Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"5 Myths"

When I was writing yesterday's posts, I got distracted by the "5 Myth Archive" (the Internet just has too many interesting links...), so thought I'd share a couple since I "wasted" all that time yesterday!

Five Myths About Ronald Reagan
Most of these were the "usual" suspects for a list, but I did rather enjoy this answer!

5. He was an "amiable dunce."

Yeah, right, Clark Clifford. Ronald Reagan only performed successfully in six different careers: radio sportscaster, movie actor, trade union president, corporate spokesman, two-term governor and two-term president of the United States. Lucky for him he wasn't hampered by Jimmy Carter's intelligence!

Five Myths About Abraham Lincoln
I've seen most of these, but honestly, this one surprised me, as I haven't seen much on it, nor ever given it any thought. While I would classify it as a myth, I'm not sure it warrants making this list.

2. Lincoln was gay.

Gay rights activist Larry Kramer has long speculated that Lincoln was gay, claiming in 1999 that he'd discovered Lincoln's love letters to onetime roommate Joshua Speed. The claim is reportedly featured in Kramer's forthcoming history of homosexuality, "The American People," but historian Gabor Boritt called Kramer's assertion "almost certainly . . . a hoax."

Still, the idea persists. In 2005, "The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln," written by queer theory professor C. A. Tripp - a colleague of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey - purported to prove that Lincoln was an active homosexual who married only to conform to 19th-century convention and continued flirting and sleeping with young men throughout his presidency. Tripp went so far as to suggest that Lincoln's sexual indifference is what contributed to his wife's mental illness.

Is it true? And if it is, does it matter? According to Herndon, Lincoln exhibited a "powerful" attraction to women and was a regular customer in prairie brothels before his marriage at age 33. His first son was born just nine months after his marriage, which suggests enthusiasm if not experience. Then again, proving that a man loves women isn't the same as proving that he doesn't love men. Maybe it's best to throw up our hands - and remember that Lincoln's sexual orientation is but a small part of his historical legacy.

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