Roundup: Talking About History
This is where we excerpt articles about history that appear in the media. Among the subjects included on this page are: anniversaries of historical events, legacies of presidents, cutting-edge research, and historical disputes.
SOURCE: National Review (11-9-07)
In 1859 Abraham Lincoln expressed the fear that the “principles of free government” in the United States would one day be supplanted by those of “classification, caste, and legitimacy.”
Lincoln fought a civil war to stave off that threat; if he were alive today, he’d have to fight his own Bicentennial Commission, too.
The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, created by Congress to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, has chosen to honor the sixteenth president’s memory by invoking the very principles of classification and caste that he opposed in life. The Commission is striving to fragment Lincoln’s legacy by pandering to multicultural identity politics that repudiate Lincoln’s own faith in a common national citizenship, rooted in the...
SOURCE: NYT (11-9-07)
Today, I’m going to write about a slur. It’s a distortion that’s been around for a while, but has spread like a weed over the past few months. It was concocted for partisan reasons: to flatter the prejudices of one side, to demonize the other and to simplify a complicated reality into a political nursery tale.
The distortion concerns a speech Ronald Reagan gave during the 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., which is where three civil rights workers had been murdered 16 years earlier. An increasing number of left-wing commentators assert that Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign with a states’ rights speech in Philadelphia to send a signal to white...
SOURCE: WSJ (11-5-07)
Dictatorships bear paradoxes. I came across a set of them 10 years ago, when I hosted a dinner for two female Iranian medical students who'd come to Yale Medical School on a rare academic exchange program. These impressive women had climbed to the top 10th percentile in a man's profession, in a man's country. But I was stunned to learn that -- despite 16 years of education at some of Iran's premiere schools -- neither had ever heard of the word "Holocaust," or thought of Hitler as anything but the German equivalent of Napoleon.
Tehran's Holocaust denial did not begin with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It began in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution and the subsequent miseducation of the entire post-revolutionary generation. The Holocaust did not exist in the textbooks of my...
SOURCE: Nation (11-12-07)
If Beale Street could talk, as James Baldwin famously imagined, then somewhere around Memphis's South Fourth Street it would let out an agonizing cry. Facing east, the garish neon commodification of the blues stands behind you--a trap for tourists and an insult to the legacy of a great musical tradition. Commerce here is thriving from a culture it doesn't respect. Ahead sprawls the desolation and poverty of the communities that gave blues its meaning and to whom the blues returned some dignity.
A block away at the Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center, around eighty people have gathered to prevent the pilfering of yet more local...
SOURCE: New Republic (10-31-07)
Thousands of Cubans and foreigners have been flocking to a mausoleum in central Cuba to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Che Guevara's death. For 10 years, the Cuban government has been telling the world that the body inside the mausoleum is that of the famous guerrilla.
It's a lie designed to bamboozle the population into worshiping the Argentine-born revolutionary as if he were a saint--and the Cuban Revolution as if it were a religion. A brilliant investigation by French journalist Bertrand de la Grange, recently published in Spain's El Pais newspaper, demolishes the official version.
In 1995, Bolivian Gen. Mario Vargas, who had fought Che's guerrillas in the 1960s, revealed that the revolutionary's body was buried a few meters from the airport runway in Vallegrande, a town close to La Higuera, the...
SOURCE: New Republic (11-1-07)
This November 8 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt's election as president of the United States. Chosen to resolve the worst non-military crisis in the nation's history, Roosevelt led the country through the Great Depression as well as its greatest military crisis since the Civil War. Americans have memorialized him on the dime and in Washington, DC. Yet for some reason Republicans want to run against his legacy. It's a fight Democrats should let the GOP pick.
Three-quarters of a century ago this week, about a quarter of the American workforce was officially unemployed and around half of those working had only part-time jobs. In the summer of 1932, the U.S. Army dispersed veterans of the Great War who had gathered in Washington to ask for relief. Americans watching the...
SOURCE: Oliver Kamm at his blog (two entries from 11-1-07 and 11-2-07)) (11-2-07)
Paul Tibbets, pilot of the plane that dropped the Hiroshima bomb, died today. (The plane he flew, the Enola Gay, was named after his mother.) You can read a jaundiced account of his career on BBC News Online.
There is much to be said about Gen Tibbets's long life...