How Complicated Was MLK? Far More than Time Magazine Thought When It Chose Him as Man of the Year in 1963





Mr. Luker, an Atlanta historian, was co-editor of the first two volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King and a writer for the History News Service. He also contributes to HNN's blog, Cliopatria.

Forty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., was Time's"Man of the Year." Oddly enough, as I re-read that year's cover story recently, Dick van Dyke's lively
song and dance routine in Mary Poppins ran in my head.

Step in time, step in time
Step in time, step in time
Never need a reason,
Never need a rhyme,
Step in time, step in time
We step in time.

Mary Poppins premiered in 1964, but that's not why I thought of it in connection with Time's story about King. Its cover story of the year reminded me
just how deeply flawed, short-sighted and time-bound that story really was. Surely, 1963 was the single most important year in post-World War II America. It was the most significant in African Americans' 20th-century struggle for civil rights. Beginning with the dramatic and extended stand-off in Birmingham, Ala., it continued in brutal confrontations throughout the South, the momentous March on Washington, the tragic bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It challenged King more deeply than ever before. Yet Timeutterly failed to capture the ways in which the times and the man had met.

Time's coverage of King as its"Man of the Year" played off the perspective of forty years earlier.  When King was born, said Time, someone like the 1920s sage, H. L. Mencken, could still write:"The educated Negro of today is a failure, not because he meets insuperable difficulties in life, but because he is a Negro. His brain is not fitted for the higher forms of mental effort; his ideals, no matter how laboriously he is trained and sheltered, remain those of a clown."

Step 'n fetch it, step in time
Step 'n fetch it, step in time
Never need a reason,
Never need a rhyme,
Step 'n fetch it, step in time
Step 'n fetch it, step in time.


If a white world's image of African America's possibility starts with Mencken's views, the road to recovery is a long one. That is a clue to the
limitations of Time's image of its"Man of the Year" in January 1964. Martin Luther King's recent biographers tell us far more about him than reporters in 1963 could have known. Yet some of the flaws in Time's report would have been clear to those close to King. He"dresses with funereal conservatism (five of six suits are black, as are most of his neckties). He has very little sense of humor," said Time."He never heard of Y. A. Tittle or George Shearing, but he can discourse by the hour about Thoreau, Hegel, Kant and Gandhi."

Where do you begin to unpack such images of King? With the fact that a black suit and tie -- not his childhood tweeds or late zoot suit fashion -- were
appropriate ministerial dress? Or with the fact that he preferred them to be of silk?"He has very little sense of humor."

Clearly, the reporter fell victim to some of King's masking, a distancing mechanism.  Friends knew that, at ease, he had a robust, earthy sense of humor.
"Y. A. Tittle or George Shearing"?  Time dims the importance of knowing who some white athletes and musicians were. Discoursing"by the hour
about Thoreau, Hegel, Kant and Gandhi"? Well, yes, he could do that. It was news to some readers of Time that an African American might do that, but a part of King's discoursing was an image King was creating of himself. In letters, he thanked friends for"a work of supererogation" so he could explain to the less well educated friend what"a work of supererogation" was.

Time's reporter didn't understand that Martin Luther King also knew about Stepin Fetchit. By 1964, he had spent two decades cultivating an image that
distinguished who he was from a white world's limited view of what he could be. Black suits and a sober public demeanor helped to clarify things.

Surprisingly, Time's coverage of King as"Man of the Year" in January 1964 refers to neither his"Letter from the Birmingham Jail" nor his"I Have a Dream"
speech. Had you mentioned their now time-worn phrases forty years ago, few people would have known what you were talking about. Both of them took form in 1963 and only subsequently became his most familiar texts."Letter" was scrabbled together by King's lieutenants from notes he sent to them from jail. It wasn't published until well after his release and only slowly won the attention it now holds."I Have a Dream" was a classic example of King's oratory, mixing new rhetoric with fixed pieces which had long played in his repertoire.

Time's attention to King's oratory is also surprising in another way. Subsequent writers have focused on how it worked by mixing the familiar and the poetic to
build an audience's affirming response. The"Man of the Year" cover story drew attention to King's rhetorical failures."For a man who earned fame with
speeches, his metaphors can be downright embarrassing," said Time. Indeed, sometimes they were."For Negroes, he says, 'the word"wait" has been a
tranquilizing Thalidomide,' giving 'birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration.' Only by 'following the cause of tender-heartedness' can man 'matriculate
into the university of eternal life.' Segregation is 'the adultery of an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality,' and it 'cannot be cured by
the Vaseline of gradualism.'"

