inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #0 of 57: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Wed 26 Oct 11 17:14
    
This week we welcom Alex Pareene, author of the ebook, "A Tea People's
History."

Alex is a Senior Writer for Salon.com. He has been writing about
politics professionally since he dropped out of an elite Northeastern
university in 2005. His work has appeared in New York Magazine, Vanity
Fair, The Awl, and Vice. This is his first satirical history ebook.

Leading our discussion will be Mark McDonough, <mcdee> here on the
WELL. Mark has been a denizen of the Well for 20 years. He has an
actual college degree in "American Civilization," although as you might
expect, his liberal college professors told him nothing about the
important revelations in "A Tea People's History!"

In real life, Mark does software quality assurance - "Hey, it's a
living and I'm good at it!" - and has co-authored a book on alcohol
treatment

Welcome Alex and Mark!
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #1 of 57: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 26 Oct 11 17:26
    
Alex, I want to congratulate you for writing such an eye-opening book.
 There was clearly a whole lot that my liberal professors didn't tell
me about American History.  For example, I didn't realize that the
Pilgrims were actually refugees from Shariah law, or the George
Washington actually discovered an early draft of the Constitution
buried and written on gold plates.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #2 of 57: . (wickett) Wed 26 Oct 11 18:21
    

Oh, exciting.  Are there angels, too?
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #3 of 57: Alex Pareene (pareene) Thu 27 Oct 11 07:45
    
Hello! Our nation's history is indeed exciting, especially when you
learn it from a truly unbiased source, like me. There are indeed angels
in the book, because as wise as George Washington was, he could not
translate the Constitution into American English without divine
assistance.

I'm happy to have opened your eyes, Mark. It's never too late to
deprogram yourself from a liberal arts education at an accredited
college.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #4 of 57: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 27 Oct 11 09:56
    
The only part I've had trouble with so far is the chapter on Lincoln. 
How can he be both an American hero who proves the Democrats are the
*real* racists and also a power-hungry tyrant and murderer with no
respect for States Rights?

At college, they taught me that when two ideas were mutually exclusive
you had to choose one or the other...  I guess there's a certain
liberation in having it both ways!
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #5 of 57: . (wickett) Thu 27 Oct 11 10:03
    

F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability
to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the
ability to function."
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #6 of 57: Alex Pareene (pareene) Thu 27 Oct 11 11:46
    
The strange case of two-faced Lincoln has puzzled scholars for years.
My own theory is that he had an identical evil twin (the bearded
Lincoln, perhaps?), though some sort of "werewolf" scenario seems
equally probable.

More seriously, Lincoln presents a real challenge to conservative
revisionist historians. He's the central figure in the founding of the
GOP and the Republican Party's eternal defense against charges of
racism. He's maybe the greatest president ever, and likely the single
most important president ever. A lot of conservative historiography
demands a very morally simplistic reading of American history, to
"correct" for years of liberals insisting that things are "messy" and
"complex." So heroes are saints and the Founders were infinitely wise
and Lincoln, a classic elementary schoolbook "good guy," must be a good
guy.

But if you believe in state sovereignty and/or white supremacy, this
guy's a tyrant. If you're sympathetic to the Confederate cause or
invested in whitewashing the causes of the Civil War -- and misty Civil
War revisionism is where a lot of conservative pseudo-history
originates -- Lincoln's actually the greatest villain in American
history. How does the party that wants to represent guys with Rebel
flag bumper stickers deal with Lincoln?

This argument's been going on for years, with mainstream conservatives
basically arguing "suck it up and call the guy a hero" because
Americans on the whole happen to think Lincoln's pretty great. So the
Heritage Foundation regularly trots out these "Abe Lincoln: True
Conservative" pieces where they argue that the guy would've been right
at home in the modern Republican Party, but meanwhile lots of the more
conservative libertarian scholars regularly call him a tyrant. This is
a real-life sentence (not satire) from the Ludvig von Mises Institute:

"It is interesting to compare Lincoln and his treachery in causing the
Southern 'enemy' to fire the first shot at Fort Sumter, resulting in
the Civil War, with Roosevelt's similar manipulation causing the attack
on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II."

From:
http://mises.org/daily/5580/Lincoln-and-Roosevelt-American-Caesars

I think the tyrant argument was the dominant one in conservative
thought for years, but the rise of the Religious Right helped turn the
tide, because they adapt a lot of abolitionist arguments as
anti-abortion arguments, and you can only be sympathetic to
abolitionist arguments if you're on the side of The North.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #7 of 57: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 27 Oct 11 12:07
    
So that story about the little girl who asked him to grow a beard was
a cover story for swapping in his evil twin!  If only we'd had modern
birth certificates at the time, we could probably straighten it all
out.  And probably connect it to 9/11 somehow.

But yeah, my point in mentioning Lincoln was actually to get more
serious.  The book is very funny, and we could go back and forth with
funny examples all day (who knew that Paul Revere cracked the Liberty
Bell by shooting at it while warning the British that we were armed!).

