Lincoln on Gladney?

One of the many strange stories to come out of the recent protests against healthcare reform was that of a black conservative protester, Kenneth Gladney, who got into a fight and then asked for donations because he didn’t have health insurance.  (His story did change over time.)

What would Obama’s hero Lincoln think of this?  Perhaps we can get some insight from a speech of his on March 17, 1865, “on the reported intention of the Confederacy to employ negroes in the army“.

There are but few aspects of this great war on which I have not already expressed my views by speaking or writing. There is one—the recent effort of “our erring brethren,” sometimes so called, to employ the slaves in their armies. The great question with them has been, “Will the negro fight for them?” They ought to know better than we, and doubtless do know better than we. I may incidentally remark, that having in my life heard many arguments—or strings of words meant to pass for arguments—intended to show that the negro ought to be a slave—if he shall now really fight to keep himself a slave, it will be a far better argument why he should remain a slave than I have ever before heard. He, perhaps, ought to be a slave if he desires it ardently enough to fight for it. Or, if one out of four will, for his own freedom, fight to keep the other three in slavery, he ought to be a slave for his selfish meanness. I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

Of course, our President is much too wise and good to make such an unfair, overblown, and inflammatory analogy.  But I wonder if it came to his mind.


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