Bush, Lincoln and the African American Museum

Sunday, February 12, 2006
The Anchoress had an intersting post on Bush's support of the African American Museum. Perhaps the most interesting part was Eleanor Clift's decent treatment of Bush in regards to both the King funeral as well his support for the museum in the following quote:

Bush deserves credit for sitting through it all despite the awkward moments and remaining good-natured and even eloquent in his eulogy. That evening he welcomed the Harlem Dance Theater to the White House for a special performance, and among the guests was Lonnie Bunch, the director of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. “Hey, Bunch!” Bush said, clapping him on the back, a familiarity Bush earned when he signed legislation creating the museum in December ’03. It had been a long time coming. Georgia Rep. John Lewis first introduced the legislation in 1988, and every year after that, to no avail. Even President Clinton, who’s been called the first black president because of his close ties to the African-American community, couldn’t get enough support in Congress for the museum.

Bush’s museum action pulled off the seemingly impossible. With his re-election campaign looming and needing help to win more of the black vote, he mustered the votes to build the museum on federal land, and to provide $250 million, half what the proposed structure is expected to cost. Sure, there was political self-interest, but Bush is also personally committed. One of the first checks the Smithsonian got for the new African-American museum came from the president and his wife, Laura. Then the newly re-elected Bush directed a portion of the funds that went unspent by his Inaugural committee to the museum. That amounted to a cool $5 million. The African-American museum is still seven years off, but it’s been awarded space on the Mall in Washington off Constitution Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, an apt location since the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution secured civil rights for black Americans after slavery.

And in memory of Abraham Lincoln's birthday here is an excerpt courtesy PowerLine from a speech given by Abraham Lincoln on July 10, 1858 in Chicago, Illinois:

Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of "don't care if slavery is voted up or voted down" [Douglas's "popular sovereignty" position on the extension of slavery to the territories], for sustaining the Dred Scott decision [A voice---"Hit him again"], for holding that the Declaration of Independence did not mean anything at all, we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form. Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the
people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will---whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it! [Voices---"me" "no one," &c.] If it is not true let us tear it out! [cries of "no, no,"] let us stick to it then [cheers], let us stand firmly by it then.


Eric Blair said...

I have to go back and read some of that again. What a time to live in.