Yielding our freedoms: Deutsche verboten

Words can be dangerous. You know, “the pen is mightier than the sword” and all that. But entire languages? During World War I, plenty of people thought speaking German was anti-American. Many states, including South Dakota, thought it so unpatriotic that they banned the language.

As I noted previously, the South Dakota Council of Defense […]

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Yielding our freedoms: Meet the State Council of Defense

As noted in the last post, concern about American “preparedness” after the First World War started led to a variety of government action. One was the formation of the Council of National Defense, which was to coordinate industries and resources “for the national security and welfare.”

Although created in August 1916, the Council wasn’t […]

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Yielding our freedoms: World War I edition

When assailed or even criticized by others, we Americans proudly trumpet the rights granted us by the Constitution. One of the most explicit examples in recent history was George W. Bush’s speech to Congress following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Speaking of terrorist groups, Bush said, “They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, […]

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Best of February 2015

Books

Hubert Wolf’s The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal epitomizes how history should be written for the general public. Although the PR around the book promises a look at “sex, poison, and lesbian initiation rites in a nineteenth-century convent,” this is in no way a lurid read. Sure, […]

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A tradition of institutional self-protection

One of the best things about reading history is the insight or perspective it can provide on today. I saw a perfect example over the weekend in The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal. Written by German ecclesiastical historian Hubert Wolf, the book looks at the Roman Catholic Church’s investigation […]

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Book Review: Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung

Significant cultural and, yes, racial differences gave rise to America stereotyping Asians as mysterious or inscrutable. While that shibboleth has justifiably faded over the years, we still occasionally find aspects of Asia enigmatic. But when it comes to North Korea “WTF?!” seems regularly justified. And although Jang Jin-Sung’s memoir of his life and escape from […]

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