Pearl Harbor & our oldest living WWII vet; misusing WWII history; Nat Turner film coming; children & Civil War history; burying hearts (literally)


Yesterday was obviously the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and this is the best story I saw: our oldest living WWII veteran is 110 years old, and he was on hand for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day at the World War II memorial in Washington DC. Check out the video. 

There was a lot of other Pearl Harbor/WWII content online, and I ran across this blog posting that tried to use WWII as a historical lesson about how we should deal with our current refugee/immigrant situation–but not how you might think. The author seems to believe that our country was united then in fighting against xenophobia and discrimination, and that we should all seek to respond today the way that they did then. Of course this is nonsense. I agree with his main point; that we should shun the discriminatory politics of people like Donald Trump, et. al. But to claim that World War II America should be seen as a role model for how to deal with our current situation is to be have a blinded view of history. I felt that I needed to respond, and pointed out that “Our treatment of minorities during WWII is a model for what WE SHOULDN’T do now, not the other way around.” (You can read my full response by clicking the link above to view the author’s blog). I share all of of this because I think the blog post was a perfect example of the misuse and distortion of history for modern political purposes, and to show that conservatives are not the only ones that do so.  Meanwhile, USA Today posted an essay on this same topic, drawing the much more appropriate conclusions.

And in fact, Donald Trump at least shows that he knows his history on how America treated Japanese Americans during WWII. Sadly, however, he views it as a lesson that needs to be repeated. A couple of weeks ago he was touting Ike’s immigrant policies, and now this stuff about FDR’s. Did someone buy him a history text book recently?

There is a new movie coming out about Nat Turner’s Rebellion. Wow. If this it is done right, it has the potential to be a very important and controversial film. It would shock and disturb, and it should. (And just to be more provocative, notice the title the filmakers are usurping). One of my favorite things to do with my Antebellum America class is to have the students read a book on the rebellion, and then in class I simply ask,”was Nat Turner a hero?” That never fails to rile up a great and impassioned classroom discussion. Will this movie help spark a national conversation along the same lines? Regardless, it likely will continue the trend of recent films that have demolished elements of the Lost Cause.

Over on Civil War Pop, Christian McWhirter reviews a children’s book on the Civil War called B is for Battle Cry. He starts out looking at it almost as a lark, but ultimate concludes that it isn’t such a bad history lesson. However, he writes, “there’s still something inherently absurd about a children’s book describing the bloodiest event in American History.” Clearly, he did not grow up with that wonderful classic book that pulled a LOT of us into Civil War history even before adolescence: the Golden Book of the Civil War. Man, those “bird’s eye view” maps were totally cool and intriguing to me as a kid, and a lot of other Civil War historians that I know.  Perhaps the Golden Book needs to be McWhirter’s next review!

So researchers just found five embalmed human hearts that were buried about 400 years ago. Weird. But maybe not so much: did you know that it used to be common for people to be buried with the preserved hearts of their loved ones? I sure didn’t. Romantic??



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