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This interview originally aired on June 26, 2019.
If there has been one overarching theme to the often vile rhetoric emanating from Donald Trump and his administration, it has been violent gaslighting. The whole Make America Great Again framing, it’s an umbrella under which a seemingly endless series of lies and historical revisionism reside. We see this on issues of race, economics, gender, climate, women’s health, war, even history itself.
This whitewashing of U.S. history, the reverence for slave owners who served as president of this country, it’s not an invention of Donald Trump. Almost all politicians in this country throughout history have engaged in this revisionism masquerading as patriotism. But under this administration, under Donald Trump, it is out there in the extreme open. It is a source of pride.
There is still a debate in this country over the true story of the Civil War and the nature of the Confederacy. It’s somehow with us always these days. From Charlottesville to the issue of Civil War monuments and beyond.
One of the best sources for dissecting all of this, that I’ve found, is a great podcast called Uncivil. The show’s producers describe their program as telling “stories that were left out of the official history of the Civil War, ransacking America’s past, and taking on the history you grew up with.” They say, “We bring you untold stories about resistance, covert operations, corruption, mutiny, counterfeiting, antebellum drones, and so much more. And we connect these forgotten struggles to the political battlefield we’re living on right now. The story of the Civil War — the story of slavery, confederate monuments, racism — is the story of America.”
Chenjerai Kumanyika is the co-host and co-executive producer of the really great podcast Uncivil. He’s also a researcher, a journalist and a hip hop artist. He is assistant professor at Rutgers University in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies.
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