Obama’s distortion of our founding; Muslims & US history; what history tells us about Trump’s poll numbers; Of Plimoth Plantation; history of Christmas cards


So you know how I am prone to getting upset when I hear politicians say historically inaccurate stuff in support of their opinions. I’ve been picking a lot on Carson and Trump lately, for obvious reasons. But the other night Obama said something in his speech that made me wince. No, Mr. President, our Founders did not embrace the idea that “no matter who you are . . . or what you look like . . . you are equal in the eyes of the law.” I know he knows better, and I know why he said it, and I embrace the reasons for why he said it. But I reject this kind of glossing over our past in order to make political points today. I say this not because I think we should tell our history as one big story of national sin, intolerance, and victimization (which gets done WAY too much in our college classrooms, if you ask me). But because I think our story is one in which we’ve been on a long and very slow path toward greater freedoms, and to gloss over our past transgressions is to overlook and belittle the ways in which peoples have fought for and FORCED our leaders into making our country BETTER than what our Founders even intended.  (Yes, there have been significant setbacks in that steady march, the failures of Reconstruction, for instance,  or more recently the popularity of Trump and the gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.)  Obama feels this way too, as many of his speeches have embraced this interpretation of American history, most especially the amazing one he gave recently at the Pettus Bridge in Selma. So it makes his misuse of history the other night all the more vexing. Anyway, I say all this now because I came across this opinion piece which I agree with almost completely. There is no “Golden Age” in our past, so let’s stop pretending that there was, and concentrate more on how we can keep the march toward a better America going forward.

Ok, I promised I would not have many diatribes on this site, so enough of that.

With everything going on right now, it seems like a pretty good time to take a look at the way that Muslims have shaped our country, from its founding all the way to today. The list is longer and more impactful than you might think.

And speaking of Trump (indirectly), if you have been taking comfort in the fact that it is still early in the campaign and that his poll numbers right now are nothing to worry about yet, well, it is time to start worrying. History shows that the Republican leading in the polls at this point in the campaign usually goes on to get the nomination. Lord, help us.

I am a big supporter of public history institutions that use first person interpreters, so I was really interested in this blog piece from Taylor Stoermer about Plimoth Plantation. In it, he ponders whether these sorts of sites are a thing of the past, but concludes that what is going on at that site is proof that they don’t have to be. Along the way, he takes some shots at the direction Colonial Williamsburg seems to be going in, and holds Plimoth up as …. dare I say it…. a “city upon a hill” that should be a shining beacon for other public history sites. (Sadly, I have never been there, as the one time I was in Plymouth the Plimoth Plantation was closed for the day. After reading this, it is on my bucket list).

I did it for Halloween, so now I am going to start the habit of posting a holiday season-related story or two each day for the rest of the month. Let’s start out with a piece from Smithsonian about the history of Christmas cards. Did you know the first one was controversial because it seemed to condone underage drinking??


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