Paul Matzko Profile picture
Historian. Author of "The Radio Right" (Oxford, 2020). Research Fellow at the Cato Institute.
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Nov 21, 2022 28 tweets 8 min read
There are two primary strains of right-wing Christian Nationalism in America at the moment. 🧵

1) the most extensive, called Seven Mountains theology, bubbled up from independent charismatic entrepreneurs like Lance Wallnau. They rely on a novel interpretation of obscure biblical passages in Isaiah & Revelation that call for reclaiming 7 mountains of Christian social control, from government through education. If they succeed, then God will bless America. If they fail, then apocalypse now.
Nov 18, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
His next sentence is revealing:

"And, indeed, older exegetes regularly aligned the great OT kings—Josiah, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, etc.—with the great emperors of Rome—Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian, etc.—to demonstrate this continuity."

It shows how little history he knows. I'll do him one better. You can got to a little museum in Paris and find 28 decapitated heads of statues of kings of Israel that had ornamented Notre Dame Cathedral.…
Apr 7, 2022 8 tweets 2 min read
Immigration restrictionism is bad, story time.

I used to work as a bank teller on Girard Ave in Philly. One day, a man parked his lifted F-150 truck in the lot and came into the bank with an off-the-books employee from Latin America who spoke only broken English. The employer withdrew $200 in cash, turned and handed $100 to his worker, who then protested that he had been promised $200 for completing the job.

The employer sneered and told him, "Be thankful I gave you anything. If you say one more word, I'll get you deported."
Apr 6, 2022 9 tweets 3 min read
Think it's weird that a conspiracy-peddling pillow salesman tried to overthrow American democracy after the '20 election?

Well, the MyPillow guy doesn't hold a candle to the inventor of the Sugar Daddy, Robert Welch, & his fantastical conspiracy theories.… Check out my review of @eh_miller's book in @LAReviewofBooks for more, but I'll highlight a few of his more significant contributions here.

First, Miller puts another nail in the coffin of the "ostracization thesis" of the origins of modern conservatism.
Apr 5, 2022 4 tweets 2 min read
Land warfare won't be the same post-Ukraine. The ability to destroy vehicles with drones--like the subject of this remixed Ukrainian hit song--and cheap shoulder fired missiles has turned tanks into steel coffins on treads.

Yet an old guard in the US military (and congresspeople with tank factories in their districts) want to maintain a large tank fleet in perpetuity. 🤦…
Mar 12, 2022 5 tweets 1 min read
When I was in grad school, our history department didn't replace the last military historian despite consistent student demand for her courses.

Many programs have done so over the last couple decades and are now learning the hard way that it was a mistake. We had a Civil War institute filled with excellent scholars of trauma, memory, medicine, and so on. But the inside joke was that our program studied everything about the Civil War...except the War!
Feb 25, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
The Ukrainian War of Russian Aggression will be the first western war to be mass documented by a smartphone equipped population. I can see the US Military Academy dissertation already, "Putin's Phone Failure: 2014 Crimea vs 2022 Ukraine."

It could make a difference as Russia/Ukraine wage a rhetorical war for global sympathy and in rallying Ukrainian resistance vs losing Russian home front morale.
Feb 24, 2022 5 tweets 1 min read
The pastor of our Evangelical Presbyterian Church removed the American flag from the stage which sparked:

1) An elder (and large tither) left the church &

2) The mainline host church that owned the sanctuary complained.

3) Our congregation had to dissolve within the year. We had a congregational meeting. I pointed out that the presence of an American flag in the sanctuary was not common practice in most American churches until the wave of jingoism during WW1.
Dec 10, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
Much of progressive politics today is just trying to fix problems created by past generations of progressives. Healthcare. Progressives in Congress in the 1940s/50s sowed the seeds of our current healthcare affordability crisis via the bad idea of pushing people to get their health insurance through an employer middleman.
Nov 11, 2021 17 tweets 6 min read
Fears of overpopulation have been fashionable since the 1970s. Too many people consuming too much stuff and producing too much waste.

But it's UNDER-population, not overpopulation, that should worry us most right now. If you've ever visited a crumbling rustbelt city you've seen how grim it can be in a town that's depopulating. Closing schools, boarded businesses, abandoned homes, economic stagnation.
Nov 10, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
Another congressional "science harder" bill. 🙄 The simple ways of doing it are too easy to beat, ie drunks passing an engine startup breathalyzer via a non-drunk friend or kid. (Indeed, it might make accidents *more* deadly by encouraging dependent +1s.)
Nov 9, 2021 6 tweets 1 min read
I wouldn't want to get a beer with half of the folks involved w/ the University of Austin pitch, let alone pay to listen to them talk.

