Ed Driscoll

Pinkwashing Norman Rockwell

“Author Claims Norman Rockwell Was Closeted Homosexual,” William Bigelow writes at Big Government:

American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, a new biography of the great American artist and iconic figure Norman Rockwell, accuses him of being a closeted homosexual, basing the spurious claim on the fact that Rockwell would stop young boys on the street or at recess and ask if they would pose for his illustrations. The author, Deborah Solomon, ignores the fact that Rockwell, who was married three times and had three children with his second wife, who died unexpectedly in 1959, stated in his autobiography that after he asked the boy, they would go together to ask the child’s mother for permission.

Rockwell’s family is furious about the biography for its sloppiness and misuse of sources, saying there are a multitude of inaccuracies as well as a “phantom theory” about his sexuality. The family released a statement saying there were at least 96 factual errors in the book, and that Solomon made “highly selective” use of Rockwell’s autobiography “My Adventures as an Illustrator.”

Solomon would not reply to inquiries.

Orson Welles once referred to Citizen’s Kane’s “Rosebud” leitmotif as “dollar-book Freud.” Isn’t another example of dollar-book Freud the attempt by authors to cobble together enough “facts” to reach the conclusion that that every historical figure was gay? Gay activist Larry Kramer appears to be a one-man cottage industry in this department, according to this 2009 UPI article:

Harold Holzer, who has written 35 books about Lincoln and the Civil War, said playwright and AIDS activist Larry Kramer admitted to him he fabricated his much-publicized claims that a diary and letters discovered in an old Lincoln home confirmed a homosexual relationship with his roommate, Joshua Speed, the New York Post reported Thursday.

* * * * * *
The Post said Kramer, who also has claimed President George Washington, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, and explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were gay, couldn’t be reached for comment.

As a Free Republic post from 2002 noted, claiming famous historic figures as gay icons “associates homosexuals with positive images (symbols) just like advertisers use celebrity endorsements”:

Famous historical figures are considered especially useful to us for two reasons: first, they are invariably dead as a doornail, hence in no position to deny the truth and sue for libel. Second, and more serious, the virtues and accomplishments that make these historic gay figures admirable cannot be gain said or dismissed by the public, since high school history textbooks have already set them in incontrovertible cement.

But then, history has become much more pliable in years since; that trend actually started in the early 1990s, just as postmodernism, political correctness, and black armband history were all gathering steam in academia, which quickly spilled over to other cultural institutions, including the Smithsonian.

In the mid-1990s, the Smithsonian, the self-described “nation’s attic,” worked extra hard to discredit the Enola Gay (pun not intended here), the dropping of the A-bomb, and America’s successful conclusion of World War II — perhaps the most visible element of an ongoing concerted effort to discredit the Allies’ efforts in the Second World War.

As Heather Mac Donald wrote in her 1997 essay “Revisionist Lust”:

Anyone who still doubts that the madness currently possessing American universities matters to society at large should take a stroll through today’s Smithsonian. The Institution has been transformed by a wholesale embrace of the worst elements of America’s academic culture. The staples of cutting-edge academic “research”-smirking irony, cultural relativism, celebration of putative victims, facile attacks on science-are all thriving in America’s premier museum and research complex, its showcase to itself and to the world. The changes at the Smithsonian are not unique to that institution. Museums across the country have rushed headlong into what may be called the “new museologv;’ based on a mindless parroting of academic fads. But the Smithsonian’s embrace of postmodern theory and identity politics is of greatest import, because of the Institution’s contribution to America’s public identity.

And of course, the Smithsonian was also eager to jump on the Norman Rockwell was gay bandwagon — in October, their Website ran a massive 6000-word excerpt of Solomon’s biography, which reveals far more about the mindset of its author and publishers than it does any new details of Rockwell’s life.

Outside of Liberace and Oscar Wilde, I’m sure that there have been some well-known historic figures who were gay — law of averages, and all that. But given the rush to claim that seemingly every historic figure — and seemingly every U.S. president, from George Washington to the aforementioned Lincoln to Richard Nixon — was gay, my first instinct is to assume that none of them were, unless they explicitly admitted it themselves. It’s the equivalent of those “merchants of despair” in the global warming industry shouting “We only have five years or ten years, or 90 days and 127 minutes to save the earth” — in both cases, an isolated claim will get you on the Today show, but start to look silly when quoted in bulk.

Or, see also: Jesse Walker’s recent exploration and debunking of conspiracy theories throughout the entire strata of American society:

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Oh, and the flip side of all of the above is an interesting trend as well, which runs the risk that books that were thought to be grandfathered in by today’s PC police could become increasingly dangerous samizdat, including liberal WWII CBS reporter William L. Shirer’s back catalog perennial, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Or to put it another way, “So pointing out how many Nazis were gay is now verboten?”