World’s Strangest

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The Grand Wizards of Elementary School

How the KKK helped get children out of the factories and into the classroom. Members of the Ku Klux Klan liked to think of themselves as white knights. And when it came to compulsory education for schoolchildren, believe  it or not, they actually were. To understand how this bizarre heroism came to pass, you have to [...]

From the Dictionary to a Book Called “Horse”: The Surprising Complaints Against 6 Books

This week (September 24 through October 1, 2011) is the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, an “annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.” We’ve all heard about books like Lolita and The Awakening being banned, especially from schools, for overly sexual content; other books are banned—or at [...]

When Political Conventions Go Wild: Four Knock-Down, Drag-Out Convention Floor Fights

by Brendan Spiegel 1. The Convention Turned Klanbake For Americans accustomed to today’s tame, scripted political conventions, the 1924 Democratic Convention went down more like a taping of The Jerry Springer Show. On one side was New York Governor Al Smith, supported by urban, Catholic voters who favored his efforts to repeal prohibition. On the other side [...]

How Superman Defeated the Ku Klux Klan

In the 1940s, The Adventures of Superman was a radio sensation. Kids across the country huddled around their sets as the Man of Steel leapt off the page and over the airwaves. Although Superman had been fighting crime in print since 1938, the weekly audio episodes fleshed out his storyline even further. It was on [...]