On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the history of refugees, the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, and Instamoms.
Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:
- President Obama tied the Syrian refugee crisis to the story of the Pilgrims in a recent radio address to move Americans to support their entry to the US. The Washington Post’s image of a young refugee, Niki argued, was meant in part to elicit American sympathy, but throughout history Americans have seldom welcomed refugees into the nation. Natalia noted the lowest point of this history may have been when the US rejected the admission of European Jews in the years leading up to World War II. Neil pointed out that moment has been humanized by the account of Anne Frank’s family being denied entry as refugees.
- Princeton students have demanded the university remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from campus sites because of his racist acts as president. Natalia agreed with historian Nathan Connolly’s request that we “write segregation and race into the story, not to write the racists out of it.” She also recommended the historian Jonathan Zimmerman’s Politico article that encouraged Princeton students to reckon more with Wilson’s complicated example.
- “Instamoms,” like @Taylensmom, are the newest social media phenomena. But are these digital parents just the latest version of the stage mom? Natalia suggested Viviana Zelizer’s classic, Pricing the Priceless Child, provided a useful way for thinking about the changing social value of children in America.
In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History:
- Natalia recommended Sarah Hepola’s memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget.
- Neil discussed why Americans spoke with the accent they did in the 1930s and what 100 years of photographs reveal about the history of smiling.
- Niki shared the new Amazon series The Man in the High Castle as a way of thinking about the meaning of fascism in American politics.