The Golden Age is over

Right-wing alarmists complain that political correctness runs amok. Imagine their despair to learn the Amsterdam Museum banned the phrase “Golden Age.” The reason: the golden years weren’t golden for everyone. But terms like “Golden Age” make history more accessible, and god help us, we need to talk about our history more if we want to change our future.

True tolerance: Locke vs. Spinoza

True tolerance — not grudging, not hesitatingly offered. That’s a model of how we should act and the kind of country we should be. Between Locke and Spinoza, one of these philosophers had a vision for it – and the man who inspired the American Revolution wasn’t it.

Vampires before Dracula

In case you didn’t know, Bram Stoker didn’t invent vampires. No, neither did John Polidori, who wrote “The Vampyre,” the great-granddaddy of all vampire fiction. Vlad the Impaler certainly did exist, and by many accounts he was a monster. But he wasn’t a vampire. Nor was Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who bathed in the blood of virgins in an attempt to keep her youth. So who were the first vampires?

Rembrandt: the king of drypoint

Few people realize that during his own lifetime, Rembrandt was equally — if not more — known for his printmaking. There are about 300 paintings attributed to the artist. He also made 290 plates for printmaking, and each of those was used to make “scores, even hundreds” of impressions of each.