Sunday, February 05, 2012

Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Planned Parenthood and Susan Komen

My wife have been listening to a book called Bloody Crimes (The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Abraham Lincoln) which describes in great detail the end of the Civil War including the events surrounding Lincoln's funeral events and the hunt for Jefferson Davis.   It goes into great detail about both sets of events.  A key point of the book is that Jefferson Davis is largely a forgotten figure today - even though he was an important member of the US Senate before the Civil War.

Oddly, the book got me to look a bit more closely at the dust up between Planned Parenthood and the Susan Komen Foundation.   Planned Parenthood began to grow significantly when I was in Washington.  At the current time about a third of its funding comes from government sources. And its operating revenues amount to about a billion dollars annually.  So it is a true public private partnership. But like some other "quasi-charities" (public broadcasting comes to mind) it has achieved almost untouchable status.  

The Komen Foundation also had (until this week) achieved the same kind of status.  But its funding stream was considerably different.   It distributes about $400 million annually to support breast cancer research including the support of exams for low income people.  According to Charity Navigator 100% of its funding comes from private sources.   But it has developed a significant level of support from corporate linkages through cause marketing.

I am not very interested in the issues which led up to this dust up or indeed in the clumsy way that Komen seemed to respond.   What intrigued me about this drama was how a story was established almost immediately that favored one side over the other.   The author of the book we just finished concludes that Davis is largely forgotten because he lost.  He goes on to suggest that political correctness has even made discussion of the ideas of Davis suspect in some circles.    While Davis' support for slavery is reprehensible in today's climate, the author points out that a good deal of Davis' argument with the north was that they were equally "racist" in their attitudes to Blacks.   Davis' writing also reflected some on the role of the Tenth Amendment in our Constitutional structure.

Orthodoxy can produce odd and curious results.   While it is clear what was gained and lost (in terms of understanding the appropriate level of government) from elevating the status of Abraham Lincoln over Jefferson Davis, it is still unclear what will be gained and lost from the controversy which seems to have come down so much on the side of Planned Parenthood.

2 comments:

Garry Ladouceur said...

I am a civil war buff oddly enough and I must get this book. I have two civil war books at the moment on my kindle. Stephen Sears on Antietam and another called Manhunt about the search for Lincolns assassin after the Ford Theater. I too would be interested to see if the search for Davis was retributive or just. At the same time there will be, I am sure, considerable discussion about retribution over all.

Dr. Tax in Sacramento said...

I have always liked the work that Stephen Oates did on John Brown and Lincoln.