Guest Column: The DI's ignorance of the Gettysburg Address


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Once again, The Daily Iowan has blatantly ignored the basic facts of history in the pursuit of its editorial agenda.

This past Tuesday, The Daily Iowan published a piece titled “Why I’m Not a Patriot” by columnist Ashley Lee, which lambasted anyone who believes that every American should be patriotic.

As she stated, “To ask me to have patriotism for a nation that has systematically worked to disenfranchise blacks and erase my ancestry through slavery is a very difficult thing to do. … The dominant culture still views African Americans and blackness as a separate entity opposing whiteness. I will not admire our Founding Fathers and our national heritage knowing that ‘our’ inherently means ‘white.’ ”

This past Tuesday, The Daily Iowan also published a letter from James C. Larew titled “Iowa’s Changing Republican Party.” In this letter, Larew asserts that “Iowa’s Republican Party, reflecting national trends, is transforming itself from the party of Abraham Lincoln to the party of Ayn Rand.”
Larew argues that the recent visits by prominent Republicans and Rand disciples Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Ryan signal a dramatic shift in the ideology of the Republican Party, especially in Iowa.

This past Tuesday was also the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, one of the most momentous occasions not only in American history but also in racial history. All too conveniently (or all too shamefully, depending on how one thinks about it), The Daily Iowan made no mention of this fact on any of its ten pages. The Great Emancipator’s immortal words might have given some pause to both Lee and Larew.

First of all, while Lee might be justified in saying that she is disappointed by the Founding Fathers, she seems to forget the momentous events that corrected their errors. As Lincoln said, he hoped “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom” — a freedom for all people, not just white men. Just 11 months before the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that “all persons held as slaves … shall be then, thenceforward and forever free.”

This forever corrected the errors committed by the Founding Fathers. Yes, it took another 50 years for women and 100 years for African Americans to gain equal rights. But it is hard to argue that the heroic actions of Abraham Lincoln during our Civil War do not stir up a sense of patriotism and pride in the redeeming qualities of our American democracy.

Second of all, to address Larew’s argument, it is not necessarily the case that Rand’s ideas are such a sharp departure from the ideas of Lincoln. As Lincoln said 150 years ago Tuesday, he sought “a new birth of freedom” after the struggles of the Civil War. Rand’s work also lends hope to the ideas of a freer America, free from oppression by government or by other persons, entities, or nations.

Larew might not know that the biggest fundraising event for the Republican Party of Iowa every year is still called “The Lincoln Dinner,” not “The Rand Dinner.” The Republican Party continues to have great pride, admiration, and respect for the deeds and legacy of Abraham Lincoln, a respect that The Daily Iowan apparently does not have. My party is and always will be the party of the Great Emancipator.

Dennis McWeeny
treasurer, University of Iowa College Republicans

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