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Historians under Trump

November 29, 2016


We are witnessing — more than that, experiencing — events that seem certain to be remembered as a turning point in the history of the United States, part of a series that is changing the political horizons of much of the world. Our knowledge is partial and the future unwritten. But the collapse of a familiar (and flawed) order, the destabilization of expectations, and the unmooring of norms are all palpable. And for those of us not minded to celebrate the return of avowed white supremacism and brash thuggery — accompanied by the lewdest sexism, a craven acquiescence to fascism, and an almost comically archaic nepotism — to mainstream politics, from the highest office to the most local interactions, things are headed in a dire direction. Or, rather, the dire state they are in stands revealed.

What is a historian’s job in these circumstances? This is a student’s question, and a good one. Only too many answers, not all compatible, suggest themselves…

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