tv [untitled] CSPAN June 21, 2009 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT
giving well or not like a professor and a pupil. so this is a word i don't like at all. >> host: we are almost ready to wrap up and i wanted to note that in many ways the "mirrors" is a very dark book and a lot of ways there is a lot of theory terrible things told in this book. religion comes in for enormous criticism. europe comes for terrible criticism. latin america is in many ways a victim. but i don't think of it as a pessimistic book, and i wanted to ask you as the final statement about your sense of optimism in this history that
you see is still unfolding. >> guest: a source of optimism is that history doesn't into and also the certitude we may be contemporaries and compatriots of people weren't far away from the country and far away from nor time if you share with them a common law for justice in and freedom like happened with my two who were born in the united states and not latin-american, mark twain and spears. i remember mark twain was a leader of the antiimperialists lead and he proposed to change the star sting called banner when the united states began but
event for the time of president mckinley who heard the voice of god saying you should say filling silence from the danger. and so they initiated the courier we will know when you know perhaps better than point the >> host: thank you very much, eduardo galeano is the author of "mirrors" stories of almost everyone. it is a wonderful book and one that you can't stop reading. and it's been an honor to talk to you. i have wanted to do this many years and it's been great i've been able to do it. i am john dinges speaking with eduardo galeano and we will end there. thank you very much >> guest: thank you. i absolutely forgot i was in a tv studio.
i was having a nice talking conversation with a friend. thank you. >> host: good. i enjoyed it. simon schama, professor talks about religion and race and war and how these things have been echoed through the united states history. philadelphia free library hosted the event. it's one hour. >> many of you know what library we provide essential services to thousands of and vigils throughout the year including students, job-seekers and small-business owners. due to the economic downturn and 25% budget cut of the free library philadelphia we have had to stop ordering new books and february. yet we still need to fill shelves for the more than 60,000 philadelphia school children who participate in the summer reading program. i encourage you to join the 10,000 books for children drive
by donating funds purchasing books from the amazon bought, wish list or by buying books from local retailers and dropping them off at a designated library applications. for more information please visit free library.org/bouck dr.. our guest is a restless optimist of the dissatisfied times. and essayist and critic for the new yorker and a professor of art history at columbia and university, schama has presented more than 30 documentaries for the bbc and pds including the power of art, and international emmy award winner. mr. schama has one literary and journalism prizes including the award for history, w.h. smith prize for literature, the national academy of arts and letters award and the national book critics circle award. he also loves to cook and we've seen a number of his recipes.
his newest work, the american future, a history explores the 2008 presidential election from the historical perspective debating for topics, war, religion, race and immigration and the relationship between natural resources and prosperity mr. schama and examine these in the context of america's identity. before we bring mr. schama we will show a short clip from his documentary that shares the same name of his new book. ♪ >> it was a hard american winter
a tough time for americans. but out there beneath the ice something big was stirring. and a weakening of, american democracy. this presidential election isn't like other elections. those who lived here decades felt the tremors of the political earthquake. it is not only a war gone bad and economy on the skits but a nationwide loss of faith and a government that is not at the root of the republic since the dismal aftermath of hurricane katrina.
>> i promise you i will lead america to the 21st century and make you proud. i will restore your trust and confidence in government. >> that is what the votes are saying. help us to believe in the american future of again. [cheering] >> 46, 47, 48, 49. [applause] >> i saw all citizens going to the polls in doubles the members of the last election. it is odd in a country obsessed that history, the epic figure is treated as a living and breathing thing. >> we are not a collection of red states and blue states. we are the united states of america and in this moment, in
this election we are ready to believe i again. thank you, iowa. [cheering] >> it has never ridden more alive than now. is their anyone in america who doesn't call this the election historic? a candidate that doesn't reach out to history? ♪ i want to explore this haunting by the past. i want to follow america deepak to the conflicts of its history to understand what is at stake right now. ♪ ♪
>> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome sieminski 12. [applause] >> -- schama. [applause] >> hello. what a pleasure to be at the free library of philadelphia love that -- it's sort of redundant because and enslaved library is an oxymoron. [laughter] tyrants tremble before the dewey decimal system and different things that succeeded it. america can light the flame of insurrection. i remember being moved by discovering thomas jefferson in
order to the own indignation about the tyranny and exercise by george free used to go to a local library in williamsburg and would read deeply in the debate of the english civil war of the 1640 is that in the up cutting off the head of the king and he imagined him looking at the debates and the discourse is and the string parliamentary debate and think that could happen in the land of tepid tea and early, anything could happen in the american library. [laughter] so, the free library of philadelphia, fantastic ghosts of franklin. and i did want to come to philadelphia partly because one of the programs was called american fervor which is about religion, and it was particularly about a black african american religion. and we had to make a choice between here in the spirit of
operation between savannah and philadelphia, and somehow, you know, savannah had won over the cheese steak. don't ask me why i know, lousy taste, i know, exactly right. so this project both book and television, i would be happy to answer questions after about how the writing is different for both forms of kraft which i believe they are, but both the book and the television project were born i would say half of desperation and half of exploration. the desperation part wasn't actually the sense of the great republican united states which i spent my life going to hell in a handbasket in 2006 and in 2007 although it might be argued it looks that way. the desperation of was born of extreme frustration at the simplicities that were inflicted on descriptions of the united
states by many of my friends and by opinions in europe and britain in particular with which i was close working as i do for the bbc. among the simplicity's were for example cowboy politics. the same fleecy cliches born of journalistic habits, occupied by coastal positions preferably flying over the rest. it will be a long time before defined one and delude for example. [laughter] and some of this is cowboy politics, american culture is, religion in particular gets at mina was when it is described as a prisoner of the evangelical right when of course religion intensely important and noble part of america's history i speak of some one rather on the side of jefferson state and jefferson, by the way, how many
of you think jefferson that's an easy question, there will be an exam by the way they told you that before we let you out. [laughter] timoney if you think the jefferson believed jesus was the son of god? you are so clever. [laughter] i gave you that so you could feel good about yourself. indeed, he ran on the platform. adam says let's see a bottle of burgundy to someone but was john adams -- john adams must have had his own wheat add water. what was his damming slow go and election? it feels like just yesterday, does it not, what was the damming slogan against jefferson? , on, class. who said got this? you get the bottle anyway.
