Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Do You Only Learn History On The History Channel?



Most campaign emails are absolutely worthless spam, even from otherwise good candidates. But some candidates put some effort into making them great. This cycle, for example, Austin Frerick (Iowa) and Derrick Crowe (Texas) are doing really good ones. What do I mean by "good ones?" If I'm going to take a moment to even open campaign emails that always turn out to be just recycled spam, I want to be sure I'm going to have a positive experienced-- like be entertained or, better yet, learn something. So you know who has the best list to be on? Alan Grayson. I love his e-mails. They're witty, informative and, very frequently, brilliant. I learn so much from them-- like this one-- "Cola Di Rienzo won, 500 years after he died.-- from yesterday. I never heard of the guy... and now I'll never forget him. In fact, the email made me want to go back to Rome to see the locations Grayson talked about:
Dear Howard,

Many people think that between the years 400 and 1400-- the ‘Dark Ages’-- nothing much happened in Europe.

Not true. Among other things, Cola Di Rienzo happened.

Di Rienzo was born around the year 1313, in Rome. His father was a barkeeper (paging John Boehner!), and his mother washed clothes. Nevertheless, Di Rienzo rose to be the leader of Rome, not once but twice.

At the time, Rome was a crime-ridden city of squalor. Its best days were a millennium earlier. Di Rienzo overcame the two noble families who had run Rome for decades, with a program to restore Rome to its former greatness. Think of it as MRGA-- Make Rome Great Again, except with actual meaning to it.

Di Rienzo began by cleaning up the streets, and cracking down on crime. But he didn’t stop there. He boldly proclaimed two concrete goals:
The unification of Italy, and
The sovereignty of The People over government-- i.e., democracy.
Those were very controversial ideals in the 14th century. Di Rienzo ruled Rome for a few years, at which point the noblemen deposed him. He then returned to power for a couple of months, at which point the noblemen (and a mob) murdered him, in 1354, at the age of 41.

So much for that, you would think.

But the ghost of Cola Di Rienzo surely celebrated 500 years later, in July 1871, when Rome became the capital of a united Italy. And then again, in June 1946, when the King of Italy abdicated, and Italy became a democracy.

Di Rienzo won. It took more than 500 years, but he won.

And not without recognition.  For instance, Friedrich Engels, the co-author of the Communist Manifesto, wrote a play about Di Rienzo. And if you ever visit Rome, then ten blocks northeast of the Vatican, you will find Piazza Cola Di Rienzo. (There is a shop selling ice cream on one side, and a shop selling gelati on the other.) You will find the piazza along the Via Cola Di Rienzo, which runs from the Vatican to the Tiber River.

My point is this. If you support the right causes, then sometimes you have to be very, very patient. You might even have to wait 500 years. But you will win.

Please support our campaign for justice, equality and peace. No need to be patient; you can do that right now.
Another excellent place to learn history: John Oliver's TV show. And... as long as we're on the general topics of Italy-- and elections...

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At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you learn any history in this shithole, it won't be in school, which has been dumbed down for 50 years. So you either have to read on your own or pick up something from the history channel (and know what is drama and what is true).

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, the History Channel was actually a decent source. They have since descended into the infotainment morass and have been known to play fast and loose with facts. On the rare occasions I do watch then, I rapidly get disgusted with this shading the truth just to make a story seem more exciting or something. And SHALLOW??? Very little context or side stories which reveal the specific importance of the topic at hand.

History Channel can itself become history. I'll read about the topics which interest me instead.

At 1:01 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Thanks for this post Howie i come from an Italian family my parents took me there in the early 90's it was amazing i'll be checking out the election results this weekend.


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