Via Salon, we learn that Larry Flynt and Columbia University political historian David Eisenbach have written a book together, One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History. It looks for the most part like the kind of book you’d expect Larry Flynt and a political historian to write–it’s built at least 80% around secondary sources and it offers almost no acknowlegement or citation of the pioneering historians who made this kind of book possible (the feminists and the gays, of course).
Instead, the footnotes I’ve been able to vet (via the book’s page at Amazon) offer just the usual parade of biographies of (in the words of my kiddie encyclopedia collection) “great men and famous deeds.” Kudos for citing Catherine Allgor’s A Perfect Union, her new bio of Dolley Madison, and Clarence Walker’s Mongrel Nation, though–otherwise in the notes for the first chapter, it’s all founding fathers, founding brothers, the dogs and barn cats of the founding fathers, etc. Shocking, I know.
It’s funny (and by funny, I guess I mean LOLSOB) how some analyses (like those offered by the feminists and queers) go from being dangerous, unsourced, risky, out-on-a-limb evidence problems, to being conventional wisdom in about 30 seconds these days. Too bad for you, historians of sexuality–it looks like you risked your careers, your fortunes, and your sacred honor only to get buried in a footnote in a book by Joseph Ellis or Robert Remini, because those are the only books any authors of popular histories will ever read or cite. In fact, all of you feminists and gays (or queer feminists) are pi$$ed on by Flynt, along with the rest of historians without whose years of work in the archives he could never have written his book. From the Salon interview with Flynt:
After all the research you did for this book, (ed. note: Srsly?!?) what would you say is your big takeaway in terms of the intermingling of sex and politics in America?
The biggest thing I took away from this book is the degree to which it’s existed since the founding of our nation almost 250 years ago. When I started the book, I didn’t even know that we had a gay president, and I didn’t know that Lincoln’s sexuality was called into question. Historians really get under my skin because I think they’re the most anal-retentive group of professionals I’ve ever met. They can look at Mount Rushmore and get writer’s cramps. Historians never wanted to believe that this magnificent man who drafted the Declaration of Independence had actually fathered children by a black slave.
The publishers of history books tend to be conservative and they only want to know about policy and politics. They don’t want to know about sex. That’s why it’s left out of these books and has been for centuries.
Let’s say it all together for old times’ sake, friends: AWESOME!!! All historians are exactly alike, and they agree on everything all of the time. There are no conflicts or controversies among historians about how to read evidence or how to write good history–a broad consensus defines the entire profession. Thank goodness for old pr0n peddlars who can finally show us the significance of sexuality in the past!
(“Time haters” is a sketch from the Dave Chappelle Show in which Dave and friends go back in time to shoot a slave owner at point blank range. It’s actually hilarious, but more importantly it sends up white people’s nostalgia/affection for the past and for American history re-creations and re-enactors.)