Obama II: Obama lance la Bible et la Constitution en playback (One nation under socialism: US and France’s new administrations reveal their true collectivist colors)

C’est à la sueur de ton visage que tu mangeras du pain, jusqu’à ce que tu retournes dans la terre, d’où tu as été pris; car tu es poussière, et tu retourneras dans la poussière. Genèse 3: 19
 Ne jugez point, afin que vous ne soyez point jugés. Car on vous jugera du jugement dont vous jugez, et l’on vous mesurera avec la mesure dont vous mesurez. Jésus (Matthieu 7: 1-2)
Malheur au monde à cause des scandales! Car il est nécessaire qu’il arrive des scandales; mais malheur à l’homme par qui le scandale arrive! Jésus (Matthieu 18: 7)
Les jugements de l’Éternel sont vrais, ils sont tous justes. Psaumes 19: 9
Nous espérons du fond du cœur, nous prions avec ferveur, que ce terrible fléau de la guerre s’achève rapidement. Si, cependant, Dieu veut qu’il se poursuive jusqu’à ce que sombrent les richesses accumulées par 250 ans de labeur non partagé de l’esclave ainsi que jusqu’à ce que chaque goutte de sang jaillie sous le fouet soit payée par une autre versée par l’épée, comme il a été dit il y a trois mille ans, il nous faudra reconnaître que “les décisions du Seigneur sont justes et vraiment équitables. Lincoln (Deuxième discours d’investiture, le 4 mars 1865)
N’avez-vous pas lu que le créateur, au commencement, fit l’homme et la femme et qu’il dit: C’est pourquoi l’homme quittera son père et sa mère, et s’attachera à sa femme, et les deux deviendront une seule chair? Ainsi ils ne sont plus deux, mais ils sont une seule chair. Que l’homme donc ne sépare pas ce que Dieu a joint. Pourquoi donc, lui dirent-ils, Moïse a-t-il prescrit de donner à la femme une lettre de divorce et de la répudier? (…) C’est à cause de la dureté de votre coeur que Moïse vous a permis de répudier vos femmes; au commencement, il n’en était pas ainsi. Jésus (Matthieu 19: 4-8)
I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. Obama (2008)
I think in the end it does have to be a broad us. It has to be democracy with a small ‘d.’ Obama (1995)
Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of [our founding] words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. And for more than two hundred years, we have. Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together. (…) We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. (…) « It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Obama
We pray for your blessing because without it, we will see only what the eye can see. But with the blessing of your blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor. Rev. Luis Leon
Lincoln was the product of a short and shallow formal education, and he had never fully identified with a Christian denomination or doctrinal tradition. And yet in this case, as in so many others, (…) Lincoln’s legacy, far more than any other president, has, over time, become inextricably bound up with the words and themes of the Bible. He has been endowed repeatedly with biblical features—sometimes cast as Moses, on other occasions as Father Abraham, and yet again as a fiery prophet or martyred savior. An aura of prophetic authority has accrued to his own words, heightened by his skillful use of literary devices that are also characteristic of biblical texts. The Poor Hand’s homilies, like the man himself, now belong to the ages. Lincoln contributed to this biblical aura through his adamant advocacy of what he referred to in his address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield in 1838 as an American « political religion. » (…) In death, Lincoln became an icon of this American political faith—the only faith, it would seem, for which he could give his own last measure of devotion. Lincoln’s Collected Works are, in fact, peppered with biblical references, including several dozen direct quotations. These are taken, for the most part, from Hebrew Bible narratives, the Psalms, Wisdom texts, and the Gospels. The Bible was the common coin of literate nineteenth-century Americans, and Lincoln made good use of its currency. Earl Schwartz
In this short passage Lincoln strings together four direct biblical quotations. Nevertheless, each quote enters the address honed and shaped by many years of conceptual and rhetorical development. Gen. 3:19 now carries for Lincoln the accumulated implications of twenty years of reflection, as indicated by his retention of an inferred « their » prior to « bread, » a condensed version of his earlier antithesis of « their bread » over against the « sweat of other men’s faces, » and the addition of the tortuous image of oppressors « wringing » their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, rather than simply eating it, as he had expressed it earlier. Lincoln’s juxtaposition of Gen. 3:19 to Matt. 7:1 (« Let us judge not … ») reiterates his previous condemnation of slavery as the theft of another’s « self, » as well as his claim that he was obliged not to « judge » the motives of those who would lend their support to such a crime. Here, as in the « Response » to the Baptist missionaries, the counsel that one must withhold judgment appears ironic, though his convincing reference to « charity for all » in the peroration indicates a tempering of his earlier sarcasm. However, having counseled forbearance, Lincoln immediately goes on to declare that it was not to be expected that restraining the urge to judge would save the nation from undergoing judgment. Instead, in a passage punctuated by repeated references to justice (« just, » « judge, » « judged, » « judgments ») he joins his « materialist » reading of Gen. 3:19 to a corresponding vision of an immanent Divine judgment which was « true and righteous altogether, » purging the nation, measure for measure, of slavery’s « wealth » and « lash. » The ravages of war had extracted a terrible price from those « by whom the offence cometh, » be they collaborators or bystanders, but the debate was over, and the conclusion, as he had long insisted, was « self evident. » The Almighty had had His own wrenching purposes. Those purposes having been accomplished, the time for rending was now speedily passing away, and a time for mending had begun. Earl Schwartz
The bitter election wars to achieve and maintain a 51–53 percent majority (the noble 99 percent versus the selfish 1 percent, the greens versus the polluters, the young and hip versus the stodgy and uncool, the wisely unarmed versus the redneck assault-weapon owners, women versus the sexists, gays versus the bigots, Latinos versus the nativists, blacks versus the “get over it” spiteful and resentful, the noble public sector versus the “you didn’t build that” profiteers, Colin Powell/Chuck Hagel/reasonable Republicans versus neanderthal House tea-party zealots), in Nixonian fashion have left a lot of bitter divisions that lie just beneath the surface of a thinning veneer. Victor Davis Hanson
Mr. Obama is arguing counter to the Founding Fathers that the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of equality of results, not the equality of opportunity, and that he will do what he can to use government to make everybody more equal in terms of their income and life work. (…) this was no opportunity speech. This was a redistributionist, income-leveling speech. And it completely missed the point of the Founding Fathers some 237 years ago. They were talking about the equality of opportunity, not results. Theirs was a declaration of freedom, not government power or authority. In fact, the Declaration of Independence was written expressly to begin a revolution against the autocratic monarchs of England, who used their government authority to tax, regulate, and oppress the colonists without any representation or voting rights, thus denying them the unalienable rights of liberty. So while Obama was on the one hand preaching “fidelity to our founding principles,” on the other he was saying that preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action. Collective action? The Founders were talking about individual liberty and rights. Not the power of a collectivist government. The “collective” is a socialist idea, not a free-market capitalist thought. (…) Obama’s mistaken opinions regarding the Declaration of Independence, and his total lack of understanding of the thinking behind the Declaration, is more troubling than any of the liberal programmatic proposals he set forth. Fundamentally, you have to wonder if the president really understands the American idea, and the American historical experience, beginning with the great wisdom of the Founders. Collectivism also means “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” During his second-term inaugural speech, Obama actually said, “We do not believe in this country that freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.” Were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates lucky? Was Henry Ford lucky? Was Thomas Edison just lucky? How about they used their God-given talents of creativity, imagination, and ingenuity, coupled with hard work, to create commercial ventures that financially empowered millions upon millions of people who were then able to live a better and more comfortable life? That’s what the Founders had in mind. Freedom. It was bad enough that the president had nothing to say about economic growth, or excess federal spending, deficits, and debt. Nor did he show any interest in reforming the large entitlement programs that may bankrupt America. He did discuss the energy market. But rather than let market forces determine the most efficient and clean energy sources to power our economy, he insisted on more doomed green-energy projects subsidized by the taxpayer (like Solyndra). (…) Equality of opportunity is the American ideal. Equality of results and income-leveling is foreign to the American ideal. Larry Kudlow
Whether Beyoncé was lip-syncing to the band or the band were lip-syncing to Beyoncé is like one of those red pill/ blue pill choices from The Matrix. Was President Obama lip-syncing to the Founders, rooting his inaugural address in the earliest expressions of American identity? (“The patriots of 1776 . . . gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.”) Or maybe the Founders were lip-syncing to him as he appropriated the vision of the first generation of Americans and yoked it (“preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action”) to a statist pitch they would have found utterly repugnant. The whole event had the air of a simulacrum: It looked like a presidential inauguration, but the sound was tinny and not quite in sync. Obama mouthed along to a canned vocal track: “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” That’s great! It’s always reassuring to know the head of state is going to take issue with all those people wedded to the “belief” that America needs either to shove every granny off the cliff or stake its newborns out on the tundra for the wolves to finish off. When it comes to facing the music, Obama is peerless at making a song and dance about tunes nobody’s whistling without ever once warbling the real big numbers (16 trillion). But, like Beyoncé, he’s totally cool and has a cute butt. Mark Steyn
Le gouvernement s’est engagé à s’appuyer sur la jeunesse pour changer les mentalités, notamment par le biais d’une éducation au respect de la diversité des orientations sexuelles. Vincent Peillon (Lettre aux recteurs, Ministre de l’Education, 04.01.13)
C’est au socialisme qu’il va revenir d’incarner la révolution religieuse dont l’humanité a besoin. (…) C’est bien une nouvelle naissance, une transusbtantiation qui opère dans l’école et par l’école, cette nouvelle Église, avec son nouveau clergé, sa nouvelle liturgie, ses nouvelles tables de la Loi. Vincent Peillon
La morale laïque c’est comprendre ce qui est juste, distinguer le bien du mal, c’est aussi des devoirs autant que des droits, des vertus, et surtout des valeurs. Je souhaite pour l’école française un enseignement qui inculquerait aux élèves des notions de morale universelle, fondée sur les idées d’humanité et de raison. La république porte une exigence de raison et de justice. La capacité de raisonner, de critiquer, de douter, tout cela doit s’apprendre à l’école. Le redressement de la France doit être un redressement matériel mais aussi intellectuel et moral. (…) Il faut assumer que l’école exerce un pouvoir spirituel dans la société. (…) Si la république ne dit pas quelle est sa vision de ce que sont les vertus et les vices, le bien et le mal, le juste et l’injuste, d’autres le font à sa place. Aujourd’hui dans les cours d’école et les classes, on se traite « sales feujs », « sales bougnoules »… Tout ce qui est de l’ordre du racisme, de l’antisémitisme, de l’injure, de la grossièreté à l’égard des professeurs et des autres élèves, ne peut pas être toléré à l’école. La sanction fait partie de l’éducation. Mais il faut aussi qu’il y ait une cohérence entre la responsabilité des adultes à l’extérieur de l’école et ce que l’on demande aux maîtres et aux professeurs de faire. L’attitude des plus hautes autorités de l’État est, de ce point de vue, tout à fait déterminante. L’ancien président de la République lui-même, en désignant toujours des ennemis, en s’exprimant avec violence ou grossièreté, en expliquant qu’enseigner La Princesse de Clèves était sans intérêt, que l’instituteur ne pourra jamais remplacer le curé, sapait l’autorité des professeurs et s’attaquait aux valeurs qui sont les nôtres. (…) Nous avons besoin d’un réarmement moral. C’est pourquoi nous devons tous soutenir nos professeurs. (…) Pour donner la liberté du choix, il faut être capable d’arracher l’élève à tous les déterminismes, familial, ethnique, social, intellectuel, pour après faire un choix. Je ne crois pas du tout à un ordre moral figé. (…) La bataille que doit mener l’école est aussi une bataille des valeurs. Nous allons la mener. Vincent Peillon
Derrière le personnage apparemment lisse, voire ennuyeux, se cache un terrible idéologue, quelqu’un de très dangereux, un Robespierre en herbe, un sans-culotte du XXIème siècle, un disciple en droite lignée des grands bienfaiteurs de l’Église que sont Jean Jaurès ou Ferdinand Buisson, qui sont ses deux papas. Vincent Peillon, c’est un docteur en philosophie – et il n’y a rien de plus dangereux qu’un philosophe qui fait de la politique, un visionnaire pour qui « la révolution française n’est pas terminée », parce que cette Révolution est « un événement religieux», une « nouvelle genèse » un « nouveau commencement du monde », une « nouvelle espérance » qu’il faut porter à son terme, à savoir : « la transformation socialiste et progressiste de la société toute entière ». En fait, Peillon n’est ni un homme politique, ni un simple philosophe. C’est un prophète, un Pape laïque, un grand-prêtre du socialisme, plus religieux que le Souverain Pontife lui-même. Alors, il est responsable aujourd’hui de l’éducation nationale. Ce n’est évidemment pas par hasard. L’éducation a un rôle capital dans son système idéologique, car l’école est « un instrument de l’action politique, républicaine et socialiste. ». Plus encore, l’école est un instrument de la religion laïque dont il se fait le prophète : C’est au socialisme qu’il va revenir d’incarner la révolution religieuse dont l’humanité a besoin. Et évidemment, l’école sera le temple de cette nouvelle religion : C’est bien une nouvelle naissance, une transusbtantiation qui opère dans l’école et par l’école, cette nouvelle Église, avec son nouveau clergé, sa nouvelle liturgie, ses nouvelles tables de la Loi.  On comprend alors dans le détail les grands thèmes qu’il impose à l’éducation nationale. La scolarisation précoce des enfants De moins de trois ans s’il vous plaît ! (annoncée le 10 septembre par Jean-Marc Ayrault) dans le but, selon lui, de « lutter contre la délinquance » (sic), mais qui correspond en fait en tout point à l’idée peillonienne de coupure totale de l’enfant d’avec autre chose que la République socialiste : (je cite son interview au JDD) « Il faut être capable d’arracher l’élève à tous les déterminismes, familial, ethnique, social, intellectuel… » [3]. Pour ce faire, Peillon se fonde sur une pédagogie bien à lui : il y a un « « infini flottant » dans l’âme de l’enfant », et l’éducation « se fixe pour tâche de lui donner une forme » [4]. Je vous laisse imaginer quelle forme il faut lui donner, à cet enfant nu et dépouillé face au dogme étatique. La morale laïque Alors une fois encore ne soyons pas dupes : évidemment que ce qui manque le plus à nos enfants, c’est de la morale. Mais ceux qui applaudissent cette idée doivent être vigilants. Car le but de la morale laïque, c’est de former des futurs électeurs socialistes avec la théorie du Genre, l’enseignement des « grands homosexuels de l’histoire », la lutte contre les discriminations et l’imposition d’une morale non pas seulement laïque, a-religieuse, voire anti-religieuse. La morale laïque correspond en tous points à la ligne Buisson de la laïcité que Peillon s’est tracée – en référence à Ferdinand Buisson, l’acteur de premier plan de l’expulsion des congrégations religieuses, auquel Peillon a consacré un ouvrage en 2005. Cette ligne buisson de la laïcité, c’est « de forger une religion qui soit non seulement plus religieuse que le catholicisme dominant, mais qui ait davantage de force, de séduction, de persuasion et d’adhésion, que lui. » Aussi, si « la République socialiste perdure dans la mort de Dieu », elle perdure également dans la mort de son incarnation terrestre, l’Église… (…) Peillon commence à s’attaquer aux retraites des enseignants du privé (déjà dévalorisée de quasiment 30% par rapport à celles du public), puis à produire une circulaire (en fait une bulle pontificale) qui enjoint les recteurs « à rester vigilant envers l’enseignement catholique » parce que ce dernier s’était prononcé contre le mariage homosexuel. « Rester vigilant envers l’enseignement catholique » veut dire, dans son système, qu’aucune idée ne peut se transmettre en dehors des cadres dogmatiques de la République socialiste. Vous comprenez pourquoi il n’y a aucune contradiction dans leur esprit lorsque Peillon interdit à l’école privée de parler du mariage gay alors que Belkacem en fait l’apologie au collège. Nous sommes clairement dans une dialectique marxiste, que la contradiction n’effraie aucunement. Le moment passé (à savoir les traditions, l’histoire de France, les valeurs chrétiennes) doit être annulé par le moment à venir : le monde poli, libre, joyeusement socialiste, délivré enfin du joug de la méchante Église catholique et de ses principes désuets. Grâce à ce genre d’idéologues au pouvoir, nos enfants en sauront bientôt davantage sur la contraception, le mariage homosexuel, l’homophobie, le trans-genre et le cannabis, que sur l’histoire de France ou les règles de conjugaison. Le catéchisme socialiste doit se réciter dans toutes les écoles, par la bouche de tous les fonctionnaires-prêcheurs, et les enfants doivent apprendre cette vérité tombée du ciel sans broncher… Finalement, la plus grande honnêteté pour Monseigneur Peillon et son clergé serait de se l’appliquer à eux-mêmes, la laïcité, avant que ce pays ne sombre dans une théocratie socialiste… Vivien Hoch
Dans sa lettre du 4 janvier adressée aux recteurs, Vincent Peillon affirme sa volonté de révolutionner la société en se servant de l’école : « le gouvernement s’est engagé à s’appuyer sur la jeunesse pour changer les mentalités, notamment par le biais d’une éducation au respect de la diversité des orientations sexuelles », affirme-t-il en début de lettre. On remarque les termes : « s’appuyer sur la jeunesse » pour « changer les mentalités ». Qui ? Le gouvernement. En réalité, c’est donc lui qui choisit les orientations politiques et morales qui doivent prévaloir dans la société. Ce n’est plus la famille, l’école et la société adulte qui éduquent la jeunesse. Contrairement à la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme de 1948, c’est donc désormais l’État en France qui se pose en seul détenteur de la vérité. On assiste à une dérive théocratique de l’État républicain actuel. Et cette jeunesse, qui, par définition, ne possède pas encore les repères lui permettant de poser des choix par elle-même, il la mobilise dans le sens qu’il juge bon, selon le schéma de la révolution culturelle. La position de Vincent Peillon est vraiment choquante. Lorsqu’il s’appuie sur la jeunesse comme moteur révolutionnaire, renouant avec l’esprit de 1968, le gouvernement sort à l’évidence de son rôle : il instrumentalise la jeunesse à des fins politiques, pour changer les représentations sexuelles et morales dominantes. Ce faisant, il change les règles du jeu au sein de l’École publique en abandonnant ostensiblement l’exigence de neutralité. L’État sort également de son devoir de neutralité et de respect des droits éducatifs familiaux et de l’intimité des enfants lorsque le ministre demande aux recteurs de renforcer les campagnes d’information sur la ligne azur. Ainsi, contrairement à ce qui est affiché, il ne s’agit plus de lutter contre des stigmatisations homophobes en tant que telles, il s’agit bien plutôt d’inciter activement les jeunes en recherche d’identité (comme le sont par construction tous les adolescents) à explorer pour eux-mêmes la voie de l’homosexualité ou de la transsexualité. De même, lorsque le ministre encourage les recteurs à faire intervenir davantage les associations de lutte contre l’homophobie, il encourage en pratique l’ingérence dans l’enceinte de l’école d’associations partisanes engagées dans la banalisation et la promotion des orientations sexuelles minoritaires, si l’on se réfère à la liste des associations agréées par l’Éducation nationale pour intervenir sur ces thématiques dans les établissements. Il favorise donc des prises de paroles unilatérales auprès des jeunes, sur un sujet qui n’a pas encore été tranché par le législateur. (…) Durant la période soviétique, comme durant d’autres périodes totalitaires, il était habituel de se servir des enfants pour démasquer et sanctionner les opinions dissidentes des parents. C’était l’époque de la délation par ses propres enfants. Revenir à de telles pratiques inhumaines et profondément immorales serait une grave régression de l’État de droit. Non content enfin de mettre au pas les écoles publiques, le gouvernement entend aussi museler les écoles privées en bafouant clairement leur caractère propre. Il est évident que les écoles dont le projet éducatif et l’identité sont fondés sur la foi seront opposées à la légalisation du mariage homosexuel. Leur demander d’être neutres sur ce sujet n’a aucun sens, si ce n’est celui de leur faire renier purement et simplement leur vocation spécifique. Anne Coffinier