But metaphors that don't work on paper often do work orally and subsequent examinations of King's speech rightly focus on his rhetoric's successes rather than
its failures. Time's "Man of the Year" coverage of King tells us as much about white American attitudes in race relations as it did about King himself. Of them, he would tell us,"They're not what they ought to be, they're not what they're going to be, but thank God Almighty, they're not what they were." Forty years later, Martin Luther King's step in time was clearly larger than even Time imagined.

King in Time, King in Time,
King in time, King in time;
As for the reason and the rhyme,
His was the reason, his the rhyme.
Thank God Almighty,
M. L. King did step in time.

Related Links

  • Ralph Luker, Guide to Internet Sources on Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • This piece was distributed for non-exclusive use by the History News Service, an informal syndicate of professional historians who seek to improve the public's understanding of current events by setting these events in their historical contexts. The article may be republished as long as both the author and the History News Service are clearly credited.


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    Peter N Kirstein - 1/27/2004

    I am curious if Ms Pryor or CRW survives the cut.
    I also ponder how many denizens that responded to my Hot Seat listing could survive the cut.

    I stand behind my name; I am proud of it. More so in the past 14 months than anytime in my life.

    There is no excuse for anonymity when characterizing a person publicly whether favourably or unfavourably. It is a lack of honour, maturity and professionalism to engage in public assessment when one is unable to be tested, debated or held accountable for their comments.

    I STAND BY MY NAME! NOW STAND BY YOURS AND USE THIS WEBSITE HONOURABLY AND WITH PROFESSIONALISM.

    PETER NEIL KIRSTEIN
    PROFESSOR OF HISTORY
    SAINT XAVIER UNIVERSITY


    Derek Charles Catsam - 1/26/2004

    Wow, shocking that yet another caricature would come out from this crowd. Mr. Frum's oh-so-cute little play bears no resemblance to reality.
    SAs for Mr. Jusic's whinintg about ad hominems, he is the one who has beren making the attacks personal. he is the one who refered to Ralph and me as "court historians," he is the one who came up with his little "j-accuse" against me, he is the one who consistently has personalized this. An attck against ideas, even if one is clear in asserting that they are dumb ideas, is the exact opposite of an ad himinem. An ad himinem is an attack against the person. An attack against ideas is precisely counter to that. But then again, Mr. Jusic has misused so many ideas, phrases, and words here -- "court historian," "consensus history" and now "ad hominem" that I guess we should all just expect this sort of thing by now.
    dc


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/26/2004

    I suspect that Professor Catsam and I have already done more as "centerist liberals" to explore basic tensions within American democracy than our anonymous critics. These attacks are rather tired Leftovers. How would one ever know if anonymous posters' hands are white or their religious background is or is not "Judeo-Christian"? Register in your own name, accept responsibility for what you say, and attempt something other than attack twaddle.


    - 1/26/2004


    At least she's not a one-person peanut gallery.


    Carl Jusic - 1/26/2004

    The best thing about these persons--ad hominem attacks please! I am merely expressing an opinion--is that it gives a lie to the notion that academe is infected with left-wing Trotskyist radicals. The fact that so many of them are centrist liberals is revelatory of the failure of the professorate to produce radical, revisionist intellectuals. The proof is in the pudding and the pudding ain't red, it is vanilla!!!!!!!!!!!

    While I am sure the professor would not address his students the way you indirectly opined, there is no question that urging students to vote is a form of proselytizing.

    The problem with liberal professors is that their incapacity to see the basic contradictions of American capitalism and imperialism, creates a reformist, evolutionary approach to problem solving. Perhaps we need, despite the musings of Ms Pryor, a professorate that can knows American history is not a tale of achievement but of horror and misery for those whose hands are not white and whose religious background is not "Judeo-Christian."




    P. Flum - 1/25/2004

    Good morning class. I just wanted to let you know that an election is approaching. I really think you should vote and become engaged in your democracy. Voting is the essence of power and commitment.

    Any questions before I begin summarizing consensus historiography of the 1950s?

