Why Now? Episode 14: The Past Is Never Dead

A conversation with historians Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer about their new, best-selling essay collection, “Myth America: Historians Take on the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past”

Today, a radicalized Republican party insists that the actual, complex, and often violent American past is not only false but divisive, left-wing, anti-white propaganda. It is not intended to teach the facts of history, GOP firebrands argue, but to indoctrinate helpless children with left ideology. As a result, around the country, much of the historical scholarship that twentieth-century historians fought to get into the high school curriculum is being systematically and forcibly censored. 

Seven states, most famously Florida, now ban the teaching of race in public schools, while legislatures in 16 more states are contemplating similar bans. And under the rubric of “parental rights,” Florida has also banned classroom materials that address sex and gender: similar bills are also advancing in 26 other state legislatures. Even classic books are being removed from classrooms and public libraries.

But historians, like librarians, community activists, and high school teachers, are pushing back. A few months ago, a new collection of essays edited by Princeton University historians Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer hit the bookstores, and readers are snapping it up. In Myth America: Historians Take on the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past (Basic Books, 2022), twenty historians discuss key themes and issues from our national past that the GOP’s right-wing loves to politicize but doesn’t tell the truth about. 

You can listen to this podcast here or subscribe for free on Apple iTunesSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or Soundcloud. Do you use another service? Let me know in the comments, and I will submit it to them!

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