But there are obviously some serious points here about the uses and
misuses of history.  The Tea Party is not unique in picking (or
inventing) historical facts to fit their ideology, but they seem to
have raised it to new heights.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #8 of 57: brighter clouds ahead (noebie) Thu 27 Oct 11 13:43
    
> a real-life sentence (not satire) from the Ludvig von Mises
Institute

is the name of the institute satire at least?

shame if not :)
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #9 of 57: Alex Pareene (pareene) Thu 27 Oct 11 15:17
    
Hah, "Ludwig von Mises," of course. (I need a copy editor.)

And yeah the Tea Party certainly didn't invent reinterpreting history
through an ideological lens, they're just the ones currently doing it,
loudly and with occasional great silliness, in public.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #10 of 57: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 27 Oct 11 17:19
    
Some of our most beloved WELL members are also among our most creative
typists!
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #11 of 57: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Thu 27 Oct 11 17:56
    
Typos are us.

Welcome to the Well, Alex. I really enjoy your work at Salon, though I
don't have this book so have nothing useful to add. Oh well!
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #12 of 57: brighter clouds ahead (noebie) Thu 27 Oct 11 18:49
    
i nabbed it for my kindle and read the first couple chapters so far -
very funny

and i don't think that was a typo - "from the ludvig von mises
institute" is just as it should be - just sounded like a made up name
to me - those austrians!
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #13 of 57: brighter clouds ahead (noebie) Thu 27 Oct 11 18:50
    
oh - i see now - v or w - funny either way
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #14 of 57: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 27 Oct 11 19:29
    
Alex, where do you fall on the "grassroots vs. astroturf" argument re:
the Tea Party? That's been a lively and ongoing debate on the WELL.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #15 of 57: David Gans (tnf) Fri 28 Oct 11 10:04
    
So where do we get this book, anyway?
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #16 of 57: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Fri 28 Oct 11 10:10
    
I got mine right here, and I even paid for it to be a good sport:

<http://www.amazon.com/A-Tea-Peoples-History-ebook/dp/B005S4GS54/ref=sr_1_1?ie=
UTF8&qid=1319821758&sr=8-1>

$2.99!  What's not to like?
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #17 of 57: David Gans (tnf) Fri 28 Oct 11 10:19
    
Downloading now.  Three bucks!  Thanks!
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #18 of 57: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Fri 28 Oct 11 12:01
    
Excellent! I got one too.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #19 of 57: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Fri 28 Oct 11 12:46
    
Wow.  Talk about priced to move.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #20 of 57: Alex Pareene (pareene) Fri 28 Oct 11 15:28
    
Yes, buy buy buy! It's at the Amazon link above, plus iBooks and B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-tea-peoples-history-alex-pareene/1106367585?
ean=2940013231443&itm=1&usri=alex%2bpareene

As for the Tea Party, I increasingly think it's hard to define
"astroturf," because there clearly were a decent number of people
devoted to showing up at these protests and forming Tea Party groups.
(And I know Rick Santelli gets the credit for inspiring the first
national protests, but the entire movement was sort of co-opting a lot
of the grassroots Ron Paul campaign from 2004 and 2008.) Well-funded
conservative groups funded and trained a lot of activists, so it was a
professional operation, but it's not a fake as sending out
letters-to-the-editor from non-existent citizens. It was an innovative
way to capitalize on extant conservative anger.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #21 of 57: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Fri 28 Oct 11 16:52
    
Yes, that's sort of where I fall too.  Clearly, there's been a great
deal of manipulation and a large amount of money spent on focusing the
Tea Party's rage and using it to push a certain agenda.  But these
folks have been out there for a long time - very much part of the
American grain.

The "creative" rendering of history in TP circles makes for some very
funny writing in your book.  In a way its interesting that people who
get so much of it wrong still believe in the authority of history.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #22 of 57: Gail (gail) Sat 29 Oct 11 11:58
    
I have to confess that reading this ebook reminded me of how little
history I know or that I actually can remember learning.  I get most of
the more current events & culture references, but some apparently wry
historical wit went over my head.  Reading this gave me a sense that
perhaps it would be interesting to re-read Howard Zinn's classic work. 


The title seems like a nod to "A People's History Of The United
States" -- Alex, was that a one-off joke, or did you relate to his book
in any detail in constructing the satire?
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #23 of 57: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 30 Oct 11 05:08
    
Just finished it...what a gem! I couldn't help reading it as the
soundtrack to Mystery Science Theater's version of American History.

Your book should be read in parallel with Howard Zinn's A People's
History of the United States and James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told
Me.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #24 of 57: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Mon 31 Oct 11 06:05
    
A New Declaration of Independence:

The following document is the result of the Salon staff's
brainstorming; we're incredibly grateful to Alex Pareene for crafting
it into a coherent piece. 

http://www.salon.com/2011/10/31/a_new_declaration_of_independence/?source=news
letter

Nice work on this Alex.
  
inkwell.vue.424 : Alex Pareene, "A Tea People's History"
permalink #25 of 57: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Mon 31 Oct 11 06:59
    
Off saving the world instead of showing up on his topic, eh?  Naughty,
naughty! ;-)

That looks like a great piece.
  

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