Après la première invocation inaugurale certifiée sans Dieu, le premier playback de la Bible et de la Constitution !

Alors qu’au lendemain du deuxième discours d’investiture, entre un pasteur remplaçant pro-gay et un poète latino et militant homosexuel, du Passeur en chef de nominations en force, nos belles âmes et nos beaux esprits s’extasient devant les talents oratoires de leur nouveau Kennedy noir  …

Comment ne pas voir, à l’instar du playback finalement révélé de la chanteuse noire Beyoncé, l’autrement plus inquiétant playback de la Bible et de la Constitution …

Où,  derrière les flonflons oratoires (les alliterations faciles des « Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall » assimilant la lutte des femmes et des noirs à celle des homosexuels) et contre toute la tradition américaine, l’on nous ressert en fait la pire des dérives étatiques et collectivistes ?

Et comment ne pas voir, au nom de la désormais sacro-sainte défense de l’égalitarisme incarnée désormais par le « respect de la diversité des orientations sexuelles »,  la même  dérive théocratique et la régression proprement soviétique

Où,  contre la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme et en s’appuyant au sein de l’Ecole même sur les nouvelles générations, un Etat prétendument républicain s’arroge le droit de rien de moins que « changer les mentalités » ?

Le débat sur le mariage homosexuel à l’école : une bien curieuse conception de la neutralité

Vincent Peillon a adressé une lettre aux recteurs le 4 janvier dernier dans laquelle il affirme sa volonté de révolutionner la société en se servant de l’école. « S’appuyer sur la jeunesse » pour « changer les mentalités ». Qui ? Le gouvernement.

Dans sa lettre du 4 janvier adressée aux recteurs, Vincent Peillon affirme sa volonté de révolutionner la société en se servant de l’école : « le gouvernement s’est engagé à s’appuyer sur la jeunesse pour changer les mentalités, notamment par le biais d’une éducation au respect de la diversité des orientations sexuelles », affirme-t-il en début de lettre. On remarque les termes : « s’appuyer sur la jeunesse » pour « changer les mentalités ». Qui ? Le gouvernement.

Anne Coffinier

Les Echos

11/01/2013

En réalité, c’est donc lui qui choisit les orientations politiques et morales qui doivent prévaloir dans la société. Ce n’est plus la famille, l’école et la société adulte qui éduquent la jeunesse. Contrairement à la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme de 1948, c’est donc désormais l’État en France qui se pose en seul détenteur de la vérité. On assiste à une dérive théocratique de l’État républicain actuel. Et cette jeunesse, qui, par définition, ne possède pas encore les repères lui permettant de poser des choix par elle-même, il la mobilise dans le sens qu’il juge bon, selon le schéma de la révolution culturelle.

La position de Vincent Peillon est vraiment choquante. Lorsqu’il s’appuie sur la jeunesse comme moteur révolutionnaire, renouant avec l’esprit de 1968, le gouvernement sort à l’évidence de son rôle : il instrumentalise la jeunesse à des fins politiques, pour changer les représentations sexuelles et morales dominantes. Ce faisant, il change les règles du jeu au sein de l’École publique en abandonnant ostensiblement l’exigence de neutralité.

L’État sort également de son devoir de neutralité et de respect des droits éducatifs familiaux et de l’intimité des enfants lorsque le ministre demande aux recteurs de renforcer les campagnes d’information sur la ligne azur. Ainsi, contrairement à ce qui est affiché, il ne s’agit plus de lutter contre des stigmatisations homophobes en tant que telles, il s’agit bien plutôt d’inciter activement les jeunes en recherche d’identité (comme le sont par construction tous les adolescents) à explorer pour eux-mêmes la voie de l’homosexualité ou de la transsexualité.

De même, lorsque le ministre encourage les recteurs à faire intervenir davantage les associations de lutte contre l’homophobie, il encourage en pratique l’ingérence dans l’enceinte de l’école d’associations partisanes engagées dans la banalisation et la promotion des orientations sexuelles minoritaires, si l’on se réfère à la liste des associations agréées par l’Éducation nationale pour intervenir sur ces thématiques dans les établissements. Il favorise donc des prises de paroles unilatérales auprès des jeunes, sur un sujet qui n’a pas encore été tranché par le législateur.

