No doubt many of you watched the Olympic opening ceremonies the other night, and it was another epic spectacle. You may have also heard or read somewhere that Hitler is responsible for the tradition of lighting a torch as the climax of the ceremony. When you think about how much Hitler used grand spectacle and symbolism to seduce the masses, this makes perfect sense. But it is not exactly true. The torch itself had already been established prior to the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics, but what that event did establish was the torch relay that begins in Greece. This interview with sports historian Professor Manfred Lämmer sets the record straight, and dispels some other myths we have about the Olympics.
This isn’t exactly a history story, but it does show that the more things change, the more some things stay the same. In this opinion piece for the Washington Post about the Olympics, the writer complains, “Women make history and their husbands get the credit. How infuriating is that?” If you can’t appreciate the point she is making, I’d say that is probably a result of “male privilege.”
Trump is already laying the groundwork for a loss in November by placing the blame on a rigged system. Many commentators have remarked on how dangerous that is (though I think much of that is overblown), but is it the first time a candidate has made such an allegation? Of course not. The elections of 1824, 1876, and 2000 should quickly come to mind, as this article points out. (The allegation in 1824 is what led to the creation of the Democrat party). Of course what makes Trump different is that he is making the allegation months in advance, for no other reason than so that when he isn’t elected he won’t be seen as a “loser,” as he is so prone to labeling others. Pathetic.
Better late than never: one of our most accomplished Civil War historians, Joan E. Cashin, has a review out today of Free State of Jones. She doesn’t write much that hasn’t been noted before, but add her to the list of historians that have praised the movie for its entertainment value, its accuracy, and its importance in demolishing the Lost Cause myth.