Ten Years of Essays on Bad History’s Toxic Effects on American Civics, #1

Now, there’s an irresistible title.

On Twitter, I’m building a long thread, one entry per day, re-posting essays I’ve written, beginning in 2008 and ending in 2018, on various failures in American history, as that history is presented to the non-specialist public (I’m a member of that group), by everybody from professional historians to political candidates to museums and newspapers and broadcasting and other cultural institutions. I think toxic effects of those failures are now manifest in our current national crisis, or at the very least in public discourse about the crisis. So I’m looking back at the stabs I’ve taken over the past decade, preparatory to moving on.

I’ll do a parallel thing here, for followers of this blog who may not follow me on Twitter. That means you’ll be getting a more-or-less daily post from me, over the next many days, with a re-post of an old essay on this subject, beginning in ’08, not all of them found on this blog. There’s no neat arc described by this stuff: these are just essays loosely linked by their general subject; they range from commentary on TV shows and politics to historiography of postwar U.S. history scholarship; they refer critically to figures from Sarah Palin to Gordon Wood, from Barack Obama to Ron Chernow. Some people who have been long forgotten will show up (Christine O’Donnell? wha?). Many of these posts are aggregated on this blog under the “History in the Crisis” tag — but some pre-date even the blog’s launch.

So you may want to unsubscribe, at least temporarily, from this bombardment. Fair warning.

OK, if the project is clarified, then here’s the starting entry, from March of 2008, on candidate  Obama’s fantastical constitutionalism in the “More Perfect Union” speech: Barack Obama on the U.S. Constitution.

(Number two in this collection is here.]


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