Tout cela relève-t-il vraiment du rôle de l’État ? Est-ce davantage le rôle de l’école ? Est-ce judicieux si l’on veut que les familles aient une relation confiante et paisible envers l’institution scolaire ? Si l’État se donne pour mission de promouvoir l’homosexualité, il prend la grave responsabilité de discriminer frontalement les familles attachées au modèle familial qui est celui que vit la grande majorité des Français, et de heurter les convictions de tous ceux, juifs, chrétiens, musulmans et bien d’autres, qui jugent que ce modèle est la seule référence conforme à la réalité naturelle et par là au bien de l’enfant.

Une telle politique de l’État alimentera infailliblement le communautarisme déjà à l’œuvre dans la société. Si l’État n’est pas neutre, s’il se sert de son pouvoir pour promouvoir au sein des services publics des options philosophiques, morales, sexuelles, religieuses particulières et nettement minoritaires, il conduira mécaniquement un nombre croissant de familles à déserter les services publics. Lorsque l’État refuse la neutralité, il prend la responsabilité d’alimenter une balkanisation politique, religieuse et morale de la société lourde de conséquences.

L’école, publique comme privée, doit se recentrer sur sa mission propre et se garder de vouloir traiter à chaud les sujets polémiques. En histoire comme dans les autres domaines de la connaissance, l’école ne doit pas se précipiter dans l’ultraactualité, au risque de manquer de rigueur, de recul critique, de discernement. Il ne convient pas davantage que l’école conduise les jeunes – inconsciemment ou pas – à se prononcer publiquement sur leurs choix et opinions personnelles sur des sujets touchant aux convictions intimes (religion, politique, sexualité, etc.).

Ces prises de position n’ont pas de fonction éducative ; elles peuvent en revanche conduire les jeunes à révéler les opinions familiales, s’exposer eux-mêmes au jugement de leurs camarades ou de leurs professeurs, au mépris de leur droit à l’intimité et de leur liberté d’opinion, de conscience et de religion. À quoi bon voter dans l’isoloir si l’école trouve le moyen par le biais de vos enfants de connaître vos opinions politiques ?

Durant la période soviétique, comme durant d’autres périodes totalitaires, il était habituel de se servir des enfants pour démasquer et sanctionner les opinions dissidentes des parents. C’était l’époque de la délation par ses propres enfants. Revenir à de telles pratiques inhumaines et profondément immorales serait une grave régression de l’État de droit.

Non content enfin de mettre au pas les écoles publiques, le gouvernement entend aussi museler les écoles privées en bafouant clairement leur caractère propre. Il est évident que les écoles dont le projet éducatif et l’identité sont fondés sur la foi seront opposées à la légalisation du mariage homosexuel. Leur demander d’être neutres sur ce sujet n’a aucun sens, si ce n’est celui de leur faire renier purement et simplement leur vocation spécifique.

« Le caractère propre de ses établissements ne saurait leur permettre de déroger au strict respect de tous les individus et de leurs convictions », affirme le ministre. La formulation dialectique est habile, car qui peut s’opposer au respect des individus et de leurs convictions ? Mais elle est doublement défectueuse. Philosophiquement, car elle passe par pertes et profits la différence fondamentale qui existe entre la critique d’une position politique ou morale et celle d’une personne. On respecte les personnes, on débat librement des idées. S’il fallait respecter toutes les opinions sans discuter, cela voudrait dire qu’il serait interdit d’étudier le fond des problèmes.

Mais bien entendu, la réalité est autre : il s’agit de réprimer les vues différentes de l’idéologie officielle. S’il est interdit de penser et de débattre sur un sujet comme le supposé mariage de deux personnes d’un même sexe, cela veut dire que pour ne pas se faire traiter d’homophobe on est contraint de fait d’accepter le mariage homosexuel. Que reste-t-il alors de la liberté de penser ?

Politiquement en outre la formulation est défectueuse. Les établissements catholiques respectent les convictions de leurs élèves, mais sont catholiques, c’est leur raison d’être, protégée par toutes les déclarations et instruments juridiques relatifs aux Droits de l’Homme.

En revanche l’Éducation nationale, du moins telle que la voient nos dirigeants, impose sous couvert d’égalité et de lutte contre les discriminations la promotion active de l’homosexualité, présentée comme un des rares comportements humains échappant par nature à tout débat. Où est la neutralité du service public d’Éducation ? Où est le respect des convictions de citoyens ?

Voir aussi:

Le socialisme est une religion pour Vincent Peillon

Derrière le personnage apparemment lisse, voire ennuyeux, se cache un terrible idéologue, un Pape laïque, un grand-prêtre du socialisme.

Vivien Hoch

Contrepoints

14/01/2013

On critique souvent les politiques sur le fait qu’ils n’ont pas de vraies convictions. Avec Peillon, c’est tout l’inverse. Il faut rester très vigilant et très sérieux devant ce genre d’idéologue. Le grand adversaire de Peillon, c’est le réel.

Nul ne doit être dupe, ni se tromper sur le personnage. La dernière étude du CERU, le laboratoire d’idée sur la jeunesse et l’éducation, que j’ai rédigée, propose une exégèse de la philosophie de Vincent Peillon (disponible sur Amazon et Priceminister). Autant dire que je me suis collé à la lecture de son œuvre complète, et que le résultat se situe bien au-delà de toutes mes inquiétudes.

Derrière le personnage apparemment lisse, voire ennuyeux, se cache un terrible idéologue, quelqu’un de très dangereux, un Robespierre en herbe, un sans-culotte du XXIème siècle, un disciple en droite lignée des grands bienfaiteurs de l’Église que sont Jean Jaurès ou Ferdinand Buisson, qui sont ses deux papas.

Vincent Peillon, c’est un docteur en philosophie – et il n’y a rien de plus dangereux qu’un philosophe qui fait de la politique, un visionnaire pour qui « la révolution française n’est pas terminée », parce que cette Révolution est « un événement religieux», une « nouvelle genèse » un « nouveau commencement du monde », une « nouvelle espérance » qu’il faut porter à son terme, à savoir : « la transformation socialiste et progressiste de la société toute entière ».

En fait, Peillon n’est ni un homme politique, ni un simple philosophe. C’est un prophète, un Pape laïque, un grand-prêtre du socialisme, plus religieux que le Souverain Pontife lui-même.

Alors, il est responsable aujourd’hui de l’éducation nationale. Ce n’est évidemment pas par hasard. L’éducation a un rôle capital dans son système idéologique, car l’école est « un instrument de l’action politique, républicaine et socialiste. ». Plus encore, l’école est un instrument de la religion laïque dont il se fait le prophète :

C’est au socialisme qu’il va revenir d’incarner la révolution religieuse dont l’humanité a besoin. [1]

Et évidemment, l’école sera le temple de cette nouvelle religion :

C’est bien une nouvelle naissance, une transusbtantiation qui opère dans l’école et par l’école, cette nouvelle Église, avec son nouveau clergé, sa nouvelle liturgie, ses nouvelles tables de la Loi. [2]

On comprend alors dans le détail les grands thèmes qu’il impose à l’éducation nationale.

La scolarisation précoce des enfants

De moins de trois ans s’il vous plaît ! (annoncée le 10 septembre par Jean-Marc Ayrault) dans le but, selon lui, de « lutter contre la délinquance » (sic), mais qui correspond en fait en tout point à l’idée peillonienne de coupure totale de l’enfant d’avec autre chose que la République socialiste : (je cite son interview au JDD) « Il faut être capable d’arracher l’élève à tous les déterminismes, familial, ethnique, social, intellectuel… » [3].

Pour ce faire, Peillon se fonde sur une pédagogie bien à lui : il y a un « « infini flottant » dans l’âme de l’enfant », et l’éducation « se fixe pour tâche de lui donner une forme » [4]. Je vous laisse imaginer quelle forme il faut lui donner, à cet enfant nu et dépouillé face au dogme étatique.

La morale laïque

Alors une fois encore ne soyons pas dupes : évidemment que ce qui manque le plus à nos enfants, c’est de la morale. Mais ceux qui applaudissent cette idée doivent être vigilants. Car le but de la morale laïque, c’est de former des futurs électeurs socialistes avec la théorie du Genre, l’enseignement des « grands homosexuels de l’histoire », la lutte contre les discriminations et l’imposition d’une morale non pas seulement laïque, a-religieuse, voire anti-religieuse.

La morale laïque correspond en tous points à la ligne Buisson de la laïcité que Peillon s’est tracée – en référence à Ferdinand Buisson, l’acteur de premier plan de l’expulsion des congrégations religieuses, auquel Peillon a consacré un ouvrage en 2005. Cette ligne buisson de la laïcité, c’est « de forger une religion qui soit non seulement plus religieuse que le catholicisme dominant, mais qui ait davantage de force, de séduction, de persuasion et d’adhésion, que lui. » Aussi, si « la République socialiste perdure dans la mort de Dieu », elle perdure également dans la mort de son incarnation terrestre, l’Église…

On a déjà un exemple de ce que produit la morale laïque. Elle est déjà bien pratiquée par ce gouvernement, et on voit ce que ça donne : de l’inénarrable Cécile Duflot qui veut « réquisitionner les églises » au message outrageant et discriminant de Michèle Delaunay : « Aujourd’hui les catholiques condamneraient la Sainte Famille : un mari qui n’était pas le père, une mère vierge »… On le voit : la cathophobie est quasiment érigée en dogme d’État.

La fronde contre l’enseignement catholique trouve elle aussi son sens

Peillon commence à s’attaquer aux retraites des enseignants du privé (déjà dévalorisée de quasiment 30% par rapport à celles du public), puis à produire une circulaire (en fait une bulle pontificale) qui enjoint les recteurs « à rester vigilant envers l’enseignement catholique » parce que ce dernier s’était prononcé contre le mariage homosexuel. « Rester vigilant envers l’enseignement catholique » veut dire, dans son système, qu’aucune idée ne peut se transmettre en dehors des cadres dogmatiques de la République socialiste.

Vous comprenez pourquoi il n’y a aucune contradiction dans leur esprit lorsque Peillon interdit à l’école privée de parler du mariage gay alors que Belkacem en fait l’apologie au collège. Nous sommes clairement dans une dialectique marxiste, que la contradiction n’effraie aucunement. Le moment passé (à savoir les traditions, l’histoire de France, les valeurs chrétiennes) doit être annulé par le moment à venir : le monde poli, libre, joyeusement socialiste, délivré enfin du joug de la méchante Église catholique et de ses principes désuets.

Grâce à ce genre d’idéologues au pouvoir, nos enfants en sauront bientôt davantage sur la contraception, le mariage homosexuel, l’homophobie, le trans-genre et le cannabis, que sur l’histoire de France ou les règles de conjugaison. Le catéchisme socialiste doit se réciter dans toutes les écoles, par la bouche de tous les fonctionnaires-prêcheurs, et les enfants doivent apprendre cette vérité tombée du ciel sans broncher…

Finalement, la plus grande honnêteté pour Monseigneur Peillon et son clergé serait de se l’appliquer à eux-mêmes, la laïcité, avant que ce pays ne sombre dans une théocratie socialiste…

Sur le web. Ce billet a fait l’objet d’une chronique sur Radio Courtoisie le 10 janvier.

Notes :

Vincent Peillon, La révolution française n’est pas terminée, Seuil, Paris, 2008, p. 195. ↩

La révolution française n’est pas terminée, op. cit., p. 18. ↩

Entretien au Journal du Dimanche, 2 septembre 2012. ↩

La révolution française n’est pas terminée, op. cit., p. 194 ↩

Voir également:

Peillon : « Je veux qu’on enseigne la morale laïque »

INTERVIEW – À la veille de la rentrée scolaire, le ministre de l’Education, Vincent Peillon, annonce la mise en place de cours de « morale laïque » dès la rentrée 2013.

Vincent Peillon

Adeline Fleury

Le Journal du Dimanche

01 septembre 2012

Lundi plus de 800.000 professeurs font leur rentrée, mardi ce sera le tour de 12 millions d’élèves. Pour Vincent Peillon, il s’agit de la « première rentrée du changement ». Le ministre de l’Éducation nationale, malgré les 13.000 suppressions de poste, réaffirme que l’éducation est bien la priorité du quinquennat. Une concertation sur les thèmes cruciaux comme les rythmes scolaires se tient jusqu’à la fin septembre, elle doit déboucher sur un rapport qui servira de base à l’élaboration d’une loi d’orientation à l’automne. Pour le ministre, cette « refondation de l’école républicaine » doit s’accompagner d’un retour sur les valeurs. Il souhaite instituer des cours de « morale laïque » dès la rentrée 2013. Explications.

