More thoughts on the election, its backlash, its history-making, and discussing it in the classroom; A new beer from 220 years ago; Dan Crofts vs James Oakes on Emancipation.

A few post mortem bits on the election:

I don’t have much to say about the protests (at least not yet) and the movement in California that is calling for secession, except to repeat what I said yesterday . . . get ready for an explosion in the social and cultural divide in this country. I can guarantee you this is just the beginning. (Beyond the protests, the wave of ugly racist and xenophobic sentiments that are being openly expressed provide Trump with his first big moment when he can prove that he wants to unite America. Will he do so?) There are moments in history when the backlash to an event has fundamentally altered our nation and its politics, and made sure that the “arc of justice” kept bent in the right direction. The Kansas/Nebraska Act comes to mind, which provoked a backlash that created the Republican Party and pulled Abraham Lincoln back into politics. I’m also thinking of the Dred Scot decision, the shock of which is perhaps one of the biggest things that led to the Republican party’s success in 1860. The Civil Rights movement seemed to have encountered a massive failure when the sheriff of Albany, Georgia demonstrated the way to defeat the movement’s most successful tactics, and yet they responded with the Birmingham project that pushed JFK into proposing the Civil Rights Act.  Oh, and let’s not forget how Woodrow Wilson’s reelection in 1916 devastated the suffragettes, but they responded to the failure by aggressively picketing the White House, filling the jail, and going on hunger strikes . . . all of which led to their ultimate success. There seem to be some lessons there, and the next 4 years are going to be extremely intriguing to watch.

I came across an interesting blog post from a college student that seems to be going viral on social media today. In it, she describes how in her college classes yesterday there was a lot of fear and disgust shared by her fellow college students and even professors about the Trump victory. This made her feel that she could not openly express her joy in the election results, and angered her that everyone seems to think that all Trump supporters are racist, homophobic, and misogynistic. I wouldn’t normally comment on some college student’s blog, but I felt compelled to at least do so here on my own site. First of all, it is a shame that her professors helped create an environment that intimidated Trump supporters into silence in the classroom. As I told my own students yesterday, if we can’t openly discuss these things without fear in a college classroom, where in America can we discuss them? I really feel that it was a job for all educators across the country to help facilitate open discussions with students that are struggling with how to process this election, and it appears that this student’s professors failed in that regard. (FYI: Kevin Levin has offered up some suggestions for how teachers should handle these classroom discussions, reminding us that today’s students do not have the same historical experiences in which to place these events in the same context as the rest of us).  It is a shame that instead of retreating to a blog post, the student did not speak up in class and explain the reasons that she felt positive about his election.  “I am for free market. I am for stronger foreign policy. I am for small business. I am for my family. I am Republican,” she asserts.  I think it probably best if I just limit my response to that statement by encouraging her to explore all the ways that in the areas of trade and foreign policy, Trump is NOT a traditional Republican (which helps to explain why the party’s leaders opposed him and why they may not be able to work with him on much of his promises and agenda). Further, while she herself is likely not racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic, Trump demonstrably is, so she should keep that in mind when engaging (as I hope she does) with fellow students that have concluded that all of Trump’s supporters feel the same as he does. Being understood by others first requires understanding them.

So Tuesday did not become a triumphant moment when women broke the highest glass ceiling . . . but lost in the shuffle was the fact that 6 women and one man made history on election night. Their victories run counter to the anti-diversity forces that played a role in Trump’s election.

Remember that historian that used a history-based prediction model to assert that Trump would win? He isn’t exactly gloating about being right, but he does wish that during the next election pollsters are sent “on a very long vacation.”

And now for something completely different:

Check this out: Yeast microbes from a 220 year old bottle of beer have been combined with an 18th century recipe to create a new modern beer. It apparently has a very unique taste. The bottle was part of a recovered shipwreck that may soon also yield a similar experiment with wine. Thus far the “Preservation Ale” is not commercially available, but long-term plans are to get it on the market. Would you drink a beer made from 222 year old yeast microbes?

Over on Nick Sacco’s Exploring the Past blog, he offers up his review of Daniel W. Crofts’ new book, Lincoln & The Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union. The work is largely a refutation of James Oakes’ Lincoln-Prize winning but highly problematic book,  Freedom National. A few years ago after reading a review that I wrote of the Oakes’ book, Crofts contacted me to offer praise for hitting the book as hard as I did (I felt in some ways I needed to do it in order to defend my own work, which reached far different conclusions than did Oakes while examining some of the same sources), so it was no surprise to me that his new book criticizes Freedom National much harder and more effectively than I could ever hope to do. (Ironically, while he was in the final stages of writing his book, Oakes contacted me to ask my opinion about General George McClellan and emancipation. To have such a prominent historian like James Oakes ask my opinion about anything was a surreal experience). What is the rub between the two  interpretations? I think Nick spells it out pretty well in his review, but it boils down to a difference of opinion on how devoted Lincoln and his party were to eradicating slavery in the southern states before the contingencies of war made it a military necessity. Not surprisingly, I still stand by my work,  . . . and with Crofts.


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