History will be kind to Donald Trump. And that’s the problem.

Joshua Adams
5 min readJan 18, 2021

The presidency of twice-impeached Donald Trump is over. Since the time he stepped into office, there have been recurring conversations about how historians will write about the Trump legacy.

Some are confident that future Americans will feel shame over shit-hole countries, “grab them by the pussy” and other locker-room talk, calling Mexicans “rapists,” saying “Islam hates us” and Muslim bans, asserting that President Obama wasn’t born here, making fun of a disabled reporter, lauding the “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville, “Stand-back and standby” to vigilante groups and white supremacists, a shameless response to a global pandemic, inciting insurrection and so many other things. Even President Joe Biden, the target of many of the president’s attacks and the figurehead of his election conspiracies, has argued that this president was an aberration.

Many argue that when the dust settles and when enough time has passed, history will look harshly upon President Trump, the Congressional Republicans who enabled him for political gain, the media ecosystem that amplified his lies, and the supporters who rioted in his name.

I’m just not convinced this is true.

History will be kind to Donald Trump. And that’s the problem.

I think history will be kind to him because of the great American insistence that we are not just exceptional, but mythically so.

We treat American history like a Greatest Hits album — a curation of its best qualities and valiant virtues, editing out sins like songs that don’t make the cut. We assert that our country is the herald of freedom, democracy, unalienable rights; the shining city on a hill built with the sweat of progress. Yet those who mention the blood and tears are called “anti-American.” Things like slavery and native genocide aren’t things you should talk about. We are told that studying their effects on society is a line of inquiry we shouldn’t pursue; a mix of “political correctness” and a gross attempt to rewrite history to make America look, not just unexceptional, but evil.

From the classroom to the movie theater, we teach kids that how they feel about our country is more important than the facts of its history. It’s why folks…

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Joshua Adams

Joshua Adams is a writer from Chicago. UVA & USC. Assistant Professor at Columbia College Chicago. Twitter: @ProfJoshuaA