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Eric Foner’s Favorite Historical Figures
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University, is the author of numerous works on American history, including Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War; Tom Paine and Revolutionary America; and The Story of American Freedom, and Our Lincoln. He has served as president of both the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association, and has been named Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities.
Question: Who are your favorite historical heavyweights?
Foner: The people who I really am interested in in American history are the people at the edge, the dissenters, the critics, the radicals, the people like Frederick Douglass who pressured Lincoln, Wendell Phillips, the people like Susan B. Anthony, the people like Eugene Debs later on, in the early 20th Century, or W.E.B. Du Bois, the people who stood outside the accepted boundaries of political dialogue and tried to introduce new ideas and new demands. You know, they didn’t succeed at the moment that they were operating, but without the abolitionists, you would not have had the abolition of slavery. Without the populists and the socialists, you would not have had an era where the government took responsibility for the economy. Without the Du Boises and the Paul Robesons and the Kings and others, you would not have had a great Civil Rights Revolution. So, to me, the driving force of change in this country, change for the good, has been those people who’ve been at the margins, and I, you know, my view of American history is we’ve got to re-center it a little bit and not just give us the history of the presidents and the bankers and the captains of industry, but let’s look at the people at the margins and how they affect the trajectory of American History.
Question: What qualities do dissenters have that make us remember them?
Foner: It’s hard to generalize about people over two centuries or more. I’ve written a lot about such people, starting with Tom Paine and the American Revolution and running down to others, but I think it is, they must have some deep source of belief that keeps them going. Now, for many, it’s a religious belief, you know. Well, religion has inspired a great deal of social radicalism in American history. For others, it’s a belief in the principle of equality or justice. It’s what the historian E.P. Thompson, the great British historian, once wrote about as a notion of right. That doesn’t mean right wing, left, it means a notion of just, what is just? What is moral? What is right? And if you believe deeply in that, that will enable you to persevere and to try to change the political discourse. I mean, that’s really what I think these radicals are doing. You know, we don’t have, despite the fact that [Bill Ayers] has been in this campaign, we don’t have much of a tradition in America of violent radicalism. Most of the people I mentioned were completely non-violent people. Their mode of operation was to try to change people’s minds, and the first thing you have to do is to change the boundaries of what is acceptable, to force issues into the public debate. When the abolitionists started, you could not talk about slavery. There was a kind of conspiracy of silence about slavery. Forcing the issue on to the political agenda is part of what it is to be a critic, and I think, at many points in our history, that has happened, and, you know, I hope today and in the future we will continue to have such people who forced the uncomfortable issue into political debate and thereby make it necessary for politicians to deal with it in some way.
Eric Foner on the appeal of those on the fringe.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.