Letters to the Editor

If Lincoln was gay, prove it; Croatia and Serbia need democratic opposition.


Letters to the Editor
May 10, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

Was Lincoln gay?
BY CAROL LLOYD
(05/03/99)

Is there no limit to the shameless depravity that publicity whores will wallow in to get more attention? Larry Kramer is attempting to create some ill-gotten buzz for his smearing of Abraham Lincoln, nothing more. He has nothing to back up his claims but innuendo and some ambiguous letters written over 150 years ago. Kramer has taken advantage of homosexual groups that obviously mistake him for an expert of some sort. And he's hoodwinked the mainstream press by teasing them with evidence that he can never produce. I suspect Kramer's scandalous accusations will be discredited as quickly as the Hitler diaries and the phony documents Seymour Hersh used to claim JFK paid Marilyn Monroe for her silence.

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-- Tim Fogle

Louisville, Ky.

I don't think it's a question of whether he was gay or straight. It seems to
me that he was a tall, awkward, kind-hearted man who probably felt more love than most
people and was eager to share it with whomever he formed a bond. He was a
unique man in politics -- maybe he was just as unique and democratic in the
arena of sex.

-- Allan Provost

Was Abraham Lincoln gay? Who the hell cares? Did his sexual orientation
have anything to do with the events leading up to the Civil War? Did it
affect the outcome of the war?

Why are we wasting time discussing Larry Kramer's obsession with Lincoln's
sex life when we should be discussing his political ideas -- such as the
belief that slavery could not be limited to any particular race but would
spread inevitably to the lower classes of "whites" if the institution were
not ended? Isn't that a more interesting subject than any
sexual affairs or longings?

-- A.D. Powell

Madison, Wis.

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I find it ludicrous that so many people seem to think that evidence of
Lincoln's relationships with women can disprove allegations of a
relationship with a man. Bisexuality is quite common. Sexuality is not
a binary proposition at all; many people have had sexual relationships
with both men and women during the course of their lives. Many
people who would identify now as exclusively heterosexual or homosexual
have experimented with the other gender at least once in their lives.

-- Matt Brown

Los Angeles

A Serbian opposition to Milosevic?
BY ANDREJ KRICKOVIC

(05/03/99)

I'd like to just provide a little context for your readers. Krickovic's dispatch is from Croatia, a country that, if anything, is more racist, more repressive and more totalitarian than Yugoslavia or
Serbia. Its dictator, Franjo Tudjman is described by Western
journalists as "a smarter Milosevic." There is ample evidence that the
first mass killings and the first concentration camps in Croatia earlier
this decade were the work of Croats victimizing Serbs. This evidence has
been completely ignored by Western politicians. Furthermore, Tudjman
continues to deny 250,000 Serb refugees reentry to their rightful
homeland of Kradjina and he is assisted in this endeavor by U.N. troops.

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Why doesn't Krickovic write an article about how he and his brave
comrades are opposing Tudjman's racist policies in Croatia? It would be
a very short piece.

-- Steve Hesske

Krickovic's article is a timely reminder to
the American public that there are no easy answers to the ongoing
conflict in the Balkans. It is especially refreshing to see such an
insightful and well written piece on the true situation inside Serbia --
as well as inside the minds of the Serbian people -- not one shaped by
Milosevic's propaganda or by those (Serbian-American activists, critics
of U.S. policy in the Balkans) who mourn more
for the people of Serbia than their victims.

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As a Serbian-Croatian American who has traveled throughout the former
Yugoslavia, I have seen the impact that Serb nationalism has had on both
the people of Serbia and ethnic Serbs throughout the region. I feel that
the majority of Serbs have deceived themselves: Everything that happens is the fault of
others, and the rest of the world is out to get the Serbian people.
While history has been unkind, the people of Serbia must stop rehashing
old conflicts and holding ancient grudges, and begin looking towards the
future.

The Serbian people must begin to confront the guilt for their actions
and stop seeing themselves as the victims of history and events. They
are the victims of their own nationalist beliefs, and are the only ones
responsible for the situation they find themselves in. Only then will Yugoslavia
be able to establish a true democracy.

-- Michael J. Rudominer

Washington

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Enemy of the people


BY DAVID HOROWITZ

(04/26/99)

When I first read David Horowitz's recent account of his visit to my class at Bates College, I was appalled. Horowitz's "news" article is shoddy and careless. Starting from the simple misobservation that Bates College is in Portland (it is not), Horowitz continues to invent and embellish details about his recent visit to the Bates campus. He claims that "none of the administrators seemed to have a problem with my auditing a class" -- did he ask? He claims that the professor he approached seemed "pleased at the prospect of having an adult in class." I wonder why Horowitz considers undergraduate students to be less than adults.

Horowitz notes that the text that I chose for my class differed from the ones used by his professors 40 years ago, as did my pedagogical style. He harps on the "Marxist" tone of the text chosen, while deliberately ignoring the text's serious engagement of such conservative icons such as Francis Fukuyama. Horowitz also chose to ignore that the Economist newspaper, not exactly a bastion of leftist doctrine, was part of the required reading for the course.

He criticized me for not lecturing and for not making any real contribution to the class other than "merely guided students." Then at the end of the lecture he complimented my pedagogy. Isn't that a contradiction in terms? Did Horowitz get his knickers in a twist because I encouraged the students to engage the readings critically and to think for themselves? Isn't that precisely what he thinks students ought to learn? And isn't teaching from different sources and in different ways part of the freedom of speech that this country ostensibly allows its people?

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Horowitz relies on a false reading of the events that transpired in his single visit to my class and to Bates to assert his predetermined views on the "leftist" nature of the U.S. academy. His misleading rhetoric and simplistic logic are ploys to hide the bankruptcy of his own claims. In light of these tactics, I wonder who is intolerant and indoctrinated -- the faculty and students at Bates, or Horowitz himself?

-- Kiran Asher

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Bates College

Lewiston, Maine

In play
BY PETE HAMILL
(05/03/99)

Hamill's selection is necessarily limited because
he is listing novels about sports, rather than sports books. If we
expand our focus to include nonfiction, then football, basketball and even
cricket are suddenly represented. I agree that football novels aren't
much, but "Paper Lion" still tells the reader a great deal about
football and more. There are no novels worth a damn about hoops that I am aware of, but
"The Breaks of the Game" and "A Season on the Brink" are books that
anyone interested in complex literary character studies should read.
Finally, C.L.R. James' memoir, "Beyond the Boundary" is an intellectual
memoir with, of all things, cricket, as its framework.

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Sometimes fiction just doesn't get it all done. This is
particularly the case with sports, which are, after all, already a
metaphor.

-- Bill Altreuter


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