From the never-ending culture war over the New York Times's 1619 Project to arguments about the Black Lives Matter protests to President Trump's promise to Make American Great Again, today's political conflicts reflect, to an extraordinary degree, disagreements over the meaning of American history. Jamelle Bouie's New York Times column is one of the places where these lively debates are most effectively narrated and clarified.
Bouie joins Matt and Sam to help make sense of how history, historiography, and politics relate to each other—or at least, how they should. Along the way, the conversation takes up slavery and capitalism, Afro-pessimism and Marxism, and (a frequent preoccupation of the podcast) what left-wing patriotism might look like.
Jamelle Bouie, "Beyond White Fragility," NY Times, June 26, 2020.
Jamelle Bouie, "Why Juneteenth Matters," NY Times, June 18, 2020.
Sam Adler-Bell, "The Remnant and the Restless Crowd," Commonweal, Aug 1, 2018.
Vinson Cunningham, "The Argument of Afropessimism," New Yorker, July 20, 2020
Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Our Democracy’s Founding Ideals Were False When They Were Written. Black Americans Have Fought to Make Them True.” New York Times, Aug 14, 2019.
Sean Wilentz, "A Matter of Facts," The Atlantic, Jan 22, 2020.
John Clegg, "How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism," Jacobin, Aug 28, 2019.
Tom Mackaman, "An interview with historian James Oakes on the New York Times’ 1619 Project," World Socialist Website, Nov 18, 2019
PLUS: Check out Jamelle's newsletter, which recently featured a huge list of books on the American Revolution and the early republic, and don't forget to support Know Your Enemy on Patreon for bonus episodes!
More episodes from "Know Your Enemy"
UNLOCKED: Democracy and Its Discontents
1:09:05Note: This bonus episode was first published on April 13. We're unlocking it now because we're working on a companion episode that explores in greater detail the intellectual origins of, and justifications for, hostility toward democracy among the founders of the modern American conservative movement. ***In state legislatures across the country, Republicans are unleashing a fierce assault on voting rights. Hundreds of proposals aimed at restricting ballot access are being considered, and in a few states—most notably Georgia—have already become law. These obvious efforts at suppressing turnout have been justified by the deranged lie that Donald Trump had a landslide victory stole from him in November, along with the usual evidence-free worries about election integrity peddled by conservatives. Of course, the debates all this has generated have been remarkably unintelligent—just more fodder for the culture wars. Matt and Sam breakdown where voting-rights bill have been passed, what provisions they include, and how it all fits into both the GOP's current strategy of minority rule and the right's longstanding suspicion of mass democracy.Sources Cited and Further Reading:Brennan Center for Justice, "Voting Laws Roundup," April 1, 2021Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein, "What Georgia's Voting Law Really Does," New York Times, April 2, 2021Ari Berman, "Republicans Say the Georgia Law Wasn’t Designed to Suppress Voting. Don’t Believe Them," Mother Jones, April 8, 2021Ari Berman, "361 Voter Suppression Bills Have Already Been Introduced This Year," Mother Jones, April 1, 2021Daniel Dale, "Fact Check: Biden and Kemp Misleadingly Describe Parts of Georgia Elections Law," CNN, April 2, 2021Daniel Dale, "Fact Check: Republicans Falsely Equate Georgia and Colorado Election Laws," CNN, April 7, 2021Michael Wines, "In Statehouses, Stolen-Election Myth Fuels a G.O.P. Drive to Rewrite Rules," New York Times, February 27, 2021Glenn Ellmers, "'Conservatism' Is No Longer Enough," The American Mind, March 24, 2021William F. Buckley, Jr., "Why the South Must Prevail," National Review, August 24, 1957Kevin Williamson, "Why Not Fewer Voters?" National Review, April 6, 2021To listen to more bonus episodes like this one, subscribe to Know Your Enemy on Patreon!