you get half a bottle. adams ran on god or jefferson. jefferson of course did believe in the almighty creator. he believed the universe created itself, he wasn't materialist or atheist but he thought it was equally absurd the virgin birth, give me a break already. so delight any possible rational jesus the moral teacher. religion is a process in the united states and above all the milledge of course has been instrumental in the african-american community with self-determination both from the noble period of antebellum slave charities of way through to the civil rights movement. you can't possibly think of the civil rights movement having been affected with a preaching the teaching of riverside churches around the corner from where i teach at columbia right
through the involvement with the church both for jeremiah rights but the church more generally. so it wasn't a surprise to me it may have been on palatable to some of my friends to find obama actually wanting to continue george bush's policy of the faith based initiatives keeping with the sense that is not necessarily reactionary move. so to put this restored the desperation part was trillion to write a book not, you know, that would explore stories with you, with the american popularly but also to educate my friends out of the simplicities, and the biggest simplicity was that in here up during as they tend to put it in an entirely dispassionate way as one of my friends said the long dark years of double you. [laughter] that americans are basically
historically stunted culture, kind of a small be thing that there are kind of know medieval knights clanking around rusty suits of armor in north dakota that we call harley-davidson riders. [laughter] but what they mean is that history doesn't play a part. they said absolutely not. one of the cleverest things and most misleading things he ever said was to describe the united states as the united states of ambition. the impression history doesn't matter to the american people is to arrive understandably by the mind numbing phenomenon called the social studies textbooks. [laughter] in fact, folks, can philadelphia famous for firebrand causes to light in this room at this
moment launched a campaign to abolish the dreaded words social studies. [laughter] yes, take back the discipline. we are going to call it history. [laughter] [applause] because history is about flesh and blood, about memory and of course all you know that bleach blockbusters are in the life of benjamin franklin and david mcauliffe and alexander hamilton. america's live and breathe history in the way of which europeans understand because it is the supreme court in the first place the wish of the founding fathers every single day and which supreme court is in session and will make the constitution that living and breathing organic thing work. it was actually brice who was the closest who got to tocqueville who tried to educate his own countrymen back in
britain on the vitality, the enduring vitality, the precisely because it was open to discussion, debate and interpretation of the constitution. and sometimes one feels when one listens to the historian and chief in the white house who can barely make a speech without invoking as he did mournfully i have to say washington's staring at the ice floes of the cross and of the delaware at the end of the inaugural speech. there is a warm and cuddly moment for the folks as freezing as we work in washington on the great glorious day. you sometimes have the impression obama is giving the best advice that because it consists of thomas jefferson and alexander hamilton and abraham lincoln with whom some but compulsively identifies. so there is this a sense at we i think the founding fathers because the debate what america
was to become, the possibility of america. america was founded as an act of separation from the of vice and misdemeanors and errors of the miserable old world of so many. it would be a new thing in the world. there would be a place in which you would become an american perspective of the class simply by virtue of subscribing to the great space ideal of freedom on less of course, all this, you were black. [laughter] something that is now at last the art of genuine hypocrisy. so there is a sense of which history matters. it matters deeply in america and it matters out of the crushing and i mean this of the social studies curriculum textbook. part two of the campaign there
are subscription envelopes in the back. we have all abolished social studies. we are moving on to abolish the textbook. anyone within the hill? [laughter] you're out of a job. [laughter] but there is this sense that past and present are in the american experience and i say rationally when obama was beginning the campaign and not doing very well so it was the end of 2007 but long before the iowa caucus for what you have just seen that i thought the person who had won the election obliterate be republican or democrat, hillary or obama, whoever would be the person who would act like command the best story, the dreaded n-word, narrative, to tell the american people why because the american people need it to be katzenbach suffering and given back the sense of a trajectory of the story.
