Abraham Lincoln opposed the Mexican War.
It cost him what was then a promising political career in the Whig Party. He was a peacenik. He opposed U.S. expansionism. That would not do.
And he was not alone. The Mexican War was a far more-seminal event in U.S. history than most today credit. Many of the great generals of the Civil War, north and south, served in that war. The tactics of our own war were first used in Mexico. And, of course, we got California (for which many of today’s Republicans are not thankful).
But I digress. What I wanted to note was that Lincoln was far from alone in opposing the war, as evidenced by this anecdote brought to me today by Prof. Cole:
Henry David Thoreau refused to pay the poll tax put in to support the immoral
American-Mexican War, and was sentenced to a night in jail. His friend Ralph
Waldo Emerson came to visit him and asked him "David, what are you doing in
there?" Thoreau replied, "What are you doing out there?" If intellectuals aren’t
misbehaving in the sense of dissenting and critiquing the collective grounds of
our political being, then they aren’t doing their jobs.
I recommend the whole of Prof. Cole’s piece today, not just to readers but especially to writers, and most especially to academics and other professionals who are considering blogging.
Prof. Cole has, through his blogging, become one of my heroes. I heartily recommend the conclusion of this piece, especially, since he says this better than I could:
I am a Middle East expert. I lived in the area for nearly 10 years, speak
several of its languages, and have given my life to understanding its history
and culture. Since September 11, 2001, my country has been profoundly involved
with the region, both negatively and positively. Powerful economic and political
forces in American society would like to monopolize the discourse on these
matters for the sake of their own interests, which may not be the same as the
interests of those of us in the general public. Obviously, such forces will
attempt to smear and marginalize those with whom they disagree. Before the
Internet, they might have had an easier time of it. Being in the middle of all
this, trying to help mutual understanding, is what I trained for. Should I have
been silent, published only years later in stolid academic prose in journals
locked up in a handful of research libraries? And this for the sake of a "car