July 03, 2008

Lincoln Blogs

I have been remiss in posting this week, and for that I apologise; I have been busy with moving (among other things).

However, I was moved to scribble a little something here today by this week's particularly inane Newsweek cover story: Who Was More Important: Lincoln or Darwin? (which is presumably what the "(mostly)" refers to along the top there).

The article starts off with the startling observation that both Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day (so were George W. Bush and Sylvester Stallone, but you don't see anyone clamouring to stop the presses there, do you?); it then meanders through several thousand words of watery, biographical generalisations (eg. "Both men had restless, hungry minds"), a paint-by-numbers summary of each man's greatest rhetorical accomplishments (natch, The Origin of Species and the Gettysburg Address), and finally, after admitting it's kind of a stupid question, asks: who was the greater man?

The answer, perhaps not surprisingly coming from an American magazine in the week of July 4, is Lincoln — because, the reasoning goes, someone would have worked out evolution eventually, but Lincoln's contribution to world (ahem) history relied more or less entirely on his inspirationally great fantastic amazingess as a person. Indeed, the author notes sagely, more books have been written about Lincoln than about any other person except Jesus — so basically, Lincoln is Jesus, and we're hardly going to argue that Darwin could trump the son of God, are we? It's just lazy rhetorical back-patting all around, and I hope that the two joint Lincoln-Darwin biographies forthcoming are not quite as paltry.

Um... Happy Fourth of July.

No comments:

Post a Comment