson, Trump said, “I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’ People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

Other than the fact that Jackson was not alive at the time of the Civil War, Trump asked “Why was there a Civil War,” even though it has been debated in classrooms across America for years.

After discovering his error, Trump tweeted, “President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the Civil War started, saw it coming and was angry. Would never have let it happen!”

Dan Rather writes: 

I wanted to let this story go. I really did. I don't want to be distracted from all the important things taking place. Where are we on the Russia investigation again?

But the sheer craziness of this obsession by Donald Trump with Andrew Jackson and the Civil War is a carnival act unlike anything I have ever seen at the White House. And not to let something drop, there is Mr. Trump on Twitter just recently pouring gasoline on the fires of his ignorance.

Nevermind that Mr. Trump's knowledge of American history seems below that of most gradeschoolers. Nevermind that in many people's view, Jackson is not exactly the kind of president, or man, you would want to hold up as an example. And nevermind that there is an implicit criticism of arguably our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. (It reminds me of his slam against John McCain and how war heroes aren't captured. Apparently great presidents don't wage a war to keep the Union together).

These are the rantings of someone who really should be focused on the job of governing. Should we not conclude that he approaches policy decisions with the same half-baked conspiracies with which he apparently approaches history?

To be President of the United States is to part of the great American story. To not understand that story is to not understand the presidency. Maybe Frederick Douglass can give Mr. Trump some advice. Apparently, he's "an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more."

Why There Was a Civil War

By Yoni Appelbaum













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