He Meant It In A Good Way

Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln famously said that so long as blacks and whites live in the same society, “there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man [I suppose he meant any other white man?] am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

Lincoln hagiographer Thomas Krannawitter (as quoted in David Gordon’s review) argues that there’s nothing racist about this remark, since “anyone of any color, when presented with the choice of having his race assigned a superior or an inferior position in a given society, with no option of equal citizenship, would choose to have his race in the superior position.”

How peculiar – a Straussian who’s never read Plato.

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3 Responses to He Meant It In A Good Way

  1. Steve November 28, 2008 at 5:03 pm #

    This is just sad. Lincoln supporters should just say “Lincoln was a man of his times, and the 19th century was a very racist time”

  2. Black Bloke November 28, 2008 at 6:53 pm #

    Off-topic really, but I thought this would be good to bring to greater attention:


  3. David Gordon November 29, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    As Strauss might have argued, Lincoln realized that blacks would be unlikely to endorse a superior position for whites. Thus, when he says “as much as any other man”, he would be aware that at least one man would not have have endorsed the view. He is thus indicating that he really believes in racial equality: he endorses superiority “as much as any other man”, i.e., not at all.

    Even if one restricts attention to whites, Lincoln must have been aware that at least one white is likely to have opposed superiority, and the same conclusion follows.

    If Krannawitter sees this note, I predict that he will accept this as a serious argument (at least as much as any other man.)

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