Mobs in America's Past and Present

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A mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, leading to a ricochet of effects including the impeachment of President Trump. On this episode, experts Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Colleen Sheehan, Director of Graduate Studies at the Arizona State School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, explore the history of mobs past and present, online and in-person. They discuss how “good” versus “bad” mobs played a role at the Founding, and how concerns about mobs influenced the political and constitutional thought of Founders including James Madison. They also trace how different types of mobs evolved over time and were seen as illegitimate especially around the Civil War, as well as what has fueled mobs—particularly online mobs—today, including disinformation and social media. They conclude with some thoughts on potential reforms, including the need for more civic education and protections for free speech. Jeffrey Rosen hosts.

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