The Nation is coming under well-deserved criticism for its cartoon on the controversy over Lincoln’s sexuality. Simply put, The Nation, unlike, say, the Weekly Standard, should know better. The problem with the cartoon has nothing to do with Lincoln and everything to do with the stupidity and irresponsibility of reinforcing stereotypes as gay men as (depending on one’s reading of the cartoon) effeminite, transvestite, or transgendered – and vice versa. Using a dress as visual short-hand for a gay man is as defensible as using a big nose as visual short-hand for a Jew. Come on. As Doug Ireland writes:

The brief paragraph from the mag’s editors introducing the letters and Grossman’s reply, as originally posted, read: “We regret it if the cartoon demeaned homosexuals, transgender people or even Log Cabin Republicans. –The Editors” (Ah, that cowardly and Clintonesque “if”…) Then, it was changed to read: “We regret if anyone was unintentionally offended. –The Editors” I can’t quite figure out what that change means in their little heads, unless it’s to excise any hint of an admission that the ‘toon “demeaned homosexuals”, as the first version put it. (Moreover, the second version is illiterate–it reads as if there are queers running around who are feeling offended without meaning to be, instead of what I suppose was meant, that the mag’s editors did not intend to offend anyone. But nobody thinks the mag’s editors sat around intentionally trying to think up ways to offend gay people, so this non-apology is puerile and avoids the real issue–one of attitude, and of judgment).

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