In the above speech, which is long but worth the time, Obama appeals to graduating seniors to embrace public service. He asks them directly, personally, to forego the fruits of our “money culture.” And he draws on a classic Second Great Awakening formulation: individual salvation hinges on good works; community salvation rests on individuals sacrificing for the greater good. Even after seven years of kleptocracy, this speech makes me think that civic virtue might not be dead after all. That’s the audacity of hope talking, I know. I’ll get over it soon enough.
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is an associate professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.Read Ari's posts
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is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).Read Kathy's posts
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