The tale of a pig

Thanks to Springfield's daily paper, we can watch tradition be manufactured right before our eyes.

First, start with a Taylorsville (Ill.) benefactor's $250,000 sculpture appropriation. The sculptor himself wants "a hook" and decides on Lincoln with a pig. How can Lincoln be associated with a pig? We need a story to dignify this whim.

A story is produced: "... a long-told Taylorville story came up." Aside from being weak, the actual point of the story is that Lincoln wants to be disassociated from the pigs rooting under a courthouse. He is not seeking their company. He does not want to immortalize them in statuary. "Researchers haven't been able to determine a date or a trial," for the tale. It has no substance.

But it's a mania: "Businessman Ed Downs, who owns the downtown Best For Less store, plans to put up new signs that will feature Lincoln with several pigs at his feet." Take a deep breath before reading on:

Another downtown business, Duke's Office Supply, is having 10 murals put in old window openings. They are being painted by Taylorville Junior High art teacher Cindy Adams. Four are already in place. And insurance agent Joe Meeks has written a song about Lincoln and the pig that he plans to put on CD. Money also is being raised to bring a $1,500 fiberglass pig from Cincinnati...

The May 28 dedication, dubbed the "What's the Pig Deal? Festival" will feature people in period costume, a prettiest pig contest, a pigtail contest for men and women and the selling of pig trinkets. There is also talk of making the pig festival an annual event
People are clearly more interested in the pig, the cuteness of it all, and maybe in lightening the weight and gloom of Lincoln the man, the legacy. A tradition will be produced to permit the adoption of Lincoln on the townspeople's own terms.

Lincoln, having wrought a new nation under God, having taken the blood and tragedy of millions on his neck, having cried rivers and groaned windstorms, comes down from the mountain to be confronted with the image of a golden swine in his likeness - and an annual pig festival in his honor.

Meanwhile, I had thought Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger were kidding. They were not kidding. Not one bit.