After listening to a recent president's rant, I wondered what would Ol' Abe might say.
Of course, no living person can answer.
So in a spirit of creative inquiry, I imagined how America's 16th president
might respond some questions about issues we are facing.

An Imaginary Interview
with Abe Lincoln

by T Newfields

Lincoln Panopticon - a graphic manipulation by T Newfields
Q: How's it feel to be a cultural icon?
A: Does anyone have a choice? The press has a way of molding people into darlings or devils. We're all the result of caricature to a degree. I try to keep in mind all people have strengths and weaknesses. In America, the ordinary is often idealized. I have little control over what people idolize or condemn.
Q: Aren't you actually a racist? Many of your statements suggest that.
A: That word didn't exist when I was alive, but my own ideas of race have evolved. I started out pretty ignorant . . . it took time to learn that skin color is not related to human worth. One thing you must remember I was a politician – and politics is like an auction. To some degree, I adapted my message to my audience.
Q: What was your biggest regret?
A: Ah, there have been so many. However, isn't it wiser to feel thankful for blessings? Of course I wanted to keep the Union together and avoid civil war. Had there been some way to do that without bloodshed but also put an end to slavery, I would have gladly given my life. Some folks argue I should have permitted more local autonomy. As I've said many times before, that would have led to fragmentation. The European powers would have gobbled up the U.S. and our experiment in freedom would have vanished prematurely . . .
Q: You use the word "democracy", yet didn't hesitate to enact many draconian measures . . .
A: Now listen here, you whipper-snapper! Running a nation is not a dainty business. Anyone too concerned with niceties can't stay in power. War means killing people. And no nation can achieve victory over another if it is too disunited. The measures I enacted were necessary at the time.
Q: So what do you think about America's policies today?
A: Hmm, I knew that question was coming . . . Well, America's war in Iraq was pre-emptive and based on deliberate disinformation. It was an invasion for oil and planted the seed for even more conflict. However twisted America's leaders might be, the basic vision of our forefathers stands right. We need to re-commit to that vision.
Q: Some people criticize you for not being religious enough. Now that you're dead, could you finally set the record straight?
A: Well, since I don't have to worry about getting re-elected I can speak frankly. I do believe in Pure Reason, but find most religions far too sectarian and provincial. They're like petty town elders seeing things only from their own narrow ways. That sort of vision leads to another Dark Ages. We must to look at things with a spirit of open inquiry without neglecting our core beliefs.