    Yes, I want to know why you want us to vote. I don't like Kerry or Bush. They are both fabulously wealthy, are both war mongers who supported the genocide against Iraq and neither is opposed to the death penalty or supports gay marriage.

    No, no. You really should vote. Democracy is contingent upon it. Of course they are similar in some ways but perhaps there are differences too.

    But I see no differences and to vote is merely to acquiesce in this pantomine of a democracy. I urge my classmates not to vote. Take a stand of protest and not vote. Demand a choice and not an echo.

    How dare you defy me. I insist that you vote. I insist that you go to the polls and not others chose for you. I will not tolerate dissent as this glorious democracy proceeds to show the world our greatness and openness.

    Sir?

    No, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!


    P. Flum - 1/25/2004

    Who knows? Maybe Carol Pryor is C.R.W.


    C.R.W. - 1/25/2004


    Your post implies that challenging how one uses their independence is tantamount to demanding its revocation.

    Whoever Carol Pryor may or may not be, I've found her posts in this thread to contain the most challenging, penetrating, eloquent and clearly-worded statements on HNN. I am impressed by how articulately she was able to tie a defense of Ralph Luker and Derek Catsam into a larger picture, addressing the destruction woven when critical thought becomes a casualty of an ideological assault.


    Peter N Kirstein - 1/25/2004

    One other note. I have tried to determine who you are. Your knowledge of items suggests you may be someone other than you claim. I could not find a suitable entry under Google or other sources. You have been quite critical of anonymous posts and I would merely ask you, if you felt comfortable, to confirm the accuracy of your name. If you construe this as prying or insensitive, I ask for your indulgence.






    Peter N Kirstein - 1/25/2004

    As far as your comments on other historians, I am concerned about the general implications of your remarks. I don’t doubt your nuance and find you most challenging.

    The greater the chasm between mainstream and academic opinion, the idea of progress is enhanced. If academicians merely parrot elite-conservative opinion, then higher education would wither and become inert.

    Many overestimate the pervasiveness of academic progressivism. They also underestimate the injury to society if academia lost its independence. Your frustrations implied an urge to harness more generally academic freedom and the articulation of unpopular or radical beliefs.



    Derek Catsam - 1/25/2004

    Carl --
    What values, precisely, make one a Catsamian, Pipesian, or Lukerian? Do we all really agree down the line? (Answer for the slow of wit: not even close) Ralph and I are not even part of the same political party unless Ralph has changed affiliations. Oh, I forget, there are no differences between the Democrats and the Republicans, says Carl, as he goes to work for the Kucinich campaign. Meanwhile, at what point has left-wing criticism been disallowed here? Does Mr. Jusic actually read the site? Doesn't PM Carpenter have a regular column here? Haven't Chomsky's writings been reprinted here? haven't Historians Agfainst the War gotten their platform? I am certainly left of center. What many of us want to disallow are vitriolic ad hominems and baseless accusations from the anonymous. We want accouintability for those who have come perilously close to engaging in libel. And we believe that the tone and quality of the site will be strengthened by those who know that their names are attached to what they write. Feel free to call me what you like. Just have the soul and courage and willingness to do so behind your own name. If you aren't willing to stand up behind your beliefs, how much can you really value them?

    dc


    Derek Catsam - 1/25/2004

    Thank You Carol. When Ralph or I are being targeted as somehow indicative of a monolithic reactionary status quo, we can see how far off the brink some of the radical critics are. Too many radicals see liberals like me as the enemy, thus shutting off a form of potential alliance, because in their self-righteousness they believe that theirs is the only true way. In the end, if I am going to be tried and convicted in a public forum for encouraging students to participate in the very process that gives people the rights to speak in these sorts of forums, well, those are slings and arrows I will gladly take. Interestingly, when I responded in length to Mr. Jusic's points about who he thought I might be, he did not bother to engage me on most any of them. For him, better to engage in the ad hominem and to further caricature.
    Derek


