In a recent “Skeptic’s Collection” column I gave examples of beliefs that represent the principle that “A little learning is a dangerous thing”. The examples I cited were derived from physics, psychology, and literature. But history is no less susceptible to warped beliefs than other disciplines. A recent issue of the Washington Post Magazine contains such an example of warped history. Problem is that the Post writer, while doing a sterling job of debunking the beliefs of lovers of the Confederacy, fails to note that liberals and progressives, in their zeal to repudiate such atavisms, fail equally to take into account their own myopia, and end up with a view of history – Civil War history in particular – that is equally warped, just in the opposite direction.
The article compri
In 2007, Harvard University Press published a remarkable book by Yale professor Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers (hereafter Failure). Best I remember, I read the book because I was startled by the sacrilegiousness of the title: Ackerman was violating the cultural canons mandating unqualified awe of the Founders and Framers by suggesting that, in writing the Constitution, they had failed in some way. (To say that the Framers failed because they compromised with the slave States to get the Constitution ratified is a truism. Ackerman had something else in mind, however.) He convinced me, though I persist in believing that the “perfect storm” of synergistic malfunctions that very nearly deadlocked the election of 1800, and that almost led to the dissolution of the Union
I hated saying it the first time, and I hate even more saying it again. The only reason I said it the first time, and the only reason I’m saying it again, is because I think that, for reasons of mental hygiene if nothing else, we progressives / leftists / liberals, i.e., those of us still possessed of a functioning prefrontal cortex, must remain firmly tethered to reality. Besides, in addition to personal hygiene, for the sake of the Nation we dare not follow the fascist-adjacent right, lemming-like, over the cliff of “alternative facts.”
So I will swallow the bitter pill and say it yet again:
(1) There will be no "blue wave" in November
We will more than likely see the usual scenario repeated whereby ... yes, to be sure ... the party holding the White House loses some sea