[Lincoln’s first codename was “nuts” – not that there’s anything wrong with that]
I once heard someone ask Isaac Asimov, one of the most published individuals of all time, how could he possibly write all those books? Asimov responded: “It’s simple. I never rewrite anything.”
It would be nice if our culture followed that advice with regards to historical figures.
But no. We must mythologize them. If they are hated, we will be able to hate with impunity and without apology. They are the perfect movie villains. No one complains about the portrayal of Hitler in the Indiana Jones’ movies or Inglourious Basterds or as a subtitled parody of this scene. And we assign these hated individuals to the opposition. Godwin’s Law was invented specifically for this phenomenon and states “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”
The converse is also true. Our heros are lauded and feted beyond human recognition. Hence, we now have Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter:
(Apparently Lincoln wanted to rid the US of vampires… but he wasn’t successful if you look at the current members of Congress. Still, we should be thankful that there can’t possibly be a sequel to this film — unless Ulysses S Grant ends up fighting zombies.) And, just as we claim Hitler to be part of the opposition, we love to take our heroes and make them one of us.