Qu’entendez-vous par « morale laïque »?

La morale laïque c’est comprendre ce qui est juste, distinguer le bien du mal, c’est aussi des devoirs autant que des droits, des vertus, et surtout des valeurs. Je souhaite pour l’école française un enseignement qui inculquerait aux élèves des notions de morale universelle, fondée sur les idées d’humanité et de raison. La république porte une exigence de raison et de justice. La capacité de raisonner, de critiquer, de douter, tout cela doit s’apprendre à l’école. Le redressement de la France doit être un redressement matériel mais aussi intellectuel et moral.

Quelles sont ces valeurs communes?

Lorsque le président de la République dit devant le monument de Jules Ferry faire de l’école la priorité, il dit à la société qu’un certain nombre de valeurs sont plus importantes que d’autres : la connaissance, le dévouement, la solidarité, plutôt que les valeurs de l’argent, de la concurrence, de l’égoïsme… Nous devons également porter et défendre l’égalité des garçons et des filles. Une société et une école qui n’enseignent pas ces valeurs s’effondrent. Il faut assumer que l’école exerce un pouvoir spirituel dans la société.

Il faut enseigner la laïcité?

La laïcité comme fait juridique, philosophique et historique n’est pas suffisamment étudiée. Certains pensent que la laïcité est contre les religions ; certains au contraire que c’est simplement la tolérance ; d’autres que c’est uniquement des règles de coexistence. Or, la laïcité ce n’est pas simplement cela. Il existe aussi une « laïcité intérieure », c’est-à-dire un rapport à soi qui est un art de l’interrogation et de la liberté. La laïcité consiste à faire un effort pour raisonner, considérer que tout ne se vaut pas, qu’un raisonnement ce n’est pas une opinion. Le jugement cela s’apprend.

«La sanction fait partie de l’éducation»

Qui serait chargé d’enseigner cette morale laïque?

Je vais nommer une mission de réflexion qui devra préciser la nature de cet enseignement. Je pose trois objectifs : qu’il y ait une cohérence depuis le primaire jusqu’à la terminale ; que cet enseignement soit évalué ; qu’il trouve un véritable espace. Je souhaite que dans la formation des enseignants, dans les écoles supérieures de l’éducation et du professorat que nous mettrons en place à la rentrée 2013, les questions de morale laïque soient enseignées à tous les professeurs.

Y a-t-il une « morale de gauche » et une « morale de droite « ?

Je ne le crois pas. Je pense, comme Jules Ferry, qu’il y a une morale commune, qu’elle s’impose à la diversité des confessions religieuses, qu’elle ne doit blesser aucune conscience, aucun engagement privé, ni d’ordre religieux, ni d’ordre politique. Prenez les textes du Conseil national de la Résistance : cela va des communistes à de Gaulle. Ce sont des textes qui portent une conception de la solidarité sociale, de l’universalisme et nous avons besoin d’enseigner à nos élèves ce formidable patrimoine. Je veux faire de la morale laïque un enseignement moderne qui s’inscrit dans l’école du IIIe millénaire.

Il existe déjà des cours d’instruction civique, en quoi votre morale serait différente?

Je n’ai pas dit instruction civique mais bien morale laïque. C’est plus large, cela comporte une construction du citoyen avec certes une connaissance des règles de la société, de droit, du fonctionnement de la démocratie, mais aussi toutes les questions que l’on se pose sur le sens de l’existence humaine, sur le rapport à soi, aux autres, à ce qui fait une vie heureuse ou une vie bonne. Si ces questions ne sont pas posées, réfléchies, enseignées à l’école, elles le sont ailleurs par les marchands et par les intégristes de toutes sortes. Si la république ne dit pas quelle est sa vision de ce que sont les vertus et les vices, le bien et le mal, le juste et l’injuste, d’autres le font à sa place. Aujourd’hui dans les cours d’école et les classes, on se traite « sales feujs », « sales bougnoules »… Tout ce qui est de l’ordre du racisme, de l’antisémitisme, de l’injure, de la grossièreté à l’égard des professeurs et des autres élèves, ne peut pas être toléré à l’école. La sanction fait partie de l’éducation. Mais il faut aussi qu’il y ait une cohérence entre la responsabilité des adultes à l’extérieur de l’école et ce que l’on demande aux maîtres et aux professeurs de faire. L’attitude des plus hautes autorités de l’État est, de ce point de vue, tout à fait déterminante. L’ancien président de la République lui-même, en désignant toujours des ennemis, en s’exprimant avec violence ou grossièreté, en expliquant qu’enseigner La Princesse de Clèves était sans intérêt, que l’instituteur ne pourra jamais remplacer le curé, sapait l’autorité des professeurs et s’attaquait aux valeurs qui sont les nôtres.

Vous parlez là d’exemplarité?

Oui. Le professeur doit bien sûr dans ses comportements incarner lui-même les valeurs que nous voulons enseigner. Si on pense que la question de la dignité humaine est fondamentale, il doit être à l’égard de chaque élève dans une relation de respect. Il ne s’agit pas d’autoritarisme, mais d’une autorité qui se fonde sur des qualités morales et intellectuelles. Si la société conteste son autorité, le moque ou même l’injurie, alors il n’y a pas de raison pour que l’élève le respecte. Nous avons besoin d’un réarmement moral. C’est pourquoi nous devons tous soutenir nos professeurs.

Cela implique également que l’élève se lève quand le professeur entre dans la classe?

Ce n’est pas le sujet. Il ne faut pas confondre morale laïque et ordre moral. C’est tout le contraire. Le but de la morale laïque est de permettre à chaque élève de s’émanciper, car le point de départ de la laïcité c’est le respect absolu de la liberté de conscience. Pour donner la liberté du choix, il faut être capable d’arracher l’élève à tous les déterminismes, familial, ethnique, social, intellectuel, pour après faire un choix. Je ne crois pas du tout à un ordre moral figé. Je crois qu’il faut des règles, je crois en la politesse par exemple.

«La bataille que doit mener l’école est aussi une bataille des valeurs»

Dans votre école, les élèves salueront le drapeau tricolore tous les matins?

Non. Mais il faut enseigner aux enfants la différence entre être patriote et nationaliste. Nous devons aimer notre patrie, mais notre patrie porte des valeurs universelles. Ce qui a fait la France, c’est la déclaration des droits de l’homme. Elle dit que nous partageons tous une même humanité. Le professeur doit reconnaître en chaque enfant, sans distinction d’origine, cette humanité et l’instituer.

Doit-on enseigner La Marseillaise à l’école?

Apprendre notre hymne national me semble une chose évidente, les symboles comptent, mais il ne faudra pas croire que l’apprentissage mécanique d’un hymne est suffisant dans cette éducation à la morale laïque.

La morale n’en finit pas de faire son retour. Vous ne craignez pas que votre morale laïque reste au degré zéro sur les bancs de l’école?

C’est l’objectif inverse que je poursuis. Si les créneaux horaires réservés à l’instruction civique et morale sont souvent utilisés par les enseignants pour rattraper le retard sur d’autres points du programme, c’est parce que la matière n’est pas ou peu évaluée ; si la matière enseignée ne porte pas le même nom au primaire, au collège, au secondaire, elle n’est pas cohérente et prise au sérieux ; si les professeurs ne sont pas formés pour l’enseigner, cela ne sert à rien. C’est à tout cela que je veux remédier. La bataille que doit mener l’école est aussi une bataille des valeurs. Nous allons la mener.

Voir encore:

Richard Blanco, latino et gay, poète officiel de l’investiture d’Obama

Sophiane Meddour

L’Express

21/01/2013

« Conçu à Cuba, né en Espagne et élevé aux Etats-Unis » tel se décrit le poète latino-américain Richard Blanco, choisi par Barack Obama pour réciter un poème lors de son investiture ce lundi 21 janvier.

Richard Blanco est le poète choisi par la Maison Blanche pour réciter un poème lors de la cérémonie d’investiture de Barack Obama ce lundi 21 janvier 2013. À l’image du 44e président américain, ce jeune poète de 44 ans dévoile une tout autre face des États-Unis, éloignée des stéréotypes wasp (anglo-saxons protestants blancs).

Richard Blanco, fils d’exilés cubains, né en Espagne, est ouvertement gay. Ses parents ont fui la révolution de Fidel Castro. Il a grandi et fait ses études à Miami, aux États-Unis, et il y est devenu ingénieur. Il a peu à peu délaissé ce premier métier pour l’écriture poétique et l’enseignement. Son recueil de poème intitulé City of a Hundred Fires a notamment reçu le prix de poésie Agnes Lynch.

Aujourd’hui, Il est en passe de sortir de l’anonymat ou, à tout le moins, de l’ombre dans laquelle la poésie l’a installé et de briller l’espace de quelques instants lors de la cérémonie qui se tiendra sur les marches du Capitole.

Une tradition qui remonte à … 1961

Le poète cubain doit lire un poème composé spécialement pour l’occasion. Cette oeuvre originale sera directement inspirée de sa propre existence. Addie Whisenant, porte-parole auprès du comité d’investiture, dit de ses poèmes qu’ils sont des plus personnels et qu’ils définissent avec la plus grande justesse l’identité américaine.

Cette tradition du « poète inaugural » remonte au 20 janvier 1961, lors de l’investiture du Président John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Le poète Robert Frost avait alors récité le poème The Gift Outright. Aujourd’hui, Richard Blanco devient le 5e et plus jeune poète à perpétuer cette tradition. Il succède à Elizabeth Alexander qui avait récité Praise Song for the Day pour la 1ère cérémonie d’investiture de Barack Obama en 2009, tandis que Bill Clinton avait choisi la poétesse afro-américaine Maya Angelou pour sa première investiture en 1993 et le poète Miller Williams pour la seconde en 1997. Il s’agit donc, à l’heure actuelle, d’une tradition purement démocrate.

One today

Dans One Today, le poème lu lors de l’investiture, Blanco décrit une journée aux Etats-Unis, du lever du soleil à son coucher. Il évoque ses origines modestes: « on our way […] to ring-up groceries as my mother did for twenty years, so I could write this poem. » (« En chemin pour assumer notre travail de caissière comme ma mère, pendant 20 ans, pour que je puisse écrire ce poème aujourd’hui »). Rend hommage aux enfants disparus lors de la tuerie de Newtown : « the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever. » (« Le choix impossible des mots qui n’expliqueront pas les tables vides des vingt enfants qui ne répondront plus présents à l’appel de leur nom. »). Evoque le célèbre I have a dream prononcé par Martin Luther King. One today est traversé de paysages, de couleurs et de senteurs, thèmes propres à la poésie du latino-américain. Le mot « one » revient continuellement pour évoquer un pays uni: « one sun rose on us today », « one ground », « one sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes tired from work » (Un seul soleil qui s’est levé ce matin », « Un seul sol », « Un seul ciel, vers lequel nous levons le regard, fatigués par le travail ».

Voir de plus:

The Obama Simulacrum

Mark Steyn

The National Review

January 25, 2013

If I’m following this correctly, according to one spokesperson for the Marine Corps Band, at Monday’s inauguration Beyoncé lip-synced to the national anthem but the band accompanied her live. However, according to a second spokesperson, it was the band who were pretending to play to a pre-recorded tape while Beyoncé sang along live. So one or other of them were faking it. Or maybe both were. Or neither. I’d ask Chuck Schumer, the master of ceremonies, who was standing right behind her, but he spent the entire performance staring at her butt. If it was her butt, that is. It might just have been the bulge of the Radio Shack cassette player she was miming to. In an America with an ever more tenuous grip on reality, there’s so little to be sure of.

Whether Beyoncé was lip-syncing to the band or the band were lip-syncing to Beyoncé is like one of those red pill/ blue pill choices from The Matrix. Was President Obama lip-syncing to the Founders, rooting his inaugural address in the earliest expressions of American identity? (“The patriots of 1776 . . . gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.”) Or maybe the Founders were lip-syncing to him as he appropriated the vision of the first generation of Americans and yoked it (“preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action”) to a statist pitch they would have found utterly repugnant.

