Death threats in NOLA; renaming schools in TX; Cruz & the Constitution; Mercy Street reviews; some big *** bones


The latest in the ongoing drama down in New Orleans is that the contracting firm that was hired to take down the Confederate monuments has backed out of doing the job after receiving death threats.  Hate to say it, but the threats are not in the least bit surprising considering what we often see from the “heritage not hate” crowd.

Meanwhile, over in Houston, the school board has decided to rename 4 of their schools that carried the names of rebel leaders. Now if Texas could just start working on the history in their textbooks!

We’ve seen a lot of stories this week about whether Ted Cruz is a “natural born citizen” or not. The most interesting of them point out that it is all in how you interpret the Constitution—“originalist” vs. “living.” The problem for Cruz is that he has always been an originalist, so by those conditions he is not qualified for office. (Don’t worry Ted, Jefferson was a strict interpreter of the Constitution, but he set aside his principles in order to buy the La. Purchase. You wouldn’t be the first to be hypocritical on the Constitution when you needed!) I hate to say this, but I think Trump is right. We are getting a lot of different opinions on this (and again the irony is that those that side with Cruz are the ones that are “living” interpreters, not originalists like himself), and it needs to be settled in the courts BEFORE we face the problem of having to deal with it when it might really matter. (Man, is this election just getting more and more crazy, or what? This is just the beginning).

Mercy Street starts tomorrow night, and Christian McWhirter has already taken a look at the first episode that PBS has streaming. I’ve resisted that temptation and am just waiting for the TV premiere, so I have not seen it yet. Meanwhile, Brian Craig Miller has also reviewed the first few episodes. They both seem to agree that the history is solid and that it looks great, but that the drama itself falls a bit flat. I will reserve judgement until I actually see it, but these reviews have definitely toned down my expectations. (I do suspect that I will have less trouble with the soap opera elements of the show than perhaps some other historians will. I confess to not minding that sort of thing if it is done well. We’ll see.)

This week, the American Museum of Natural History opened up a new display of the largest dinosaur species ever discovered. The bones were discovered in 2014, and the species is so new to researchers that they don’t even have a set name for it yet. This sucker is super large (and long). Make sure to watch the local news video here.  Researchers point out that the one they have is not fully grown, so they may find an even bigger one in the future. Here’s a longer piece about it from PBS.

One thought on “Death threats in NOLA; renaming schools in TX; Cruz & the Constitution; Mercy Street reviews; some big *** bones

  1. I have to say I’m a little sorry to see the name of Richard Dowling Middle School in Houston go, particularly since the board decided to keep the name of Jefferson Davis High School. Dick Dowling is famous for his successful defense of Sabine Pass in 1863, but entirely apart from that he was an up-and-coming community leader in Houston, a real-life sort of rags-to-riches story of an Irish immigrant. He is generally credited as one of the founders of the Houston Fire Department. Had he not died young in 1867, I’m certain that he would have gone on to prominent elective office, and his military service during the war would be just one chapter in a long biography.

    I understand the desire to re-evaluate the way we view Confederate leaders today, in 2016, but there is a lot about Dowling to salute, and he’s far more relevant to Houston’s history than Davis or Lee are.


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