TEASER: Why the New Deal Matters (w/ Eric Rauchway)
2:55Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemy to hear this and all our bonus content.In this episode, Matt is joined by historian Eric Rauchway for a deep-dive into his new book, Why the New Deal Matters. It's Rauchway's latest effort to recover Franklin Delano Roosevelt as an anti-fascist political leader who sought to expand the meaning and practice of American democracy—that in a robust democracy, people don't just need enough to live on, but something to live for. Topics include: Herbert Hoover's and FDR's different responses to the Bonus Army's march on Washington; why Hoover is the true founding father of modern conservatism; how FDR understood the New Deal as more than just a pragmatic series of experiments; the importance to the New Deal of public art and projects like building libraries and theaters; why, despite its compromises with white supremacists in the Democratic Party, the New Deal continues to inspire; and more!
Overheated (w/ Kate Aronoff)
1:03:26At last, Know Your Enemy takes on climate change! Kate Aronoff, staff writer at The New Republic and Dissent editorial board member, joins Matt and Sam to discuss her new book, Overheated: How Capitalism Broke the Planet—And How We Fight Back. The conversations traces the history of collaboration between fossil fuel executives and conservative think tanks; then we discuss what comes after climate denial and try our best to imagine a post-carbon world. What will it take to avoid a future of eco-apartheid, fortress nations, and "lifeboat ethics?" Listen to find out.Further Reading:Kate Aronoff, "The European Far-Right's Environmental Turn," Dissent, May 31, 2019.Kate Aronoff, "With A Green New Deal, Here's What the World Could Look Like For The Next Generation," The Intercept, Dec 5, 2018.Sam Adler-Bell, "Appalachia vs. the Carceral State," The New Republic, Nov 25, 2019.Sam Adler-Bell, "Why White Supremacists are Hooked on Green Living," The New Republic, Sept. 24, 2019....and don't forget to subscribe to Know Your Enemy on Patreon!
TEASER: Democracy and Its Discontents
2:25To listen to this episode, and all of our bonus content, subscribe here: https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemyIn state legislatures across the country, Republicans are unleashing a fierce assault on voting rights. Hundreds of proposals aimed at restricting ballot access are being considered, and in a few states—most notably Georgia—have already become law. These obvious efforts at suppressing turnout have been justified by the deranged lie that Donald Trump had a landslide victory stole from him in November, along with the usual evidence-free worries about election integrity peddled by conservatives. Of course, the debates all this has generated have been remarkably unintelligent—just more fodder for the culture wars. Matt and Sam breakdown where voting-rights bill have been passed, what provisions they include, and how it all fits into both the GOP's current strategy of minority rule and the right's longstanding suspicion of mass democracy.
KYE Film Club: A Lost Cause (w/ Jesse Brenneman)
1:05:58This episode is something different: the latest installment of the KYE Film Club, an ongoing series in which Matt and Sam's great friend (and the podcast's producer) Jesse Brenneman guides them through the strange world of terrible conservative movies. The selection this time was "Christmas Cars," a confusing attempt at Confederate nostalgia written and directed by former Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider.Watch: Christmas Cars on VimeoPeruse: John Schneider Studios...and don't forget to subscribe to Know Your Enemy on Patreon to listen to all of our bonus episodes!
TEASER: A Royal Mess
3:17To listen to this episode, and all of our bonus content, subscribe here: https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemyAt last, Matt and Sam take on the British royal family. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's recent interview with Oprah set off a firestorm of commentary—not least from aggrieved conservatives who were outraged at the young couple's criticisms of the monarchy. Why was the Right so upset by the interview? Why did the defenders of the American Revolution find themselves siding with our ancient enemy? Then your hosts turn to a documentary that offers an acerbic look at the media coverage of Princess Diana's death—Diana: The Mourning After, by none other than Christopher Hitchens. It leads to a discussion of neoliberalism, what happens when the powerful to share their struggles and appear relatable, and more!
