It's not a big deal to me that they think Lincoln was a minor deity. I used to like devilled ham, too, but I got over it. The issue I have is that the pro-Lincoln faction always comes on here with sneering condescension toward anyone who does not share their view. Southerners are all crackers, slack jawed yokels, hicks, cousin-f***in, banjo playing morons. Anyone who displays the slightest hint of reverence or respect toward a dead Confederate soldier is ridiculed, called a "venerator of losers", racists, supporters of slavery, etc.
In that sense, your characterization of these threads as a debate, per se, is inaccurate. This is an electronic shouting match in which both sides trot out their pet quotes and belittle each other. I have been dragged into that, and I have done my share of belittling. It's really distracting and takes away from my rereading of Shelby Foote and Paul Johnson's History of the American People.(Go ahead, Walt and Non-S, tell me those aren't viable sources).
Thus, I'm going to stop and return to that pursuit. I have done lots of family history research and have stood at the graves of uncles, cousins, grandfathers, etc, that died in that war. It's disgusting to hear them called "perpetual losers" or "slave holding sons of bitches", or to read the sentiments that they "deserved to die" as traitors, or hopes that they are "rotting in hell".
One of the great physicists of the "Golden Era", perhaps De Broglie, said something to the effect that no theory gains acceptance because its opponents are suddenly converted to it, but rather because the opponents gradually die off and a new generation arises that has grown up with it.
19th Century American attitudes about race were far from those currently accepted. When someone points to discrepancies or deficiencies in Lincoln's record about race it's natural that those who respond will bring in the Confederate record on race and the fact that slavery was an important part of Southern life at the time. Then this is taken for an attack on the South.
The things that you cite are to be deplored. They don't fit into the tone that debates should hold to. But they aren't always characteristic of the posters that you have named, and they certainly aren't unique to them. There is plenty of abuse from the other side that you don't mention. You do a disservice by singling out people that you disagree with in a complaint about things that you object to. There is a big difference between indulging in fruitless debates and resorting to insults.
The comments that you mention are more likely to come from casual passers-by who see Civil War thread after Civil War thread and don't see what the fuss is about. The Rockwell/League of the South world is a small one that circulates the same quotes over and over again and seems to be speaking largely to itself. There are a lot of important and obvious things that this group ignores or denies, and no shortage of those who, happening accidentally upon a Rockwell piece for the first time or the umpteeth time, address these omissions in a colorful or offensive fashion.
I think you're right that neither side will be convinced by convinced by anything said here. But it would be a mistake to say that "neither side will change any minds" or that no one is writing in an attempt to persuade. There are many who are uncommitted and still amenable to reason and persuasion. I had an open mind when I first encountered these threads, and made a decision based on the different arguments and the sources they cited. Others may be able to say the same, without endorsing everything that's said by one side or the other. Even if everyone were committed to one side or another, still the effort to found evidence and craft a reasoned reply could be seen as an effort to debate and persuade. While the debate is frustrating and largely fruitless, it has been an interesting and entertaining way to learn more about American history, and that has been of some value.
I see enough spitting on the culture of the North and the leadership of the Union to make me sceptical of the "We just want to be left alone to honor our heroes" argument. Understand that others want to do the same. There is room for honoring both. But "The South Was Right" school goes far beyond honoring the Confederate dead and actively demeans the cause of those who fought on the other side.
As for Mencken, I think he misunderstands the questions behind the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln wasn't talking about the right of self-determination, but about the survival of free, constitutional and democratic republics. The demands that groups made for self-determination would tear apart self-governing societies, and secession would be a warrant for perpetual war and all the anarchy and tyranny that war brings. You can agree or disagree with Lincoln, but simply giving a green light to every movement that demands secession on its own terms at its own will, doesn't prevent the dilemmas Lincoln calls our attention to. Such a policy would be more likely to create and exacerbate them.
The idea that state sovereignty equals the sovereignty of the people of the states equals freedom is another that can be called into question. The idea of minority rights defended by "state's right's" advocates can also be applied against "state's rights." If I am not free because of the abuses of majorities at the federal level, do abuses of majorities at the state level leave me any freer? Similarly, the idea that "the Confederates went into battle free" is also open to debate. It depends on how one defines "Confederates" and "free." Mencken's sentence opens up too many cans of worms to be accepted at face value as true. A committed group of warriors always goes into battle free, but that doesn't tell us much about the society in which they live, and the rights of others in it, including slaves, oppositionists, taxpayers and conscripts.
Mencken's Lincoln-hating isn't a theory--it's a diatribe. Mencken was a bitter, irrelevant, crusty old fart and atheist who could write well. In this he was remarkably similar to Ayn Rand, except that Rand couldn't write well.
Check how all these post start it always The Evil Lincoln or The Evil Yankees or The Noble South that killed the invading Evil Lincoln or Evil Yankees
I even seen some Evil Pilgrims post because they let to the Evil New Englander that lead to the Evil Yankees that lead to the Evil Lincoln
I had the treat of seeing a post just the other day here on a Confederate prisoner of war camp were they were saying the number of Union troop that died in it might be too high and should be dropped from 11000 to may be as low as 5000.. The poster only comment was to the effect...To bad all the tyrants didnt die and rotted in hell .
I have no problem with respect for the southern dead
But I also expect respect for northern dead and that includes Lincoln.
The south claims there noble cause was fighting the Federal government tyrants for the right of all states to be free.
Well the north claims there noble cause was fighting any governments tyrants for the right of all persons to be free.
That the problem.... I think all would agree the if both north and south claimed noble causes of the war are true.... north trumps south
So the ongoing battle to discredit Lincoln and prove there was no northern noble cause