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Slavery And Freedom: Teaching the American Revolution, Pt. 5

No context, no meaning. Know context, know meaning. In my last post, I explained that if we want to understand the causes and meaning of the Revolution to American colonists, we need to place the events that get into the textbooks—the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, the shots fired on Lexington Green—into the larger fabric of their lives. This will necessarily involve figuring out what was going on in their ...

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Ted Cruz and God’s Political Subversion

Ted Cruz became the first major candidate to declare a presidential run for 2016. His formal announcement came this morning at Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world. Cruz’s announcement at Liberty University was an important political strategy. Cruz is the poster child of the Tea Party movement. He wants to spread his influence by appealing to evangelicals. There is no better pla ...

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Know Context, Know Meaning: Teaching The American Revolution, Pt.4

Let’s return to the American Revolution. In a previous post on my American Revolution course at Wheaton College, I explained that I never begin a course by immediately diving into the subject matter. I like to think out loud with my students about what we are going to be doing, and why it might be important to us. We start with a series of foundational questions that it’s good to revisit regularly: What is ...

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Putin May Not Be Crazy!

Since the toppling of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych by street protests just over a year ago, NATO countries and Russian President Vladimir Putin have not been able to agree on a basic point of fact: has Russia invaded Ukraine? NATO says yes, Putin says no. Putin’s denial of military involvement in the face of undeniable violence in the very regions that are strategically important to Russia seems ir ...

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On Wanting A Rocket Launcher (Book Feature Friday)

        Editor's Note: This article was submitted by guest author Bill Dolan. Bruce Cockburn is the guy who wished he had a rocket launcher. The Canadian singer-songwriter wrote “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” in 1983 after visiting a Guatemalan refugee camp. The song viscerally captures his response to watching government helicopters bomb a defenseless village. The chorus of the anthem sta ...

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Why Study History? Thoughts From Ford, Santayana, and “The Princess Bride”: Teaching The American Revolution, Pt. 3

So why study history at all? I ended my last post with this most basic of questions that I want my students of the American Revolution to grapple with. Notice I’m not asking specifically why we should study the American Revolution per se. We’ll get to that soon enough. The question is why pay attention to any part of the past? It’s a question that 21st-century Americans don’t have a ready answer for. As the ...

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The Vulcan Challenge to the American Way

The recent passing of Leonard Nimoy has got many of us reminiscing about his portrayal of the half-human, half-Vulcan, Mr. Spock. I am proud to say that I am an original Trekkie – I was glued to my television set for the initial broadcast of the first episode in September 1966 and every episode thereafter. Mr. Spock fascinated me, as he would put it. He was perpetually at war with himself, constantly workin ...

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White Terrorism

The president doesn’t “love” America? Would that it were true. Would that Rudy Giuliani’s five-star Republican nightmare actually paced the Oval Office, pondering how to disarm, demilitarize… defang American exceptionalism. Would that the president felt a responsibility to the global future and, at the same time, could summon our real past, grieve for its victims and vow with every fiber of his being to ato ...

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“You Are There” History: Teaching The American Revolution Pt. 2

  So let's play a history game. If you were going to teach a course on the American Revolution, what would be your starting point? (a) 1776       (b) 1775       (c) 1763      (d) 1754 There are arguments for each of the above.  You might argue for (a) on the grounds that colonial resistance to British authority did not become an official struggle for independence until the Declaration of Independence o ...

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Netanyahu Goes to Washington: A Tale of Insults And Wounded Pride

One solid plank of American foreign policy has been unflinching bipartisan support for Israel. Our motto has been to protect, support, and steadfastly defend Israel in the face of any threat and most importantly to forgive any moral misjudgments as aberrations born of fear and not evidence of an essential flaw. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress has turned this ...

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