Archive for November, 2008
How many times can this man be excused?
Newsweek’s Jon Meacham was on On Point, the NPR radio talk show, on November 21, talking about his new Jackson bio, American Lion. Many times Meacham said he didn’t want to romanticize Jackson, then went on to grossly romanticize him.
Meacham was also on The Daily Show, and both Jon Stewart and Tom Ashbrook, normally people with a sense of justice, were inexplicably starry-eyed while Meacham larded praise on Jackson. Stewart actually read a description of Jackson’s crimes and then laughed appreciatively.
Like all the latest Jackson fans, Meacham fixates oddly on Jackson’s physical courage. The fact that Jackson attacked a would-be assassin is what made Meacham decide Jackson needed another bio. He carried a wounded soldier on his back, he lived through a British prisoner-of-war camp during the Revolution, he carried two bullets in his body… the ancient world’s obsession with physical bravery is alive and well for Jackson fans, and like the ancients, these fans see it as the ultimate recommendation of the hero.
When a caller was at last allowed to bring up Jackson’s murder of the Cherokees, Meacham dared to say that “one generation’s accepted good is another’s evil,” and that people in the future will judge us for the injustices we didn’t fight, and that too will be unfair.
If only historians wrote history. The massacre of the Cherokees was not an “accepted good” when it happened, it shocked the nation. Yes, many Americans went along with it, but not because they thought it was right, but because they simply wanted the Cherokees’ land and did not care how they got it. And if we are judged by posterity for the wrongs we did not right, that’s not unfair, it’s our due.
Jackson is resurfacing today, I think, because he seems to represent a conservative who got his own way and didn’t let anyone stop him, and that appeals to a loud but small group of Americans (see “The Great American Experiment“). But Jackson is the last man whose example we should–or will–follow in the 21st century.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 13 so far )
Brad Hart reviews an interesting study of Puritan (and other colonial American) sexuality at American Revolution. I agree that it’s hard to study colonial sexuality when only the most sensational of situations (court cases, executions) were recorded for public posterity, but there’s certainly work to be done combing through the journals and other records we do have.
The image we tend to have of Puritans in New England as sex-haters is completely mythical; see just about all my Truth v. Myth posts on the Puritans for proofs!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Americans have lived up to their founding principles and elected Barack Obama president. The fact that Mr. Obama is the first black president is, on its own, reason enough to celebrate eternally. But there is more.
The greatest thing about Barack Obama is that he appealed to those American founding principles, consistently and openly. He called on us to fulfill our mandate to offer justice and liberty and equality to all Americans, and to offer all the world honesty, fairness, and democracy. Barack Obama reminded us constantly that as Americans we are called to fulfill very lofty and demanding principles, and that we can only achieve happiness, security, and success when we do so.
In an election where there was so much talk about who was a “real” American, we learned once again that the only real American, the only true American, is the American who upholds our founding principles.
I can only quote the man himself, in his victory speech of November 5, 2008:
“And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.”
Who could have said it better? Every Founding American is alive again in our country today with these words.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )