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tzimmer_history

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Historian at Georgetown - Democracy and Its Discontents - Podcast: Is This Democracy https://anchor.fm/is-this-democracy - Newsletter: Democracy Americana https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/

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tzimmer_history , to random
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Why the Right Has a Problem with Juneteenth

This, from last year, certainly holds up: Today’s Republican Party is dominated by reactionaries who stand in the political, ideological, and spiritual tradition of the (neo-) Confederacy.

Some thoughts - with an added voiceover option:

🧵1/

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/why-the-right-has-a-problem-with

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Many Republicans who voted for the Juneteenth bill in 2021 are all in on demonizing anything that questions a white nationalist understanding of America’s past or present, and few people who identify as conservative are in favor of teaching Juneteenth in schools. 2/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Rightwingers assume that “the Left” elevated Juneteenth to the status of a national holiday purely as an “anti-American humiliation ritual,” all part of a larger leftwing agenda to take complete control of the country. 3/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Juneteenth was the result of the United States – the country conservatives claim to love! – winning the most destructive war in its history and defeating a traitorous rebellion. Why are conservatives acting like they are told to celebrate their own defeat? 4/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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The answer is that, in a very profound way, that is exactly what is happening. Today’s Republicans are not the successors to the Confederacy in any legal sense. But they stand in the tradition of those who took up arms against their country in 1861. 5/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Since the founding, two incompatible ideas of how to define the nation have shaped the American project. From the beginning, some believed that America was to be a place where all people were created equal. 6/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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For much of the nation’s history, however, a very different conception of “America” dominated, an ethno-religious nationalism that envisioned a land where property-owning white Christian men had a right to be at the top and shape society and culture in their image. 7/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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From these opposing forms of nationalism sprung two very different, fundamentally incompatible ideas of democracy and freedom. The egalitarian vision demanded, at least in theory, a truly democratic order that would balance the needs and demands of all people. 8/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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The white nationalist vision, on the other hand, set narrow boundaries to how much democracy, and for whom, was permissible. It revolved around the principle of white male freedom: The freedom to impose a reactionary “natural” order on others. 9/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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In terms of the political project of defending white freedom, there is a direct line from those who fought for their right to enslave others to today’s reactionaries who cling to the idea that the world works best if it is dominated by wealthy white men. 10/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Conflicts over the past and how to commemorate it, over the stories we tell, the history we teach, have been at the center of the political conflict - part of a larger struggle over who gets to define national identity and thereby either stabilize or question the status quo. 11/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Juneteenth stands in stark tension with the kind of purely celebratory reading of America’s past and present the Right prefers and wants to mandate for the country. It doesn’t lend itself easily to a celebration of white heroism in ending slavery. 12/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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It instead centers the celebration of Black freedom and the struggles to establish a Black voice and perspective in the collective imaginary of the nation, elevates the stories of those who have traditionally been marginalized in the dominant white mainstream tale of U.S. history. 13/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Republicans are currently conducting a witch hunt against “unpatriotic” ideas and are using the power of the state to outlaw dissent, restrict critical debate, and punish anyone who dares to question the righteousness of past, present, or future white reactionary rule. 14/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Those who demand “patriotism” and define it as the glorification of a mythical past that serves as the basis and justification for white nationalist rule in the present stand in a long line of reactionaries who defined pluralistic democracy as the enemy to their “freedom” to dominate.

Please consider subscribing:

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/why-the-right-has-a-problem-with

tzimmer_history , to random
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Why the Right Has a Problem with Juneteenth

This, from last year, certainly holds up: Today’s Republican Party is dominated by reactionaries who stand in the political, ideological, and spiritual tradition of the (neo-) Confederacy.

With an added voiceover option:

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/why-the-right-has-a-problem-with

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

A year ago, I wrote about the direct line from those who fought for their right to enslave others in the name of “freedom” to today’s reactionaries who insist they have a right to define the national story and American identity in a way that upholds discriminatory traditional hierarchies.

tzimmer_history OP ,
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I also reflect on how the Right’s critique of Juneteenth and insistence on a white nationalist version of U.S. history compares to the German struggle to work through the Nazi past - and specifically the struggle to establish May 8, 1945 as a Day of Liberation rather than defeat.

tzimmer_history OP ,
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You’ll find the recording of me reading the piece at the top of the post. You can just click on it and either play it on the web or in the Substack app, if you are using that. The voiceover hopefully makes the piece more easily accessible.

Please consider subscribing:

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/why-the-right-has-a-problem-with

tzimmer_history , to random
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Posting this again – because I have added an audio version of the piece.

This is a new feature I am trying out: Voiceover articles, for those who prefer to listen to rather than read my (admittedly very long) essays.

The Right’s Politics of Revenge:

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/the-rights-politics-of-revenge

tzimmer_history OP ,
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I survey the reactions from Republican elected officials, reactionary intellectuals, and rightwing activists: They demand retaliation – providing a perfect distillation of how the Right sees the world and what animates their politics.

tzimmer_history OP ,
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You’ll find the recording of me reading the piece at the top of the post. You can just click on it and either play it on the web or in the Substack app, if you are using that. No need to download or install anything.

tzimmer_history OP ,
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I am genuinely grateful to anyone who takes the time to read my essays, but I am also acutely aware that I am demanding quite a lot from my readers in terms of time and attention. My hope is that the voiceovers might make the pieces more easily accessible for some people.

tzimmer_history OP ,
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If you are like me, and consuming audio products in all types of situations (chores, commutes, exercising…) has become a crucial part of how you keep up with the world, these voiceover articles may make it easier to engage with the newsletter.

tzimmer_history OP ,
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I am also toying with the idea of maybe reposting some older pieces I particularly care about, from the archive, so to speak, with added voiceover – add the audio version as a chance to present this to people who have subscribed or started reading the newsletter more recently.

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Please let me know what you think about all this, if this is something that does indeed appeal to you, adds value… because if it doesn’t, then it’s obviously not worth putting in the extra time and effort. Thank you!

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/the-rights-politics-of-revenge

tzimmer_history OP ,
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@maikek No worries - nothing changes on that front. I am not changing anything about the essays.

tzimmer_history , to random
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ICYMI: I wrote about the responses to the Trump verdict – an alarming reminder of the politics of revenge that defines the American Right today.

They are out for bloody retaliation, all dressed up as “patriotism.”

Some thoughts from my new piece:

🧵1/

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/the-rights-politics-of-revenge

tzimmer_history OP ,
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I survey the reactions from Republican elected officials, reactionary intellectuals, and rightwing activists: They demand retaliation – against the system, the Democrats, the Libs, the Left… against the array of “Un-American” forces they define as the enemy within. 2/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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One reaction that stood out to me was a short opinion piece by Josh Hammer in Newsweek, titled “Post-Trump Verdict, Will the American Right Finally Wake Up?” – the perfect distillation of how the Right sees the world and what animates their politics. 3/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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In a little over 750 words, the piece offers an impressive display of the siege mentality that defines the Right, the permission structure that governs conservative politics, and the logic that compels them to close ranks behind Donald Trump. 4/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Hammer’s description of the past eight years as one big conspiracy, orchestrated by the evil Democrats and the nefarious Deep State, against Donald Trump is entirely untethered from empirical reality. An alternate reality that isn’t intended to convince anyone – just to enrage. 5/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Hammer’s tale of decline also captures the sense of being under siege that defines the Right – the Trump verdict, in this narrative, is indicative of the “fallen state of the nation,” and “American patriots of all political stripes” need to fight back to save “this once-great nation.” 6/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Appealing to “patriots of all political stripes,” in a piece that is so aggressively and militantly partisan, is revealing. The Right believes they are engaged not in a competition against a legitimate political opponent, but in a noble war to defend “real America.” 7/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Rightwingers have decided that they are the country. The choice, therefore, isn’t partisanship or loyalty to the country. To them, the partisan divide maps perfectly onto the struggle between patriots and “Un-American” radicals for the survival of the nation. 8/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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In another remarkable inversion, Hammer portrays the Right as the guardians of a liberal vision of equality before the law and a neutral justice system. But it was all a lie, Hammer declares, a lie perpetrated by a ruthless Left that used it to steamroll its opponent. 9/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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If “We” leave noble principles behind and embrace a violent struggle for supremacy, Hammer maintains, then it’s because the Left made “Us” do it. The “forces of civilizational sanity” on the Right are merely fighting back against the aggressive “forces of civilizational arson.” 10/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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This is precisely the permission structure that has governed conservative politics for quite some time: “Real Americans” are constantly being victimized, made to suffer under the yoke of crazy leftist politics, besieged by “Un-American” forces of leftism. Time to fight back! 11/

tzimmer_history OP ,
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Building up this violent threat from a “Left” that supposedly values nothing but victory over the enemy allows the Right to justify their actions within the established framework of conservative self-victimization. It allowed them to support Donald Trump in the first place. 12/

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

This has always been the Right’s argument for Trump. If “real America” is under siege, and its defenders have their backs against the wall in an all-out struggle for the survival of the nation that defines and consumes all politics, then Trump is precisely the right leader. 13/

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

Trump doesn’t just sympathize with the (mostly white, mostly male) grievance and anger that defines the rightwing base, the desire for revenge – but shares it, revels in it, is consumed by it himself. It forms the core promise of Trumpism as a form of radical politics. 14/

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

The extremists, those who perceive the world entirely through the lens of a politics of revenge, are thoroughly in control of defining the problem, the agenda, the style of politics, and the political identity on the Right. And they long to get bloody.

Please consider subscribing:

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/the-rights-politics-of-revenge

tzimmer_history , to random
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Sunday Reading: The Right’s Politics of Revenge

The responses to the Trump verdict offer an instructive - and alarming - reminder of what defines the American Right today: They are out for bloody retaliation, all dressed up as patriotism.

Thoughts from my new piece:

1/

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/the-rights-politics-of-revenge

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

In that fundamental struggle, they are never the aggressors. If the Right is embracing a violent struggle for supremacy and a politics of revenge, they are telling us and themselves, then it’s because “the Left” made them do it. 4/

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

This is precisely the permission structure that has governed conservative politics for quite some time: “Real Americans” are constantly being victimized, made to suffer under the yoke of crazy leftist politics, besieged by “Un-American” forces of leftism. Time to fight back! 5/

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

Building up this violent threat from a “Left” that supposedly values nothing but victory over the enemy allows the Right to justify their actions within the established framework of conservative self-victimization. It allowed them to support Donald Trump in the first place. 6/

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

This has always been the Right’s argument for Trump. If “real America” is under siege, and its defenders have their backs against the wall in an all-out, Us vs Them struggle for the survival of the nation that defines and consumes all politics, then Trump is precisely the right leader. 7/

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

Trump doesn’t just sympathize with the (mostly white, mostly male) grievance and anger that defines the rightwing base, the desire for revenge – but shares it, revels in it, is consumed by it himself. It forms the core promise of Trumpism as a form of radical politics. 8/

tzimmer_history OP ,
@tzimmer_history@mastodon.social avatar

The extremists, those who perceive the world entirely through the lens of a politics of revenge, are thoroughly in control of defining the problem, the agenda, the style of politics, and the political identity on the Right. And they long to get bloody.

More here - please consider subscribing:

https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/the-rights-politics-of-revenge

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