Monday, January 10, 2011

Giffords shooting: What the Civil War can teach us about political restraint

The past year in US politics has been full of more alienation and polarization than at any time since 1861, all of it now capped off in the Arizona shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. As in 1861, today's divide has opened up over a single deep question. But this fundamental collision of values doesn't mean violence is inevitable.
By Allen C. Guelzo
Christian Science Monitor

Gettysburg, Pa.

One hundred and fifty years ago, American passions over politics blew off the lids we usually keep in place on our political debates and turned a war of words into a war of arms. By its end, the US Civil War had taken the lives of 620,000 Americans – the population equivalent of 6 million today. And despite the emancipation of more than 3 million slaves, the war ended up replacing slavery with a century's worth of racist Jim Crow laws.

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