Allison Janney, the award-winning actress best known for her role as C.J. Cregg in “West Wing,” thinks the current division in our country is just as bad as the strife during the Civil War.
In an interview with The Independent, Janney pivoted from actress to historian and condensed two centuries of American history down to a few sentences.
“It makes so many people sad what’s going on,” she said. “It’s even more important that… [she sighs] I wish that we could come back and do The West Wing. This is one of the scarier times I’ve been around – I never thought I’d see our country in the place that it is now and be divided like it was back in the Civil War. It’s crazy. It’s really terrifying. We need to do a West Wing reunion.”
Shameless West Wing plug aside, Janney seems a little uninformed here. Perhaps she’s out of her element, perhaps she didn’t even realize the gross generalization she made by likening the 21st century to the Civil War era. But I’m happy to break it down for her.
Let’s take a quick journey back in time. It’s 1862. The country is wrought with struggle. People are dying of cholera, typhoid, and tuberculosis. They’re churning butter. They’re riding around in rickety old horse and buggies. Most people don’t travel more than 20 miles from where they were born in their entire lifetime. Things are not good.
On top of that, Americans are filled with a bitter hatred for one another — nearly half don’t even want to be citizens. They’re actively trying to secede from the Union. Nobody’s really safe traveling across state lines. Oh, and slavery is rampant. No African American has legal rights. They’re considered property and beholden to their masters. Even in the North, they live in constant fear of recapture.
Does this sound like 2018? No. No it does not. That sounds like classic 19th century stuff.
Sure, we get into plenty of arguments here in the good old US of A. We always have. But 2018 simply is not the same thing as the 1860’s. We don’t have slavery. We don’t have rampant tuberculosis. Half the country isn’t actively trying to cede from the Union. This isn’t “one of the scarier times” in the history of America. Not even close.
Although it might be tempting to dole out free American history lessons to any British subject willing to listen, it would be helpful for Allison Janney to remember never to do so unless she’s actively trying to make our country look bad. And if she is, maybe she should just time travel back to the Civil War era. We left that kind of bitter division back in that century.
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