Friday, June 17, 2011

Tip of the Hat to Slavery

Myth:  Abraham Lincoln.  The mere mention of the 16th President of the United States conjures up deep-seated feelings of honesty, character, passion and righteousness.  America, not to mention other foreign countries, laud the politician as if he were a messianic figure – a soldier in God’s own army.  Trained as a lawyer and coming from small-town Illinois, Lincoln was elected president amid controversy and a country torn apart.  Mere months into his presidency, the American Civil War broke out and ravaged a nation for a gut-wrenching four years.  But, it was Lincoln, forever stalwart, who was the Great Emancipator, freeing the slaves of the Confederacy on New Year’s Day of 1863.  His legacy is brushed with strokes of martyrdom, following his assassination in 1865, as a man who gave his life to keep the great American Experiment intact.  But it was his role as liberator, abolisher of the system that kept millions of Africans in fetters, that most think of him today.

Fact:  Though history books will tell you that Lincoln never owned a slave in his life, it is, simply put, an egregious fallacy.  American historians do point out that Lincoln, like many of his Northern counterparts, had misgivings about the African race – but this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Lincoln was (and hold your breath here) a hypocrite, sanctimonious liar, and above all, a slaveholder.  Certainly, he did not own large tracts of land like his Southern plantation-owning “foes,” nor did he need to.  He owned one slave for the purposes of his own vanity.  Standing at six foot four, Lincoln fancied himself a Greek statue, a statue that needed constant tending and care.  But why so fervently attack a confederacy that held the same beliefs in slavery as Lincoln himself?  One need look no further than the Evangelicals of today, such as Ted Haggard, who openly criticize a gay lifestyle, while they themselves are gay and secretly carry on gay relationships.  They are repressed homosexuals.  And though history rarely mentions it, a similar trend occurred for decades leading up to the Civil War:  the lives of repressed and closeted slave owners.  Lincoln was a closet slave lover.  And it was Lincoln’s most celebrated and iconic trademarks that held the secret to his twisted behavior, his stovepipe hat.  This grossly oversized hat caged his one and only slave, Top Hat Tony.  Lincoln bought Top Hat Tony in Charleston in 1850 for one reason:  Top Hat Tony was a midget slave and could be fashionably concealed underneath Lincoln’s iconic headwear.  When not wearing his stovepipe, Top Hat Tony dutifully trimmed Lincoln’s beard, cut his toenails and even man-scaped his pubic region – a most demeaning job.  But while concealing Top Hat Tony, work on Lincoln’s low self-esteem did not end, as Tony continued to pick dandruff off Lincoln’s head.  During the Gettysburg Address, it is said that Tony had to deal with an outbreak of lice on Lincoln’s scalp, toiling away in near 110-degree heat in the Pennsylvania summer.  Abraham Lincoln is a prime example of a man so uncomfortable with his lifestyle that he destroys those who share his “destructive” passions.  Many examples abound, but Lincoln may take the cake.  Ironically, John Wilkes Booth freed Top Hat Tony after the bullet that killed Lincoln also broke the chain holding Lincoln’s cap tightly on. So embarrassed of his former lifestyle, Top Hat Tony never spoke a word of it, but did live a fruitful life working for Barnum & Bailey’s Circus until his death in 1895.

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