The whole event had the air of a simulacrum: It looked like a presidential inauguration, but the sound was tinny and not quite in sync. Obama mouthed along to a canned vocal track: “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” That’s great! It’s always reassuring to know the head of state is going to take issue with all those people wedded to the “belief” that America needs either to shove every granny off the cliff or stake its newborns out on the tundra for the wolves to finish off. When it comes to facing the music, Obama is peerless at making a song and dance about tunes nobody’s whistling without ever once warbling the real big numbers (16 trillion). But, like Beyoncé, he’s totally cool and has a cute butt.

A couple of days later, it fell to the 45th president-in-waiting to encapsulate the ethos of the age in one deft sound bite: What difference does it make? Hillary Clinton’s instantly famous riposte at the Benghazi hearings is such a perfect distillation that it surely deserves to be the national motto of the United States. They should put it on Paul Krugman’s trillion-dollar coin, and in the presidential oath:

“Do you solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States?”

“Sure. What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Well, it’s the difference between cool and reality — and, as Hillary’s confident reply appeared to suggest, and the delirious media reception of it confirmed, reality comes a poor second in the Obama era. The presumption of conservatives has always been that one day cold, dull reality would pierce the klieg-light sheen of Obama’s glamour. Indeed, that was the premise of Mitt Romney’s reductive presidential campaign. But, just as Beyoncé will always be way cooler than some no-name operatic soprano or a male voice choir, so Obama will always be cooler than a bunch of squaresville yawneroos boring on about jobs and debt and entitlement reform. Hillary’s cocksure sneer to Senator Johnson of Wisconsin made it explicit. At a basic level, the “difference” is the difference between truth and falsity, but the subtext took it a stage further: No matter what actually happened that night in Benghazi, you poor sad loser Republicans will never succeed in imposing that reality and its consequences on this administration.

And so a congressional hearing — one of the famous “checks and balances” of the American system — is reduced to just another piece of Beltway theater. “The form was still the same, but the animating health and vigor were fled,” as Gibbon wrote in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But he’s totally uncool, too. So Hillary lip-synced far more than Beyoncé, and was adored for it. “As I have said many times, I take responsibility,” she said. In Washington, the bold declarative oft-stated acceptance of responsibility is the classic substitute for responsibility: rhetorically “taking responsibility,” preferably “many times,” absolves one from the need to take actual responsibility even once.

In the very same self-serving testimony, the secretary of state denied that she’d ever seen the late Ambassador Stevens’s cables about the deteriorating security situation in Libya on the grounds that “1.43 million cables come to my office”– and she can’t be expected to see all of them, or any. She is as out of it as President Jefferson, who complained to his secretary of state James Madison, “We have not heard from our ambassador in Spain for two years. If we have not heard from him this year, let us write him a letter.” Today, things are even worse. Hillary has apparently not heard from any of our 1.43 million ambassadors for four years. When a foreign head of state receives the credentials of the senior emissary of the United States, he might carelessly assume that the chap surely has a line of communication back to the government he represents. For six centuries or so, this has been the minimal requirement for functioning inter-state relations. But Secretary Clinton has just testified that, in the government of the most powerful nation on earth, there is no reliable means by which a serving ambassador can report to the cabinet minister responsible for foreign policy. And nobody cares: What difference does it make?

Nor was the late Christopher Stevens any old ambassador, but rather Secretary Clinton’s close personal friend “Chris.” It was all “Chris” this, “Chris” that when Secretary Clinton and President Obama delivered their maudlin eulogies over the flag-draped coffin of their “friend.” Gosh, you’d think if they were on such intimate terms, “Chris” might have had Hillary’s e-mail address, but apparently not. He was just one of 1.43 million close personal friends cabling the State Department every hour of the day.

Four Americans are dead, but not a single person involved in the attack and the murders has been held to account. Hey, what difference does it make? Lip-syncing the national anthem beats singing it. Peddling a fictitious narrative over the coffin of your “friend” is more real than being an incompetent boss to your most vulnerable employees. And mouthing warmed-over clichés about vowing to “bring to justice” those responsible is way easier than actually bringing anyone to justice.

And so it goes:

Another six trillion in debt? What difference does it make?

An economic-stimulus bill that stimulates nothing remotely connected with the economy? What difference does it make?

The Arab Spring? Aw, whose heart isn’t stirred by those exhilarating scenes of joyful students celebrating in Tahrir Square? And who cares after the cameras depart that Egypt’s in the hands of a Jew-hating 9-11 truther whose goons burn churches and sexually assault uncovered women?

Obama is the ultimate reality show, and real reality can’t compete. Stalin famously scoffed, “How many divisions has the Pope?” Secretary Clinton was more audacious: How many divisions has reality? Not enough.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.

Voir également:

Obama’s Declaration of Collectivism

The president completely misunderstands the intent of the Founders.

Larry Kudlow

The National Review

January 25, 2013

One of the least remarked upon aspects of President Obama’s inaugural speech was his attempt to co-opt the Founding Fathers’ Declaration of Independence to bolster his liberal-left agenda.

Sure, the president quoted one of the most important sentences in world history: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So far, so good. But he later connected the Declaration with his own liberal agenda: “ . . . that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action.” (My italics, not his.)

He fleshed this out with his trademark class-warfare, income-leveling rationalizations. Such as: “The shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” He also talked about “Our wives, mothers, and daughters that earn a living equal to their effort.” He followed that up with, “The wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.”

Here’s what I take away from all this: Mr. Obama is arguing counter to the Founding Fathers that the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of equality of results, not the equality of opportunity, and that he will do what he can to use government to make everybody more equal in terms of their income and life work.

That is exactly wrong. We should be rewarding success. We should be promoting entrepreneurship. We should be encouraging individual effort and opportunity.

But this was no opportunity speech. This was a redistributionist, income-leveling speech. And it completely missed the point of the Founding Fathers some 237 years ago.

They were talking about the equality of opportunity, not results. Theirs was a declaration of freedom, not government power or authority.

In fact, the Declaration of Independence was written expressly to begin a revolution against the autocratic monarchs of England, who used their government authority to tax, regulate, and oppress the colonists without any representation or voting rights, thus denying them the unalienable rights of liberty.

So while Obama was on the one hand preaching “fidelity to our founding principles,” on the other he was saying that preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action.

Collective action? The Founders were talking about individual liberty and rights. Not the power of a collectivist government.

The “collective” is a socialist idea, not a free-market capitalist thought. And the story of the last quarter of the 20th century was of the absolute breakdown and end of the collectivist model. Collectivism was thrown into the dustbin of history by the weight of its own failure.

To me, Obama’s mistaken opinions regarding the Declaration of Independence, and his total lack of understanding of the thinking behind the Declaration, is more troubling than any of the liberal programmatic proposals he set forth. Fundamentally, you have to wonder if the president really understands the American idea, and the American historical experience, beginning with the great wisdom of the Founders.

Collectivism also means “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” During his second-term inaugural speech, Obama actually said, “We do not believe in this country that freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.” Were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates lucky? Was Henry Ford lucky? Was Thomas Edison just lucky?

How about they used their God-given talents of creativity, imagination, and ingenuity, coupled with hard work, to create commercial ventures that financially empowered millions upon millions of people who were then able to live a better and more comfortable life?

That’s what the Founders had in mind. Freedom.

It was bad enough that the president had nothing to say about economic growth, or excess federal spending, deficits, and debt. Nor did he show any interest in reforming the large entitlement programs that may bankrupt America. He did discuss the energy market. But rather than let market forces determine the most efficient and clean energy sources to power our economy, he insisted on more doomed green-energy projects subsidized by the taxpayer (like Solyndra).

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell likened Obama’s speech to a declaration of the end of the era of small government. “One thing is clear from the president’s speech,” he said. “The era of liberalism is back.” I agree.

But again I say it’s Obama’s misunderstanding of the Founders’ intent that is the most troubling. Equality of opportunity is the American ideal. Equality of results and income-leveling is foreign to the American ideal.

As conservatives and Republicans regroup, and as they seek to achieve a better America, I hope they keep the opportunity principle uppermost in their minds.

– Larry Kudlow, NRO’s economics editor, is host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report and author of the daily web log, Kudlow’s Money Politic$.

The Meaning of the Inaugural Address

Victor Davis Hanson

January 22, 2013

Prune away the usual soaring rhetoric and purple passages, and there were no serious outlines in today’s speech to restore the economy or deal with the fiscal implosion on the horizon — or even hints to be fleshed out in the State of the Union to come.

Instead, the president believes that record near-zero interest rates will allow him to borrow $10–12 trillion dollars over his eight-year tenure, and that the dangers of running up such a resulting gargantuan $20 trillion aggregate debt are well worth the risks.

He apparently believes that, in a postindustrial world, government, or government-owned industries from now on will have to create the majority of jobs, and that such jobs should largely go to those whom he sees as having been traditionally shortchanged.

In addition, in just four years, record numbers are now on food stamps, unemployment, and disability, and exempt from federal income taxes, and those percentages will only grow in the next term. Part of the remaking of America is the forging of a new constituency who feel that government employment and entitlements are a birth right and that those who in Washington ensure it deserve unquestioned political fealty.

By the same token, the astronomical borrowing will endlessly accelerate pressures to raise taxes on the “rich,” whether through income-tax rates, or the elimination of deductions, or both. The “pay their fair share” and “you didn’t build that” rhetoric will only sharpen, as the public is prepped to expect that “fat cats” can pay an aggregate 60—70 percent of their income in local, payroll, state, Obamacare, and federal income taxes. The only mystery is whether these unsustainable debts are designed primarily to redistribute income through forced higher taxes, or to marry the livelihoods of loyal millions to big government, or so that we can create a sort of centralized EU that actually works.

There are three dangers to the new unbound Obamism. One, he assumes the private sector has nowhere to go, and thus that, although it always will bitch about higher taxes, serial class warfare rhetoric, Obamacare, and more regulations, at some point its captains have to get back to work, make those hefty profits and so pay what they owe us in new higher taxes. I am not sure that will happen; instead, the present high unemployment, low growth, and crushing debt may be the new European-like stagflating norm.

Two, even if inflation and interest rates don’t rise, we have not seen yet the bitter wars to come over gun control and the actual implementation of the details of Obamacare, or blanket amnesty, and they may resemble the tea-party fights of 2010.

Three, the bitter election wars to achieve and maintain a 51–53 percent majority (the noble 99 percent versus the selfish 1 percent, the greens versus the polluters, the young and hip versus the stodgy and uncool, the wisely unarmed versus the redneck assault-weapon owners, women versus the sexists, gays versus the bigots, Latinos versus the nativists, blacks versus the “get over it” spiteful and resentful, the noble public sector versus the “you didn’t build that” profiteers, Colin Powell/Chuck Hagel/reasonable Republicans versus neanderthal House tea-party zealots), in Nixonian fashion have left a lot of bitter divisions that lie just beneath the surface of a thinning veneer.

Voir de même:

The Two Most Powerful Allusions in Obama’s Speech Today

James Fallows

The Atlantic

On reading it through after hearing it, this is another carefully crafted speech. More so, I would say, than Obama’s first inaugural address. But these two parts got my attention the instant I heard them:

1) Lash and sword. This inaugural address, like nearly all previous ones, began with an emphasis on the importance of democratic transfer-of-power. For instance, the first words of JFK’s address in 1961 were, « We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom. » But Obama introduced the familiar theme with this twist:

Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of [our founding] words with the realities of our time. [Note: this preceding sentence is the one-sentence summary of the speech as a whole.] For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

And for more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

I like the precise logical concision of contrasting « self-evident » with « self-executing » truths. But « blood drawn by the lash » is an impressive and confident touch. It was of course an allusion to a closing passage in what is generally considered history’s only great second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln’s in 1865 (right):

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said « the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. »

Half-slave, half-free was an allusion to another of Lincoln’s most famous addresses, his « House Divided » speech from his campaign for the Senate in 1858. (And Lincoln’s phrase « house divided » was his own allusion to the Book of Mark.)

2) Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall. I thought the allusion in this passage was eloquent on many levels:

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

The rhetorical and argumentative purpose of the speech as a whole was to connect what Obama considers the right next steps for America — doing more things « together, » making sure that everyone has an equal chance, tying each generation’s interests to its predecessors’ and its successors’ — with the precepts and ideals of the founders, rather than having them be seen as excesses of the modern welfare state.

As in the one-sentence summary at the start of the speech, Obama wants to claim not just Lincoln but also Jefferson, Madison, Adams, George Washington, and the rest as guiding spirits for his kind of progressivism. In this passage he works toward that end by numbering among « our forebears » — those honored ancestors who fought to perfect our concepts of liberty and of union — the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martin Luther King and other veterans of Selma including still-living Rep. John Lewis, and the protestors 44 years ago at the Stonewall.

I call the passage above an allusion rather than a dog-whistle because a dog-whistle is meant not to be recognized or understood by anyone other than its intended audience. Obama certainly knew that parts of his audience would respond more immediately and passionately to the names Seneca Falls, Selma, and [especially] Stonewall than other parts, but his meaning is accessible to anyone. As is his reference, while speaking barely a two miles from the Lincoln Memorial, to what « a King » said on « this great Mall. »

I have no illusion, delusion, allusion, or even dog-whistle conception that this speech will change the partisan power-balance affecting passage of anything Obama mentioned, from climate legislation to reforming immigration law. But as politics it was a departure for him, and as rhetorical craftsmanship once again it deserves careful study.

Voir également:

President Obama’s Haunting Anti-Liberty Inaugural Speech

Robert Wenzel

January 22, 2013

I have now read President Obama’s second inaugural speech for the third time. The speech haunts me. In very clever language the speech lays out a plan for a more centralized government, for more interference by the government in the affairs of individuals. The speech is about government as the solution to society’s ills.

The President does this, though, while early on in his speech hailing the Constitution, which attempted to put a limit on government. He then quotes from the Declaration of Independence:

« We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. »

He then proceeds in the remainder of his speech to rip apart the Declaration’s call for Liberty.

But even before his mention of the Constitution and the quoting from the Declaration, in the very first paragraph, after greetings to the « Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens, » the speech is haunting. In the first paragraph that begins the President’s message, he speaks of that arrogant notion American exceptionalism:

What makes us exceptional, what makes us American, is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago[…]

Few realize it, but the concept of American exceptionalism came about as a result of a battle between two communist factions. Wikipedia explains the history well:

In June 1927 Jay Lovestone, a leader of the Communist Party in America and soon to be named General Secretary, described America’s economic and social uniqueness. He noted the increasing strength of American capitalism, and the country’s « tremendous reserve power »; a strength and power which he said prevented Communist revolution. In 1929, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, disagreeing that America was so resistant to revolution, called Lovestone’s ideas « the heresy of American exceptionalism »—the first time that the specific term « American exceptionalism » was used.

The term has been advanced most recently by the neocons, not surprising since their roots can be traced back to the Trotskyite movement.

Thus, at the very start of Obama’s speech, one has to wonder if Obama understands the communist roots of his chosen notion of an « exceptional » America. If he does, then, indeed, he is sending us a very chilling message.

In paragraph 4 of his speech, he said to the nation:

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.

This is a very clever sentence. « A never-ending journey, » he says to « bridge » the words of the Declaration to « reality. » But is it really « a never-ending journey »? He attempts to answer this by saying:

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.

This is true. Half-slave and half-free is not liberty for all. But, if there are no slaves anymore, what could Obama possibly mean when he talks of a « never-ending journey »? Wouldn’t the words in the Declaration meet reality when all men are free? The President apparently thinks not. In a twisted view of the Declaration, he sees less free, more government interference, as part of his « never-ending journey. »

He went on to say:

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

What is this talk of « we »? Railroads, highways, schools and colleges all started out in the private sector. It was only through crony deals with special interests with private agendas that the government was brought into the picture. If the president means crony elitists in cahoots with government, as the « we, » then he is correct. If he is somehow attempting to link the « we » of government interference, with the Declaration of Independence and citizens of America, he is a con-man.

And then he completely exposes his anti-liberty views:

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Ah yes, free markets with rules, that is, liberty with chains.

And he moves on with a great attack on private charity:

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Americans are not uncaring. The president insults Americans when he states that government by gun must force Americans to be charitable. It is another deceptive myth that the president likes to repeat often, Further, the « misfortune » that the president speaks of is not misfortune in the way private individuals think of it. It is the president as part on the Entitlement-Crony Complex in operation. It’s about buying votes and splitting up lucre.

And after heaping all this government interventionist stuff on us, he takes a break to throw smoke in our eyes and claim he is not talking about central planning:

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But, he quickly returns to his real theme, more government planning:

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action

Oh yeah, so much for the Declaration of Independence. « Times change. »

The central planner goes on:

No single person can train all the math and science teachers, we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

What a bizarre first phrase: « No single person can train all the math and science teachers. » Who anywhere, ever , said that a single person will have to train all the math and science teachers?

He goes on in that paragraph to state that somehow this must be done as « one nation. » He means by « one nation, » the government. And he does so without telling us why math and science teachers, road builders. networks and research labs, wouldn’t emerge under liberty, in free markets, without the interference of government.

And, while he is all about calling for central planning, he slips in a bit of class warfare:

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.

He does not explain that the growing wealth of a few, while others search for low-paying jobs, is because of government regulations that protect those who already have wealth (especially those with crony wealth who have ties to the government) and make it difficult, if not impossible, for others to compete against crony wealth.

The president goes on:

We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.

Who is this « we » that the president is again talking about? It is, of course, the great central planning mechanism the government. Note also the call to « reform our tax code. » This is really a call for tax hikes. Tax code reform always ends up being about higher taxes through the closing of « loopholes. » What we need is lower taxes, not tax reform.

He then once more insults Americans, who are quite capable of providing charity on their own:

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.

All central planning all the time, from the « needy » to healthcare. And what does he mean reduce the cost of health care? What could that possibly mean other than in the president’s mind cutting back on some payments on various drugs and services.

The president then said:

The commitments we make to each other: through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

But there are takers. The takers are the government operatives. They take from us and redistribute the wealth, and those on the receiving end are, indeed, softened up, not strengthened. It is creating a dependent society. A society dependent on government for basic services.

The president also made this ominous comment about international affairs.

We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.

Here we are back to paragraph one and American « exceptionalism, » and the neocon view that the US should be the only superpower, the Empire, if you will. Haven’t we learned enough blowback lessons, so that it should be clear the US should stay out of other countries affairs? And if we are so gung ho about democracy, shouldn’t we stand by Iran and its democratic government? Instead of, say, the monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Is it really about democracy? It appears not. It is more smoke. It is about the US Empire, its behind the scenes cronies desiring global control.

Then, of course, while Obama hints at more violence abroad from the Empire, he obviously believes that there is nothing that those that live in the heart of the Empire should fear. He wants our guns:

Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

And there you have it, from start to finish, with a bit of smoke thrown into the air, to confuse at just the right moment, the president’s speech was about moving away from the Declaration of Independence and closer to more government control, more power to the state.

In the end, Obama’s speech is about this, government controlled Americans with very armed government around every corner.

Voir encore:

Barack Obama inauguration speech: a greatest hits of rhetorical tricks

The president gave a smash-hits selection of oratorical devices, from emphatic anaphora to substantial syntheton

Sam Leith

The Guardian

21 January 2013

Barack Obama gives his second-term inauguration address in Washington, DC. His speech was rich in rhetorical devices. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Barack Obama’s second inaugural, as far as rhetoric goes, was the equivalent of a greatest hits album knocked out in time for Christmas. All his favourite oratorical devices were on display, and all at once, as if someone had knocked a candle into the firework box.

At a sentence-by-sentence level, it was filled with a device to which Obama is practically addicted: syntheton. That is, never say one thing when you can inflate the sentence with two: « effort and determination », « passion and dedication », « security and dignity », « hazards and misfortune », « initiative and enterprise », « fascism or communism », « muskets and militia » and so, unceasingly, on.

At the larger level of organisation we were seeing some other old favourites – in particular anaphora, where a phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive sentences. This speech was an anaphoric relay race: « Together, we » gave way to « We, the people », which temporarily ceded the track to « Our journey is not complete until », before « You and I, as citizens » staggered to the tape with the baton.

Also on show was his nifty way of shifting timescale, zipping between the grand sweep of history and the individual moment. « It will be up to those who stand here in four years, and 40 years, and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall. » That climax – the rising series of terms, given extra force with epistrophe (repeating « years ») – is saved from bombast by bringing it down to a moment in history. « Spare » is a lovely touch.

As far as the ethos appeal goes – that is, the way an orator positions himself with the audience – Obama stuck to what he does best: aligning himself with the founding fathers and with Martin Luther King. The former was, well, pro forma, and given that the inauguration coincided with King’s birthday, the latter perhaps irresistible.

The former was accomplished by what may have been his number one soundbite: that none-too-subtle repetition of the phrase that opens the US constitution: « We, the people. » He added his own tricolon to that of the Declaration of Independence when he declared it « our generation’s task to make these words, these rights, these values – of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – real ». He ghosted liberty’s « your tired, your poor, your huddled masses » when he invoked « the poor, the sick, the marginalised ». Tick, tick, tick.

As far as King goes, Obama’s allusion to hearing « a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth » is all but a quotation – semi-blasphemous wordplay and all – from some of his own 2008 speeches (« We heard a King’s call to let justice roll down like water »; « a King who took us to the mountaintop »). If Cornel West, a distinguished professor of African-American studies and what you might call a critical friend, now thinks Obama is milking it a bit, watch out.

His hissingly alliterative line about « Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall […] all those men and women, sung and unsung » (also, be it noted, instances of tricolon, polysyndeton and antithesis) is another near-on self-quotation. Obama loves placenames that alliterate (he once managed to get « Boston » and « Beijing », « Arctic » and « Atlantic » and « Kansas » and « Kenya » into a single sentence).

One slight surprise is that this speech made quite so free with the high style, given that attacks on the windiness of his oratory have been consistent and effective. Yes, it was slick, in places moving, and politically flinty. But I found it hard to agree with Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia, who thought it stronger and « better written » than the one four years ago. That first inaugural was downbeat to a purpose, managing expectations and reaching across the floor after a triumphal election night speech.

Here, he didn’t seem sure whether to be grim and determined (note the frowny brow for the first half) or messianic, and so did both slightly half-heartedly. Sometimes, too, he crossed the line from the poetic into the merely cliched: a people variously « seared » and « tempered »; « snow-capped peaks »; « that precious light of freedom »? Come on, Barry, one wants to say. You’re phoning it in.

• Sam Leith is the author of You Talkin’ To Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama (Profile)

Voir enfin:

« A poor hand to quote Scripture »: Lincoln and Genesis 3:19

Earl Schwartz

Volume 23, Issue 2, Summer 2002

« My friend has said to me that I am a poor hand to quote Scripture. I will try it again, however. » Poor hand or not, Lincoln was persistent. The 1858 Senate campaign was in full swing and the Democratic candidate, Stephen A. Douglas, had recently charged that quoting Scripture did not suit his Republican adversary. Lincoln’s response to his « friend’s » claim, as he told an audience in mid-July, was to « try it again, » concluding his address with a vigorous defense of human equality, cast as a homily on the verse « Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which in heaven is perfect » (Matt. 5:48). [1]

It was easy enough for Douglas to impugn Lincoln’s grasp of Scripture. Lincoln was the product of a short and shallow formal education, and he had never fully identified with a Christian denomination or doctrinal tradition. [2] And yet in this case, as in so many others, Douglas was mistaken. Lincoln’s legacy, far more than any other president, has, over time, become inextricably bound up with the words and themes of the Bible.[3] He has been endowed repeatedly with biblical features—sometimes cast as Moses, on other occasions as Father Abraham, and yet again as a fiery prophet or martyred savior. An aura of prophetic authority has accrued to his own words,[4] heightened by his skillful use of literary devices that are also characteristic of biblical texts.[5] The Poor Hand’s homilies, like the man himself, now belong to the ages.

