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Past Present

Author: Niki, Neil, and Natalia

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Past Present brings together three historians to discuss what's happening in American politics and culture today. Natalia, Neil, and Niki bring historical insights to the news of the day, offering listeners an alternative to the reflexive and polarized world of punditry. Interested in the world around you but exhausted by rote reactions and partisan talking points? You've come to the right place.
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In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the continued unrest in Portland and the deployment of federal forces to quell it. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Protests continue in Portland, where President Trump has deployed federal forces. Niki discussed this episode of This Day in Esoteric Political History. Natalia recommended following the Twitter feeds of scholars of fascism Federico Finchelstein and Jason Stanley.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended the podcasts Once Upon a Time…in the Valley and The Last Days of August. Neil discussed Christopher Knight’s Los Angeles Times article, “It’s time to chop down the ‘lynching tree’ from this California city’s logo.” Niki talked about Heather Schwedel’s Slate article, “It Was the Coolest Phone I’d Ever Seen.”
In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the decision by the Planned Parenthood Federation of New York to disavow Margaret Sanger for her ties to eugenics. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced it will remove the name of founder Margaret Sanger from its Manhattan health clinic. Neil referred to this blog post about Sanger’s ableism. Natalia referenced this Twitter thread by Imani Gandy, and this article by legal scholar Michele Goodwin.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended Katherine Rosman’s New York Times article, “On the Latest Boutique Fitness Playlist: Black Lives Matter.” Neil discussed Emile Dirks’ and James Leibold’s New York Times article, “China is Harvesting the DNA of its People. Is this the Future of Policing?” Niki talked about Andrew Kahrl’s New York Times article, “Who Will Get to Swim this Summer?”
Episode 238: Karens

