Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bill O'Reilly, Serial Killer


First it was Killing Lincoln, now Bill O'Reilly plans on Killing Kennedy this fall.  What gives?  I read the first chapters in the amazon preview of Killing Lincoln and it was so banal.  The book reminded me of the biographies I read in elementary school, with American historical figures reduced to a set of anecdotes broken up with illustrations to make reading easy.  I suppose for the persons who tune into the O'Reilly Factor, this is appropriate reading level, but at least O'Reilly doesn't pretend to be an historian, unlike his fellow conservative pundit, Glenn Beck, who has blessed us with his evangelical account of George Washington.  Here is Glenn and David Barton on GBTV chewing the fat over which founding father is harder to pin down, Old George or Doubtiing Thomas.

10 comments:

  1. ugh ... and so early in the morning, too. (Good title for the post though -- serial killer indeed)

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  2. Yea, reading about these books feels like waking up with a hangover.

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  3. What a pity that so many people read these books.

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  4. It does seem like a waste of time, doesn't it?

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  5. That said, I do think it is important to highlight what the other side is doing. I think we have a tendency to be passive about this kind of historic revisionism, thinking the books will soon disappear from the public consciousness, but judging by how little Americans seem to know about their own history, these books feed right into it, which is why I appreciate persons like Chris Rodda and Warren Throckmorton who have taken a very active role in challenging these books by coming out with strong rebuttals,

    http://gettingjeffersonright.com/

    I've been posting on his blog recently, which he actively participates in.

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  6. I am always amazed that people believe, listen to, buy anything from the right wing -- but then they don't have to think for themselves. I am guilty to that to some extent, since I get my politics from msnbc: Matthews who usually has two points of view on his show (but not always) but who is definitely a Democratic centrist, and sometimes Maddow who definitely is not. But I also read widely so that it's not my only source of news.

    But if I didn't watch those shows I would not know about all the voter suppression efforts and anti-union activities, which matter to me. You rarely see stories about those in the Post or the NY Times.

    Speaking of Maddow, I received her Drift last night and started reading it. She writes like she talks so it's a breezy read. Nice contrast to Caro, whom I'm still reading -- it's a great book but slow going for me.

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  7. Speaking of the extreme right:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jun/21/how-texas-inflicts-bad-textbooks-on-us/?pagination=false

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  8. It is scary to think what passes for "history" in primary and secondary schools and some colleges for that matter. I hadn't realized Texas' influence extended beyond the state, but this only drives the point home as publishers aim toward the bigger reading blocks.

    I'm not a big fan of MSNBC. It is too much like an anti-Fox news entertainment program for my taste, with the same level of invective. I've watched Matthews and Maddow and Olbermann from time to time and they don't hold me. Not that I don't agree with them in most cases, but it is too much like preaching to the choir.

    I think it is time to bust up the stronghold Fox has over the large block of viewers it has in this country. I'm not exactly sure how you go about it, but MSNBC is not the answer. Seems laughter is the best medicine, which is why I like Stewart and Colbert.

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  9. Jean-Paul Sartre's "Anti-Semite and Jew" is a classic dissection of why some (many?) people hold opinions that are not supported by reason or facts. Although he is talking about this in the context of anti-Semitism, you might be surprised to find that much of his argument applies to the right-wing in general. Here's a representative passage from the book:

    "The rational man groans as he gropes for the truth; he knows that his reasoning is no more than tentative, that other considerations may suprevene to cast doubt on it. He never sees very clearly where he is going; he is "open"; he may even appear to be hesitant. But there are people who are attracted by the durability of stone. They wish to be massive and impenetrable; they wish not to change. Where, indeed, could change take them? We have here a basic fear of oneself and of truth. What frightens them is not the content of truth, of which they have no conception, but the form itself of truth, that thing of indefinite approximation. It is as if their own existence were in continual suspension. But they wish to exist all at once and right away. They do not want any acquired opinions; they want them to be innate. Since they are afraid of reasoning, they wish to lead the kind of life wherein reasoning and research play only a subordinate role, wherein one seeks only what he has already found, wherein one becomes only what he already was."

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  10. Julian Jaynes called it the bicameral mind.

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