TEASER: France's War on Terror (w/ Cole Stangler)
2:06Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemy to hear this and all our bonus content.In recent months, French president Emmanuel Macron, once hailed as the savior of mainstream liberalism, has responded to a series of Islamist terror attacks with a sharp right turn—one he hopes will serve him well in a possible run-off election against the nativist/populist Marine Le Pen. KYE Paris correspondent Cole Stangler joins Matt and Sam to explain Macron's increasingly Islamophobic, authoritarian, and anti-leftist policy agenda. Topics include: whether or not his reactionary pivot should have been a surprise; the alarming parallels between France today and America after 9/11; the susceptibility of center-left politics to reactionary forces; the role French secularism (laïcité) has and hasn't played in these controversies; prospects for the French left; and more!
The Rush Limbaugh Show (w/ Nicole Hemmer)
1:23:41No media figure has had a more profound impact on the shape of contemporary conservative politics than Rush Limbaugh. For three hours a day, every weekday since 1988, Rush delighted and ignited his radio audience with a high-octane diatribe against liberal degeneracy — an often comic, always cruel, and never apologetic expression of the white male id. When he died on February 17, 2021, Rush left behind an American media landscape — and a Republican Party — reshaped in his image: a ruinous marriage of entertainment, insular world-building, and reactionary meanness that found its apotheosis in the presidency of Donald J. Trump.And no one is better situated to elucidate Rush Limbaugh's appeal, his effectiveness, and his impact on American politics than our guest, Nicole Hemmer. Hemmer is the author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics. She's at work on a new book tracing the transformation of right-wing politics in the post-Reagan years — a story in which Rush plays a starring role. Hemmer is also an associate research scholar with the Obama Presidency Oral History Project at Columbia University. And — a skilled broadcaster in her own right — she cohosts the podcasts Past Present and This Day in Esoteric Political History.We're certain you'll enjoy this conversation as much as we did! Further Reading:Nicole Hemmer, "The Man Who Created President Donald Trump," CNN, February 17, 2021.Mary Harris, "Rush Is Dead, but We're Still Living in the World He Created," Slate, February 18, 2021Jill Filipovic, "The Life and Death of a Woman-Hater," New York Times, February 20, 2021William F. Buckley Jr., "Crucial Steps in Combating the Aids Epidemic; Identify All the Carriers," NYT, Mar 18, 1986....and don't forget to subscribe to Know Your Enemy on Patreon for access to all of our bonus episodes!
TEASER: Keeping up with the Bozells
1:37Subscribe at https://www.patreon.com/knowyourenemy to hear this and all our bonus content!From the union-busting, ad-man scion (Brent Sr.), to the fiercely brilliant and troubled National Review editor-turned-Catholic zealot (Brent Jr.), to the insipid media watchdog and Trump apologist (Brent III), and finally, to the ball-cap-wearing January 6 capitol siege participant (Brent IV, aka "Zeeker") — the Bozell epic has all the elements of a great family saga: pathos, intrigue, tragedy, farce, decline, and even a bit of redemption. In classic KYE fashion, we over-prepared and over-imbibed to bring you this story. Please enjoy responsibly!
How to Survive a Pandemic (w/ Peter Staley)
1:15:48Matt and Sam have an in-depth conversation with HIV/AIDs activist Peter Staley to get his perspective on Dr. Anthony Fauci's role in America's response to two of the most devastating public-health emergencies of recent decades: the AIDS crisis and the pandemic that began nearly one year ago. They discuss how Peter got his start in ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in New York City in the 1980s, what the group was fighting for, his run-ins with Pat Buchanan, Jesse Helms, and other rightwing rogues, and how he came to know Fauci. How does Peter understand Fauci's role in the Trump administration's response to the pandemic? Should Fauci have resigned? What good was he able to do? And how does his experience as an activist inform his views about working with government officials on the "inside"? Watch:How to Survive a Plague (the 2012 documentary about ACT UP in which Peter figures prominently) Read:Sam Adler-Bell, "Dr. Do-Little: The Case Against Anthony Fauci," The Drift, February 4, 2021"A Timeline of the Coronavirus Pandemic," New York Times, January 10, 2021...and don't forget to subscribe on Patreon for all Know Your Enemy bonus episodes!