“As a political historian, I’ve studied a lot of bad things from our past. This moment is really rock bottom,” Zelizer tweeted, apparently referring to President Donald Trump’s press conference, in which the latter alleged voter count irregularities, vowing to sue several states where his initial edge over Biden had gradually evaporated.
Trump alleged that foul play was involved into the ballot-counting process, arguing that if only “legal votes” were tallied, he would’ve “easily”won, while accusing Democrats and election officials of trying to “steal” the race.
The premise that the ongoing election turmoil tops the list of the worst things to ever happen in US history raised eyebrows on Twitter. Many pointed Zelizer to arguably far darker moments, though not only from the country’s political history, such as a period of legalized slavery, genocide of Native Americans, the Civil War and a litany of violent foreign interventions.
“As a political historian, I’m sure that you remember the Civil War. Wouldn’t that probably be rock bottom, with this maybe being a close second?” one said.
“America kidnapped our fellow man and kept and bred them as slaves from pre-1776 until 1865, but sure, a low energy press conference is ‘rock bottom,’” another noted.
It did not take long for Zelizer, bombarded with lists of the ugliest excerpts from US history books, to delete the tweet. “This tweet was poorly worded so I’m going to delete it,” he wrote.
However, that did little to stop commentators from reminding him of the things he might have overlooked.
“Just as I was posting a reply reminding you that we interned Japanese-Americans during WWII. And stole the Kingdom of Hawaii from its lawful sovereign, after taking part in killing ~95% of Native Hawaiians. So. Much. History,” a commenter responded.
The fact that Zelizer – who claims to have penned 21 books on American politics – failed to account for so much history, instead resorting to the “poor wording” excuse, irked some of his critics.
“It’s not poorly worded. The very concept you were expressing is dead wrong. But good on you for learning to keep those bad ideas in drafts where they belong,” one said.
“Yeah, ‘poorly worded’ is certainly one way to say ‘beyond preposterous, embarrassing, and damaging to your credibility,’” another chimed in.
Zelizer eventually asked the internet to stop sending him “lists,” while seemingly holding his ground on Trump.
“No need for more lists,” he pleaded. “And I could easily add to all of that. But having a sitting president attack the election process and the right of Americans to have their vote counted is a terrible thing for our democracy.”
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