Past Present Podcast: Fidel Castro, Liberalism’s Future, and Fake News

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In this week’s episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki debate Fidel Castro’s legacy, the future of liberalism, and the rise of fake news.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro died at the age of 90, having ruled over Cuba for more than 50 years. Niki placed Castro’s rise to power in a longer history of US-Cuba relations, including the Platt Amendment of 1901. Neil cited a Daily Beast article on Castro’s horrible oppression of Cuban gay people and noted Cuba’s recent crackdown on religious freedom. Natalia recommended Public Book’s essay “Cuba’s Next Chapter” for thinking about the future of Cuba post-Castro.

Liberalism’s Future

What Next for Liberalism, asks historian Daniel Rodgers in a recent issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. Natalia pointed to Hillary Clinton’s 2.5 million popular vote lead over Donald Trump to suggest liberalism wasn’t as in decline as some have suggested. She also discussed Joan C. Williams’ Harvard Business Review article on the different ways the working class identity is interpreted by white voters. Neil recommended Jonathan Rieder’s Canarsie for understanding how white ethnic voters left the New Deal order in the 1980s. Niki commented on Mark Lilla’s New York Times essay that blamed identity politics for liberalism’s troubles. Natalia noted Laurie Penny’s Baffler essay that argued liberals tend to fetishize despair.

Fake News

Fake news stories proliferated throughout the 2016 campaign. Niki sketched how the decline of trust in American institutions, particularly media, allowed for the growth of fake news outlets. Neil discussed Facebook’s role in the spread of fake news stories, and commented on a recent CNN show where a woman repeatedly claimed she knew 3 million illegal voters had voted in the state of California even though she had no evidence to support the assertion. Neil noted the Left has a problem believing fake news too, a tendency that may increase during Trump’s presidency. Natalia mentioned an NPR interview with a fake news creator who talked about how lucrative his business was. She recommended a Wall Street Journal article that discussed how Stanford professor Sam Wineburg has developed a media studies curriculum to help teachers educate students about how they properly assess news sources they read.

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