Ted Dionne’s politics of history

Honest History tries to draw links between current events and their precedents and analogues. EJ (Ted) Dionne is a liberal American political commentator who thinks along similar lines. These two paragraphs come from his most recent book, Our Divided Political Heart, 2012.

Name of the game. ‘To say that the politics of the moment influences history is neither to justify the intentional distortion of our story for partisan purposes, nor to assert that one account is as “good” or “valid” as another, regardless of its factual basis. It is simply to acknowledge that the heart of the historian’s task lies “in explanation and in selection,” as the scholar Morton White noted in his classic book Foundations of Historical Knowledge.’

Politics of history. ‘But the politics of history cannot be explained simply by the personal predilections of individual historians. Our historical understanding is also enriched by the interplay between current political and civic struggles and our efforts to arrive at new and better understandings of what came before.’

29 June 2015

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