This comes from the Right, too. Every now and then I’ll have an article in the Washington Post or appear on MSNBC, and I’ll get 11,000 emails and rage-monkey tweets demanding: “Why would you want to work with those people? Huh? They aren’t your friends!” I don’t know, Bubba, because a lot of people read the Washington Post who don’t read National Review, and they ain’t ever going to hear it if we don’t bring it to them? And maybe the folks at the Washington Post aren’t my people, but then neither is y’all, Bubba.
But we’re all in this together.
(For our sins, Bubba.)
“We are not enemies, but friends,” Abraham Lincoln said in his first inaugural address. It would be more difficult to say a few years later, when Americans had become one another’s enemies on the battlefields of the Civil War. We throw around the word “treason” irresponsibly in our time. But when Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia were forced to surrender at Appomattox Court House, they had been engaged in genuine treason—“treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them”—on a massive scale. But Lincoln’s better angels carried the day. Lee and his men were given the most generous terms imaginable. Ulysses. S. Grant, saddened and embarrassed by the occasion, spent the first part of the meeting reminiscing with Lee about their service together in the Mexican War. The rebels were not even humiliated, when justice would have countenanced hanging them. And then in one of this nation’s great moments of republican virtue, Grant had his men salute Lee and his ragged, defeated rebels as they turned to ride home, in safety and with dignity.