Don’t know much about history

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that not all Americans are created equal in their familiarity with the founding documents of their nation or the principles that undergird the same. And so it is that, along with the unalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, we are evidently also endowed by our Creator with the right to view a sharing on the Fourth of the July of the document whose promulgation that date celebrates as a treason-like effort to undercut all that America stands for.

That’s the conclusion to be drawn from reaction when NPR, to complement its 29-year history of reading on the air the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July, sent out the words of that historic decree on Tuesday in a succession of 113 tweets.

“Who could have taken issue with such a patriotic exercise, done in honor of the nation’s birthday?” asks the Washington Post’s Amy Wang. “Quite a few people, it turned out.”

The Twitter blowback only intensified, she writes, when the NPR tweet storm reached the point in the Declaration that details the colonies’ grievances against King George III of England.

“He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers,” read one such passage. “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people,” read another.

Some Twitter users apparently confused the call for action against a despotic leader for attacks on President Trump, and did not take kindly to the exercise.

“Propaganda is that all you know how? Try supporting a man who wants to do something about the Injustice in this country #drainingtheswamp,” read one angry tweet in response.

“Please stop. This is not the right place,” was the response from another Twitter user.

While the episode may reveal a certain lack of historical knowledge among some on the right, on the left these days some are accusing their fellow progressives of knowing their revolutionary history but not grasping its context and meaning for us today.

In a piece posted Tuesday on Vox, Jeff Stein writes that some on the left have taken to rejecting the idea of the American Revolution as part of any long march toward greater democracy and equality.

“The American left stands poised to throw the Revolution overboard, to dismiss the spirit and legacy of 1776 as merely the cause of a racist, sexist, hypocritical aristocracy we should firmly reject,” he writes.

He cites several examples, including a 2005 book essay by Barry Gewen in the New York Times that was headlined, “Forget the Founding Fathers.” “The God-given or nature-given rights they claimed for themselves included the right to hold Africans in bondage,” Gewen wrote.

“The typical strategy of those on the left now is either to ignore the Founders — on the grounds that they don’t do elite history — or to point out their hypocrisy — Jefferson, Madison, and Washington owned slaves,” says Yale history professor Steve Pincus, who calls that a big mistake.

“Many of the founders were racist, sexist colonizers determined to wipe American Indians from the continent,” writes Stein. But “[f]or all its warts, the Revolution really did unleash an egalitarian vision of America that frontally assaulted economic and social inequality.”

“The problem,” writes Stein, “is that by applying 21st-century views on race and gender to an 18th-century context, we risk missing the real legacy of the Revolution.”

Though slavery was indeed legal in every colony in 1776, Stein says, the Revolution set in motion the first emancipation proclamation by a state — Pennsylvania in 1780 — a move that “explicitly cited the fight against British rule as its inspiration.” Other states, including Massachusetts, soon followed.

Stein cites all the battles for greater emancipation that have drawn from the Declaration of Independence, including Frederick Douglass and the early abolitionists, the women’s suffrage movement, and Martin Luther King’s speeches during the civil rights movement.

“The path to progress has come not from rejecting the declaration and Revolution — but by broadening its scope to those the founders wrongfully neglected,” he writes.

That truth of that should be self-evident.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

With the marijuana bill and the fiscal 2018 budget stalled on Beacon Hill, the leaders of the House and Senate began pointing fingers at each other, suggesting the two bills were part of a broader negotiation. House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg both denied their chambers were linking the two bills, hinting the other branch was to blame. It’s probably all gamesmanship as the two sides maneuver for advantage. (CommonWealth)

The president of the Gun Owners Action League is named the state’s fish and game commissioner. (State House News)

Public health advocates are pushing for the state to raise its tax on alcohol — one of the lowest in the country — a move they say would decrease binge drinking, alcohol-related automobile accidents, and other harms. (Boston Globe)

A Herald editorial calls on lawmakers to give consumers a sales tax holiday this summer.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia refuse to provide information sought by President Trump’s election integrity commission. (CNN) CommonWealth reported last week on Massachusetts declaring it won’t cooperate with the panel.

ELECTIONS

Stephanie Bosley, the daughter of former representative Dan Bosley, says she is running for her father’s old seat, which came open when Rep. Gailanne Cariddi died of cancer in June. (Berkshire Eagle)

With his campaign poised to be outspent about a zillion to one, Tito Jackson says he’ll topple Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on the strength of a cadre of young volunteers, a situation that former city councilor Michael McCormack says makes Jackson’s effort “very much an uphill race, to be charitable.” (Boston Herald)

More than 50 people have filed nomination papers for Framingham’s first-ever city elections in the fall, including six people running to become the first mayor. (MetroWest Daily News)

Voting rights advocates are pressing a case this week in Suffolk Superior Court, challenging the constitutionality of a state law that requires citizens to register to vote at least 20 days before an election in order to cast a ballot in it. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson does a little unusual (and funny) consumer reporting on a Craigslist scam.

The developer of a Chapter 40B housing project in Southborough has filed suit against the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals for overturning the Planning Board’s approval of the 180-apartment complex that has been vehemently opposed by residents. (MetroWest Daily News)

Volvo announces it will eliminate conventional engines and manufacture all its vehicles with either hybrid or electric engines by 2019. (New York Times)

After raising its benchmark interest in June for the second time this year, the Federal Reserve members are divided over how to move forward and when next to raise rates and sell off government bonds, according to recently released minutes of their last meeting. (U.S. News & World Report)

EDUCATION

Catholic schools in Massachusetts are struggling with declining enrollment. Some are moving from single-sex enrollment to coed campuses to address the flagging numbers. (Boston Globe)

Federal officials announced the new interest rates for student loans but the slight increase of about seven-tenths of a percent is expected to have minimal impact on long-term student debt. (U.S. News & World Report)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Health care costs remain high in Massachusetts, but the rate of growth in those costs has slowed considerably. (WBUR)

The White House has endorsed a health plan offered by Sen. Ted Cruz and supported by conservatives that would make it easier for insurance companies to avoid complying with consumer protection standards. (New York Times)

TRANSPORTATION

Federal officials have given approval for New Bedford Regional Airport to schedule flights for larger planes, opening commercially viable routes for carriers for the first time in decades. (State House News Service)

Thomas Tinlin is stepping down as state highway commissioner after recovering from a brain aneurysm. (MassLive)

Uber may have improperly deducted money from fare receipts in New York to pay state taxes, costing drivers hundreds of millions of dollars. (New York Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Some cities and towns in Massachusetts are switching all residents to new electricity suppliers that get more of their power from renewable sources — but which might be charging customers more for the greener juice. (Boston Globe)

Venomous Portuguese man of wars have been washing up on Cape Cod beaches and spotted off the shores. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS

The Herald says the state Race Horse Development Fund, which gets a share of proceeds from the slots parlor in Plainville, is “fattening the winning purses of wealthy horse owners,” but defenders of the scheme, which was written into the state gaming law, say the money is helping owners stabilize the struggling horse race industry.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Deborah Hughes of Brookview House says let’s rehabilitate moms, not lock them up. (CommonWealth)

A Lowell man accused of sexually assaulting three children hangs himself while out on bail. (Lowell Sun)

Dennis police arrested four teenagers and charged them with disorderly conduct after they allegedly engaged in sex in the water off a beach in full view of families with children as a crowd of about 30 people cheered them on. (Cape Cod Times)

MEDIA

It’s CNN vs. President Trump. (New York Times)