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The Soul Of America's Media

A recent Axios newsletter item:

First look: Jon Meacham on racism, extremism

meacham.jpg

Random House has moved up publication of Jon Meacham's The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels to May 7.

Walter Isaacson, history professor at Tulane University and author of Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, and Steve Jobs: "Jon Meacham explores the extremism and racism that have infected our politics, and he draws enlightening lessons from the knowledge that we've faced such trials before. We have come through times of fear. We have triumphed over our dark impulses."

Ken Burns, filmmaker: Meacham offers "the sublime and calming reassurance that as threatening as so much of the present moment seems, Americans have weathered such storms before and come out on the other side with fresh and progressive horizons. This is a beautifully expressed and convincing prayer to summon our own 'better angels' to meet the obvious challenges of today."

Here's my problem, and it's the same one I knocked Barack Obama for when he would say (often) that America would survive this or that because we had before - except not everyone survived! People have died because of war, lack of health care, injustice, homelessness, and so on. Who is the we? Elites. People who are protected. The rest are cannon fodder - both militarily and economically.

Isaacson: "[Meacham] draws enlightening lessons from the knowledge that we've faced such trials before. We have come through times of fear. We have triumphed over our dark impulses."

A lot of folks did not survive times of fear. Rich white men like Meacham have, but then, they were mostly the perpetrators of what we had to survive! This is such a privileged view.

Burns: "Americans have weathered such storms before and come out on the other side with fresh and progressive horizons."

Again, many Americans have not been able to survive "such storms;" some of our fellow citizens are not surviving such storms as I type this. Who are the "we" who have triumphed over our dark impulses? And who is the "our?"

Similarly, I've heard mayors and other civic leaders beam with pride about the challenges Chicago, greatest city on Earth, has overcome. But our streets run with blood. Not everyone has overcome.

This is such a dismissive view from the top. And there ain't much soul there.

For more on Meacham, just go to the Daily Howler and put his name in the search. DH author Bob Somerby calls him the Parson.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 13, 2018


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