Episode 238: Karens

2020-07-2137:02

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the “Karen” meme. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  The “Karen” meme, referring to a white woman weaponizing that privilege against people of color, has exploded on social media. Niki referred to this column at The Root and Natalia cited this article by Nina Burleigh.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended Mary Trump’s new book, Too Much and Never Enough. Neil discussed David Waldstein’s New York Times article, “Scrabble Tournaments Move Toward Banning Ethnic Slurs.” Niki talked about Blazedale’s A. Taco article, “The Los Angeles Mayor Who Was Also a KKK Leader.”
In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss student visas and the most recent immigration restrictions put forth by the Trump administration. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  President Donald Trump has threatened that international students attending American universities that are teaching entirely online must return to their home countries. Niki referred to Adam Serwer’s 2018 Atlantic article, “The Cruelty is the Point,” and to this Washington Post opinion piece about how this measure advances Stephen Miller’s restrictionist agenda. Natalia drew on this piece at The Conversation about the impact of a reduction of international students on American universities and society.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia discussed the controversy over Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue’s support of President Trump. Neil recommended historian Paul Renfro’s new book, Stranger Danger: Family Values, Childhood, and the American Carceral State. Niki talked about the recent SCOTUS decision affirming Native American land rights in Oklahoma and recommended the podcast This Land as well as Episode 159 of this podcast.
In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the deplatforming of extremists by social media sites from Reddit to YouTube. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Social media platforms like Reddit are taking a harder line on regulating extremist content. Natalia referred to this article about the undisclosed relationship between Ben Shapiro’s conservative sites and Facebook, and to this Vice piece about the effectiveness of social media bans. Niki referenced this New York Times article about YouTube radicalization.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended Alec MacGillis’ ProPublica article, “How Dollar Stores Became Magnets for Crime and Killing.” Neil discussed the unique moment in cultural writing and reporting right now, pointing to New Yorker food critic Hannah Goldfield’s recent reviews of takeout restaurants and frozen food and to Vinson Cunningham’s essay on the African-American playwright, Lorraine Hansberry. Niki shared Elaina Plott’s New York Times article, “The Fall of Jeff Sessions, and What Came After.”
In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss the movement to defund the police. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Calls to defund or abolish the police have become a rallying cry among protestors of racial violence. Niki discussed Derek Thompson’s call to “unbundle the police.” Natalia referred to this National Review piece that argues many communities want more policing, and to this Jacobin interview with criminologist Alex Vitale.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended Lauren Sandler’s book This is All I Got: A New Mother’s Search for Home. Neil discussed Noah Ram’s org article, “‘Gator Bait’ chant faced opposition years ago. Nothing came of it.” Niki shared Kaitlyn Tiffany’s Atlantic article, “My Little Pony Fans Are Ready to Admit They Have a Nazi Problem.”
In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss Bostock v. Clayton County, the recent Supreme Court decision protecting gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  In an unexpected victory for LGBTQ activists, the Supreme Court decided last week that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender people from discrimination at work. Natalia and Niki referred to this helpful Slate piece on the legal theories of textualism and originalism, and to Rebecca Onion’s explanation of the legend behind the “because of sex” clause in the Civil Rights Act. Neil referenced our own conversation on Episode 22 about Justice Antonin Scalia’s judicial legacy.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended the new podcast, Conspirituality. Neil discussed Eric Cervini’s new book, The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America. Niki shared Jennifer Schuessler’s New York Times article, “The Long Battle Over ‘Gone With the Wind.’” She also referred to Jacqueline Stewart’s CNN article, “Why We Can’t Turn Away from ‘Gone with the Wind.’”
In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the life and legacy of playwright and AIDS activist Larry Kramer. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Pioneering AIDS activist Larry Kramer died this month. Natalia referred to this Vulture interview about Kramer’s legacy. Neil commented on Kramer’s autobiographical play, The Normal Heart.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended the Netflix documentary, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. Neil discussed Anastasia Dawson’s Tampa Bay Times article, “Giant Confederate flag lowered amid threats to set it on fire.” Niki shared Rick Noack’s Washington Post article, “Sweden blocks plan to honor woman who hit a neo-Nazi with a purse.”
In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the recent protests over police brutality. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has set off protests over police brutality across the country and the world. Niki referenced this Slate article, and Neil referred to historian Elizabeth Hinton’s New York Times opinion piece. Natalia cited Anne-Helen Peterson’s coverage in Buzzfeed of small-town protests all over the country, and discussed those in Eastern Long Island in particular.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia shared Sugene Kwon’s digital children’s book, The Unforgettable Story of George Floyd. Neil commented on comedian Sarah Cooper’s viral “How-To” videos. Niki discussed the new season of the Slow Burn podcast, focusing on David Duke.
In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the history of nursing homes in the moment of coronavirus. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Nursing home residents are especially afflicted by the coronavirus. Natalia recommended this article in Washington Monthly about the politics of elder care. Niki referred to this history of the nursing home industry.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia discussed Jeremy W. Peters’ New York Times article, “They Predicted ‘The Crisis of 2020’… in 1991. So How Does This End?” Neil reflected on Jonathon Van Maren’s Christianity Today article, “Deathbed Apology: Norma McCorvey’s Pro-Life Friends Tell Another Story.” Niki shared the real history behind Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech which she discussed on “This Day in Esoteric History” podcast.  
In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss President Trump’s recent firings of four Inspectors General. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  President Trump has been on a spree of castigating, and dismissing, Inspectors General. Neil referred to this NPR article about the historical function of the Inspector General in American history. He also wrote about the firings in his column for The Week.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended the new podcast, “Wind of Change.” Neil reflected on the future of reality television, inspired by this article at Variety. Niki commented on Molly Ball’s new book, Pelosi.  