Lincoln contributed to this biblical aura through his adamant advocacy of what he referred to in his address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield in 1838 as an American « political religion. »[6] In remarks at Independence Hall in February 1861, he adopted a distinctly biblical metaphor to characterize his commitment to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, announcing, « ‘May my right hand lose its cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth’ [Psalms 137:5–6] if ever I prove false to those teachings »—an oath that had originally referred to an abiding attachment to vanquished Jerusalem. Ten days earlier in Indianapolis, he made a similar transposition, declaring, « When the people rise in masses in behalf of the Union and the liberties of their country, truly may it be said, ‘The gates of Hell shall not prevail against them' » (Matt. 16:18).[7] In death, Lincoln became an icon of this American political faith—the only faith, it would seem, for which he could give his own last measure of devotion.

Lincoln’s Collected Works are, in fact, peppered with biblical references, including several dozen direct quotations. These are taken, for the most part, from Hebrew Bible narratives, the Psalms, Wisdom texts, and the Gospels. [8] The Bible was the common coin of literate nineteenth-century Americans, and Lincoln made good use of its currency.

On occasion Lincoln would cite a biblical text strictly for the sake of its imagery. The best-known example of his use of a biblical text for this limited purpose are his references to « a house divided » (Matt. 12:22–28, Mark 3:22–26, Luke 11:14–20). Lincoln consistently employed the metaphor of « a house divided » in literary settings wholly disassociated from its biblical context. [9] Herndon maintained that this was intentional. « I want to use some universally known figure [of speech], » Herndon recalled Lincoln telling him, « expressed in simple language as universally well-known, that may strike home to the minds of men in order to raise them up to the peril of the times. » [10]

In the case of the « house divided » references, literary and anecdotal evidence coincide to demonstrate that Lincoln’s primary interest was in decontextualized use of the text’s imagery rather than exegetical exploration of its content. Historians may speculate concerning his subconscious affinity for this and other decontextualized citations, [11] but it is clear that his conscious intention in such cases was to employ a passage’s imagery without reference to its original significance.

However, many of Lincoln’s biblical citations are exegetical. These latter references not only evidence the rhetorical skill with which he appropriated biblical imagery, but also shed light on his understanding of the passages cited. Foremost among these exegetical references, in terms of frequency as well as significance of occasion, are his citations of Gen. 3:19, which, according to the King James Version he used, reads, « In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. »

The Collected Works include four direct references to Gen. 3:19. First, in the so-called « Fragments of a Tariff Discussion, » which Page [End Page 39] Lincoln recalled having written in late 1847; next, in a response to a resolution of support he had received from a delegation of Baptist missionaries, written in May 1864; third, in a short autobiographical anecdote he arranged to have published in December 1864; and finally, in his Second Inaugural Address, delivered in March 1865. In addition, he appears to allude to the verse on several occasions in speaking about labor, as in his observation that the « old general rule » was that educated people « managed to eat their bread, leaving the toil of producing it to the uneducated, »[12] and his insistence that every human being has the right « to put into his mouth the bread that his own hands have earned. … »[13] As will become clear, what all of these references have in common is their association with what historian Gabor Boritt has contended was Lincoln’s most fundamental, far-reaching and enduring political principal: the right of workers to claim and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Lincoln’s reading of Gen. 3:19 is a preeminent example of his skill in political homiletics, a skill rooted in his ability to draw radically new insights from ostensibly familiar sources. His idiosyncratic application of the verse demonstrates his ability to give memorable expression to his perspective on an issue through rhetorical coordination of both the form and content of a citation. In addition, careful examination of his references to the text, which extend from the beginning of his term in Congress through the Second Inaugural Address, can help to clarify the development of his thinking on the role of labor in human society, and, in turn, the origins and depth of his opposition to slavery.

The References

Gabor Boritt makes a convincing argument for the importance of practical economic concerns to Lincoln’s political and moral outlook, with the rights of workers situated at the center of these concerns. Boritt concludes that, « Above all, there remained in Lincoln, unchanged, that firm, moral-materialistic core. … Surely, Lincoln was also a highly moral, indeed spiritual, being. Yet this characteristic was thoroughly intermingled with his materialism and while cleansing it, also strengthened it. » [14] This intermingling of the moral and material, born along by images of « sweat, » « face, » and Page [End Page 40] « bread, » is nowhere more clearly illustrated than in his references to Gen. 3:19.

Reference 1: From « Fragments of a Tariff Discussion » (December 1, 1847?)

In the early days of the world, the Almighty said to the first of our race ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’ [Gen. 3:19]; and since then, if we except the light and the air of heaven, no good thing has been, or can be enjoyed by us, without having first cost labour. And, in [as] much as most good things are produced by labour, it follows that [all] such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have laboured, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To [secure] to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.[15]

Commenting on that passage, along with related references and allusions by Lincoln to Gen. 3:19 in connection with the rights and aspirations of workers, Boritt contends that « Whatever ideal he held to, whatever stood for America in his eyes, in the most basic sense was embodied for him in this faith. » Boritt concludes that this was, to use Lincoln’s own expression, the « central idea » of his political outlook throughout his public life.[16]

Boritt’s contention notwithstanding, one could easily pass over Lincoln’s reference to Gen. 3:19 in the « Fragments of a Tariff Discussion » as unexceptional. In form and language, it closely resembles a passage from Francis Wayland’s Elements of Political Economy:

« Labor has been made necessary to our happiness. No valuable object of desire can be produced without it … the Universal law of our existence, is, « In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou return to the ground. » [17]

Wayland, a Unitarian minister and President of Brown University, published Elements of Political Economy in 1837. It quickly became the most popular book on economics in the country. Herndon recalled that Lincoln had a special liking for Wayland’s work. [18] Page [End Page 41]

Lincoln begins the « Fragment » by reiterating Wayland’s commonplace identification of Gen. 3:19 with the inevitability of labor. Wayland’s contention that, given this inevitability, workers should have the opportunity to prosper from their efforts may also have influenced the composition of the « Fragment. » But if Wayland is to be credited with the initial coupling of Gen. 3:19 with economic issues in Lincoln’s rhetoric, the implications Lincoln drew from the verse differed markedly from those Wayland endorsed.[19] Lincoln’s inference that it is a wholly appropriate and « worthy » object of good government to assist workers in securing the « whole product » of their labor suggests a personal connection to working people and comfort with political activism on their behalf that went far beyond Wayland’s tepid affirmation of workers rights. It is clear from numerous remarks Lincoln made throughout his career that he believed labor to be the source of all productive value, or, as Wayland put it, that capital was « pre-exerted labor. »[20] However, in opposition to Wayland, Lincoln went on to concur, he said, with a « certain class of reasoners, » that « labor is prior to, and independent of, capital; that, in fact, capital is the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed—that labor can exist without capital, but that capital could never have existed without labor. Hence they hold that labor is the superior—greatly the superior—of capital. »[21] Wayland’s adamant insistence on an even-handed « equality » between capital and labor finds no echo here.

Though Wayland’s comment would appear to anticipate the « Fragment, » the differences in how the two men understood the salient implications of Gen. 3:19 far outweigh the similarities. There is, in fact, no record of a commentator having read Gen. 3:19 as an unambiguous affirmation of the rights of workers to enjoy the fruits of their labor before Lincoln’s « Fragment. » In future references Lincoln would continue to ignore the conventional interpretation of the verse as a curse brought upon humanity by Adam’s disobedience, Page [End Page 42] in favor of his own novel and daring inferences concerning the primacy of labor and the rights of workers.

Lincoln, of course, was not alone among mid-nineteenth-century thinkers in his preoccupation with the rights of workers. His « central idea » connected him to a far-flung chorus of observers, ranging from Marx to Mill, who would also lash out against « the same tyrannical principle »: « You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it. »[22] However, the manner in which Lincoln gave voice to his convictions about rights purchased by the sweat of a worker’s brow, amidst the unparalleled circumstances that converged upon him, was distinctly his own. Informed by his understanding of the priority of labor over capital, Lincoln’s reading of Gen. 3:19 as a statement about labor and its just rewards takes on revolutionary implications. He arrived at these implications by transforming a verse that was (and still is) commonly interpreted as a description of the human condition into a moral imperative.

In Lincoln’s hands, Gen. 3:19 serves as a stepping-off point for his conclusion that the fruits of labor rightfully belong to those who do the work, and that it is a public concern of the highest order that these rights be secured. In the earliest of his « sweat of thy face » texts, these two points are laid out in the form of commentary. In the remaining three cases, Lincoln progressively clarifies the connection between verse and commentary through underlining, paraphrase, and hypothetical antithesis. These devices will serve to direct the reader’s attention away from the theme of inevitable toil and toward a consideration of the moral significance of the possessive pronouns, actual and inferred, that Lincoln viewed as the verse’s pivotal terms.

Reference 2: From a « response to the preamble and resolutions of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society » (May 30, 1864)

To read in the Bible, as the word of God himself, that ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’ [Gen. 3:19] and to preach therefrom, that ‘In the sweat of other mans faces shalt thou eat bread,’ to my mind can scarcely be reconciled with honest sincerity. When brought to my final reckoning, may I have to answer for robbing no man of his goods [I Sam. 12:3]; yet more tolerable even this, than for robbing one of himself, and all that was his. When, a year or two ago, those professedly holy men of the South, met in the semblance of prayer and devotion, Page [End Page 43] and, in the name of Him who said ‘As ye would all men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them’ [Matt. 7:12], appealed to the christian world to aid them in doing to a whole race of men, as they would have no man do unto themselves, to my thinking, they contemned and insulted God and His church, far more than did Satan when he tempted the Saviour with the Kingdoms of the earth. The devils attempt was no more false, and far less hypocritical. But let me forbear, remembering it is also written, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’ [Matt. 7:1] [23]

Lincoln’s « Response to … the American Baptist Home Mission Society » was composed in the midst of the 1864 presidential campaign, a period of deep political and military uncertainty. Nearly twenty years had passed since the composition of the « Fragment on Labor, » including three years of war, but Lincoln’s application of Gen. 3:19 remained essentially the same, though it was made more explicit by his underlining of « thy » and « other mans faces, » and his use of the antithetical « In the sweat of other mans faces shalt thou eat bread, » in counterpoint to the biblical quotation. In doing so, Lincoln reaffirms his general critique of the theft of the fruits of labor, and he unflinchingly extends it to the specific issue of slavery.

The manner in which Lincoln links the themes of workers’ rights and slavery in his « Response » to the Baptist missionaries suggests that he derived his position on the specific issue of slavery from his general perspective on the rights of workers. It is the unreasonableness of slavery that commands Lincoln’s attention here, and this unreasonableness allows no play for the paternalism or racism that in other contexts sometimes adhered to his remarks. Whatever patronizing biases Lincoln may have harbored are subordinated to a line of reasoning about the rights of workers that he found incontrovertible. It is not necessary to reconfigure Lincoln as completely free of such biases to appreciate his commitment to abolition, if we understand that in Lincoln’s case it was his revulsion at the exploitation of workers rather than anti-racism that was the initial catalyst for his opposition to slavery.

