“Blowing Out The Moral Lights”

2011 October 20

Henry Clay once said of a class of men who would repress all tendencies to liberty and ultimate emancipation, that they must, if they would do this, go back to the era of our Independence, and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return; they must blow out the moral lights around us; they must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate there the love of liberty; and then and not till then, could they perpetuate slavery in this country!

Abraham Lincoln
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates 1st Debate1

Lincoln went on to say of Douglas:

When he invites any people willing to have slavery, to establish it, he is blowing out the moral lights around us. When he says he “cares not whether slavery is voted down or voted up,”—that it is a sacred right of self government—he is in my judgment penetrating the human soul and eradicating the light of reason and the love of liberty in this American people.

I came back today to search for the above quote from the Lincoln-Douglas debates because I knew I had used it in an old post. I searched for it because of  Herman Cain’s interview. I hadn’t intended to write a post here, but after seeing bc3b’s post and some of the comments, I wanted to bring back once more the moral clarity of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln has been on my mind because last week at a pastors’  blog I read, I saw a reference to an old article from The Atlantic written in 1975 by George McKenna. In Actually arguing the point! David and Tim Bayly write:

…Lincoln was able to legislate against slavery precisely because he first argued brilliantly against it.

This was also the pattern of Wilberforce’s successful decades-long fight against slavery in England…2

I was intrigued because the title of the McKenna’s article was, On Abortion: A Lincolnian Position. Here are some of McKenna’s words (emphasis added):

Only one other institution in this country has been treated so evasively, and that is the institution that was nurtured and protected by the government during the first eighty-seven years of our nation’s existence: the institution of slavery….

[Stephen] Douglas’s appeal was not to the fiery pro-slavery minorities in the South, who insisted that slavery was morally right, but to the vast majority in the North, who simply felt uncomfortable talking about the subject. He assured them that they didn’t have to—that they could avoid the subject altogether by leaving it to the democratic process. Let the people decide: if they “want slavery, they shall have it; if they prohibit slavery, it shall be prohibited.” But what about the rights of slaves? That, Douglas said, was one of those issues that should be left to moralists and theologians. It did not belong in the political or legal realm….

Lincoln kept returning to the question of the humanity of slaves, the question that Douglas ruled out of bounds as essentially “religious.” Everywhere, Lincoln said, even in the South, people knew that slaves were human beings. If southerners really believed that slaves were not human, why did they join in banning the international slave trade, making it a capital offense? And if dealing in human flesh was no different from dealing in hogs or cattle, why was the slave-dealer regarded with revulsion throughout the South?3

Here’s the kicker from McKenna:

Lincoln’s depiction of slavery as a moral cancer became the central theme of his speeches during the rest of the 1850s. It was the warning he meant to convey in his “House Divided” speech, in his seven debates with Douglas in 1858, and in the series of speeches that culminated in the 1860 presidential campaign. In all these he continually reminded his audience that the theme of choice without reference to the object of choice was morally empty.3

When that human sperm fertilizes that human egg, a new human being is created. This is a fact of biology. Abortion kills a human being. Abortion is a moral decision—not a “sensitive” one and not a “social one”.

Having quoted a Republican, here is a Democrat:

…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life—the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.

Hubert H. Humphrey
November 4, 1977.4

I remain convinced that Obama was elected because the moral lights are flickering in our nation. One of my pastors once said, “God has morally underwritten the universe.” Only a society callous to the issues of life and death could elect a man like Barack Obama. Only a society given over to self-interest could elect a Congress peopled with men and women given over to self-interests and party interests over the good interests of a nation. Only a society given over to doing whatever was right in their own eyes could foster rampant corruption and thirst for power within its relationships and structures. Only a society given over to seeking out and valuing ease and perfection could lose the meaning of the sacrifice of love and compassion. A society that fails to defend the unborn child is a society that is destroying itself.

And, of course, in one of my posts let me close with a quote from one of our Founding Fathers:

Statesmen my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand….The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.

John Adams
1776 — letter to Zabdiel Adams5

Whomever you support, don’t deceive yourself. There are consequences not only to those who blow out the moral lights, but to those who stand in that wind.

1The Lincoln-Douglas Debates 1st Debate: Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas; August 21, 1858; Ottawa, Illinois, TeachingAmericanHistory.org
2David and Tim Bayly,
Actually arguing the point!, The Bayly Blog: Out of our minds too….
3George McKenna,
On Abortion: A Lincolnian Position, The Atlantic, September 1975.
4Hubert H. Humphrey in his speech at the dedication of the Hubert H. Humphrey building in Washington, DC, on November 4, 1977, via Google Answers.
5John Adams, Founders Quote Database, The Patriot Post.

44 Responses leave one →
  1. 2011 October 20 2:56 pm
    JustMary permalink

    Herman Cain needs to answer this question: It is ok to kill a baby in the womb when? ______________

  2. 2011 October 20 3:15 pm
    JBoz permalink

    I think it’ a no-win situation for Cain to make abortion a campaign issue. If he is asked, then he needs to state his personal beliefs and direct the conversation back to the financial crisis we are facing. As I stated in an earlier thread, I am strongly pro-life like most if not all here. But this election is about the deep hole Obama and the progressives is driving us into. To jump into the issue of abortion is a distraction from the crisis at hand. We aren’t going to save unborn babies if we lost our republic to socialism. First things first.

  3. 2011 October 20 3:19 pm
    JustMary permalink

    #2 Precisely why he needs to either a. stay away from gotcha questions (good luck with that) or b. get coached on how to handle said questions. He should have said “I’m pro-life, next question”. “I don’t have all the facts about Bibi’s recent decision, next question”. The media is trying to turn the military and the evangelical community against Cain. He NEEDS to recognize this.

  4. 2011 October 20 3:33 pm
    JustMary permalink

    “I’m pro-life, but if you want to kill your baby”……that is not pro-life. So, either accept that people will view you as pro-choice, because that is what you are making if you abort under any circumstance, or say “next question”. That’s all. *shrug* Semantics is the msm’s favorite game to play, and Cain is their new target. He has to be more careful.

  5. 2011 October 20 3:39 pm

    His standard answer for any abortion gotcha questions should be:

    ~~No my dear, I don’t support crushing a human baby’s skull while still in the womb, next question.

  6. 2011 October 20 3:43 pm
    JBoz permalink

    Off topic, but I’ve noticed that the MSM aren’t showing many crowd shots of OWS (or clone protests in other cities) the past few days, or they are showing old crowd shots from a couple of weeks ago. I’m wondering if the crowds are starting to dwindle.

  7. 2011 October 20 3:44 pm

    “He has to be more careful.”

    Indeed though I would have thought he would have figured that out by now.

  8. 2011 October 20 3:45 pm

    The crowds have become too bizzare for even the MSM leftists.

  9. 2011 October 20 3:47 pm

    6. They may be becoming aware that their attempts to brand these folks the way they originally wanted is not working out well.

  10. 2011 October 20 3:48 pm
    TLS permalink

    Nice to see you INC. Excellent post as always.

  11. 2011 October 20 4:32 pm

    INC: Come on, IP. You ought to know not to put that on one of my threads.

  12. 2011 October 20 4:37 pm
    mpthompson permalink

    I believe that in the not too distant future Obama will regret very much his decision to show support for the OWS crowd.

    On another topic, have people seen McCain’s statement that Gaddafi’s killing is another win for the Obama administration? What the hell? Just shut up already. That old fool can’t retire soon enough. The MSM knew exactly what they were doing when they choose him to be the GOP frontrunner in 2008. We can’t let them do this to us again this year.

  13. 2011 October 20 4:44 pm
    Deckard permalink

    Gaddafi’s killing is yet another distraction to keep the masses focused away from the disaster that the resident IS.

    Just wait until Al-Qaeda / Muslim Brotherhood takes over in Libya. That look of surprise on Hillary’s face at the news of Gaddafi’s capture was more along the lines of “I hope I have enough extra TP and tissues stored away in my purse . . . I need ’em NOW!”.

    Hey – as long as every last Jew and Christian are either slaughtered or driven out of the Middle East/North Africa region, what harm can there be? What . . me worry? /sarc

    The current pic up on Drudge – satire at its finest. And this is the prez that won the PEACE PRIZE!!! Oh wait – so did Yassir Arafact . . . . nevermind . . . .

  14. 2011 October 20 4:44 pm
    Deckard permalink


  15. 2011 October 20 4:51 pm
    bc3b permalink

    His standard answer for any abortion gotcha questions should be:

    ~~No my dear, I don’t support crushing a human baby’s skull while still in the womb, next question.

    Good one ip. Republican candidates need to remember that every interview with a liberal is a trap. The liberal has planned out an attack strategy prior to the interview. He/she knows the questions that are planned and most likely has even planned follow-up based on the conservative’s response.

    Since every liberal interview is a potential trap that can destroy your candidacy (not necessarily by viewers, but by media follow-up), conservative candidates should not take risks by appearing on shows like Piers Morgan. I doubt his audience is more than a couple hundred thousand.

  16. 2011 October 20 4:52 pm
    JBoz permalink

    Navy Seals killing OBL got Obozo a whopping 5 point approval surge that lasted about a week. Gaddafi was no saint, but he was nowhere near as hated in this country as OBL. Plus, his killing was done by Libyan rebels of dubious backing, not by US forces. This one doesn’t even register a blip on the Obama approval-meter, even with 24/7 flame-fanning by the MSM.

  17. 2011 October 20 4:53 pm
    Deckard permalink

    Personally I think his answer for any abortion question should be:

    Is not Roe vs. Wade still in effect? Yes? Then what does that have to do with the unemployment problem? How does that tie in to producing more jobs for the American people? I’m here to turn this country around – and right now, abortion isn’t even on the table.

  18. 2011 October 20 5:00 pm
    bc3b permalink

    JBoz –

    I expect the OWS crowds will start thinning out if it gets as cold everywhere as it’s going to be in Michigan the next couple of days.

  19. 2011 October 20 5:00 pm
    Deckard permalink

    Another “Blue Dog” Dem jumps ship – this time in California’s 18th District ( Modesto, Stockton, Ceres, Atwater, Merced and Los Banos) : http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2011/10/cardoza-to-anno.php

    Didn’t like Pelosi, doesn’t like Obama. Now – he’s 6th Dem to announce retirement – and the 3rd Blue Dog. Those vacuums cannot be wasted – and I hope someone better can fill the shoes. The district has a chance – since it has voted Repub in the past (Bush for Pres and Ah-nuld for governor). Not overwhelmingly – but anything is possible. The region Cardoza represents is a pretty depressed area of the U.S. – high high unemployment.

  20. 2011 October 20 5:09 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Taking into account INC’s wonderful post for its clarity, I still stand foremost of getting government out of the business first, moral suasion later. For so long as the State may dictate the outcome, moral suasion has no chance.

    At one time we were a country that abhorred the idea of abortion generally. And not because it was coat hangers in back alleys and death’s doorstep. I believe we can be there again, for every year the % of abortions performed as a % of population shrinks. But so long as the presence of the State provides a scintilla of cover to the decision we will continue to see Planned Parenthood in major cities.

  21. 2011 October 20 5:11 pm
    bc3b permalink

    How does abortion affect the economy?

    Many of the 55 million babies that were aborted over the past 40 years would be tax-paying citizens today, helping to fuel the economy and fund Social Security for the baby boomers who are retiring.

    Remember, when Social Security was passed it was with the assumption that the native population would continue to grow. I am not defending FDR, but just stating a fact.

