Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Conflict and Consensus"

"Perhaps they're right to be cautious. In framing a narrative about a nation, there's always the danger of letting description shade into prescription—as Hartz saw when he wrote about the 'compulsive power' of consensus. Stories about the past are bound to leave things out, and any narrative will eventually come to grief as neglected groups disrupt settled assumptions to make themselves known. Yet we can acknowledge those dangers and still recognize that Woodward was also right. The task for the next generation of American historians will be to draw a new roadmap of our country’s history—simple but not simplistic, rigorous but not rigid, inclusive but not incoherent. As our most recent history has shown, we refuse this task at our peril: if Americans are not offered realistic stories about their country's past, they may well choose mythological ones."

Scott Spillman at The Point asserts that "historians no longer know how to tell a narrative history of the United States because they no longer know what to think about the United States."

No comments: