On this week’s Past Present podcast, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the history of America’s death penalty, political correctness, and Hillary Clinton’s “enthusiasm gap.”

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

  • The last U.S. pharmaceutical company has stopped selling drugs used for lethal injections. American attitudes about the death penalty have shifted dramatically over time, Niki noted, including a significant drop in public support after World War II because of European allies banning the practice. Natalia mentioned Mary Dudziak’s book Cold War Civil Rights which showed how the international community looked at the death penalty as another example of America’s racial problems during the Cold War. Natalia also argued that events like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings led to President Clinton signing the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act which cut back on regulations on executions. Neil cited the rise of DNA science and the funding of “innocence projects” for changing American attitudes about the death penalty.
  • What’s wrong with political correctness? Both the right and left are taking on America’s P.C. culture. Jonathan Haidt warned in the Atlantic last year about the “Coddling of the American Mind,” and Jonathan Chait recently wrote for New York Magazine about “Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say.” Natalia traced the origins of political correctness to the debates within the American communist movement in the 1930s. Neil noted the positive meaning of political correctness in the 1950s and 1960s when politicians used it to speak about their own correct policies. That changed in the 1970s and 1980s, Niki argued, when politics were no longer seen favorably and in the 1990s when the Dartmouth Review and Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education (1991) began to push back at P.C. campus culture.
  • The Harvard student Sam Koppelman recently wrote about the challenge of supporting Hillary Clinton on a liberal campus. Throughout this election, Clinton has suffered from what has been called an “enthusiasm gap.” Natalia argued Clinton struggled from being seen as a status quo candidate, while Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump benefitted from being viewed as critics of the system. But Niki remembered when Clinton was recently “cool,” such as in the popularity of Clinton memes like “Texts from Hillary.” Niki also discussed the Bradley effect, a theory concerning the discrepancy between voter opinion polls and election outcomes, as a possible component of the 2016 race.

 

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On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the changing racial demographics of American evangelicalism, the decline of running, and digital imperialism.

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

  • Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention recently wrote in the New York Times that the white evangelical church of old is no more. Neil noted the significance of Moore’s piece, considering the SBC originated from a split among Baptists over slavery in 1845. Natalia compared white American evangelicals’ increasingly close relationships with conservative Christians in Africa, South America, and Asia to the global network of religious people of color who have united to block sex education that Jonathan Zimmerman writes about in his book, Too Hot to Handle. Neil argued Moore’s comments had to be seen in light of his efforts against Donald Trump, but also betrayed a refusal to acknowledge evangelical support for Trump, such as seen in his recent article for Christianity Today.
  • Millennials are killing running! Instead of running, Natalia explained, millennials prefer group-based fitness classes with built-in socializing elements. Niki noted that trend served as the antithesis to Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone argument about social fragmentation. Although running as an exercise has a short history in the United States, Natalia explained John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Sports Illustrated article, “The Soft American,” that worried about Americans’ poor health and lack of vigor had helped spur the running craze. Many of those runners turned to Bill Bowerman’s 1967 classic, Jogging, the first book about the sport. As Natalia has written for Well + Good, women faced a bumpy road in taking up the sport.
  • The Indian government has rejected Facebook’s bid to provide its Free Basics internet program in the country. Neil situated that rejection in a longer history of colonial resistance to imperial rule. Those rulers, Natalia observed, had articulated their imperial project in a language of uplift and civilization, something she saw in the technology entrepreneur Marc Andreessen’s controversial tweets responding to India’s decision.

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Dennis Hastert, Phyllis Schlafly, and Malia Obama taking a gap year before entering Harvard. 

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

 

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On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Prince, Donald Trump’s America First foreign policy, and educational inequality.

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Harriet Tubman’s replacement of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, the regulation of adult toys, and Whole Foods.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

