And other problems we need to solve before we can get out of this mess.
by Andrew J. Bacevich via The Nation on June 22, 2017
In effect, professional historians have ceded the field to a new group of bards and minstrels. So the bestselling “historian” in the United States today is Bill O’Reilly, whose books routinely sell more than a million copies each. Were Donald Trump given to reading books, he would likely find O’Reilly’s both accessible and agreeable. But O’Reilly is in the entertainment business. He has neither any interest nor the genuine ability to create what Becker called “history that does work in the world.”
Still, history itself works in mysterious ways known only to God or to Providence. Only after the fact do its purposes become evident. It may yet surprise us.
Owing his election in large part to my fellow WHAMs, Donald Trump is now expected to repay that support by putting things right. Yet as events make it apparent that Trump is no more able to run a government than Bill O’Reilly is able to write history, they may well decide that he is not their friend after all. With that, their patience is likely to run short. It is hardly implausible that Trump’s assigned role in history will be once and for all to ring down the curtain on our specious present, demonstrating definitively just how bankrupt all the triumphalist hokum of the past quarter-century—the history that served “for the time being”—has become.
When that happens, when promises of American greatness restored prove empty, there will be hell to pay. Joe Doakes, John Q. Public, and the man in the street will be even more pissed. Should that moment arrive, historians would do well to listen seriously to what Everyman has to say.