When it came to defending the rights of workers, Lincoln had little difficulty finding common ground with slaves. Two months earlier, in a letter to the New York Workingmen’s Democratic Page [End Page 44] Republican Association, he had told his correspondents that « … the existing rebellion, means more, and tends to more, than the perpetuation of African Slavery … it is, in fact, a war upon the rights of all working people. » [24] In an early political address he went so far as to announce that in his impoverished youth he too « used to be a slave, » and that « we were all slaves one time or another, » but that he had seized the proffered opportunity to shake loose the bonds of economic subordination. Twenty years later he confirmed the persistence of this facet of his self-image when he concluded the autobiographical sketch circulated during the 1860 presidential campaign with the oblique comment that aside from his height, weight, and coloring, there were « no other marks or brands recollected »—an expression commonly used in the South in identifying runaway slaves.[25]

Lincoln’s application of Gen. 3:19 to the issue of slavery was a natural extension of his previously stated position that all workers have the right to enjoy the fruits of their own labor. However, this application is only possible on the basis of his atypical understanding of the verse, in which emphasis is placed on the sweat of thy brow purchasing thou the right to eat thy bread. In his « Response » to the Baptist missionaries, Lincoln refers to the verse as he moves from a general concern for worker’s rights to the specific case of slavery. He argues his case in the strongest of terms, characterizing slavery as a stealing of another’s « self, » more worthy of contempt than the theft of another’s « goods, » or even Satan’s attempt to seduce Jesus in the wilderness. The introduction of the latter motif carries with it a furious condemnation of the hypocrisy Lincoln ascribed to those who would attempt to reconcile the enslavement of others with Christian faith. This condemnation, in varying degrees of harshness, also accompanies his two subsequent uses of Gen. 3:19.[26]

Reference 3: « The President’s Last, Shortest, and Best Speech, » (published in the Washington Daily Chronicle, December [6?], 1864)

On Thursday of last week two ladies from Tennessee came before the President asking the release of their husbands held as prisoners of war at Johnson’s Island. They were put off till Page [End Page 45] Friday, when they came again; and were again put off till Saturday. At each of the interviews one of the ladies urged that her husband was a religious man. On Saturday the President ordered the release of the prisoners, and then said to this lady ‘You say that your husband is a religious man; tell him when you meet him, that I say I am not much of a judge of religion, but that, in my opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight against their government, because, as they think, that government does not sufficiently help some men to eat their bread on the sweat of other men’s faces [Gen. 3:19], is not the sort of religion upon which people can get to heaven.’ [27]

Lincoln passed this anecdote on to Noah Brooks, a reporter with whom he had close ties, with the request that it be published « right away. » It appeared in the Washington Daily Chronicle, along with the headline Lincoln had composed for it, on December 7, 1864. The humorously self-deprecating headline is significant. Though this is neither his last nor best speech, its reference to Gen. 3:19 in connection with the injustice and cruelty of unrequited slave labor, prospered or tolerated by the nominally « religious, » establishes the anecdote, along with the response to the Baptist missionaries, as a precursor to the climactic Second Inaugural Address. However, in this new setting, Lincoln sharpens his earlier renderings of the verse by his interpolation of the word « their » prior to « bread. » Lincoln had been working from this inference all along, but in this case, as well as in the Second Inaugural Address, he makes explicit his sense of the verse as a declaration of the right of workers to enjoy the fruit of their labors, and the wrong done workers when « some men … eat their bread on the sweat of other men’s faces. » It is also significant that Lincoln speaks here in terms of those who are disappointed with their government’s unwillingness to assist them in this theft. This reference to government as a potential « fence » for the stealing of labor’s just rewards flows directly from Lincoln’s long held conviction, already stated in the 1847 fragment, that it was « a most worthy object of any good government » to help secure for each laborer « the whole product of his labor, or as nearly as possible. »

Reference 4: « Second Inaugural Address » (March 4, 1865)

It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces [Gen. 3:19]; but let us judge not that we be not judged [Matt. 7:1]. … The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!’ [Matt. 18:7]. … Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether’ [Psalms 19:10][28]

In this short passage Lincoln strings together four direct biblical quotations.[29] Nevertheless, each quote enters the address honed and shaped by many years of conceptual and rhetorical development. Gen. 3:19 now carries for Lincoln the accumulated implications of twenty years of reflection, as indicated by his retention of an inferred « their » prior to « bread, » a condensed version of his earlier antithesis of « their bread » over against the « sweat of other men’s faces, » and the addition of the tortuous image of oppressors « wringing » their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, rather than simply eating it, as he had expressed it earlier.

Lincoln’s juxtaposition of Gen. 3:19 to Matt. 7:1 (« Let us judge not … ») reiterates his previous condemnation of slavery as the theft of another’s « self, » as well as his claim that he was obliged not to « judge » the motives of those who would lend their support to such a crime. Here, as in the « Response » to the Baptist missionaries, the counsel that one must withhold judgment appears ironic, though his convincing reference to « charity for all » in the peroration indicates a tempering of his earlier sarcasm. However, having counseled forbearance, Lincoln immediately goes on to declare that it was not to be expected that restraining the urge to judge would save the nation from undergoing judgment. Instead, in a passage punctuated by repeated references to justice (« just, » « judge, » « judged, » « judgments ») he joins his « materialist » reading of Gen. 3:19 to a corresponding vision of an immanent Divine judgment which was « true and righteous altogether, » purging the nation, Page [End Page 47] measure for measure, of slavery’s « wealth » and « lash. » The ravages of war had extracted a terrible price from those « by whom the offence cometh, » be they collaborators or bystanders, but the debate was over, and the conclusion, as he had long insisted, was « self evident. » The Almighty had had His own wrenching purposes. Those purposes having been accomplished, the time for rending was now speedily passing away, and a time for mending had begun. [30]

It is not surprising that Lincoln would return on several occasions over the course of his political career to Gen. 3:19. Its images of « sweat, « brow, » and « bread, » contrary to Douglas’s friendly concern, fit well with his rhetorical style. James M. McPherson points out that Lincoln’s facility with metaphor, as well as the particular types of metaphor he tended to employ, reflected his formative experiences in rural Indiana and Illinois. His skill with concrete imagery was nurtured through conversation with neighbors, and was therefore, as he later noted, well suited for political talk with his constituencies. [31] In addition, the verse’s imagery was neatly bound up with the themes of labor and, for Lincoln, justice, both of which were central to his political outlook.

But Lincoln’s ability to shape and apply the implications he drew from the metaphorical possibilities in Gen. 3:19 ran far deeper than nostalgia or stylistic considerations alone. Even an appreciation of the passage’s capacity to rhetorically integrate themes that were central to Lincoln’s political outlook, and to do so with great economy, does not adequately explain his persistent affinity for the verse. When purely rhetorical motives for repeated references to the verse are exhausted, there remains a personal dimension to its Page [End Page 48] prominence. For Lincoln, Gen. 3:19 was not only a verbal metaphor, it was also a life metaphor. His reading of the verse is wholly congruent with his own experience and character. It was not only an expression of what he thought, but of who he was. Though historians have done much to correct the popular romantic image of the young, pastoral Lincoln, it is clear that an overlay of middle-class gentility acquired in his later years could not completely obscure his own personal knowledge and appreciation of physical labor. Francis B. Carpenter, in his memoir Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln, recounted a remarkable demonstration of this aspect of Lincoln’s personality as part of his description of a visit to Grant’s headquarters at City Point, Virginia, in late March 1865. According to Carpenter, Lincoln was enthused by the warm reception he received from the soldiers, and he spent several hours with patients at the army hospital. As he concluded this marathon of handshaking, a surgeon commented that his arm must be terribly sore from the workout. Lincoln smiled and replied that he had « strong muscles, » and picking up a heavy ax, proceeded to vigorously chop wood for a few minutes. He then held out the ax horizontally, keeping it absolutely still—a feat that none of the soldiers present could duplicate. [32]

Lincoln’s pride in his continued physical strength is indicative of a « poor hand » well acquainted with labor. In his letter to the New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association, he maintained that « The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds. » [33] A lifetime of social advancement could not sever this bond. One can safely assume that if Lincoln’s hand did not quiver as he held out the ax, there was, nevertheless, the gleam of sweat on his brow.

Notes

Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 9 vols. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953–1955), 2: 501 (hereafter cited as Collected Works). Quote is from the King James Version. return to text

Richard Current, The Lincoln Nobody Knows (New York: Hill & Wang, 1958), chap. 3, for a review of the literature on Lincoln’s religious life, including the contention that he formally embraced Christianity in his later years.return to text

Elton Trueblood concluded that it was « partly in response to the pioneer culture in which he was steeped, [that] Abraham Lincoln’s religion was centered far more in the Bible than in the Church, » and cites William J. Wolf’s comment that for Lincoln, « … the Bible rather than the Church remained the highroad to the knowledge of God. » See Trueblood, Abraham Lincoln, Theologian of American Anguish, (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 55, and Allen C. Guelzo, introduction to Abraham Lincoln, Redeemer President (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1999).return to text

In reference to Lincoln’s « Letter to Mrs. Bixby, » Carl Sandburg commented, « Here was a piece of the American Bible. » See Roy P. Basler, Abraham Lincoln, His Speeches and Writings, Universal Library Edition (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1962), 35.return to text

See Charles B. Strozier, Lincoln’s Quest for Union: Public and Private Meanings, (New York: Basic Books, 1982), 225–27, and Basler, Speeches and Writings, 34–49.return to text

« ‘The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions’: Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838, » Collected Works, 1: 108–15.return to text

Trueblood, 55–56. Matt. 16:18 is also the closing words of Lincoln’s « Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum, » Collected Works, 1: 115.return to text

Lincoln was clearly well read in Bible. Though it is an exceptional case, William J. Wolf counted no less than thirty-four biblical references in Lincoln’s manuscript of his 1858 Address to the Bloomington Young Men’s Association on « Discoveries and Inventions. » See William J. Wolf, Lincoln’s Religion, (Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1970), 132.return to text

In its biblical context Jesus employs the image of « a house divided » to deflect the charge that his ability to exorcise demons came from Satan. Surely, he retorts, Satan would not divide his own house between exorcists and exorcised. Lincoln used the image in an 1843 pamphlet calling for unity among Whigs, and then again, more memorably, during the 1858 Senate campaign, in reference to the divisive effects of slavery. return to text

William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Life of Lincoln, ed. Paul M. Angle, (Cleveland: World Publishing, 1930), 325; David Donald has suggested that Lincoln took the metaphor from Aesop’s fable « The Lion and the Four Bulls. » Herndon’s reference to Lincoln’s stated motive for using the metaphor is ambiguous enough to allow for this possibility, but absent additional evidence in support of Donald’s contention, a biblical derivation would appear to be more likely. See Donald, Lincoln Reconsidered (New York: Vintage Books, 2001), 68. return to text

See Strozier’s Lincoln’s Quest for Union for an example of this type of analysis of the House Divided motif.return to text

Collected Works, 3: 479. return to text

Ibid., 2: 520.return to text

Gabor Boritt, Abraham Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978), 240.return to text

Collected Works, 1: 411–12. return to text

Boritt, Lincoln and Economics, 278. return to text

Ibid., 123.return to text

Ibid.return to text

For a summary of Wayland’s economic views see Joseph Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilization (New York: Viking Press, 1946), 758–67. Though it is possible that Lincoln’s rendering of the verse was sparked by a pamphlet, sermon, or conversation, I can find no evidence of such a source. Though written a century before Lincoln’s birth, Matthew Henry’s exegetical comment that « we are bound to work, not as creatures only, but as criminals; it is part of our sentence … » succinctly conveys the typical reading of the verse among both Christians and Jews of all denominations in Lincoln’s day as well.return to text

Ibid.return to text

Collected Works, 3: 478. return to text

Ibid., 315.return to text

Collected Works, 7: 368. return to text

Ibid., 259.return to text

Guelzo, Redeemer President, 121. return to text

See also LaWanda Cox, Black Freedom and Lincoln (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985), 24–26, concerning Lincoln’s views on race, his personal relationships with African Americans, and his commitment to emancipation.return to text

Collected Works, 8: 154–55. return to text

Collected Works, 8: 332–33. return to text

The use of the terms « widow » and « orphan » in the closing paragraph of the Address also appear to be influenced by biblical usage, e.g., Exod. 22:22,24, Isa. 1:17. return to text

During the war years, Lincoln frequently referred to Providential « purpose, » « will, » and « justice. » One could see these references to the unsparing judgment of a Sovereign Will as a late personification of his earlier belief in the « doctrine of necessity. » Ann Douglas, discussing the Calvinist underpinnings of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, connects Captain Vere’s unwillingness to spare Budd from condemnation with Lincoln’s reference to Luke 1:17 in the Address. She concludes that in Budd’s story « history, presented in its uncompromised detail, merges, no matter how inscrutably and partially, ambiguously, with providence. » The same might be said of Lincoln’s observations concerning the Almighty’s « purposes. » See Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Avon, 1977), 391–95. On the « doctrine of necessity » see Current, Lincoln Nobody Knows, chap. 3.return to text

James M. McPherson, « How Lincoln Won the War With Metaphors, » in Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution (New York: Oxford, 1990), 93–112, and see the discussion of Lincoln’s use of metaphors in Strozier, Quest for Union, 177–81.return to text

See David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 575. return to text

Collected Works, 7: 259.

28 commentaires pour Obama II: Obama lance la Bible et la Constitution en playback (One nation under socialism: US and France’s new administrations reveal their true collectivist colors)

  1. […] second discours d’investiture où, derrière les flonflons oratoires (et un véritable festival de distorsions des textes fondateurs tant bibliques que constitutionnels du pays de sa mère) qui ont à nouveau […]

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