John Y. Simon: "Six Flags over Lincoln"

It's official. There is a sign in the under-construction Lincoln Museum in Springfield that says: "combining scholarship with brilliant showmanship."

John Y. Simon, the editor of Grant's papers, says "What we get here are rubber Lincolns. It's a modern-day wax museum."
"Lincoln's own words have living meaning, so the idea of interpreting his story as Six Flags over Lincoln really bothers me."

Me too.

As I go longer with this story (covered in this blog for almost a year), my compassion for pop historian Richard Norton Smith increases. My sense is that he boarded a fast-moving train; he did not lay the track and he must share control over the throttle. Smith is merely the best-known historian that Illinois could buy to provide a veneer of respectability for a project that was well defined before he ever arrived.

Entering Six Flags, you are greeted by someone in a Bugs Bunny suit; a branded character is there to raise your comfort level. Illinois should not use Smith as the branded character raising your comfort level at the Lincoln Library and Museum, whatever personal or professional circumstances led him to this desperate pass.

Here's the latest.