A Reputation Impugned

In my last blog entry, I took issue with the White House and the Administration fooling around with the constitutionally established function of the US Post Office. One of my readers, taking issue with the well established concept that our president is trying real hard to be a dictator, said that I shouldn’t compare the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with Herr Hitler. The reader went on to say that “You should stick to New Orleans history” and promptly cancelled his subscription to my blog. Aww, shucks.

So I thought that I should clarify and defend my reputation as a Historian. Perhaps unbeknownst to this reader, historians, especially classically trained ones like myself, rarely stick to one time frame, geographical region, or other facets of the great body of our heritage called History. At the same time, individual historians are rarely experts on the entire sweep and range of historical studies. Personally, I tend to favor what used to be called Western Civilization. This field includes historical and archaeological studies from the Neolithic period to 1918*. Within the vast field and time sweep of Western Civilization, my peculiar specializations include; 

  • French colonial activities in the Americas (with a focus on culinary developments) – my current scholarly activity,
  • The Arthurian histories and mythologies of the British Isles, 
  • Ancient Near Eastern history (10,000 BC to 300 AD) as the context of Biblical Studies, 
  • British History (2000 BC to 1950 AD), 
  • French History (500 AD to the present), 
  • European History in general, 
  • American History (roughly 1200 AD to the present), and 
  • Louisiana History (1500 AD to the present).

– All of the above represent a lifetime of historical study as well as a 20 year career teaching career covering all of the above historical topics – 

I also freely admit that I am NOT readily conversant in Chinese or Japanese or Pacific history as I could be, although I do know a bit about Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica. Nor am I more than vaguely familiar with the history and culture of Southern Asia and the Indonesian archipelago (other than some European colonial activities).  

Citing all of this, to recommend and even think that I could “stick to New Orleans’ history” is patently ridiculous.

Finally to the matter in question regarding the rise of the Nazi state and the all to chillingly comparisons to the Trump presidency, it all comes down to one overriding issue – Donald Trump is a liar. 

It has been achingly documented as to how many misleading statements and outright lies the man has spoken – officially – since January of 2017. The number is well into the tens of thousands. Furthermore, while most of these lies were ignored or of minor importance, the troubling thing is that some are not. Of most note, and of most horror, is the 170,000 plus Americans  who are now dead because of the Trump proclaimed ‘hoax’ and ‘Chinese attack’ of a pandemic that he refused to act upon or against since January of this year.

But that’s not all. There has been a concept in historical studies for much of the 20th century. The concept is called “The Great Lie”. This notion is best understood as in their speeches and addresses, despotic leaders create the biggest and most improbable stories about the opposition and the promises of their leadership and speak them at every rally, meeting, and through every media they can control. They not only speak the Great Lie to sow doubt, division, discord, and confusion but speak it over and over and over until their followers and even others under their sway start to believe it. To be specific in this comparison, I quote:

“Having lied so often on his way to power and in his consolidation of power, BLANK could not refrain at this serious moment in history from thundering a few more lies to the gullible BLANK people in justification of his wanton act.”

Upon the invasion of Poland, (Sept. 1, 1939) Chapter 17,  “The Launching of WW II”, p.598

Shirer, Wm. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. 50th Anniversary Edition. Simon & Schuster, New York: ©1959,1988, 2011.


Trump’s Play Book

Are we doomed, as the cliche proclaims, to relive the horrors of history because of another lying, conniving ego-maniac? We all know the proper names that fill in the above blanks. (If you don’t know, then we are truly doomed!!!) 

Life ain’t a reality show.

Finally, as a last note on the value and legitimacy of historical studies, I end with another note from Shirer’s masterwork;

FOOTNOTE on Hitler’s first Cabinet Meeting of January 30, 1933.

“This meeting of course was private and like most of the other conferences, many of them taking place in secrecy … these proceedings and decisions were not accessible to the public until the captured German documents were first perused during the Nuremberg trial.

A great many of these highly confidential discussions and the decisions emanating from them–all regarded as state secrets –  will henceforth be chronicled  in this book, which, from here to the end, largely rest on the documents which recorded them at the time. At the risk of somewhat cluttering these pages with numbers indicating notes, these sources will be indicated. No other history of a nation over a specific epic has been so fully documented, I believe, as that of the Third Reich, and to have left out reference to these documents, it’s seemed to the author, would have greatly weakened whatever value this book may have as an authentic historical record.”

Ibid; Chapter 7, footnote Page 188-89.

This, my friends is how history is done !

*A personal affectation on my part is that Western Civilization ended with the Treaty of Versailles on Nov. 11, 1918.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s