Sarah Churchwell Interviews on Gone With the Wind, Lost Business and Donald Trump – Baptist News Global

Those of you who have read this column Know that I study cultural, religious, and political life in order to explore the myths Americans have shaped their lives, and that I pay particular attention to issues of race and injustice. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that I jumped at this opportunity while in old London. audience let me write a new book The Coming Rage: Gone With The Wind and The Lies America Tells Sarah Churchwell. Nor is it when it turns out to be a remarkable book, clever and searing and terrifying, that claims early on that America is a country telling its own story, and I wanted to talk to the author.

Sarah Churchwell

Sarah Churchwell is an American scholar and author of ” Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream and The Careless Man: Murder, Chaos, and the Invention of The Great GatsbyShe holds the Chair for Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London and was kind enough to answer my questions about what, even though she was overwhelmed by the launch of her new book in the UK the impending anger May teach us how to wrestle with the past and save the present. There is wisdom in this book and in these responses.

Greg Garrett: Sarah, your argument is convincing gone With the Wind A powerful reflection of America’s past and present. You make this argument in your new book, but can you briefly explain why you think a 1936 novel and a 1939 film still shape our minds? How does understanding what this narrative can and cannot do help us understand some of the major flaws in the American mind?

Sarah Churchwell: partly because it shapes our thinking, partly because it capture Our minds—which record America’s myths about itself and the desires that drive those myths, the desire to maintain our own innocence at all costs—perhaps the most fundamental desire.

It’s a version of American history that says slavery wasn’t that bad and that white people were the real victims of the Civil War and its aftermath, a testament to the desire to retake and rebuild white power at all costs. It emotionally defends holding onto property, marginalizing black Americans and their role in our nation’s history, and defending white narcissism, arguing that white needs and desires should always shape and define America’s history, society, and power structures.

GG: your inscription the impending anger From James Baldwin, who alternated between writing about America far from the ocean and returning to America to work for civil rights. As another American writing in the ocean, does America make you pay more attention to it because it is far away? In the UK, what do you know about the US?

SC: A friend of mine, another American in the UK, calls it the “stereo” way of listening to the US, which I really like: inside and outside at the same time. We can hear both perspectives and see where Americans come from, but we can also see more clearly how the rest of the world sees our country.

Currently, it is (at least in Europe) seen as a lunatic asylum. What you have learned from living abroad is that your way of life is not the only way and that all the things that seem natural and obvious to you are not natural or obvious and certainly not inevitable. There are other ways of organizing society and other value systems and other perspectives, many of which create more stable and secure societies than the United States currently claims.

In England specifically, I find the points of intersection and difference between American and British societies very interesting. I could go on talking for hours.

GG: You argue – I’ve done the same – as disturbing as the movie gone With the Wind May be, it is also important that we study and discuss it. How do the conversations about this film (and your book) engage white Americans in discussions about race and American history? What other movies or texts would you recommend as part of this effort?

SC: my hope is gone With the Wind Take a serious historical review and debunk it – not just say “it’s racist” or “it beautifies the old south” or “it perpetuates a lost cause” but delve into it like I did, put the facts With fiction, and then a closer look at the facts — white Americans can be encouraged to be more honest about our past.

On December 19, 1939, a crowd gathered outside the Astor Theater on Broadway for the New York premiere of “Gone with the Wind.” (AP Photo)

We do lie about our past – not just about slavery, but as I’ve shown the history of American fascism, about the Allies who left the US after the war (how many Americans know this story, the establishment of the US in Brazil A slave colony, or the effort to rebuild slavery in Mexico, or the connection to Mussolini two generations later that I discuss in the book?) – I think telling the truth will help us see more clearly why We have disagreements that we have, what they are about, and that may help us figure out what we have to do to overcome them.

Another obvious book for me is to kill a robin, which is more self-congratulatory, mythical, and frankly deceitful than the reality of American life in Alabama in the 1930s that most readers are willing to admit—because they love it. But this is basically dishonest.

I’d love to hear what books you’ve brought with you.I mention in my book some of their views on these issues that I think are worth rediscovering, including George Schuyler’s fascinating but largely forgotten no more black with Nathaniel West’s Locust Daybut I’ll take Faulkner myself— Absalom, Absalom! Is it such an obvious book? gone With the Wind Because they tell the same story in completely opposite ways in the same year. It illustrates the importance of careful reading; but as I said, I want to know about other books that people teach at the same time.

GG: Absalom A core text for me, because you noticed good reason, because Baldwin approached Faulkner so thoughtfully, recognizing the best and worst of him and his work.

But so far: To some, Donald J. Trump may seem like a radical figure pieced together from America’s worst stereotypes, but your book shows that he and the impulses he represents are deep of Americans.what did you learn gone With the Wind Teach you how someone like Donald Trump gets to power?

SC: I’ve always thought of Trump as basically white American identity — not our worst stereotypes, but our worst impulses that we’ve worked together as a society to suppress. But when things broke – and they did – he was the biggest, most vicious symptom, flying out of the cracks.

for me, gone With the Wind Catch Trump’s emphasis on the fact that Scarlett and Reed are both gamblers and liars in important ways – number one and absolutely unscrupulous in their pursuit of wealth and power. Margaret Mitchell once compared Scarlett to a confident liar, and that’s Trump, of course. But Scarlett is the protagonist, although Mitchell intends to make her an anti-heroine, saying that doesn’t speak to the character of the country they admire so much about her. You can certainly say the same about Trump.

GG: Have you ever wished the “better angels of our nature” were still called to the right things? What have you learned about how we can stop saying “tomorrow is another day” and put in the hard work of creating a just society?

SC: Yes, ultimately I hope my book shows how dangerous and futile it is for a society to think it can continue beyond the consequences. You can’t, I think what’s happening in America today proves the truth of that proposition. Chickens are going home to roost, but we as a society are still largely in denial.

Denialism is perhaps our greatest national failure, and gone With the Wind exemplified it. Can we stop denying reality and truth and start dealing with it? I really don’t know – now I wouldn’t say the omens are good – although it’s interesting to watch the January 6 hearings change that.

The truth is emerging, despite the efforts of some very powerful people to deny it, and some of that truth is now being challenged. Can we keep doing this? I don’t know if we can, but I know we have to if we’re going to survive as a democracy.

Greg Garrett

Greg Garrett Carole McDaniel Hanks, professor of literature and culture at Baylor University, and canonical theologian at the American Cathedral in Paris.He is one of the leading figures in American religion and culture and is the author of more than two dozen books, most of which Most Recent in Conversation: Rowan Williams and Greg Garrett and The Long Road: Hollywood’s Unfinished Journey from Racism to ReconciliationHe is currently managing a racism research grant from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation and writing a book on racial myths for Oxford University Press. Greg is an Anglican seminary-trained lay missionary and a canonical theologian at the American Holy Trinity Cathedral in Paris. He lives in Austin with his wife Jenny and their two daughters.

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