Of course, a skilled writer can turn anything into an alternative history—for instance, what happens after the Taino Indians wipe out Columbus and his entire expedition (in an as-yet-to-be-written novel) or what do African Americans experience after China wins the "Great War" in the 1965 John Hersey novel White Lotus.
At The Atlantic Uri Friedman takes a look at Harry Turtledove's novels, The Disunited States of America (in which the Constitution is not ratified after the Revolution) and The Two Georges (in which the Colonies lose the Revolutionary War):
|The Fourth of July—a time we Americans set aside to celebrate our independence and mark the war we waged to achieve it, along with the battles that followed. There was the War of 1812, the War of 1833, the First Ohio-Virginia War, the Three States' War, the First Black Insurrection, the Great War, the Second Black Insurrection, the Atlantic War, the Florida Intervention.
Confused? These are actually conflicts invented for the novel The Disunited States of America by Harry Turtledove, a prolific (and sometimes-pseudonymous) author of alternate histories with a Ph.D. in Byzantine history. The book is set in the 2090s in an alternate United States that is far from united. In fact, the states, having failed to ratify a constitution following the American Revolution, are separate countries that oscillate between cooperating and warring with one another, as in Europe.
"They couldn't agree on how to set up the legislature," one character explains. "The big states wanted it based on population. The little ones wanted each state to have one vote no matter how many people it had. They were too stubborn to split the difference."
Turtledove told me by email that he had an "epiphany" when he traveled with his family to the World Science Fiction Convention in Winnipeg, Canada in 1994, shortly before he published The Two Georges.
As he read a book from the Little House on the Prairie series to his daughter at the hotel, he came upon a section about a Fourth of July celebration "on the plains in the late nineteenth century, with fireworks and with tub-thumping speakers talking about how the United States had broken away from British tyranny and was the freest country in the world as a result. And there I was reading this in the country next door to mine, a country as similar to mine as any two nations on earth, a country just as free as mine—and a country that had never broken away from Britain at all. It was a thought-provoking experience." Canada, of course, merely shares a queen with the United Kingdom at this point, but its relationship with Britain has certainly evolved differently than America's has. […]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010—Why liberals should love the Second Amendment:
|Ask anyone on the street. They'll tell you the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a liberal organization. During the dark days of the Bush Administration, membership doubledbecause so many Americans feared increasing restrictions on their civil liberties. If you were to ask liberals to list their top five complaints about the Bush Administration, and they would invariably say the words "shredding" and "Constitution" in the same sentence. They might also add "Fourth Amendment" and "due process." It's possible they'll talk about "free speech zones" and "habeus corpus."
There's a good chance they will mention, probably in combination with several FCC-prohibited adjectives, former Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales.
Liberals can quote legal precedent, news reports, and exhaustive studies. They can talk about the intentions of the Founders. They can argue at length against the tyranny of the government. And they will, almost without exception, conclude the necessity of respecting, and not restricting, civil liberties.
Except for one: the right to keep and bear arms.
On today's encore performance Kagro in the Morning podcast, it's the July 8, 2013 show. In some ways, it's like the year never passed! Greg Dworkin and Armando were on hand for the discussion of developments in the Middle East, insurers rejecting the "arm the teachers" plan, 99% vs. the 1%, and even Snowden vs. the NSA. Current events, or a glimpse of the past? Well, OK, it's a glimpse of the past. Bad job hiding the ball, there. But, hey, it's like a little time capsule you can download to your smartphone! Assuming that's a good thing.