Snopes versus Abraham Lincoln

21 December 2020

10:46 PM

21 December 2020

10:46 PM

One of the most dreadful developments of the Donald Trump era has been the rise of the fact-check mafia. Every time a story threatens to be interesting, the checkers are ready to swoop in, push up their glasses, and explain that, ackshually, that story is missing context and is a total misrepresentation of blah blah blah blah blah.

The entire fact-check industry is built on the conceit that fact-checkers are exalted life-forms of fairness and neutrality. But fact-checkers are barely life-forms at all, a reality Cockburn was cruelly reminded of thanks to a very stupid story out of San Francisco.

The story itself barely qualifies as interesting for 2020: progressives in San Francisco want to strip Abraham Lincoln’s name from a public high school. Booooooring. They didn’t even burn the school down.

Nevertheless, the story went viral online, thanks to a quote from San Fran renaming committee chairman Jeremiah Jeffries, who observed that the Great Emancipator ‘did not show through policy or rhetoric that Black lives ever mattered to [him].’

Bzzzzzzt! In came Snopes for a Fact Check™. Sure, a San Francisco public official literally did say that Abraham Lincoln didn’t value black lives. If you want to be all specific, then that would make the story ‘true’. But that’s not what he really said.

In a 1,000-word fact check (more than three times the length of the Gettysburg Address), Snopes explained that the story being passed around was ‘false’, a grave lie being spread by duplicitous conservatives. Jeffries, you see, also attacked other presidents for not valuing black lives. That’s how this works, right? If you attack someone for doing something, but also attack others for doing it, then it cancels out and you didn’t attack them at all.

Snopes also explained that the effort to purge Lincoln wasn’t actually an example of ‘liberal cancel culture gone wild,’ because some liberals disagree with doing it.

Having established that it is ‘False’ that Abraham Lincoln is getting canceled, Snopes then moved on to make it clear that Lincoln should be canceled, ‘because of the ongoing brutality of US government policies toward the nation’s indigenous communities’ during his presidency.

That’s fact-checking in 2020. Sure, every fact that got checked was true, but Snopes didn’t like the interpretation, so it was false.

Sadly, no fact-check will be enough to save Honest Abe. If he wasn’t toast before the story went viral, he certainly is now. His fate was sealed when President Trump noticed the story on Wednesday morning and tweeted about it.

So ridiculous and unfair. Will people never make a stand!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 16, 2020

Per Cockburn’s Theory of Donald Trump Reverse Psychology, everything that President Trump supports becomes less popular: Andrew Jackson, police, national borders, McDonald’s. If Donald Trump endorsed Cockburn, The Spectator would doubtless cancel his column even sooner than they otherwise plan to. So it’s lights out for President Lincoln, in San Francisco and beyond. By 2025, Dr. Prof. Jill Biden, Esq., will replace Lincoln on the $5 bill and possibly on Mount Rushmore. And no doubt, Snopes will be there to explain that this isn’t an example of cancel culture, because a couple of Democrats wanted to blow up Mount Rushmore instead.

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