I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 1-7 July 2020

Heather Cox Richardson continues with Episode 3 of her History of the Republican Party. In this episode, she deals with Reconstruction. No wonder Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives- after Lincoln was assassinated he took over, and in a few months stitched up arrangements so that the South (which had lost the war) was largely excused, and he passed the Black Codes to limit the rights of afro-Americans.  As H.C.R. says, in these years you can see the origin of many of the issues tearing America apart today.

Her Politics and History talk of 30 June was a bit more present-focussed than usual. She starts off with the history of treason, pointing out that until John Brown was executed (as in the John Brown’s Body song) in 1859, no-one really knew what actually constituted ‘treason’ and how it should be punished. The 1949 definition, passed in the Cold War, assumed that the enemy country had declared war- so how does that work with terrorism? Another question was: What happens if Trump retires? She wouldn’t be surprised if he did, on the basis of his prior behaviour where he breaks things then leaves. Next question: Why didn’t Obama do something about Russian interference? Her suggestion: it would have given the Republicans real ammunition to say that the Russians thought America so weak that they could interfere with impunity. And finally: why do so many sports teams reference Native Americans? Her answer: because in the 1890s and early 20th century, when most of this naming occurred, there was anxiety about white men becoming effeminate, and so the names referenced a physically strong imagery.

Earshot (ABC) Life After Hate is a two-part series that follows a young British-Canadian Tony McAleer who was a white supremacist. He was imprisoned for crimes committed while he was involved with the far right, and on his release he decided to leave it all behind. He became involved with a charismatic life-coach and public speaker, and is now on the public-speaking circuit, building his shtick from his far-right past. Is this just another form of self-aggrandisement?

99% Invisible A few months back, I mentioned a 99% Invisible program about a statue of the Spanish conquisador Juan de Oñate. Activists had hacked the foot off the statue, replicating Oñate’s own action when he cut the foot from indigenous men to punish them. Well, with all the statues toppling all over the world, Oñate’s statues (the old fashioned man on a horse and a more recent one) came in for attention. Return of Oñate’s Foot reprises the original one, and catches up with recent events.

Talking Politics: History of Ideas – Mary Wollstonecraft David Runicman is obviously trying to draw connections between Episode 1 (Hobbes’ Leviathan) and Wollstonecraft’s work but it’s a strained connection at times. Writing during the French Revolution, Wollstonecraft wrote two books in response to Edmund Burke’s critique of the French Revolution: first Vindication of the Rights of Man and then Vindication of the Rights of Woman. He points out that although it’s rather cold in tone, it is surprisingly graphic when describing sexual practices. He finishes talking about Jane Austen, who probably read Wollstonecraft’s book, and her novelistic expression of Wollstonecraft’s arguments in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.

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