The inability to forgive and to reconcile with the South in a really decent and humane way, without any question, was one of the causes of the kind of resentment and perpetuation of alienation and bitterness that led to the quote-unquote ‘noble cause,’ and the rise of the Klan and Southern self-protection societies. The abuse of the South after they were defeated was a catastrophe, and helped lead to just unimaginable, untellable human suffering.
Uh, really? I’m not sure why we needed Lincoln, then, since D.W. Griffith has already told that story. And while I agree with Kushner’s apparent argument that Lincoln’s relative moderation allowed him to accomplish more than a more radical and principled politician in his place would have, we should also be clear that the Civil War Amendments were just the beginning of a transformation that still isn’t complete and barely got off the ground for many decades, and that transformation was not (to put it mildly) led by elite politicians.