In response Ms. Knapp’s invitation to question the facts in the articles one reads, I am replying to her editorial in last week’s paper entitled “Lawrentians use their own heads”.The author states that “Lawrence students don’t want to be told what to think”. In the same paragraph she presumes that Abraham Lincoln was gay, poses a rhetorical question to the protesters weighing his supposed homosexuality against his qualifications as a president, and implicitly concludes that the protesters’ argument fails because Lincoln had presidential qualifications and[ed: ‘and’ should be italicized] bedfellows. She equivocates anti-gay and anti-Lincoln sentiments to denounce the radical right.
Although Knapp’s facts are highly debatable, presume for the moment that they are credible. She uses them to prove her assumptions and comes to an unsatisfactory conclusion. The aforementioned example from Knapp’s article illustrates my point. The question is not “Would these protesters have denied Lincoln the White House because of his homosexuality?”. Of course they would have. The question should be “Is race, sexuality, the wearing of glasses, etc. a viable means for evaluating a presidential candidate’s qualifications?”. However, this is not what Knapp is trying to say. In fact, her point has nothing to do with Lincoln. She is merely trying to debunk her detractors by stacking the deck in her favor. From her argument, it appears our collective duty as a readership is to stand up and say, “Lincoln was a good president! The radical right is wrong!”.
She goes on to discredit the Margaret Sanger quotations used in the offending group’s pamphlets, not because they are poor arguments, but because they are “100-year-old” arguments. Knapp is unaware that she reveals her feelings on “old” arguments and uses the same emotional appeal that she derides her opponents for using. Moreover, by giving the reader no example of Sanger’s arguments and assuming the side that suits her in an issue as contentious as Lincoln’s supposed homosexuality, especially without proof or citation beyond her own feelings, she trivializes the cause she represents. Knapp should also consider that, by noting that she is a member of PRIDE and DFC, she is speaking for a group and should speak carefully, as her opinion is a reflection of those groups to the reader.
Knapp’s views are similar to the radical right’s views insofar as both parties are misinformed and perpetuate misinformation. As Knapp states, “We want to get the facts and make up our own minds.” However, we must take care of the former before attempting the latter.