David Brooks: The Follower Problem
David Brooks is a columnist for the NYT.
If you go to the Lincoln or Jefferson memorials in Washington, you are invited to look up in admiration. Lincoln and Jefferson are presented as the embodiments of just authority. They are strong and powerful but also humanized. Jefferson is a graceful aristocratic democrat. Lincoln is sober and enduring. Both used power in the service of higher ideas, which are engraved nearby on the walls.
The monuments that get built these days are mostly duds. That’s because they say nothing about just authority. The World War II memorial is a nullity. It tells you nothing about the war or why American power was mobilized to fight it. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial brutally simplifies its subject’s nuanced and biblical understanding of power. It gives him an imperious and self-enclosed character completely out of keeping with his complex nature.
As Michael J. Lewis of Williams College has noted, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial transforms a jaunty cavalier into a “differently abled and rather prim nonsmoker.” Instead of a crafty wielder of supreme power, Roosevelt is a kindly grandpa you would want to put your arm around for a vacation photo....
comments powered by Disqus
- Field Report: What I learned by attending a workshop on Korean history
- Historians suggest ways California can integrate gay history into the school curriculum
- Now it’s Andrew Bacevich’s turn to do a MOOC
- Historian enlists Plato in campaign to win converts to an exciting way to teach history
- Teachers walkout in Colorado over AP history controversy and pay