Profs & Pints DC: America’s Illiberal History

Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

Profs and Pints DC presents: “America’s Illiberal History,” an unflinching look at the trampling of individual rights as a driving force in our nation’s past, with Steven Hahn, professor of history at New York University and Pulitzer-prize winning author.

Donald Trump has long been accused by many journalists and other observers of violating liberal democratic “norms.” But what are those norms, exactly?

Based on extensive research on our nation’s past, Professor Steven Hahn argues that it’s a mistake to see Trump’s actions as an exception to our nation’s political traditions. The liberal democratic norms he is accused of violating have always been on shaky ground, and often have been undermined by an illiberalism deeply rooted in our history.

Join Dr. Hahn at Washington D.C.’s Hill Center for a talk that will put our current political crisis in deep historical perspective. Drawing from his provocative new book, Illiberal America: A History, he’ll suggest that illiberalism in many forms has been close to the surface of American political life since the early 17th century—even at times we associate with the growth of liberal democracy.

He’ll take us on a trip back through time to show us how Americans have long been animated by competing and equally deep-seated values, with the illiberal will of the community often overriding individual rights and seeking to protect itself by excluding perceived threats on grounds of race, religion, gender, economic status, or ideology. He’ll show us how illiberalism has been driven by popular movements and implemented through courts and legislation, and provide extensive historical evidence to back his conclusion that illiberalism is “deeply embedded in our history, not at the margins but very much at the center.”

A scholar of American political and social movements whose other acclaimed works include A Nation Under Our Feet and A Nation Without Borders, Professor Hahn is sure to leave you with plenty to think about at a time when the tension between our nation’s competing liberal and illiberal traditions is more intense than ever. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)

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