The Left's Lincoln

The Republican president was secretly a Democrat.

Steven Spielberg announced a couple of years ago that he wanted to make a movie based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. And he quickly signed up the world’s finest actor, Daniel Day Lewis, to inhabit the role of Lincoln.

Then he made a mistake. He hired Munich screenwriter and radical gay leftist Tony Kushner to write the script.

It was all downhill from there.

This week, Spielberg spoke out about his movie. And, as it turns out, we’re going to get a view of American history that looks distinctly Democratic. When asked about the fact that Lincoln was a Republican – the first Republican president, in fact – Spielberg answered, “I just said, please don’t release this until the election is over. I didn’t want it to be this political football going back and forth. Because it’s kind of confusing. The parties traded political places over the last 150 years. That in itself is a great story, how the Republican Party went from a progressive party in 1865, and how the Democrats were represented in the picture, to the way it’s just the opposite today. But that’s a whole other story.”

Well, actually, it’s not a whole other story. Because it’s not even close to a true story. The Republican and Democratic Parties never “traded political places.” Racism is still the preserve of the Democratic Party, which utilizes skin color as a political tool; color-blindness is still the preserve of the Republican Party. There is a reason that Senator Robert Byrd (WV), a one-time member of the KKK was considered the Democratic conscience of the Senate until his death in 2010. There’s a reason segregationists like George Wallace were Democrats. The Democratic Party never flip-flopped with the Republican Party. It just hid its racism beneath a veneer of reverse racism.

But this is how Hollywood – and Spielberg in particular -- does history.

A film like Saving Private Ryan puts an antiwar gloss on the most pro-human rights war in the history of humanity. When the character Sgt. Horvath explains, “Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful, shitty mess,” that’s a pathetic statement given that this conflict was about defeating the worst threat to humanity and humane values ever unleashed.

A films like Amistad, which revolves around a slave revolt aboard a Spanish ship and the subsequent trial in the United States -- portray white abolitionists as selfish folks out for themselves. As Gary Rosen pointed out in Commentary, “Lewis Tappan was the prime defender of the Africans from start to finish,” but he’s played as a “closet racist”; Roger Baldwin had “abolitionist sympathies,” but is portrayed as a money grubbing lawyer. The point, says Rosen: “the denigration of Christianity, especially of the white, Protestant variety.

In The Color Purple, Spielberg portrays Africa as a grand sort of multicultural place, while the United States is steeped in darkness. In Munich, the real bad guys are terrorist hunters rather than terrorists – and Israel is so scarred by terrorist hunting that Israelis must move to the United States and abandon their country for absolution.

In the Spielberg world, America is the target; only “progressive” forces, reflecting the pacifist, multicultural tendencies of the filmmaker, can cure America of its ills. In order to achieve this rewriting of American history, Spielberg, ironically enough, ignores the gory, ugly, beautiful tapestry of the history of the United States page by page – a true story that would bring to light unique and fascinating elements of human nature.

In other words, Spielberg’s history is too one dimensional as well as too leftist. It is the story of “progress” toward today’s Democratic Party. John Quincy Adams from Amistad would be a Clinton voter; Lincoln would be a fan of Obama; by the end of Munich the protagonist would want to sign up for a tour with the Gaza Flotilla.

It is sad that there are so many great American stories worth telling – including Lincoln’s – and that they are perverted by those on the left more interested in a political agenda than in simply letting the truth speak for itself.

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