    Derek Catsam - 1/25/2004

    Carl --
    Er, people did die for the right to vote. There is nothing antiintellectual about a civil rights historian pointing out that in the struggle for voting rights in the South, people gave their lives. What is shameful is that you dishonor their deaths, and thus their lives, by your own denials.
    I don't force my students to vote, I encourage them to do so. One of the impulsews we all have in our lives is those who have influenced us, sometimes in the classroom.
    As for whether I raise critical thinking standards in the classroom, have you ever sat in on one of my classes? Since the answer here is "no" you are arguing about something you have no experience with! You're like one of these people who criticizes a book or movie they have not seen.
    Meanwhile, while I thank you so much for pointing out the context of when the Nat'l Anthem was written (next from Dr. Jusic: "Independence Day comes on July 4th") that context changes. But you know so much more than all of the nonwhite people who sing the anthem, salyute the flag, and in many cases have fought for their country.
    I am not sure what I am fetching and styepping for, but I find it fascinating too that you are going to work for a campaign for someone in one of the major parties. The amount of hypocrisy that illustrates is phenomenal. Let me get this straight -- you have the right to provide, to use your term, "direction," in the sense that you are encouraging Kucinich's candidacy (I believe he is promising to do for America what he did for Clevelend? That's quite the selling point . . .) and yet when I broadly encourage students to vote for anyomne from any party, I am the reprehensible one?
    dc


    Carol Pryor - 1/25/2004

    I think you know I was not attempting to exact a "loyalty oath" from you. This was not an effort on my part to insist that one demonstrate fidelity to the US. That would be antiintellectual and obviously anathema for this website.

    I was, perhaps with an unintended degree of provocation, attempting to solicit from you a comment on some aspect of America: Its history, culture, people, art etc. that you find to be worthy of praise and affirmation. You should feel no pressure to do so but it was an exasperated inquiry given the virulent treatment of Msrs. Luker and Catsam, that is SYMPTOMATIC of an academy that has taken critical inquiry to such heights that an even handed assessment of the very nation that has trained them appears sadly missing.

    Your two links, Mr. Kirstein, I read with attention and with interest! I was familiar with the AAUP response to Mr Horowitz and found your letter to Laura Ingraham to be a utopian if not wildly impractical analysis of war and defense. I am sure you had a similar reflection on her characterization of you.

    I am sure you envision me as an exemplar of right-wing conservatism and one who wishes to muzzle views that I object to. My efforts have been far more nuanced than that and to indicate in an elevated manner the responsibility to address the crisis of ideological irresponsibility in academe.


    Peter N Kirstein - 1/24/2004

    Some relevant links:

    http://www.aaup.org/statements/SpchState/billofrights.htm
    http://www.sxu.edu/~kirstein/lauraingraham_shutup.html)

    "I challenge you to acknowledge the positive."

    (I do not take loyalty oaths.)

    Peter N. Kirstein


    Carol Pryor - 1/24/2004

    As you know, Daniel Pipes, Roger Kimball, Sara Russo, Laura Ingraham, David Horowitz and others are deeply distressed at the tenor and exclusivity of thought that governs academe today. I saw how two moderate academicians were excoriated here in near hysterical ravings, by exemplars of the "take no prisoners" radical epsitemology of the professorate.

    It should not be conservatives alone who are distressed at this intellectual lynching of any intellectual force that validates the current order. One would have hoped that tne new comparative history would have even more starkly indicated the exceptional nature of this country and at least caused some reflection on how our imperfections when compared to other traditions are frequently less imperfect by comparison.

    I challenge you to acknowledge the positive.


    Peter N Kirstein - 1/24/2004

    There may not have been a direct reference to terrorists but there were affirmations of revolutionary musings.

    (I do not believe the two can be equated without a specific linkage.)

    Dissenting opinion should be discouraged if it is destructive and inimical to our way of life. Professors have a special responsibility to ensure that students are not infected with excessive cynicism and anger to avert their becoming productive, useful members of the polity.

    (Pedagogy and academic freedom should not be restricted to affirmation of the current order.)

    I have little objection to your third comment but I was addressing not the topics under purview but the methods of discourse.

    I fully anticipate that when professionals contribute to this website, particularly historians, that they will recognize their civic responsibility as Americans and as leaders to engage in discourse that does not contribute to a lessening of the sinews that bind us together as Americans.

    (Professionals may see themselves as citizens of the world emphasizing "sinews" that transcend nationalism.)



    Carol Pryor - 1/24/2004

    There may not have been a direct reference to terrorists but there were affirmations of revolutionary musings.

