Do You Believe in Unicorns?

by W.D. Ehrhart Steve Bannon, the Trump-pardoned Breitbart founder, former Trump strategist, and current Trump ally, said in a podcast on January 5th, 2021, “Strap on. All hell’s going to break loose,” and just last week declared, “We are taking over school boards, we’re taking over the Republican Party with the precinct committee strategy. Suck on this!” Number 45 himself defended supporters who chanted “Hang Mike Pence” during the insurrection, saying it was just “common sense” given Pence’s refusal to deny certification of the 2020 election. A teenaged white kid carrying an illegally obtained high-powered assault rifle across state lines to defend the property of …

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It’s a Big Universe Out There

by W.D. Ehrhart In December 1985, I made my first postwar trip back to Vietnam. I had gone there in 1967 as an 18-year-old Marine, which had turned out to be a very bad idea and a life-changing experience. Eighteen years later, I wanted to see and experience the country of Vietnam, not the Vietnam War. It turned out to be both a humbling and a healing trip. Very early on, my interpreter, a young man old enough to remember the war but not old enough to have fought in it, asked me if I had been wounded. When I said I had, and then …

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More Fun Facts About American History

by W.D. Ehrhart Lately I’ve been ruminating on American history, in particular on how little most of my fellow citizens know about it. I recently wrote an essay in the Gazette (September 24, 2021) that took note of the missing stanza of our national anthem that condemns the British for offering freedom to American slaves, the missing stanzas of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” that criticize capitalism and the owner class, the overt anti-immigrant racism imbedded in American society, and a number of other fun facts most Americans are oblivious to. I wrote a whole essay (Gazette, October 8, 2021) about a Virginia …

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Re-Thinking American History

by W.D. Ehrhart I have spent my entire life reading. As Emily Dickinson wrote, “There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away.” Even in Vietnam, as an 18-year-old, I read whatever I could get my hands on from John Updike’s Rabbit, Run to Voltaire’s Candide to John Cleland’s Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. I don’t read many books more than once because there are so many good books to read, but I’ve read multiple times David Howarth’s 1066: The Year of the Conquest, and Cecil Woodham-Smith’s The Reason Why: The Story of the Fatal Charge of the …

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Sanitizing American History

by W.D. Ehrhart In September 1814, as Francis Scott Key stood on the deck of a British warship watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry, he was inspired to write a poem that eventually became the “Star-Spangled Banner.” We hear that song a lot these days: at every football game from middle school to the NFL; at NASCAR races and hockey games and commencement ceremonies, and, well, at just about any public event that attracts more than three Americans. I wonder how many of my fellow citizens know that Key’s original poem contains not just the stanza we sing, but three additional stanzas, one of which …

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Afghanistan: Who’s Responsible?

by W.D. Ehrhart Surprise, surprise! Fox News and the Republican Party are blaming President Joe Biden for the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the horrific scenes of terror and confusion at Kabul Airport in the final days. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—born in 1965—calls the evacuation “the biggest U.S. failure in my lifetime” (Saigon fell in 1975. Well, I’m just sayin’.) Senators Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn are demanding that Uncle Joe resign. Endlessly mindlessly Talking Head Tucker Carlson called Biden “the supposed president of the United States.” Nevermind that Donald Trump brokered a treaty with the Taliban promising the withdrawal of U.S. troops …

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