History Hour (BBC) This magazine-like show has about four or five stories told by people who were this. In The Siege at Ruby Ridge, it tells of the 1992 anti-government siege that has become a touchstone for the Far Right in the US. Also, a woman who grew up as a ‘family friend’ of Saddam Hussein, the invention of the asthma puffer, the appalling story of forced syphilis experiments in Guatemala and the exhumation and reburial of King Richard III.
Heather Cox Richardson Her History and Politics chat of 11 August answered several questions: why don’t they just STOP Trump? (her answer- they should have, using the impeachment mechanism but the Senate stopped it); the role of Vice President (to attract votes from segments other than those to which the President appeals); yes, the Democrats did start the KKK and yes, the Republicans did champion a 90% tax rate under Eisenhower – but neither of these policy positions are held by the parties today; and the big switch between the policies of the Republican and Democratic parties that started under Nixon – I mean, how perverse it is that the REPUBLICANS support Confederate statues?
Her History of the Republican Party (Part 10?) of 7 August looks at Joe Macarthy and his attack on Eisenhower, and later the army, and the rise of William F. Buckley and Movement Conservatism. At first it made little inroads until the passing of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, when particularly – but not exclusively – southern white Americans crystalized their resistance to their taxes going to poor, black people. She talks about Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful contest of the US election of 1964, which was supported by the Dixicrat Strom Thurmond, Phyllis Schlafly and Ronald Reagan. How about Goldwater’s acceptance speech when nominated republican candidate in 1964: “ I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. ” Apparently LBJ heard it, and rang Bill Moyers (who then worked in the White House) and commented that this was a whole new ideology, and that nothing would be the same again.
Dan Snow’s History Hit. Anne Applebaum, who has recently released Twilight of Democracy is interviewed in the episode How Democracy Dies. Her book is about how intellectual and educated elites in Britain (think Boris, Corbyn), America (think Trump), Hungary, Poland and Turkey after ‘winning’ in a democracy, have then turned against it. Actually, the book sounds really good.
For something completely different, How and Why History: The Spread of Christianity features Miri Rubin, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London. She covers from Paul up to approximately the 13th century. I knew, but it hadn’t sunk in that Christianity started in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the language was Greek. Or that the Visigoths ,the Ostrogoths and Vandals were Arian Christians (and not Trinitarians). Nor did I realize that Christianity spread from Ireland into Northern Europe. So much I don’t know.
The Documentary (BBC) Hugh Sykes: Reporting from the Frontlines is an interview with BBC radio journalist Hugh Sykes, talking about his long career. With a childhood in Iran (when it was still Persia), he has spent a lot of time in areas of conflict, but doesn’t see himself as a war journalist. He is not a believer in the put-the-journalist-in-the-story school of journalism, and allows the listener to do the emoting, instead of doing it for them. Very good.
August in Minsk is a compilation of pieces recorded by on-the-ground journalist Ilya Kuzniatsou during August as the people of Belarus challenge the spurious victory of Alexander Lukashenko in the last election. People are brave: I don’t think that I would have this much courage. Interesting how music is playing a part in resistance: choirs, sax players etc.