According to the New England Puritans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Christmas was a pagan (read, "Roman Catholic") excuse to carouse, dance, drink, feast, play games and generally get off work. New England Puritans, accordingly, treated December 25th like any other (i.e. work) day, not even observing the (for them, fictitious) holiday by going to church. Because, as everyone knew, nobody actually knew when Jesus was born and, besides, Christmas was just a thinly-veiled appropriation of ancient pagan solstice celebrations.*
And yet, despite the fact that no good Protestant was even supposed to be observing the holiday, over the course of the 1820s and 1830s, merchants started advertising their wares as appropriate New Year's and, a little later, Christmas gifts, thus transforming what had been a festival of communal, often rowdy, drinking and feasting into the domesticated flurry of gift-giving that we now celebrate today. Almost immediately, there began …
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. Can you read the signs?* Sydney Morning Heraldto MILO: “You’ve obviously done a tremendous job in building up a personal brand. You say the outrageous things, you wear the weird clothes and the dark glasses and all that. I’m wondering...do you genuinely believe all the things that you claim to, or are you now essentially living out a caricature?”
MILO: “If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn't say it. There’s no value to me, social, financial or otherwise, in having the opinions that I have. I would be much wealthier, much happier, and much safer if I were a liberal [in the American sense]. But I’m not.”
Former feminist girl: “My question is, I’m fourteen, and I’m wondering how I could help my peers...get interested in politics.”
MILO: “Raise merry hell. And I mean, merry hell. I use the word merry advisedly because...it’s laughter and war. Risus et bellum is my motto. As long as you’re keeping people laughing, as long as what you say is twice…
It’s back to class for those of us who teach in medieval studies, and my medievalist colleague Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College (pictured in 2014), wants to make sure you understand the stakes.
The medieval western European Christian past is being weaponized by white supremacist/white nationalist/KKK/nazi extremist groups who also frequently happen to be college students.
That does sound bad. But, wait, it gets worse!
Don’t think western European medieval studies is exceptional.... ISIS/ISIL also weaponizes the idea of the pure medieval Islamic past in their recruiting rhetoric for young male Muslims. If the medieval past (globally) is being weaponized for the aims of extreme, violent supremacist groups, what are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms? Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ideological arms dealers. So, are you going to be apathetic weapons d…
I have never met Dorothy Kim. I do not know why she decided to make me her target in January 2016. Since it is clear that many even in our field of medieval studies do not know – or are refusing to admit that they know – what she has been saying about me on social media, I will show you.
On June 5, 2015, I posted a short blog post, listing three “cheers” that I suggest we talk about as products of Western, a.k.a. European, a.k.a. “white” civilization. I entitled it “Three Cheers for White Men.”
On January 18, 2016, I learned from friends on Facebook that Dorothy Kim had found this post and was encouraging her friends in the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship Facebook group to condemn me for posting it. Here is her initial post:
In response, I wrote a long series of blog posts clarifying what I had meant in praising “white” men for idealizing chivalry, consensual marriage, and women’s full participation in our representative democracy. These posts are linked in the original “Thr…
My academic colleague and long-time friend Carol Symes (Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois; PhD, Harvard 1999) posted this article on the American Historical Association website this morning:
She, of course, mentions me.
To date, the only tenured historian of medieval Europe to have found an audience for her views on these issues is Rachel Fulton Brown (Univ. of Chicago), a columnist for Breitbart who has used her privileged position and powerful allies to deride, bully, and persecute a junior, untenured medievalist of color. In a blog post published in mid-September, and in subsequent interviews, she has explicitly justified these attacks by invoking her authority as a historian (PhD, Columbia 1994). “If you teach the history,” Fulton Brown told Inside Higher Ed, “everybody basically learns that it’s a very complicated story, and there’s nothing to support the white supremacist argument in it.” According to her, proving that “you are not a white supremacist” simpl…