But their whole "y'all are suppressing the truth so I'm gonna start my own school" energy is how many US universities got their start. It's why Princeton began as the "Log College" with New Side Presbyterians who thought Harvard and Yale were churning out a bunch o' liberal Old Sider PINOs (Presbyterians in Name Only), dontchya know!
Oct 31, 2021 6 tweets 2 min read
I'll second this. 9 years in two history grad programs and never learned about CRT. Which makes sense because it was a law school construct.

The way around this is for anti-CRT reactionaries to inflate CRT to include every form of race as an analytical category, which is silly. The credulous citation of selective quotes compiled by bad faith political operatives (Rufo, et al) is a rhetorical echo of anti-communist activism in the mid-20th century.
Oct 12, 2021 19 tweets 4 min read
The most frustrating part of the "bad art friend" story in the NYT is the complete silence around class. And yet class both propels the conflict in the story and the subsequent discourse around it. The author does offhandedly mention that Dowland comes from a working class background (raised "on government flour" in rural poverty in Iowa) while Larson was raised in a "middle-class enclave" in (suburban?) Minnesota.

And then drops it. BUT THAT'S HUGE!!!
Oct 5, 2021 6 tweets 2 min read
I'd file this under "bad but interesting." @egrattan is correct that the Fairness Doctrine--had it persisted post-1987--would not have applied to Facebook. After all, it didn't even apply to cable broadcasting, let alone the internet!

BUT... It's something of an accident of history that courts in the 90s generally placed the internet under the print regime rather than the broadcasting regime. It was "e-mail," "message boards," etc. Section 230 codified for the internet the legal precedents that protected book stores.
Sep 30, 2021 6 tweets 2 min read
It's easy for Gen X-ers and Millennials to forget that the white supremacist backlash against the civil rights movement wasn't all that long ago.

But Hazel Bryan, the girl in the famous "scream" photo of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School, was only 15 in 1957. That means she's 79 today. Indeed, if you spot a teenager in a photo of a pro-segregation protest from a 1960s, they could still be in their 60s today. The children of white massive resistance are your parents' or grandparents' age.
Sep 17, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
Ever wonder why the totemic belief in & hunt for alternative covid treatments persists? One reason is the fact that that the case fatality rate has fallen to ~1.6%, which means that 98.4% of the afflicted survive. You'll hear anti-vaxxers frequently trot out that point. Image And if you were already vaccine hesitant because the Orange One wormed his way into your brain or because you're a preexisting anti-vaxxer, it's easy enough to credit your survival to ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, or whatever supplements you dosed yourself with.
Sep 17, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
It's not the worst historiographical scandal since Michael Bellesiles since Nicole-Jones isn't a historian. But her lead essay for the 1619 Project was an immense failure that ignored the recommendations of the subject experts the NYT consulted.… I should note that this is true even though there are reputable, careful scholars involved with other parts of the 1619 Project. Their involvement in some (salutary) parts of the project isn't a shield against critiques of other (flawed) parts that they had nothing to do with.
Aug 19, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
A gracious and incisive review of Owen Strachan's "Christianity and Wokeness" by confessing historian @AndreaLTurpin.… I can't help but notice the difference b/t this review and @RevKevDeYoung's review of @bethallisonbarr.

Turpin assumes the best about the ways Strachan's personal experiences inform his thinking. DeYoung assumes the worst about Barr's past.…
Aug 16, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
The US spent over a trillion dollars on the war in Afghanistan, which is equivalent to more than FIFTY TIMES Afghanistan's GDP.

To put that another way, that's about EIGHT times as much as we spent (inflation adjusted) on the entire Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after WW2. Or to put that yet another way, forget the Pentagon's $14,000 toilet seats! We lost 2,312 US soldiers for the low, low price of $432 million each. Though that's relatively expensive compared to the cost of killing ~241,000 Afghans at a relatively cheap $4.15 million per head.
Aug 15, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
The current tragedy in Kabul is partly a product of the lies that the US has told itself. We are incapable of admitting defeat, so it was important that we pretend the Afghan government we were going to leave behind was stable & competent instead of corrupt & sclerotic. But precisely *because* of that lie, we didn't adequately prepare for the scramble that resulted when we neared our exit. It's Saigon '75 all over again.

Afghanis, their lives on the line, felt no such compunction to pretend that everything will be fine.