In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss the life and legacy of Little Richard. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Musical legend Little Richard died this month of bone cancer. Niki referred to Margot Canaday’s book The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America and George Chauncey’s book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. Natalia recommended this GQ article on Little Richard’s inimitable style. Neil commented on Little Richard’s appearances at the 1988 Grammy Awards and on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended Joshua Greenberg’s Washington Post article, “Will Covid-19 End the Use of Paper Money?” Neil commented on Evan Osnos’ New Yorker article, “How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump.” Niki discussed this interview she did at The Intercept, “Are Trump and the Anti-Lockdown Militias Itching for Violence?”
In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  25-year old Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while running in Satilla Shores, Georgia. Natalia cited this piece at The Conversation by sociologist Rashawn Ray, and tweeted this thread about the racialized history of running. Neil referenced the history of Stand Your Ground laws in Florida.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia reflected on the announcement that Crew is filing for bankruptcy. Neil commented on the Netflix show Hollywood. Niki discussed Ed O’Loughlin and Mihir Zaveri’s New York Times article, “Irish Return an Old Favor, Helping Native Americans Battling the Virus.”
In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss meatpacking plants and the Defense Production Act. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  President Trump has used the Defense Production Act to order meatpacking plants to stay open, even as these factories have become hotspots for coronavirus infection. Niki commented on how Upton Sinclair’s classic novel, The Jungle, exposed the horrible working conditions of meatpackers in the early 20th Natalia referred to Joshua Specht’s book Red Meat Republic and Samuel Moyn’s review of the book for The New Republic. This Atlantic article on Americans’ changing eating habits also informed our discussion.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia discussed Stephanie McNeal’s Buzzfeed article, “The Fitness Industry Is in a Crisis.” Neil commented on the recent controversy over Christian influencer Rachel Hollis, as detailed in Stephanie McNeal’s Buzzfeed article, “Rachel Hollis Has Apologized After Posting a Maya Angelou Quote without Attribution.” Niki talked about the various meanings attached to May Day.
In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss protests against the current national lockdown. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Protestors against national lockdown orders have been demonstrating across the country. Niki referred to this Vox piece in distinguishing these protests from the Tea Party Movement and to this Twitter thread about the Anti-Mask League of 1918-19. Natalia referenced this article at The Week about the underlying psychology of these protests.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia discussed the Hulu television series, “Little Fires Everywhere.” Neil recommended David French’s column at The Dispatch, “Evangelicals Have Abandoned the Character Test. The Competence Test is Next.” Niki discussed Matt Novak’s Gizmodo article, “The Real Story Behind That Viral Photo of President Johnson During the Vietnam War.”
In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the prospect of large-scale voting by mail come November and the fate of the U.S. Postal Service. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Earlier this month in Wisconsin, voters had to choose between civic participation and public health. Questions over mail-in voting have reignited a debate over federal funding for the post office, as discussed in this Vox Niki explained the longer history of voting by mail that this New York Times article explores.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia discussed the FX/Hulu television show, “ America.” Neil recommended Lauren Sandler’s new book, This is All I Got: A New Mother’s Search for Home. Niki shared Marc Tracy’s New York Times article, “Photojournalists Struggle Through the Pandemic, With Masks and Long Lenses,” and Rebecca Onion’s Slate article, “’These People Aren’t Zombies. They’re People’.”
In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss hydroxychloroquine, the drug President Trump is pushing as a potential cure for the coronavirus. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  As COVID-19 continues to claim American lives, President Trump has spoken of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure, despite scant medical evidence supporting this claim. Niki referred to Tom Nichols’ book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. Natalia referred to Niki’s CNN article, also on expertise. Neil cited this Vox piece regarding speculations of Trump’s financial interest in hydroxychloroquine, and he also wrote about Trump’s fascination with the drug in his column for The Week.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia discussed Zeynep Tufekci’s Atlantic article, “Keep the Parks Open.” Neil recommended the new Netflix show, Unorthodox. Niki shared “Wipe Out,” a 99 Percent Invisible episode about toilet paper.  
In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss the new Netflix series, Tiger King. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Tiger King is a runaway hit as social distancing has increased appetite for binge-watching. Niki referred to this Mother Jones article about the connection between coronavirus and the wild animal trade. Natalia referenced this New York magazine article by Robert Moor that spawned the Netflix show and the Wondery podcast, “Joe Exotic.”   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended Jordana Horn Gordon’s Kveller article, “The Heartbreaking Loneliness of Mourning During a Pandemic.” Neil discussed David Grann’s book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Niki shared Megan Garber’s Atlantic article, “Homes Actually Need to Be Practical Now.”  
In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the history of school closings. Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  Schools all over the United States are closing for weeks, perhaps months, in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Natalia referenced this New York Times article about the particular challenges faced by homeless students. Niki referred to this history of school closures in response to desegregation orders, and Natalia discussed the limits of comparisons to homeschooling.   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia recommended the podcast “Dying for Sex.” Neil discussed the legacy of the late playwright, Terrence McNally. Niki shared these investigative tweets by writer Sage Boggs – and historian Charles Richter’s response – about the origin of the brand name “Triscuit.”
In this episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia discuss the history of “cabin fever.” Support Past Present on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pastpresentpodcast Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:  As social distancing becomes the new norm for many Americans, so too does the stress and anxiety of being cooped up, also known as “cabin fever.” Natalia mentioned Jonathan Zimmerman’s Chronicle of Higher Education article about online learning. Neil referred to historian Jeanne Boydston’s classic book, Home and Work: Household, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor. Niki discussed Daniel Pollack-Pelzner’s Atlantic article, “Shakespeare Wrote His Best Works During a Plague.”   In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: Natalia discussed Robert Snow’s new book Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Park that Changed the World. Neil commented on Sapna Maheshwari’s New York Times article, “American Teenagers Are Declaring ‘Virginity Rocks’.” Niki shared the Canadian Broadcasting Service’s podcast, “Uncover: Satanic Panic.”
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