White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is wrong about what caused the Civil War, and wrong to give the benefit of the doubt to the slavers over the slaves.
Two starkly contrasting approaches to remembering troubled histories
A white southern mayor confronts the history in his city.
"There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in his now-famous speech in May of 2017. As Landrieu said those words, city workers a few blocks away uprooted an enormous statue of Robert E. Lee – the last of four Confederate monuments the mayor removed from the city after a years-long process. In a conversation with The Atlantic's editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, Landrieu discusses the politics of race in the south, his grappling with history as a white southerner, and his own family’s connection to the story of civil rights in America.
I miss the days when I had a seemingly unending backlog of episodes to listen to. Now I just wait with bated breath for them to be released.
I love extended interviews on small topics like this one. This does a really good job of taking a look at some of the broader details behind removing Confederate statues in New Orleans.
When it comes to America’s racial sins, past and present, a lot of us see people in one region of the country as guiltier than the rest. Host John Biewen spoke with some white Southern friends about that tendency. Part Six of our ongoing series, Seeing White. With recurring guest, Chenjerai Kumanyika.
Photo: A lynching on Clarkson Street, New York City, during the Draft Riots of 1863. Credit: Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation.
Having lived in many parts of the country growing up (Dahlonega, GA; Burlington, CT; Calhoun, GA; Baltimore, MD; Charlotte, NC; etc.), I can attest that the generalities described here do dovetail with many of my experiences. The cultures with respect to racism are very different depending on town, region, state, and histories.
Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen heard next to nothing about the town’s most important historical event. In 1862, Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history – the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors – following one of the major wars between Plains Indians and settlers. In this documentary, originally produced for This American Life, John goes back to Minnesota to explore what happened, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it afterwards.
These episodes and the brutal history they contain and suggest have been pretty gut-wrenching so far. This by far delves more deeply into the history and as a result is much more hear-rending than the others. It really makes me sick what our “nationalistic” tendencies have wrought thus far, and by all intents continues to continue to do.
If you haven’t been listening to this excellent series, I hope you’ll stop what you’re doing right now and listen to them all. I highly recommend it as required listening for everyone–even if you think you know what the message is.
Though this particular episode wasn’t specifically created for this series, it fits in incredibly well. I almost wish that some of the others in the series delved this deeply into some of the history as this one does. It really brings the problem into high relief and puts a more human face on the problems we may not see around us by looking back at a particular incident.