How stupid are American voters?; young adult apathy about current events; Rosa Parks digital archive; a black historian WAY ahead of his time



Happy Super Tuesday! Given that Trump is likely to have a big day at the polls, however, I am not so sure how “super” the day really is. The results today are likely to force us to ask a troubling question: Just how stupid are we? Over on History News Network, Rick Shenkman grapples with that question, connecting all those stories about how ignorant Americans are about basic history and civics facts to the popularity of Trump. I’m not sure I buy everything here about our “stone age brain,” but otherwise, I think he is dead on.

Anyone that teaches young adults has had the experience of discovering that a large percentage of them are very disengaged and uninformed about current events. Most do not watch news on TV, or even encounter it in their social media feeds. Trust me on this one. On his blog, Joseph M. Adelman describes a moment when he discovered this while trying to get his students to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement. Digging deeper to try to find the source of this apathy, he found that the overwhelming majority of his students felt that there was no point in being engaged, because they felt their “voice did not matter.” Sobering. How can we change this? Tough question that demands some answers.

Want some good news after those bleak essays? Well, today the Library of Congress has made their archive of Rosa Parks documents available online. She diligently collected and preserved hundreds of her correspondences and photographs during her life. The collection spent over a decade locked away from the public due to a legal fight over them. But now they are available for all to research and peruse.

On We’re History, there’s a good biographical piece on 19th century black historian George Washington Williams. I first encountered his work years ago when I first started research on the topic that became my book. He was one of the first historians to research the role of blacks and black troops in the Civil War, and I was struck by how well supported and highly readable his work was. More impressively, MANY of his arguments were WAY ahead of their time, and the author of this essay does a great job of making that clear. 


One thought on “How stupid are American voters?; young adult apathy about current events; Rosa Parks digital archive; a black historian WAY ahead of his time

  1. I think Trump’s wild campaign promises simply a natural extension of what he’s done his whole life — drive hard deals, and the way you do that is to start from an extreme position and then gradually back off until you “compromise” and get what you wanted in the first place. That’s why he’s completely uninterested in explaining how, for example, he’s going to get Mexico to pay for the that wall he’s been talking about — he’s not interested in the practical reality of the matter because to him it’s not actually something that will come about — it’s simply his opening bid.

    If he did become president, I think a lot of his supporters would be shocked to discover that rock-solid ideological positions are actually negotiable, and he will “betray” them just as surely as the GOP establishment has.


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