  • The Treasury Department announced Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. Neil noted this has been largely an uncontroversial decision, although Donald Trump called the move “pure political correctness.” Natalia and Niki cited the historian David Greenberg’s defense of Andrew Jackson as one of the architects of the American political system as a reason for keeping him on our currency. The change to the $20 bill came as a surprise to many who had expected Alexander Hamilton to be removed from the $10 bill, but a groundswell of support for Hamilton in the wake of the hit Broadway musical named after him may have kept him on our currency. In light of that popularity, Natalia shared Hilary Levey Friedman’s recent blog post that ruminated on the cultural meaning of the internet trend to post selfies at the Broadway show.
  • In 2007, Ted Cruz defended Texas’ prohibition against the sale of sex toys as the state’s attorney general. Niki situated Texas’ law in the history of vice regulation. Neil pointed out that the establishment of the right to sexual privacy by the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas (2003) covered the use of sex toys, but not their sale. Natalia observed the long history of sex toys, including their use by medical doctors in the nineteenth century for female patients suffering from “hysteria.” Niki noted the rise of Passion Parties, a sex toy company popular in the Bible Belt, and Neil discussed the different views Christian sex manuals have taken regarding these devices, including Tim and Beverly LaHaye’s opposition in The Act of Marriage and Dr. Douglas Rosenau’s endorsement in A Celebration of Sex.
  • The chain Whole Foods may be liberal foodies’ favorite supermarket, but Natalia pointed out the conservative politics of its founder John Mackey, including his opposition to Obamacare. Natalia argued that although Mackey’s politics may seem surprising they cohered in a wellness and libertarian worldview not uncommon among the “crunchy cons” set, a group of conservatives like Rod Dreher who promote natural living and organic food as a conservative cause. Niki thought Whole Foods’ cultural liberalism and economic conservatism reminded her of similar examples in David Brooks’ Bobos in Paradise. Natalia also recommended Joshua Clark Davis’s forthcoming book From Head Shops to Whole Foods for understanding more about this grocery chain’s history. Natalia has written about the strange gender politics of “natural” living for the U.S. Intellectual History Blog.

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss political violence, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and the prison industrial complex.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

  • Battery charges filed against Donald Trump’s campaign manager are just the latest incident in an election year that has known its share of violence. Neil argued political violence may be built into our historical DNA, tracing back to the American Revolution. Natalia suggested that tradition went even further back, citing Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676. Niki likened some of Trump’s political strategies to the domestic violence tactic of gaslighting, something she has written about in her column for U.S. News. Trump’s aggressive masculinity reminded Natalia of Gail Bederman’s argument in Manliness and Civilization that although unrestrained masculinity became considered uncivil in the early twentieth century it still retained certain political and cultural value.
  • The hit Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt just began its second season. Part of the show’s appeal, Natalia argued, was it tapped into a new nostalgia for the 1990s. Niki contrasted that with our more prevalent cultural nostalgia for the 1980s, demonstrated in the success of the television drama The Americans. Niki commented that although Kimmy represented a lot of the optimism of the 1990s, the show also reflected some of its darker elements including the rise of doomsday cults in the decade. Neil traced those cults to apocalyptic fervor of the 1980s, shown in the popularity of the Left Behind series. Natalia noted those fears continued in the 1990s, particularly in anticipation of Y2K.
  • ·Many of America’s prisons have been outsourced to private corporations. Natalia situated that development in the context of the Rockefeller drug laws that led to increasing prison populations at the same time as shrinking state budgets. Niki noted that the Prison Industries Act of 1995 provided that prisoners be paid minimum wage for their labor, but also allowed for wages to be deducted for room and board costs. Natalia recommended Jeff Smith’s prison memoir, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, for how it shows the prison system has no sense of rehabilitating inmates.

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, Soul Cycle, and Bernie Sanders and the history of socialism.

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss North Carolina’s bathroom bill, the history of Spring Break, and the nation’s heroin epidemic. 

