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The Culture Wars: How Can We Lower the Temperature?

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, November 14, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0425
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The depiction of the Indigenous and Black figures on the 1939 equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt sparked its removal from New York's American Museum of Natural History

As we approach the 250th birthday of the United States, ongoing culture wars threaten to bring rancor and chaos to what should be a celebration. The challenge is how to embrace our national history for its amazing achievements and yet accept the ways in which the United States has failed to live up fully to its many promises.

Public humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson asserts that we need to awaken to the rich and often troubling complexity of American history without adopting an unnecessarily critical view of the last 250 years. In a wide-ranging presentation, he discusses such timely examples as the removals of a statue of Theodore Roosevelt at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and a sculpture of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacagawea in Charlottesville and a recent controversy in Colorado over an exhibit focused on the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. As the creator of the podcast and nationally syndicated public radio program The Thomas Jefferson Hour, he also addresses Jefferson’s plummeting reputation because of his complications with race and slavery.

Jenkinson shares his thoughts (and asks for yours) about how to bring down the temperature of our national cultural debate to steer a middle course between complacency and conviction so that we may be able to take just satisfaction in this unprecedented experiment in enlightened democracy. Finding the balance has become more difficult in recent years, but, as Joan Rivers asked, "Can we talk?"

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