One Nation, Indivisible (And Bonded By Cannon Fire and Death)

Heil….errr….I Pledge Allegiance…

Following the recent non-event over the Confederate flag, I finally buckled underneath my undying curiosity and watched Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln film. Mainly, I wanted to see how they would portray our 16th president and the politics of the time.

Production wise, the film was excellent. Amazing acting, too.

In terms of accuracy, it was as fictional as Gone With the Wind.

However, I was caught completely off-guard by one scene in the movie at the very end where Lincoln meets with the Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander H. Stephens. During a discussion about ending the war, Lincoln chastises them for not “having faith” in the democratic process and that the war might have been avoided it they had.

Stephens points out the very ugly truth: It was Lincoln who did not trust the democratic process by invading the South and bringing it back into the Union through war. The country was not saved by the same process he praises.

“Your Union, sir, is bonded by cannon fire and death.”

Lincoln’s initial reply blew me away: And maybe you’re right.

It amazes me that this line was in a pro-Lincoln film. One could hardly imagine a Lost Cause Confederate flag-wearing activist putting in a more devastating statement as that Stephen utters. Yet not only does Spielberg allow it, his fictional Lincoln – a character who unlike the real man might be able to mount some sort of defense of his actions using the hindsight amassed from the preceding 150 years – is unable to offer anything other than a weak rationalization.

Either this is because Spielberg erroneously thinks it is sufficient to justify the Civil War, or Stephens’ point is impossible to overlook, since it would be even too much for a fictional Lincoln to claim he fought the war to free the slaves when the actual one said the exact opposite.

My guess is it is the former, because if Spielberg had considered it to be as weak an argument as it is, he wouldn’t have put the scene in there. Still, he allows Lincoln to say “and maybe you’re right.”

It gives an entirely new perspective on the Pledge of Allegiance. Since atheist activists are keen on removing “Under God” from the pledge, maybe we should reword it to say:

One Nation, Bonded By Cannon Fire, Indivisible

And Held Together By the Eternal Threat

of Death

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5 Responses to One Nation, Indivisible (And Bonded By Cannon Fire and Death)

  1. I’ve watched this movie too, but I had a lot less perspective at the time. I didn’t start my self-education of economics, politics, and history (which consequently led to my adoption of the libertarian creed) until about 2 years ago. Before that I was pretty much a clueless neo-con with a tendency toward a “live and let live” mentality. The movie didn’t have much of an effect on me, though I’m a big fan of Daniel Day Lewis (as an actor anyway).

    That is interesting that Spielberg would place that last little nugget of dissent into the movie, which as you said was fairly pro-Lincoln. Probably did it just so he could pat himself on the back for having a shred of journalistic integrity. Perhaps he just wanted to be provocative to get people talking about his movie.

    I like your sardonic pledge of allegiance, though I’m not sure what you mean by “Enteral.” My guess is that we are held in the Union by the threat of death by way of gastrointestinal displeasure?

    Speaking of gastrointestinal displeasure…

    I have watched American Sniper recently, and I had some reservations about sitting through that one. It is a perfect example of American ignorance, fortitude, and tragedy. The film starts off by egregiously conflating the attacks of 9/11 with the U.S.Government invasion of Iraq. There were some anti-war sentiments throughout the movie, notably by his wife, brother, and one of his fellow seals, all of which he “courageously” ignores, but for the most part the movie was all about how bad-ass our seals are and how evil those darn Middle Easterners are. Also the movie highlighted how tough it can be for veterans after the violence is over.

    My favorite sniper movie is Enemy at the Gates. That’s a sniper you can route for. A guy who is caught between two immense tidal waves of crazy: The Nazis and the Soviets. Zaitsev at least was defending a Russian city when he killed all those SOLDIERS. We disgrace ourselves by calling Kyle a hero for killing all those men, women, and children in a foreign city, though maybe that is the truth of America now. Maybe Kyle is a perfect reflection of our nation’s sense of patriotism. I really hope that isn’t the case though.

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    • The Question says:

      Hahaha, I actually meant to write “eternal.” I really need to double-check the text for auto spellcheck corrections.

      I recently watched American Sniper, having written on it several times. I wasn’t actually impressed by the movie itself. Production wise, “Hurt Locker” was much better. Eastwood also omits unpleasant details about Kyle’s life or what he actually wrote in his book. Far from the morally conflicted character in the film, in real life he had no qualms killing.

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