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American as Pumpkin Pie

A History of Thanksgiving

When we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, we think we know what we’re commemorating. But if an actual Pilgrim were to attend your Thanksgiving, chances are he’d be stunned by what he saw there. In this episode, historian James McWilliams discusses why the Puritans would have turned up their noses at our “traditional” Thanksgiving foods. Religion scholar Anne Blue Wills reveals the Victorian origins of our modern holiday, and one...

TYRANNOPHOBIA

The uses & abuses of executive power

With Republicans expected to gain seats in the House and Senate, it looks like President Obama will cap off his time in office with more gridlock. But if Congress can’t act, he says, he’ll use executive authority to sidestep the legislative process on key issues, like immigration reform and the use of force against Islamist extremists. Obama’s detractors have accused him of being an “imperial” president. It’s a theme that runs through the...

An Unhappy Franksgiving

...g.” And it was parodied on radio, and on the big screen including a 1940 Three Stooges short where Larry points out that the 4th of July can’t be in October. Curly responds, “You never know. Look what they did to Thanksgiving!” Many Americans refused to budge. Twenty-two states kept Thanksgiving’s traditional date on their books and few states played it down the middle, deciding to observe both the old and new Thanksgivings. So...

Three Squares

Mealtime in America [rebroadcast]

...ut what, when, and how we eat our meals evolved?...

City Upon a Hill

A History of American Exceptionalism [rebroadcast]

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama called America “the most powerful nation on Earth,” saying, “When it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead—they call us.” This praise is hardly the first or most impassioned example of American “exceptionalism” in the country’s history. But just how “exceptional” are Americans? And why does it matter? In this episode of...

City Upon a Hill

A History of American Exceptionalism [rebroadcast]

In his recent address to the nation urging a military strike in Syria, President Obama appealed to “American exceptionalism” to make the case. American ideals were on the line in Syria, he argued, and the United States had a special responsibility to act. But that claim didn’t sit well with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, as he made clear in a New York Times op-ed. All countries had distinctive qualities, Putin said, and...

Imagined Nations

Depictions of American Indians

Is redskin a racial slur? The U.S. Patent Office says so. So do many Native Americans who have protested the use of the term by that team. Activists say the team’s name and its logo — the image of a generic Indian man in profile, with braids and long feathers — celebrate negative stereotypes about America’s indigenous people. On this show, we’re taking a long look at how Native peoples have been represented — and misrepresented — in U.S....

Three Squares

Mealtime in America

...how we eat our meals evolved?...

Naughty & Nice

A History of the Holiday Season [2014 rebroadcast]

Christmas may be the Big Kahuna of American holy days, but it wasn’t always so. It used to be a time of drunken rowdiness, when the poor would demand food and money from the rich. Little surprise, then, that the Puritans banned Christmas altogether. It wasn’t until the 1820s that the holiday was re-invented as the peaceful, family-oriented, consumeristic ritual we celebrate today. So in this episode, Brian, Peter, and Ed explore the fascinating...