nav-left cat-right
cat-right

Trump the Unprecedented

Historian Julian Zelizer explains in the Atlantic what is actually unprecedented about Trump, and what is frequently called unprecedented, but actually has lots of precedent. The short version: Two things are unprecedented: 1. Unfiltered spur-of-the-moment communications from POTUS (Twitter, rambling interviews) including spontaneous constant attacks on friends and enemies alike. 2. Trumps’s financial conflicts of...

Robert E. Lee and Slavery

I’m tired of hearing historical mythology used to lionize Confederate leaders like Robert E. Lee. People say things like, Lee was against slavery, never owned slaves, and anyway, was a Christian. Robert E. Lee absolutely owned slaves. He ran a plantation that he had inherited between 1856 and 1861. And he beat his slaves himself when they tried to run away (evidenced in a personal letter). Lee’s...

An odd way to defend Republicans

I’ve noticed on Facebook that some people are taking an ingenious approach to defending Trump and the Republicans: pointing out that it was the Republican party that presided over the abolition of slavery, and was generally more supportive of women’s right to vote. This is a nice¬†slight of hand that appears to work mainly because people don’t know much history. “What happened to the Republican...

Libertarian nonsense

Here is a silly graphic that is circulating on the Internet: The historian in me has to point out that a lot of this is drivel – and imaginary past that bears almost no resemblance to what 125 years ago actually looked like. 125 years ago child labor was legal. And common. Most milk bought in a city was adulterated. To say nothing of packaged meat products. “Freedom of contract” caused most working men to...

Polemic and History

Polemic and History A number of critics of Anthroposophy have acknowledged that they are writing polemical history when they attack Rudolf Steiner. Some even seem puzzled as to why that is considered a ‘bad’ thing. And certainly, from one point of view there is nothing ‘bad’ about polemic; it is what it is, after all. I have further argued that polemic history has important differences from standard,...

Eric P. Wijnants: serial plagiarist

Once upon a time I came across a site that annoyed me. It had a wealth of material on esoteric subjects, details that were available nowhere else on the web, and in some cases nowhere else at all. The only problem was that not one piece of it had any citations, and that made it essentially useless for my purposes. It is standard scholarly practice if you are talking about something that happened 300 years ago to describe the...