    When societies stop reproducing, they normally bring in people from places that have not stopped reproducing. That hasn’t worked out very well for England, France, Holland or Germany and it won’t work out any better for us.

    It’s like: had we secured the border after the 1986 amnesty, we’d have 20 million fewer illegals sitting in our emergency waiting rooms, our public schools, filling our prisons and dialing 2 for Spanish.

    Instead of having Tommy and Jenny (who have been aborted) on the job and contributing to the community, we have Pedro in the slammer and Chiquita living on assistance with her four “anchor babies.”

    Actions people take at any time in history can have intended – and unintended – consequences for generations to come.

  22. 2011 October 20 5:18 pm
    JustMary permalink

    OT, but this is hysterical: http://moonbattery.com/?p=3549

  23. 2011 October 20 5:23 pm
    bc3b permalink

    Deckard –

    Hey – as long as every last Jew and Christian are either slaughtered or driven out of the Middle East/North Africa region, what harm can there be? What . . me worry? /sarc

    Over half the 1.4 million Christians that lived in Iraq when Saddam was overthrown have fled Iraq. Say what you want about Saddam but Christians were happier and safer under his rule.

  24. 2011 October 20 5:30 pm
    bc3b permalink

    Deckard #14 –

    Speaking of Arafat, about 10% of students at the Catholic high school my daughter attended are Chaldean. One girl – a decent athlete – had the last name Arafat. Nice girl. I felt sorry for her because the volleyball team had last names on their tournament jerseys and the basketball team on its warm ups.

  25. 2011 October 20 5:34 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    INC – excellent post as always.

  26. 2011 October 20 5:47 pm
    Sharp2edgedsword permalink

    INC, Why don’t you tweet Cain a link to your post ?

  27. 2011 October 20 6:14 pm
    Deckard permalink

    #23 – Agreed. The same can be said for the Christian communities in the area of Judea and Samaria – (as well as the Gaza Strip) – constantly harrassed by Hamas and Fatah. Perfect example – Bethelehem and Nazareth. Fat chance any Jew would be able to worship peacefully at the Cave of the Patriarchs, BTW.

    Same thing goes for Egypt and the future of profit in regards to tourism there. The first moment the rest of the world finds out that women will be harrassed when they don’t wear hijabs to the ancient sites . . . poof. They’ll only have themselves to blame. That’s the problem with the Salafis – they want to “clean up the country” so to speak, for short term goals – but it kills one of the major sources of LONG TERM income for Egypt – tourism.

    In any country where the women are forced to be covered head to toe and all religions outside of Islam are banned – give me ONE good reason to visit that country – including the supposed wealthy UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi). I can’t think of ONE bit of cultural or historical attraction that could get me to visit. NONE.

  28. 2011 October 20 6:41 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Deckard, 27,

    As much as the Salafis might try, they will starve to death before they complete their mission. Egypt has only 3-4months of foreign currency before they can’t buy any more wheat on the open market.

  29. 2011 October 20 6:46 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Oh, and we like saps will provide them all the free wheat they need. Sigh.

  30. 2011 October 20 6:49 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    There is video. If this is the kind of stuff that might happen at the Dim convention, WhoHoo!! I can’t wait…..

  31. 2011 October 20 7:08 pm
    Deckard permalink

    Ain’t globalism grand!!! http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/car-company-us-loan-builds-cars-finland/story?id=14770875

    No facilities capable of doing the work of creating a $97,000 luxury electric vehicle – and the company isn’t even capable of mass producing its $57,400 electric sedan.

    No research done on the DOE’s part to make sure the cars COULD be made in the U.S. and no promise put forth that the jobs would STAY in the U.S. And who’s connected to this? Former VP alGore (h/t to JustRand for the proper title).

    Solyndra – PART DUH-i-mean-DEUX????

  32. 2011 October 20 7:17 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    A person who is really commited to a cause would be there, rain, shine, warm or cold. We will find how committed those who or now attending the “idiot convention’ are very soon.

