Monday, April 03, 2017

Historical illiteracy, or, the new Dark Age (America 1776-1859)

More evidence that historical illiteracy about the early decades of the United States is rampant: "This nation survived Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon. It survived slavery. It survived devastating wars. Most likely, it will survive again."

That's from the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times. In an otherwise very good opinon piece, Our Dishonest President 04/02/2017.

Andrew Jackson=Richard Nixon=devastating wars?

The shades of Nicholas Biddle and John Calhoun are laughing maniacally in the underworld.

There seems to be a real disconnect between actual historians of the US, on the one hand, and American pundits, journalists and politicians on the left/center-left over early American history.

The former try to understand it as history. With greater or lesser degrees of success, of course.

The latter now seem to generally view American history prior to 1860 as a Dark Age redeemed only by the occasional Abolitionist or maybe women's-rights advocates. Seneca Falls did happen, you know. And thanks to the popular musical, the monarchist Alexander Hamilton, who believed that democratic government could work only via massive corruption, is considered a bit of a bright spot. Maybe an Indian warrior chief here and there, although the details of Native American history are less familiar to most people than basic US national government history.

To call the prevailing popular view one-dimensional would give it too much credit. Obscurantist is a better description.

No comments: