Past Present Podcast: Hurricane Harvey, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Princess Diana

Hurricane Harvey Response

On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil J. Young debate the natural and political implications of Hurricane Harvey, President Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the legacy of Princess Diana two decades after her death.

Hurricane Harvey

We discussed Hurricane Harvey and the origins of the meteorological model that determines whether a storm is a “1-in-500-years” eventuality and the role of human decisions in mitigating or intensifying natural disaster. We also discussed the history of media coverage of looting after such disasters; Natalia cited Andy Horowitz’ Washington Post article “Hurricane Harvey Threatens More than You Think.”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

President Trump’s pardon of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has made headlines both for the troubling legal precedent it sets and the content of Arpaio’s career, defined by harsh treatment of prisoners and minorities. We discussed the entwined history of white supremacy and law enforcement; Neil mentioned Gilbert King’s book Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America.

Princess Diana

Princess Diana died twenty years ago this summer, and she changed popular ideas about the crown, the media, and celebrity. Niki recalled her particular prominence in the tabloid press that profited immensely from her celebrity. Neil cited Jane Mendle’s TIME article about Diana’s positive role in destigmatizing mental illness in the United Kingdom.

What’s Making History


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