  33. 2011 October 20 7:39 pm
    bc3b permalink

    Deckard –

    Shhhh! That’s in the hopper for tomorrow morning.

  34. 2011 October 20 7:43 pm
    bc3b permalink

    How dull is baseball after your team is eliminated?

    I am watching the Ashland – Saginaw Valley Division 2 football game instead of the World Series and it’s snowing in Saginaw.

  35. 2011 October 20 7:53 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    You are a sports diehard my friend.

  36. 2011 October 20 8:10 pm
    bc3b permalink

    drdog09 –

    Mark Simone was subbing for Mark Levin tonight so I needed something and since I’m not watching FNC.

    It’s starting to feel like late fall her. It’s not snowing in Detroit. Saginaw is about 100 miles north and near Lake Huron.

  37. 2011 October 20 8:21 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    Without the Truth of God’s word there can be no morality…..

    Is it any wonder that the Authoritrian Statists are forcing God out of every sphere of public life?

    It was no “error” or “misspeak” by Obama when we “EDITTED” God out of the Declaration of Independence!

    You see, the Authoritrian Statist seeks to set himself up as a false God so that he my rule as a tyrant over us……

    This is an excellent piece that gets right to the heart of the matter….

    There will be NO politcal, economic, or national revival without a SPRITUAL REVIVAL first where the people of this country turn back to God’s Word!!!!

  38. 2011 October 20 8:22 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    #36 I grew up just a bit north of Saginaw

  39. 2011 October 20 9:05 pm
    Deckard permalink

    #37 – AMEN to that, sir!

    In the words of the old hymn “all other ground is sinking sand . . . “

  40. 2011 October 20 9:12 pm
    judyt2012 permalink

    INC — Great post. I haven’t seen all of Cain’s statements, but what I’ve seen is he was responding to life of the mother exception. We can all quarterback what he should have said.

    WEC — I was born around 50 miles east of Saginaw.

    I like this world series…it had me snoozing in minutes

  41. 2011 October 20 9:56 pm
    Deckard permalink

    For you fans of Saginaw: Mr. Lefty Frizzell


  42. 2011 October 20 10:20 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    9th Circuit gets one right — http://claytonecramer.blogspot.com/2011/10/9th-circuit-rejects-righthavens.html

    Righthaven denied stay of a court ordered settlement for case they lost. What’s worse, is that once Righthaven is a dirt nap, the folks that fought and or paid monies for copyright violation will be lining up to pick the pocket of LV Review. An insipid scheme that is massively backfiring.

  43. 2011 October 20 11:34 pm

    Hey guys & gals, and thanks.

    Sharp, that’s an excellent idea—except I’m not on Twitter. I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve been more impressed with it as of late because I’ve found it to be great at picking up breaking news on election nights.

  44. 2011 October 20 11:38 pm

    Judy, I’m not quarterbacking Cain, I’m challenging Cain because I find in his statement echoes of Stephen Douglas. I’m also challenging people not to deceive themselves into thinking a candidate is something he’s not because they want him to be that.

    At the Weekly Standard John McCormack has a column up, Herman Cain’s Muddled Abortion Remarks, with transcript of the interview with Piers Morgan, transcript of Cain on MTP and a video of an interview with John Stossel that I think is from July. He should have known by now he would need to articulate his position. His later statement on the Morgan interview doesn’t make sense. Tweeting “I’m 100% pro-life. End of story,” doesn’t cut it.

    Considering his master’s degree and his incredible business history, Cain is obviously a smart man, but whatever drive and energy he put into assessing businesses he hasn’t applied to other topics. He’s finding he must pay a price when he takes on an issue. Is he going to hedge his bets until he sees how loud people whose-votes-he-wants screech? Is he always going to be this way? I think Cain, and the rest of us, is discovering his moral priorities and the extent of his moral courage.

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