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When I heard the news that the nihilist mob plans to take down the statue of Theodore Roosevelt astride his horse in front the Natural History Museum in New York City, I knew I had to ring up Jean Yarbrough, the Gary Pendy Sr. Professor of Social Sciences at Bowdoin College, and author of the best book on TR’s political thought and legacy, Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition.
As one of the creators of the Progressive movement a century ago, TR’s record and legacy is a mixed bag, with a lot to criticize. Prof. Yarbrough walks us through how to think about TR, balancing his admirable traits alongside his more doubtful ideas. If TR is going to be toppled, let’s do it the right way.
Yarbrough connects the current statue smashing with broader currents and undertows of our intellectual scene today, in particular the egregious 1619 Project, about which we have had lots to say (and we’re not done!). And then at the end I draw out some thoughts from Prof. Yarbough about one of her principal teachers in graduate school, the “terrifying” (as Jean calls her) Hannah Arendt.
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