Professor Buzzkill History Podcast | American and World History Myths Buzzkilled!2020-02-19T18:46:22-05:00

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History Myths Buzzkilled

Albert Einstein: “A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing.” Quote or No Quote?

Ah yes, Albert Einstein. Perhaps number 3 or number 4 on the all time mis-quoted list. No, he didn’t say that thing about the disappearance of bees, and the disappearance of bee pollination being the sign that animal life on the planet, especially humans, was doomed within four years. No, he didn’t say “if the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” And, as we’ve shown in an earlier episode of Quote or No Quote, he didn’t say “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” But people keep crediting these kinds of quotes and ideas to Einstein over and over, even though they’re mis-attributing to good old Albert what other important and thoughtful people [...]

Muhammad Ali: “No Viet Cong Ever Called Me Nigger.” Quote or No Quote?

Buzzkillers by the score have asked us here at the Institute for shows on the Vietnam War. The Ken Burns film on PBS, The Vietnam War, the 18-part, 10-hour interview-thon, is provoking many of you to ask questions about the war and about the protests against it. So today we're going to look at one of the most well-known quotes from the Vietnam era. When asked about being drafted for the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers in history, as well as one of the most controversial, is often quoted as saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong." This was immediately followed by the now-more-famous quote, “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger,” in a [...]

Man Crush Monday – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

There are a lot of very tall statues all over the world. Organizations, countries, and governments set up statues to heroes of all kinds. Sometimes real, sometimes spiritual, sometimes allegorical. The Statue of Liberty is certainly very tall (46 meters, 151 feet), and is an allegorical figure of Liberty, the central ideal of the American nation. But it’s only the 48th tallest statue in the world, and is dwarfed by “The Motherland Calls” in Volgograd, Russia (85 meters, 279 feet). That’s a gigantic, beautiful, and stirring statue of a woman warrior holding aloft a massive sword, calling Russians to defend and protect their people and culture, which is probably their most deeply felt ideal. But The Motherland Calls is only the 9th tallest statue in [...]

When Did the NRA Become Extremist?

Sadly, tragically, infuriatingly, it seems that every time there is a mass shooting in the United States, the same sorts of arguments come up from the same, opposing, sides. Gun control advocates say there is only one solution, and that is, not surprisingly, more gun control. Gun rights advocates argue that gun ownership and the right-to-carry are inviolable and almost sacred. Near the sidelines of this debate in the United States, you sometimes hear a little bit about the history of the most powerful gun rights organizations in the United States (indeed, one of the most powerful political organizations of any kind) -- the National Rifle Association. But you never hear very much about the NRA’s history. The story sometimes told is that the NRA [...]

WWII in the Pacific: the Defeat of Japan, 1944-45

Japan’s defensive perimeter kept shrinking during 1944 and 1945, yet the war dragged on. The battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa were as bloody and horrific as any others during the Pacific war. Strategic bombing of Japan increased, both from the Asian mainland, and from the Pacific side. Japan eventually surrendered in 1945, but we discuss why that was so complicated and difficult. And we bust the many myths surrounding the “unconditional surrender” of Japan. Listen and learn! --- Imperial Surrender The Imperial Rescript of Surrender (玉音放送 gyokuon-hōsō) was the speech delivered by Emperor Shōwa on 15 August 1945, effectively announcing that Japan would surrender, ending World War II. To be precise, Emperor informed the Japanese people that Japan would accept the terms of the [...]

Quote or No Quote? Harry Truman “Socialism” is a Republican “Scare Word”

Politics in the United States is rife with rhetorical excess these days, and Americans are being treated to falsehoods, wild exaggerations, and anachronisms galore. Just recently, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham accused four young Democratic Congresswomen of being “communists.” “Communists”! Not only is this untrue, the way that Graham used it as an attack and a slur was laugh-ably out-of-date. It’s as if he stepped out of a time machine from the Joseph McCarthy communist witch-hunt days of the 1950s. One of the social media responses to this, and to the general demonisation of “socialism” (in whatever form), has been to create a meme of a quote, supposedly by Harry Truman, President of the US from in the late 1940s and early 1950s. According to this [...]

WWII in the Pacific: Guadalcanal to the Philippines, 1942-44

 The brutality of World War II in the Pacific continued from Guadalcanal to the Aleutians, from China to the Solomon Islands, and was also a propaganda war at home in Japan and in Allied countries. Professor Nash comes back to tell us about these middle years in the Pacific War, and explain how the power balance shifted to the Allies, and yet why the fighting still took so long and why it was so bloody. Listen and learn! --- Buzzkill Bookshelf E. B. Sledge, With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa An Alabama boy steeped in American history and enamored of such heroes as George Washington and Daniel Boone, Eugene B. Sledge became part of the war’s famous 1st Marine Division—3rd Battalion, 5th [...]

WWII in the Pacific: Pearl Harbor to Midway, 1941-42

 Superstar historian, Professor Nash, joins us to talk about the opening years of American involvement in Pacific during World War II. From Pearl Harbor to Midway, it’s a brutal chess match across the Pacific - a chess match that includes massive battles, massive casualties, and massive war crimes. And that’d only through 1942! So this is Part 1 of our WWII in the Pacific series. Listen and learn. --- Buzzkill Bookshelf John Costello, The Pacific War: 1941-1945 The definitive one-volume history of World War II in the Pacific theater, The Pacific War was the first book to weave together the separate stories of the fighting in China, Malaya, Burma, the East Indies, the Philippines, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Aleutians. Now available [...]


 

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