Trump Foundation Shutdown, 150 Years Of History Through Clothing, An Argument Against Empathy

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

Our ability to understand the pain of others is usually considered and important virtue. However, our guest argues that empathy can actually be harmful, leading to inequality and immorality. He makes the case for replacing empathy with “rational compassion”. We also learn what a Wisconsin family’s clothing collection can reveal about fashion and American society during the last 150 years. Plus, a look into a top headline.

Featured in this Show

  • Trump Says He Will Shut Down Trump Foundation

    President-elect Donald Trump announced over the weekend that he plans to shut down his charitable foundation, which is currently under investigation by the New York attorney general. A reporter gives us the details on ongoing concerns over conflicts of interest.

  • 150 Years Of History, Told Through Clothing

    A Marshfield family’s clothing collection spans 150 years and tells not only their story, but traces the nation’s history as well.

  • Marshfield Family's Clothing Collection Becomes Museum Exhibit

    When Jane Bradbury was a child, she visited her aunt, Augusta Denton Roddis, in her Marshfield home every year. It was a place that offered glimpses into the past through old clothes, hats and letters.

    “The house was like a time capsule. If you’d gone there in 1914 and you went back in 2011, it didn’t change,” Bradbury said.

    Bradbury said her aunt rarely threw away anything related to her family’s history. She recalled boxes Roddis kept in the attic filled with hats and dress, she particularly remembered one Bradbury came across when she was 19 years old.

    “(My aunt) took out this black velvet dress that had been bought in Paris in 1880, and she beckoned me to try it on,” Bradbury said. “So I put it on, and as soon as I felt those whalebones against my ribs, and the high lace neck, I just felt like a different person.”

    The dress belonged to Bradbury’s great aunt, and it wasn’t the only one in the collection. After her aunt Roddis died, Bradbury said she worked with a costume historian and conservator, and found her aunt had preserved clothes, hats, shoes, even receipts, from different chapters of history – the history of the last 130 years to be exact.

    Now displayed inside the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan, the clothes preserved in a Marshfield, Wisconsin attic are offering a glimpse into the evolution and resurrection of style.

    “Fashion does have a way of changing and coming back on itself,” Bradbury said, alluding to the modern and minimalist style of 1930s dresses, or the “fitted lace and lovely necklines” of 1950s dresses, which might be found in closets today.

    And while Bradbury said the clothes serve as a glimpse into the lives of the Roddis family, they also offer a peek into what life was like for an upper-middle class family, which she said can be hard to come by in museums.

    “(The museum wanted) a collection that was from a middle class family, they (already) had couture clothes as many museums do,” Bradbury said.

    The Roddis family first came to Marshfield from Milwaukee in the 1890s to take over a struggling veneer business, she said. The town was small, though up-and-coming, with only about 5,000 inhabitants. The revived business took off, and Bradbury said it eventually turned into a “world-class company” that served people across the United States and Europe.

    The collection American Style and Spirit: 130 years of Fashions and Lives of an Entrepreneurial Family will be on display through April 2017 at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. More information can be found here.

  • Against Empathy: The Case For Rational Compassion

    Parents, teachers, even the president, talk about the importance of empathy. But in a new book, a Yale psychologist argues against it, and says that well-intentioned actions motivated by empathy can have poor long-term consequences.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • David Fahrenthold Guest
  • Jane Bradbury Guest
  • Paul Bloom Guest

Related Stories