what obama has rather mccracken -- miraculously it must have been before in the morning lessons in which his heppe mother inflicted before the carter. benjamin franklin but have liked this kind of hippie who said learn. she said wonderfully it's no picnic for me either. [laughter] how many of you have red and dreams for my father? fantastic. so fantastic it doesn't feel like a book written by a politician but it reads that way because he wasn't. he wasn't a politician when he wrote and he was supposed to write an account of the campaign becoming president of the harvard law review but had these wonderful explanations of where he came from to discuss any way. but the sense that obama has is the seeing armament on difficult grievance, hentoff of moments in american history and great arc
of the shared fortunes and what he would have to preside over i believe is it may not have the kind of terror and pain of one's high street bank about to close its doors but it will in the long term be a transition for america from the grandiose idea of the american century through an america which somehow understands tough realities in the world. we understand for example we can't go on simply squandering away natural resources. we understand america is becoming interestingly will to cultural place the way in which franklin if any of you have had a look are astonished to find franklin paranoid about the threats of the german threats actively and, you know, he was so obsessed with the excellence of the scottish irish and definitely number three on the list, english composition of the american population and they
actually thought germans were not ready to actually take upon themselves the duties of citizenship. there is also more worried about the swedes that he described as tawny. [laughter] who is he looking at actually, dusky, you know? a great sense of rhythm. [laughter] no idea. so, obama has this sense of america's place at the moment and he needs to give the sense how it's possible to remain in america and have a sense of limits. limits isn't really an american word and it is a word we brush up against with a sense of fiction. jimmy carter was a wonderful president in some ways but absolutely hopeless at that. he didn't really want to bring together american ingenuity and resourcefulness in the sense of sustained patriarchs energy. he wanted to make us feel sinful
with the mischievous man that he was had a point when after listening to one of jimmy carter's on the television set on till the last night i had in realized god was a member of president carter's cabinet and ferociously cabinet god as well. so there is this sense of america and the title of the book is slightly over queued. the american future, a history was born out of the conviction there are certain moments even though it is thought to be in some anno note to project from the present moment as from the past because of the way obama was and it historical stories he liked to tell and because of the first pri history in american public culture i must say the first time that i realized this is when i was young also in
cambridge i was having to teach. i remember a tuesday morning and 1967i taught in the morning and at least even some in the afternoon. [laughter] halted by what they would have made of each other. i don't think that laws would have gone for adamle unfortunately, not the way that she worked for him but i remember leaning out the window and these old ladies came through the gateway of the christ college cambridge and one said to the other mabel, don't you just love history. it's so old. [laughter] my point of life i appreciate this testimony, so it is old and young at the same time, so this cross fertilization between the present moment struck me as a good risky project to undertake because i thought what one might do in the films made for the bbc we are about to start shooting a
couple which will be follow-up films shooting the president on omaha beach on the 65th anniversary of d-day which if you can't find some of his most grindle words, you know, on that particular occasion will. but i was also a journalist when i graduated from college and was never quite sure what i wanted to be between doing at least even some i worked for harold on the sunday times of london and it's rather glorious investigative phase in the small role in a couple of days a week hired by a friend of mine working for the paper. i worked for the occasional magazine and i felt it was the job in a way of good journalists almost always read the first draft of history. i was lucky.
i was the sort of undeserved that in cambridge to did to kinds of history after we simplified. goodness, how time flies when one is having fun. where is andy, stand up and be counted? there you are. how long do i have? >> [inaudible] >> that sounds alarming. [inaudible] [laughter] door life will expire in three minutes. [laughter] i'm counting now, two minutes and 59 -- yes? >> [inaudible] >> 8:15. standing there, but skinny kid with the curly hair, get him. [laughter] interrupt our fun at your peril, buster. [laughter] there were two kind of history
could do and they have pedigree both of them in the life of history itself, and all the way back. in the 19th century when history became the university department, the gloomiest of all phases, the great one was oxford founded by the great medical mehdi the list, no irony intended at all but he was horrified by what he thought of as the contamination of history by lucent literature. he had in mind egregious examples like charles kingsley becoming mysteriously of egregious professor in cambridge but he also had in mind since i've just been shown in the state of shock and reference, charles dickens's desk upstairs the relationship between deacons and thomas carter. carlisle, we are told and i think it is true we yield much of the library of the french revolution in the wheel barrow around the corner from chelsea
and that was just the kind of things that he hated. he felt this was the kind of full or contamination. and instead what the historian had to model himself on simply locked himself in the archives, opened the boxes and then tune in the mysterious star track way to the mysterious vibes that came out of which he was the interim locker. the job was self-effacing and, the objective presentation of rall archival material to the students that would then go. so editing and interpretation was a no-no, interpretation was the position of your subjective view between you and the surviving evidence of the past and the english historical review that was found dead was the kind of institutional expression of that super a exterior view of what history was. now, a different