Calls for unity, reconciliation, and moving forward have issued from conservative political leaders since the attempted coup of January 6. “Impeaching the President with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more,” stated Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, “I have reached out to President-elect [Joe] Biden today and plan to speak to him about how we must work together to lower the temperature and unite the country to solve America’s challenges.” McCarthy was among the firebrands who rejected the presidential results and voted on January 6 (after the melee in the Capitol) to decertify the electoral college votes. Calls for unity in the aftermath of violence and a defeated coup harken back to the memorializing of secessionist and seditionist Jefferson Davis following the Civil War. After awaiting treason charges in a jail cell following the Confederacy’s defeat, Davis received a presidential pardon and lived out his life in peaceful retirement (right corner image) without ever expressing regret or contrition for a war that claimed nearly 700,000 lives. Not especially popular during his time as Confederate president, Davis was memorialized as a great American hero in the decades of reunion and reconciliation that followed, with schools, parks, a highway, and many monuments, including a 351′ obelisk in Fairview, Kentucky, which is featured in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
It goes like this: mostly you stand on a level platform and the history lays out before you like a Bierstadt mountain landscape, cool, daunting, and full of color. But on the rare occasion the history blows right up your back, hot and gnarly like a Santa Ana wind. The level platform turns over as you watch your hat blow away in the dust. You forget which part is the history and which part was your hat. After the last couple of weeks, on top of the last 10 months, driven by the last four years, guess which one we were feeling for Episode 35? Hint: we called the episode My Hair is in the Soup (thank you Jericho Brown). So join us for some history therapy, as we work through the demons and try to trust the better angels of our American history. Just remember HAG rule #19: that anyone who serves up their sedition with a heavy dose of unity and reconciliation is under no circumstances to be trusted.
To hear Episode 35 My Hair’s in the Soup, click on the link below:
Sources Referenced and Items of Interest
Jericho Brown, “Inaugural” An Original Poem (January 20, 2021 NYT Magazine)
Timothy Snyder, “The American Abuyss: A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next” (January 9, 2021 NYT Magazine)
Isaac Chotiner, “Learning from the Failure of Reconstruction” (January 13, 2021 The New Yorker)
“You can’t have peace when the other side is out there acting as a terrorist body, assassinating people if they try to vote and things like that. So the tragedy of Reconstruction is that the commitment to enforce it waned much too soon.”Eric Foner, Historian