The IP Weekly
This week history was made when Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the Senate as the newest Supreme Court Justice. Her confirmation created more history as the court will now have, for the first time, four women on the bench. Even more history as the court will have 2 Black justices for the first time and even more history as this will be the first time ever that the court will not dominated by White men. That’s a lot of history with one confirmation.
In sports news this week, NBA player Nikola Jokic made history by becoming the first player to notch 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season. History was made this past Monday when the Kansas Jayhawks made the largest comeback in NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game to win. More history was made when the Cleveland Guardians played their first game as the Major League Baseball season got underway.
With all this history being made it raises an important question…are we living in an unusually historic time? Without doing any sort of scientific study I will assert that the answer is no these times are not any more historic than any other time. We, however, are obsessed with the idea of reporting history. If you watch the local news regularly, I don’t, weather history gets reported with wonder. New records for heat or cold or rainfall or snow are celebrated and analyzed almost daily.
So what is it? What is with our fascination with history? One, I believe, is the way we conflate history with important. There are lots of things that happen for the first time everyday, but that doesn’t make them all important. In fact, when we report too much history we make it more difficult to identify what is truly history and what is trivia. The Guardians’ first game is the answer to a trivia question. Justice Jackson’s confirmation is history. Two, we conflate and inflate. We are so desperate for clicks, for eyeballs that we inflate the importance of everything. Turn on ESPN every night or CNN or any other daily news show and you hear the inflation as they go to commercial. Of course all this takes a toll on the education system as teachers try to help students understand what is actual history.
Some of this, to me, is funny and some is truly concerning. I can laugh off the nonsense sports history I hear about regularly and roll my eyes at the weather records set on Tuesday. I get concerned when we look for more and more ways to capture the historical nature of a Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearing. I think every time we add another layer of history, I think I left a few out earlier, we diminish the real history that has taken place. We run the risk of making Justice Jackson the answer to a trivia question instead of a historical figure.