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The woke movement has been systematically targeting American history and “canceling” our country’s greatest heroes. Now, though, its practitioners have reached a new level of absurdity: They want to cancel Abraham Lincoln, the beloved 16th president whose leadership intentionally resulted in freeing slaves.
The San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee has decided that a local high school should no longer bear the name of President Abraham Lincoln, the iconic leader who implemented the Emancipation Proclamation and spearheaded the ratification of the slavery-abolishing 13th Amendment. The committee, part of the San Francisco Unified School District, has determined that Lincoln “did not demonstrate that black lives mattered to him.” Critics claim that Lincoln’s administration mistreated Native Americans through such initiatives as the Transcontinental Railroad and the Homestead Act of 1862. Lincoln is just one of many figures slated to have their names removed from San Francisco school buildings.
School buildings have long been named after American or local heroes. It’s not just a way to honor a significant citizen, but it’s also a way to help students connect with history and provide them a sense of pride in their heritage. Unfortunately, many progressives are of the opinion that historical figures must be perfect or reflect a modern-day leftist orthodoxy to be worthy of that honor.
After the death of George Floyd this past spring, many blamed systemic racism and America’s racist past for the strained relationship between police and minorities, and they turned their anger towards long-dead Confederate leaders and other racists.
Unfortunately, the Black Lives Matter movement and supporting woke organizations were not content with “canceling” these historical figures by removing their statues and names from the public square. Increasingly, they have sought to cancel other Americans, both dead and alive.
Most recently, the San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee decided to rethink its building names. Fox News reported that the committee’s cancel criteria included “slave owners, known racists, or white supremacists, anyone directly involved in colonization and people connected to human rights or environmental abuses. ”
They soon determined that the name of Abraham Lincoln High School was problematic due to its namesake’s alleged racism.
“The discussion for Lincoln centered around his treatment of First Nation peoples because that was offered first,” committee chairman Jeremiah Jeffries explained. “Once he met criteria in that way, we did not belabor the point.”
Of Lincoln, the committee noted,
“The majority of his policies proved to be detrimental to [Native Americans]. Abraham Lincoln is not seen as much of a hero at all among many American Indian Nations and Native peoples of the United States, as the majority of his policies proved to be detrimental to them.”
“The history of Lincoln and Native Americans is complicated, not nearly as well-known as that of the Civil War and slavery. Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building.”
The Daily Mail reported that Jeffries was influenced by his parents, who were prominent members in the Nation of Islam, a group designated as a hate group for racist and anti-Semitic beliefs and comments. He said that his mother told him, “There’s nothing mysterious about progression. It’s working instead of wishing.”
One of the criticisms of Lincoln was that he oversaw the hanging of 38 Native Americans. However, as the New York Post reported, a total of 303 Native Americans had been sentenced to die, but Lincoln reviewed the cases and saved 265 of them.
Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar and director of Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, said,
“There was pretty rampant hostility (toward Native Americans) and I think Lincoln rose above it. Nobody is going to pass 21st century mores if you’re looking at the 18th and 19th centuries.”
Lincoln isn’t the only name that the School Names Committee has decided to remove. Another 44 historical figures will have their names stripped from school buildings, including George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Thomas Edison. In fact, all eight schools named after U.S. presidents will have their names changed.
What’s more, even current Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who once served as mayor of San Francisco, will see her name removed from Dianne Feinstein Elementary School. The committee stripped her of the honor because while mayor, she replaced a vandalized Confederate flag in front of City Hall with a new one. Of Feinstein, Jeffries said,
“On a local level Dianne Feinstein chose to fly a flag that is the iconography of domestic terrorism, racism, white avarice and inhumanity towards Black and Indigenous people at the City Hall. She is one of the few living examples on our list, so she still has time to dedicate the rest of her life to the upliftment of Black, First Nations and other people of color. She hasn’t thus far.”
To claim that the man who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the very event that many Black Lives Matter activists celebrate during “Juneteenth,” didn’t do enough to demonstrate that black lives matter is beyond the bounds of normal reasoning. Cancel culture doesn’t have to make sense, however, as activists have already demonstrated. In June, activists toppled a statue of Union General and President Ulysses S. Grant. Grant led the Union army to victory over the Confederacy, advocated for the rights of former slaves, and helped ratify the 15th Amendment, which gave African Americans the right to vote. Grant also limited the activity of the Ku Klux Klan. Grant was once gifted a slave, but freed his slave before the Civil War. Potentially even more ridiculous was protestors’ defacement of a statue of Matthias Baldwin, an abolitionist who established a school for black children and fought for the rights of black Americans to vote. The point is, cancel culture isn’t really about removing Confederate monuments, it’s an agenda to portray the very fabric of America as racist and evil. Their demands can never be met. If Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator himself, is racist, then who isn’t?
Check out this Falkirk panel on cancel culture: