“I have more than once fancied to myself,” [Walt] Whitman wrote in 1888, “the time when the present century has closed, and a new one open’d, and the men and deeds of that contest have become somewhat vague and mythical.” He fancied that at some commemoration of those earlier days, an “ancient soldier” would sit surrounded by a group of young men whose eyes and “eager questions” would betray their sense of wonder. “What! have you seen Abraham Lincoln—and heard him speak—and touch’d his hand?” Though conceding that the future might decide differently about the prairie president, Whitman had no trouble speaking for his own generation: “Abraham Lincoln seems to me the grandest figure yet, on all the crowded canvas of the Nineteenth Century.”
Even Whitman might have been amazed by the scope of Lincoln’s legacy by the time the new century arrived. In 1908, in a wild and remote area of the North Caucasus, Leo Tolstoy, the greatest writer of the age, was the guest of a tribal chief “living far away from civilized life in the mountains.” Gathering his family and neighbors, the chief asked Tolstoy to tell stories about the famous men of history. Tolstoy told how he entertained the eager crowd for hours with tales of Alexander, Caesar, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon. When he was winding to a close, the chief stood and said, “But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock…. His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man.”
“I looked at them,” Tolstoy recalled, “and saw their faces all aglow, while their eyes were burning. I saw that those rude barbarians were really interested in a man whose name and deeds had already become a legend.” He told them everything he knew about Lincoln’s “home life and youth…his habits, his influence upon the people and his physical strength.” When he finished, they were so grateful for the story that they presented him with “a wonderful Arabian horse.” The next morning, as Tolstoy prepared to leave, they asked if he could possibly acquire for them a picture of Lincoln. Thinking that he might find one at a friend’s house in the neighboring town, Tolstoy asked one of the riders to accompany him. “I was successful in getting a large photograph from my friend,” recalled Tolstoy. As he handed it to the rider, he noted that the man’s hand trembled as he took it. “He gazed for several minutes silently, like one in a reverent prayer, his eyes filled with tears.”
Tolstoy went on to observe, “This little incident proves how largely the name of Lincoln is worshipped throughout the world and how legendary his personality has become. Now, why was Lincoln so great that he overshadows all other national heroes? He really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not such a skilful statesman as Gladstone or Frederick the Great; but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character.
“Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country—bigger than all the Presidents together.
“We are still too near to his greatness,” Tolstoy concluded, “but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us.”
Public Health, Brown University
Why do men abuse women? What’s in it for them?
This list was generated by participants in a court-mandated batterers-intervention program in Minnesota. The facilitator asked the men what benefits they received from abusing their wives and girlfriends; the answers —unabashed and chilling— filled a 4 x 8 whiteboard:
- She’s scared and won’t go out and spend money
- She won’t argue
- Feeling superior: she’s accountable to me
- (I) get the money
- Total control in decision-making
- She feels less worthy, so defers to my needs and wants
- (I get) a robot babysitter, maid, sex, food
- Isolate her so her friends can’t confront me
- She works for me
- Convince her she’s nuts
- Convince her she’s unattractive
- Convince her she’s to blame
- Get to write history
- Kids on my side against her
- She won’t call police
If you were a computer-loving male child who took a lot of shit from your peers, I suspect you heard something similar from the adults in your life. Maybe it was ‘Sure, things are bad now, but when you’re a little bit older, women will LOVE guys like you!’ Or maybe it was ‘That kid who makes fun of you now will be working at a gas station when you run a big fancy computer company and marry a supermodel!’ If you were once young, nerdy and male, it is not unlikely that your future sense of self-worth was funded with a non-consensual IOU from the world’s women. It’s taken me a long time, but at this point I genuinely believe that much of this ‘GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH’ rhetoric is little more than patriarchy’s bespectacled wingman. It excuses the pain that systems of power exert on children by promising little boys future dominion over little girls. It is deeply and massively fucked.
thats not confined to heterosexuals. often many of us think that.
we perpetuate the same culture that says when are less than
being queer doesnt stop that.
a lot of us are Transphobic as well
how you manage that fuckery is beyond me
how do you say ” dont judge me for who I am” then turn around and throw T**** around like the shit is cute
get it the fuck together