History

Regarding JFK

Featured image Yesterday, Steve wrote about how the left has turned on John Kennedy. To me, the wonder is that it didn’t turn on him years ago. Kennedy’s presidency might have been liberal as that term was understood at the time, but it wasn’t “progressive.” In fact, today it might reasonably be considered conservative. Kennedy gave Americans a big tax cut on the theory that this would stimulate the economy. It did. »

JFK on the Rocks

Featured image One trait of the progressive left is that its contempt for the past leads it sooner or later to turn on their own previous heroes. The environmental left has long detested Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal for things like the massive dams on the Columbia River and elsewhere, along with other big infrastructure projects. The so-called “anti-racist” left attacks FDR for perpetuating segregation in housing (with some justice in this case). »

The Worst Class Evah?

Featured image Daniel Pipes graduated from Harvard in 1971, the same year in which Paul and I graduated from Dartmouth. To Daniel’s misfortune, one of his college classmates was Chuck Schumer. Schumer, the next year, was one of my law school classmates. Happily, I have no recollection of ever having met him. Daniel writes: “The worst class ever”: that’s how Nathan Pusey, Harvard’s then-president, described my undergraduate cohort of 1971. What a »

Nancy Pelosi’s white privilege

Featured image Nancy Pelosi’s father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was mayor of Baltimore during the 1950s. Like most politicians of that era — including the two most influential ones, President Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson — D’Alesandro did not want to burn his bridges with either side of the civil rights divide. (The exceptions to this rule tended to be from the deep south or the firmly liberal north.) Thus, D’Alesandro’s record on race »

Learning from the Rosenwald Schools

Featured image Booker T. Washington formed an incredibly productive partnership with Sears magnate Julius Rosenwald dating to 1911. It started with Rosenwald’s donations of shoes and hats for industrial school students in the South. In 1913 Washington recruited Rosenwald to join the board of the Tuskegee Institute. As Robert Norrell writes in Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington (2011), “By that time, Rosenwald and his wife were enamored of »

Speaking of genocide

Featured image It is news of a kind that President Biden has now recognized atrocities against Armenians as “genocide.” The Associated Press has three reporters with a byline (including the excellent Matthew Lee) on its story covering this development. As the AP notes at the top, the genocide in issue is a matter of history. It was perpetrated by the rulers of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. You might »

Learning from Lincoln

Featured image Sean Wilentz is a historian of the leftist persuasion and also a principled opponent of the New York Times’s 1619 Project errors, distortions, and lies (my word, not his), now adopted as the orthodoxy of the Democratic Party. The problem is “A matter of facts,” he wrote in The Atlantic. He also signed off on the letter prominent historians sent to the Times challenging the project as ideological rather than »

Through Douglass’s eyes

Featured image The relationship between the former slave Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln provides deep insight into both men. Douglass’s recollection of his first meeting with Lincoln — “I shall never forget my first interview with this great man” — is a highlight of the 1892 version of Douglass’s autobiography (The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass). In the Claremont Review of Books celebration of the bicentennial anniversary of Lincoln’s birth »

A history to be proud of

Featured image The Biden administration and Democrats all over the country now promulgate the charge that “systemic racism” permeates our country and that this racism is woven into our founding documents. Earlier this week, for example, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter quoted from the Supreme Court’s ignominious Dred Scott case to make the point. Democrats have essentially taken up the mantle of Chief Justice Taney in Dred Scott. They approve of Taney’s »

Sean McMeekin: The story behind “Stalin’s War”

Featured image Sean McMeekin is Francis Flournoy Professor of European History and Culture at Bard College and the author of Stalin’s War: A New History of World War II, officially published by Basic Books today. Professor McMeekin is one of the most prominent of the younger generation of historians of the Soviet Union. His first book — The Red Millionaire — is a personal favorite of mine. He graciously accepted my invitation »

Walter Mondale, RIP

Featured image The news that Walter Mondale was in extremis had circulated a few days ago, and blurted out, predictably, by Jimmy Carter, about whom Mondale said on many occasions after 1980, “I never understood how Carter’s political mind worked. Carter’s got the coldest political nose of any politician I ever met.” It is still not well known that Mondale considered resigning as Vice President during Carter’s infamous navel-gazing Camp David retreat in »

Forty Years On

Featured image As is being widely remarked, today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Reagan outside the Washington Hilton. I was a fresh-out-of-college intern working for Stan Evans up at the Capitol Hill office of his National Journalism Center, where we typically had the public radio classical music station on at low volume in the background. So when the station broke into the middle of the music to »

The filibuster is not a relic of the Jim Crow era

Featured image Among the falsehoods Joe Biden mouthed at his press conference yesterday was the claim that the Senate filibuster is “a relic of the Jim Crow era.” This line originated with Barack Obama. Biden said he agrees with Obama’s assertion. As many have pointed out, Biden defended the Senate filibuster for decades. And Obama himself defended it when he was a Senator. Thus Biden and Obama are both hypocrites. To make »

This Day In History

Featured image On March 26, 1921, the London Times reported on a trade overture by Soviet Russia to the Warren Harding administration: The American Administration has lost no time in answering the Note from the Soviet Government appealing to President Harding to open trade negotiations. It was only on Tuesday that the State Department received the Soviet Note, which declared, presumably as a sort of bait, that “the Soviet Government has not »

Is America doomed? Part Two

Featured image We are doomed, I think, if Americans come to believe that ours is an ignoble country, and has been since its founding. I don’t think any nation has ever thrived when it (or its ruling class) lost faith to that degree. Yet, we have started teaching students that America is, and always has been, ignoble. Has any nation ever done this? I don’t think so. Those ruling classes that lost »

Three blind mice

Featured image Suppose six former Secretaries of State wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed discussing the urgent need to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with Communist China. Their op-ed might make you think the former secretaries were asleep at the switch during their time at Foggy Bottom. Unfortunately, six former Secretaries of Education have signed the rough equivalent of such an op-ed for the Journal. The six are: Lamar Alexander, Arne Duncan, »

The 9/11 boatlift

Featured image The 9/11 boatlift is not exactly breaking news. The 2016 book American Dunkirk: The Waterborne Evacuation of Manhattan on 9/11 documented the event for historical purposes (reviewed here by Rick Spilman for gCaptain). Yet it comes as news to me, via our friend Jean Yarbrough of Bowdoin College. Professor Yarbrough draws my attention to the moving 10-minute documentary “Boatlift” (video below). The film dates back to the tenth anniversary of »