From Pine View Farm

Fake Tea 0

A historian looks at the teabaggery and finds it indulges in fantastickal thinking. A nugget:

What the Tea Party was marshaling, she (Harvard historian Jill Lepore–ed.) found, wasn’t patriotic spirit, and it certainly wasn’t history. It was, in her term, “antihistory.”

Two things separate antihistory from its prefix-less sibling. First, and most obvious, antihistory gets stuff wrong. In our interview, Lepore cites the example of Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who, in defending herself to The New York Times, claimed that “those words, ‘too conservative,’ is fairly relative. I’m sure that they probably said that about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.” The idea of Franklin and Jefferson as social conservatives would certainly surprise their contemporaries, who knew Jefferson for his religious skepticism and Franklin for his public abolitionism.

The second — and, for Lepore, more serious — problem with antihistory is that it hijacks history’s raw materials. It takes a messy tumble of personalities and events and quotations and molds them into a static picture, a picture that happens to line up with current policy goals. “In antihistory, time is an illusion,” Lepore writes. Antihistory is “more literal than an analogy. It wasn’t ‘our struggle is like theirs.’ It was ‘we are there’ or ‘they are here.’ ”

The article goes on to quote teabaggers who disagree.


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