by Chris Haire
When the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was released last year, I snatched it up quicker than a Twihard pounces on the latest issue of Impulse Buy Weekly. You know the one I'm thinking about. It's the issue with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson on the cover, and it promises to tell you about their secret wedding plans. Or how the pair recently split over who was the most sullen and pale. Or how they just might star in the motion picture adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, the oddly boring piece of porn that was originally conceived as a work of S&M Twilight fan-fiction.
But as much as I was eager to get my dirty paws on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I simply couldn't finish it. The problem is the damn thing is as boring as the presidential race now that the freak-show wing of the Republican Party has exited the stage. I guess I could've made my way all the way to the end, but it would've probably taken me four score and seven years to do so.
Now, to be fair, Seth Grahame-Smith's book certainly has its moments — the primary one being the novel's central concept itself, that America's greatest president was secretly a vampire slayer and that the Civil War was fought to prevent the slave-owning bloodsuckers in the South from enslaving all of the U.S. But as exciting as this concept is, it's undermined by Grahame-Smith's approach. Instead of writing a more traditional narrative, the author opts for a story-telling style that mimics a history book penned by the most droll scholar who ever shuffled through the halls of academia.
Well, this week the film adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hits the big screen, and I'm not exactly in a rush to see it. I liked first the Matrix, but the sequels all sucked — from Matrix Reloaded to Underworld to, well, pretty much anything with Milla Jovovich — and this one looks no different. Truth be told, I probably won't see it until it's playing in all of its edited-for-TV glory on TBS one Sunday afternoon many years from now.
That said, I am curious to see how the Lost Causers react to the film. So far, I haven't seen any bitching and moaning, but it's got to be coming. There is no way that the Heritage Not Hate crowd is going to let this bit of Southland bashing stand without firing off a few Fort Sumter salvos proclaiming that the War of Northern Aggression had absolutely nothing to do with slavery. (Seriously. Nothing at all. And a pox on whoever said it does. Everything the history books taught you is wrong. Oh. And Abraham Lincoln was a despotic asshole on par with Stalin, Mao, and Hitler.)
But as much as I can't wait to see how the Neoconfederates react to the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the one reaction I'm most anticipating is the one that I hope will come from Jack Hunter. Not only is Hunter a gigantic movie buff who practically bleeds popcorn butter, but he hates Abraham Lincoln with a passion.
In a November 2009 City Paper column, Hunter wrote:
Saying Lincoln was a great president is like saying Ike Turner was a great husband. Many contend that Lincoln did what was necessary to save the marriage between North and South, and if he had to resort to immoral, illegal, and gruesome tactics, the ends justified the means. Like Ike to Tina, Lincoln beat a nation into submission.
Forget the unconstitutionality of his suspension of habeas corpus or censorship of the Northern press — consider the inhumanity of Lincoln's war strategy as explained by his favorite general, William Tecumseh Sherman: "There is a class of people (in the South) — men, women, and children, who must be killed or banished before you can hope for peace and order."
Today, we call this genocide. In his day, Lincoln called it "saving the union," a voluntary union he ultimately destroyed to make way for the centralized system we have today, in which big government colludes with big capital to maximize profits by minimizing liberty.
The Southern Avenger concludes his anti-Lincoln tirade with these gems:
America's bloodiest war gave birth to the modern state we live under today. From intrusive drug laws to Roe vs. Wade, the income tax to the Patriot Act, foreign intervention to market intervention — these and so many other aspects of American life exist due to the ever-increasing centralization of power kick-started by Lincoln.
It's safe to say Washington would not have included Lincoln amongst the "greatest" presidents for his accomplishments. And whether it's Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Bush, or Obama, it is a tragedy that being a "great" president has now come to mean betraying everything America's first president ever stood for.
I don't know about you, but that's harsh, like true-blue stake-through-your-heart nasty. So, personally, I can't wait to hear what he has to say. But I guess I'll have to wait.
That said, I won't have to wait to hear what Hunter has to say about what it means to be a conservative. His latest column, a defense of Rand Paul's endorsement of Mitt Romney, offers that up. In it, the Southern Avenger once again proves he's as wrong about what it means to be a conservative in the U.S. as he is about Abraham Lincoln.
As much as I agree with Hunter's views on many issues, in particular American foreign policy, I've always been baffled by his position that conservatives — the very heart and soul of the Republican Party — distrust government, a point he makes in the Rand column as well as countless others before.
The truth of the matter is conservatives only distrust one particular part of the government, namely the federal entities that oversee public education, social programs, and protecting the environment, but they adore the other side of government — the one that locks up non-violent drug offenders and sticks a boot up asses worldwide. See, the Right loves a man in uniform, even if that man is spraying peaceful protestors with pepper spray or pissing on the dead bodies of Afghanis.
The Left, however, is quite different. They fear the badge and the boot, but they love the part of government that instructs our young, helps the needy and elderly, and protects the environment. At its core, the Left is compassionate. After all, there's a reason liberals are called bleeding hearts.
This is not to say the Right has no heart. Conservatives can be as compassionate as anyone else. It's just that's its never been as fashionable as it is among liberals. And right now, compassionate conservatism is about as hip as a Prince Albert mood ring.
The point here is not that one side is better than the other, although admittedly I do believe that the Democrats, by focusing on the needs of the lesser among us, are better than Republicans, who tend to focus on the needs of the more fortunate. It's that conservatism has never been completely wary of government, as Jack claims. If anything conservatism is about preserving the status quo. It’s about making sure that those in power remain in power. Even if they are bloodsucking vampires.