Huck Finn trumps polio vaccine
November 25, 2006
The Atlantic Monthly magazine recently released its list of the 100 most influential figures in American History, and this list is as wrong as Michael Richards guest hosting on the BET.
At first glance, the list, which can be found at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200612/influentials, seems pretty accurate, and I agree with their top five: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, FDR and Alexander Hamilton with Ben Franklin at a respectable sixth.
But, looking at the whole list, several patterns emerge. For one, the highest ranking woman is Elizabeth Cady Stanton at No. 30. She ranks below the likes of Ronald Reagan, Mark Twain and Walt Disney.
While I understand their importance to the history of this country and its continued development, somebody please explain to me how Mark Twain is more important than the Women’s Suffrage Amendment ” you know, that unimportant one that gave more than half the population the right to vote.
While Stanton died more than 20 years before women were given the right to vote, her writings and leadership were the driving force behind it. To relegate her below a theme-park owner and writer is shameful.
On the list of 100 there are a total of 10 women including Stanton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Noticeably absent is Sandra Day O’Connor, whose vote helped shape one of the most important and divisive decisions in American history.
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Which leads into the other disturbing trend, the list’s overemphasis of writers (there are 12 in the top 100) in the shaping of this nation. Don’t get me wrong, the writings of Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and William Faulkner are some of the most powerful words ever written.
But if we are talking about sheer impact, that should severely limit the list of writers considered. After all, books very rarely trump actions.
Mark Twain especially holds a special place in the hearts of Nevadans, but can you honestly say that his writing had more of an impact than the work of the Wright Brothers or Jonas Salk (who discovered the cure for polio)?
The list has only three living members: Bill Gates ranks at 54, James D. Watson at 68 and Ralph Nader at 96. Also snubbed was Hugh Hefner, who’s ideas about sexuality and free speech have served as the benchmark for a half a century.
I think this list showcases the priorities of American life ” just look. Walt Disney beat polio, flying and THE ATOMIC BOMB. Elvis Presley beat Lewis and Clark.
I refuse to take seriously a list where Ronald Reagan bested Einstein, who by the way finished an anemic 32.
It doesn’t take a freakin’ Einstein to tell you that’s messed up.
Think I’m wrong? Tell me about it.