The centerpiece of the "Ghosts" tour has this spiel:
"You see that flag?" he says. "It's my favorite item from this collection: the regimental flag from the 33d Illinois. That flag was with us on June 22, 1863, when we were down in Mississippi at a town called Vicksburg."WaPo notes that it is not a regimental flag at all but a recently manufactured federal flag.
In the election of 1860 segment, not only will they use fake broadcasting by anchors like Tim Russert, they have filmed and will show 30-second spot ads to communicate the core positions of the candidates:
... sure enough, here comes a 21st-century-style campaign spot for Lincoln, complete with an unsubtle graphic of a cozy cottage split down the middle and a stentorian voice-over ("Two years ago he said, 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' Isn't it time we got that house in order?"). Next comes the spot for Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln's high-powered but diminutive Democratic rival ("Paid for by Little Giants for Douglas").The story reads as if the special effects company began driving the project in 1998 with some input from the state historian and a few schoolteachers. Smith comes across as a figurehead and promoter with little input on content, except to insist on a theme:
After that, a plantation scene appears, complete with master, wife, kids, big house and happy slaves. This is an ad for John C. Breckenridge, the pro-slavery Democrat who split his party, ensuring Lincoln's election. Before long, the faces of three scary-looking abolitionists appear, looming above the plantation ("Some men you don't even know want to come in and steal your property, destroy your home and put you in jail!"). On cue, a giant shepherd's crook yanks first the slaves, then the house and finally the master himself off the screen.
The Lincoln story is all about slavery and race, Smith told them. The museum will be judged by how it deals with those things.So, right off the bat, we have paradigmatic history. Which is non-history. And what is Smith's take on the "story ... all about slavery and race."
"The metaphor of Lincoln as someone whose real achievement was in outgrowing the racist culture that produced him," Smith says, represents "what America would like to think of itself" today.Oh, there' a real achievement. There's the source of his honors. And that explains all the dead, too. Utterly.
Say, is there an historian in the house?