Everything old is new again

Via Matthew Yglesias, via Hendrik Hertzberg at The New Yorker, here’s a stunning anti-Lincoln editorial cartoon from 1862.

1862 cartoon by Adalbert Volck

Note the planks in Lincoln’s “Chicago platform”-turned-sacrificial altar: Puritanism, Atheism, Rationalism, Socialism, Free Love, Spirit Rapping, and Negro Worship (along with one more I can’t make out). I don’t know how Lincoln’s opponents came to accuse him of supporting both spirit rapping and rationalism, both Puritanism and “free love” (or Puritanism and atheism for that matter), but I found it rather reassuring that this sort of nonsense is not a new phenomenon. One might argue that the familiar recent accusations of simultaneous fascism and communism are less blatantly stupid than this.

As an atheist, I admit I take a little bit of pride in the fact that abolitionism was seen as a secular threat to a religious agenda. I’m not saying that any time religious conservatives are mad at you, you’re doing the right thing, but I do like the sound of that attempt at an insult. “Look at you, advocating the equality of all people under the law, regardless of their skin color! Ugh, I can’t believe you! You’re such an atheist!”

…Why, yes. Yes, I am.

Previous Post
Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. Back in those days, many abolitionists used religious thinking to declare the immorality of slavery. The sword cut both ways. Demagoguery has been used against atheist (illustrated here) and theists. People are ugly creatures. The ugliness is much deeper than religion.

Leave a Reply