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"
Appreciate the authors fine work about the mythologies of American history. I’ve seen and heard the authors several times in the past couple of months and only find that there omissions negate in part the key arguments of their work. I can understand and appreciate their focus on the Trumpian right’s pursuit of anti-history and anti-truth. We have all lived through that these past 7 years. In truth, the move to anti-truth began in 1992 not 2015. So yes, the right is their correct target; however it is remarkable that they so easily explain away (in their interviews) their omitting the lies and myths perpetrated by the left in American history. Unlike many, my view of history goes back farther than 10 years. One only has to read the now criticized Progressive histories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Perhaps the greatest myth is that which is based on progressivism’s origin story, the writings and philosophy of Rousseau and the perfectibility of man. Luckily our Founders read more Locke and Livy than Rousseau and thus our nation’s rules were written for a “fallen” people not a perfect people. This argument cuts to the heart of the American dilemma for the past 200 years; the fight between Paine and Burke, between progressivism and conservatism. One can only hope that this place ( Substack) and others successfully promote the idea of a middle course, accepting the dreams and limitations of both arguments.