Jewish World Review August 13, 2004 / 26 Menachem-Av, 5764
Contrary to popular belief ...
What's more fun?
Reading all about the threat of terrorism in Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report -- and scaring yourself silly about things you cannot control?
Or accepting the contrarian arguments made in a pair of articles in the Economist and Southern Partisan magazine that are guaranteed to make you the biggest nutball at your company picnic?
The Economist, the great British newsweekly, devotes a cover story and an editorial to arguing that athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids aren't really hurting themselves or the "spirit of the sport."
Athletes have been doping themselves with stuff for eons, the magazine notes, and every sport today is bestirred by doping issues.
Therefore, the Economist argues with its usual combo of reason and wit, it ought to be up to the sport itself -- not the Bush administration, not Congress, not some self-appointed international anti-doping agency -- to decide the rules about which performance-enhancing drugs are and are not acceptable.
That position hardly seems radical compared to the deeply sacrilegious and provocative but plausible things Thomas DiLorenzo says about the dictatorial downsides of our beloved Abe Lincoln.
DiLorenzo, an author of 10 books whose op-ed page articles have appeared in the major national papers, is interviewed at length in Southern Partisan, a very conservative "neo-Confederate" magazine that, to be kind, passionately wishes the South had won the Civil War.
The economics professor, who identifies himself as a Jeffersonian, stirred up the academic world big-time in 2002 with his best seller "The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War."
In Southern Partisan, DiLorenzo charges that Lincoln was a tyrant, a "centralizer," a "political water-carrier" for Northern banks and industries who had "a career-long fascination" with "colonization" -- shipping blacks back to Africa or Haiti.
DiLorenzo calls Honest Abe "the Founding Father of big government" and says he's overrated and idolized equally by liberal and conservative scholars because both camps embrace big government and focus on what Lincoln said in his speeches, not the "train of abuses" he committed in office.
Also, he says, Lincoln fought the Civil War not to free the slaves or to preserve the Union, but primarily for economic reasons. If the South had seceded and taken its tariff revenue with it, the federal government would have lost 95 percent of its tax revenue.
DiLornezo's heresies sound too un-American to be believed, but he's headed for the mainstream. History Channel has interviewed him for a Lincoln documentary.
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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald