From historicizing Trump’s immigration ban to the not-so-special Anglo-American relationship, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.
“This is not American. This is not who we are.” The words have the thrum of a chant, a staccato denial. After Donald Trump announced his travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, the words were pronounced by Hillary Clinton, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Andrew Cuomo. They were scrawled on signs and posted on Facebook and repeated at rallies. This is not American. This is not who we are.
But the words are more an incantation than an accurate description, built on hope not history. For all the recitations of Emma Lazarus — give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses — the story of American openness to immigrants and refugees is more cramped, more Trumpian, than our national myths suggest. In order to understand and undo the Muslim ban (and given the prioritization of religious minorities in those seven countries, a Muslim ban it is) we need to understand why it is in fact in line with our history, even as it feels so un-American. [continue reading]
Australian Women’s History Network
In 1935, an Australian delegation at the Assembly of the League of Nations watched a pivotal moment in world history unfold. From her seat on Australia’s table, Bessie Rischbieth listened attentively to the representative of Abyssinia (also known as Ethiopia), Tekle Hawariat, as he made a passionate plea for international intervention in the recent invasion of his country by Italy.
By then an experienced internationalist, Rischbieth was the Western Australian president of the Australian Federation of Women Voters (AFWV) and a member of the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) and British Commonwealth League. With many international conferences under her belt, she had lobbied for the inclusion of a woman on each Australian delegation to the League, a practice implemented from 1931 onwards. If not full or voting members, then women were at least represented as Australia became increasingly engaged in world affairs. [continue reading]
One hundred years ago, the Romanov dynasty fell in the February Revolution of 1917. This centenary haunts Russia’s current government. “In the Kremlin,” wrote journalist Ben Judah in his important analysis of Vladimir Putin’s “Fragile Empire”, “they have nightmares about Nicholas II”.
In the middle of a terrible war with Germany, a revolutionary crisis had started in late February (according to the Julian calendar then in force in Russia). The Tsar, under pressure from the street, the parliamentary opposition, his own ministers, and the army command, abdicated on 2 March. A Provisional Government of liberals and moderate socialists took over the affairs of state and the war effort. [continue reading]
LA Review of Books
THE TRUMP-HITLER COMPARISON. Is there any comparison? Between the way the campaigns of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler should have been treated by the media and the culture? The way the media should act now? The problem of normalization. Because I’d written a book called Explaining Hitler several editors had asked me, during the campaign, to see what could be said on the subject.
Until the morning after the election I had declined them. While Trump’s crusade had at times been malign, as had his vociferous supporters, he and they did not seem bent on genocide. He did not seem bent on anything but hideous, hurtful simplemindedness — a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had mainstreamed. When I say followers I’m thinking about the perpetrators of violence against women outlined by New York Magazine who punched women in the face and shouted racist slurs at them. Those supporters. These are the people Trump has dragged into the mainstream, and as my friend Michael Hirschorn pointed out, their hatefulness will no longer find the Obama Justice Department standing in their way. [continue reading]
Whenever relations between Britain and the United States are discussed, mention of the so-called ‘special relationship’ is never far behind. Like all relationships, Britain and the US have endured peaks and troughs, but few would argue with the view that for many years the nations have enjoyed mutual friendship and broadly shared interests.
Yet at the onset of the Second World War the relationship appears to have been regarded by many in Britain as decidedly less than fraternal and anything but ‘special’. So concerned was the British government that, in 1941, the Ministry of Information [MOI] deemed it necessary to plan a campaign aimed at countering the prevailing negative British view of the US government and its people. [continue reading]