Head Scratcher of the Day: Why Was There a Civil War?

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Our historian-in-chief raises a provocative question that no one has considered before:

“People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?” Trump said during the edition of “Main Street Meets the Beltway” scheduled to air on SiriusXM. “People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

So what’s this all about? Listening to the audio, it seems like it’s just a case of Trump’s usual ignorance and free association. It went like this: 2016 was a nasty campaign —> Andrew Jackson also ran a nasty campaign —> Jackson was tough but had heart —> Jackson was angry about the Civil War1 —> What’s the deal with the Civil War, anyway?

But there’s another possibility: this is yet another shout-out to his base. After all, the usual lefty lies about the Civil War that infest our schools revolve around racism and slavery in the South. It’s political correctness run amuck! Isn’t it about time that we really ask what caused the Civil War? It was probably just a minor misunderstanding. You know, tariffs and whatnot. Maybe Lincoln couldn’t handle it, but Trump could have.

From there, it’s just one nice, easy step to believing that those Confederates weren’t such bad guys really. They were just defending their, um, traditional way of life against the elite, snobbish Yankees. So let’s leave all those monuments and flags alone, amirite?

1Don’t even ask. Nobody knows what Trump was thinking here.

UPDATE: It’s also worth noting that merely by saying this, Trump will get lots of earnest liberals to start discussing it. And liberals being who they are, they will earnestly note that the causes of the Civil War really are complex. I expect a New York Times op-ed tomorrow or Wednesday. End result: lots of wasted pixels and a public that more-or-less figures that Trump was right.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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