We’ve all heard the phrase that “history repeats itself,” which is why historians often look to the past to try to understand how current events will affect our future.
Heather Cox Richardson, an American history professor at Boston College, has applied this to President Trump’s recent immigration executive order in a Facebook post that now has about 70,000 shares.
Richardson, who confirmed toDallas Newsthat she was the post’s author, wrote that while she doesn’t “like to talk about politics on Facebook — political history is my job, after all … there is an important non-partisan point to make today.”
“What [Steve]Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries — is creating what is known as a ‘shock event,'” the post continues. “Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos.”
As people “scramble” to react to this event, Richardson explained, those who caused the shock eventclaim to the public that they are the only ones who can help.
“When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies,” she wrote. “As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event.”
The immigration order is a shock event, Richardson said, which spurred chaos and high tempers.
“My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one’s interest to play the shock event game,” she writes. “It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won’t like.”
But these shock events can be a positive thing, Richardson added.She cites Abraham Lincoln as a historical example.
“If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings,” she writes.”This was Lincoln’s strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.”