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

  • North Carolina’s state legislature recently overturned a Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance which allowed transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. Natalia noted that fears about public restrooms have often inspired moral panics, pointing to the 1961 short film Boys Beware that warned boys about homosexual predators waiting to attack them in public bathrooms. Niki mentioned that opponents of the Civil Rights Movement played on similar fears, claiming women would be exposed to venereal disease if restrooms were integrated, as the historian Gillian Frank has argued. Neil said anti-feminists had helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment by arguing the constitutional amendment would create sex-integrated bathrooms, making women vulnerable to attacks from rapists. Neil has written for Slate about how similar arguments were made to defeat Houston’s recent bathroom bill.
  • It’s Spring Break time again, but what’s the history of this annual bacchanalia? Niki considered Spring Break in part as a media creation, noting Time Magazine’s 1959 article that deemed it a rite of passage for college students and the 1960 movie Where the Boys Are that depicted Spring Break adventures in the popular destination of Fort Lauderdale. Natalia noted Spring Break had begun in Fort Lauderdale in the 1930s where a major swim meet turned into a well-known event for thousands of college students. Fort Lauderdale’s Spring Break status culminated in the 1980s with the arrival of MTV Spring Break which televised every debauched moment. 
  • President Obama recently announced a host of new measures to address the nation’s heroin epidemic, including increased focus on treatment. Natalia noted that this more compassionate approach to drug addiction marks a real departure from how the nation dealt with the crack epidemic of the 1980s, arguing racism may explain some of the difference as crack affected black communities while heroin is largely a white epidemic. Neil traced the history of heroin from the nineteenth century when most heroin addicts were upper-class women who used the drug to self-medicate their pains. That history linked to the current crisis, Niki observed, since today’s heroin epidemic stemmed from the abuse of prescription painkillers. Natalia mentioned Elizabeth Wurtzel’s 1994 book Prozac Nation detailed how the author used drugs to deal with her debilitating depression. And Neil and Natalia both commented on how pop culture had represented drug use and addiction, including the movies Less Than Zero and American Psycho and the television dramas Weeds and Nurse Jackie

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Hulk Hogan v. Gawker, parental leave policy, and the left’s love of Scandinavia.

 

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

  • Hulk Hogan has won a $115 million judgment against Gawker Media for publishing a recording of him having sex with a female friend. Hogan asserted his right to privacy, but others have defended Gawker’s First Amendment rights. Neil pointed out the concept of privacy is a modern one that was originally encoded in the Bill of Rights as a protection against government intrusion by the military. Niki argued that notion expanded with the rise of newspapers in the late nineteenth century as citizens sought protection against their “invasion of privacy” for news stories. Niki noted Gawker’s response to the court’s judgment argued their opponents in court had won their case by presenting the Gawker website as an example of the distasteful and objectionable fare that proliferates on the Internet. Natalia situated the Hogan case and the history of celebrity sex tapes in the context of the nation’s obscenity laws, something John D’Emilio and Estelle Freedman’s book, Intimate Matters, argues allowed for the wide expression of sexual imagery in the public sphere.
  • The online retailer Etsy recently announced it would now provide six months of paid leave to mothers and fathers following a birth or adoption. Natalia contrasted the histories of the United States and Europe in order to explain why American policies regarding parental leave lag behind Europe’s. Niki noted the AARP had pushed for the passage of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act in order to expand the circumstances around which employers could take off from work, including the care of an elderly parent. Natalia remarked on the surprising irony that a man, Gary Akerman, is considered the father of family leave because he tried unsuccessfully to be granted paternal leave to care for his newborn daughter in 1969, arguing that maternity leave discriminated on the basis of gender.
  • The American left loves Scandinavia while conservative critics prefer to point out Scandinavia’s darker aspects. Neil cited the Finnish writer Anu Partanen who recently argued American liberals wrongly think Scandinavians support their social democratic system because of a self-denial for the common good. Rather, Partanen maintains, Scandinavians do so out of self-interest. Many Americans also admire Scandinavia’s high educational rankings, but Natalia remarked that Pasi Sahlberg’s book Finnish Lessons showed how different the Scandinavian education system was from America’s, including the absence of private schools and a cultural aversion to competition. Niki likened this to the “tall poppy syndrome” philosophy prevalent in Australia and other Anglosphere countries.

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Merrick Garland, Misty Copeland, and brokered conventions.

 

You can listen to Episode 25 here.

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Nancy Reagan, O.J. Simpson, and presidential bodies.

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Donald Trump and evangelical voters, the Ku Klux Klan, and CrossFit. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Apple vs. the US, Michael Pollan’s “Cooked,” and Guantanamo Bay.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Antonin Scalia, Samantha Bee and women in comedy, and the Grammy Awards. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the Zika virus, Beyonce’s “Formation,” and Hillary Clinton’s feminism problem.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Hillary Clinton and Reconstruction, Curvy Barbie, and Bernie Sanders and atheism.

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss #OscarsSoWhite, Oprah Winfrey and the history of Weight Watchers, and why Iowa’s caucus goes first. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss Flint’s water crisis, New York values, and Wheaton College. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss David Bowie, bikini bods, and Ted Cruz and natural born citizenship. 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:

 

 

In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

 

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AuthorNicole Hemmer

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the Oregon standoff, President Obama and executive orders, and Downton Abbey. 

 

Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:


In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:

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AuthorNicole Hemmer