    Dissenting opinion should be discouraged if it is destructive and inimical to our way of life. Professors have a special responsibility to ensure that students are not infected with excessive cynicism and anger to avert their becoming productive, useful members of the polity.

    I have little objection to your third comment but I was addressing not the topics under purview but the methods of discourse.

    I fully anticipate that when professionals contribute to this website, particularly historians, that they will recognize their civic responsibility as Americans and as leaders to engage in discourse that does not contribute to a lessening of the sinews that bind us together as Americans.



    Carl Jusic - 1/23/2004

    Yeah, but I did not have a teacher tell me to do it. I did not state voting was antithetical to liberty but that it should come from impulse not from direction.


    Jonathan Dresner - 1/23/2004

    I'm sorry, but I really got a smile from this post. Voting is antithetical to liberty, but you're working for a candidate? I love real life: irony is everywhere.


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/23/2004

    Mr. Jusic (if that is your name), If HNN adopts a process of registration for posting, I recommend that you register and post. Or is that too much like the co-optation of registering and voting? Having compromised yourself already in this process, you'd want to continue venting about your ideological purity.


    Carl Jusic - 1/23/2004

    Right, let's purge those Marxist Leninists from appearing here. Let's make HNN a safe, warm, comfortable, liberal, consensus site. Let's make sure that George Mason University not be embarassed by nonPipesians, nonLukians, nonCatsamians as this country moves toward self-destruction because of the lack of vibrant and powerful criticism.


    Carl Jusic - 1/23/2004

    Chomsky a linguist has written numerous works on revisionist history. Training should not delimit one's title if subsequent actions cover new ground.

    Voting and the Pledge are identical. You are trying to inculcate a commitment to American democracy. You should not be an enabler of the Empire, but to repeat myself, raise critical thinking standards so they can decide. And Derek, quit all this I love Amerika stuff. People died business. It's so old and antiintellectual.

    National Anthem is a white song about killing people in the War of 1812. I urge my students not to sing it without first analysing its content.

    Mr Luker, you can have all the registrations and all the devices to prevent radical views that you do not like. But you won't stop me and you won't silence others unless you are prepared to have a very small number of respondents.

    Got to run this weekend and work for Kucinich. Have fun filtering and fetching and steppin'.

    Thank you Che for your courage and indomitability!!!!!!!!!


    Van L. Hayhow - 1/23/2004

    Registering for posting might be a good idea as some posts I have seen have been filled with hatred. I never saw the reason for posting without using your real name. I don't know if its just an affectation or just cowardice but either way anonymous posters rarely make a contribution to knowledge. But Professor Luker, "radiclib"? "Radic" maybe but I see little "lib" in the posts you were referring to. Nice to have you back.


    Derek Catsam - 1/23/2004

    Carl --
    Encouraging students to vote is egregious? Akin to requiring the pledge? How so, precisely? How are the two related at all?
    I never said that teaching was about encouraging people to vote. I did say that on election day I encourage them to do so. There is an immense difference.In any case, people have died for that right, exercising it is the least we can do.
    The National Anthem is a good old "white fight song," eh? I'm not quite sure what that means -- I'd refer you to the "Never, No Never" song from the Ole Miss crisis if you want a "white fight song," -- but I'll tell the African American guys in my group that that's what you say they are singing.
    My desert island reading list would fall more along the lines of Woodward, Franklin, and Frederickson.
    You are aware that Chomsky is not a historian, right?
    dc


    Jonathan Dresner - 1/23/2004

    Ms. Pryor,

    I just have to take a little issue with your charge that "Academics who visit this website have the obligation to comport themselves in a manner that is completely professional and respectful."

    First, this is not a professional responsibility for me and I don't speak here as a representative of my institution. This is a place of free discussion and debate, and often involves issues that are not within my professional domain, but which will comment on if I am so moved. And while I'm second to none in promoting polite discourse, disrespect can and should be expressed in a polite manner when it is earned.

    Second, why should academics be held to a higher standard? Not that I'm against setting an example; I try to do that myself. But the professional historians who comment here are rarely driven to immoderate commentary by other professional historians. Why shouldn't *everyone* who posts here be required to be respectful, polite? We can't require logic or evidence, but we can insist on raising the general level of discussion, or at least not lowering it.

    Your comment about anonymous posters' anti-Americanism is precisely the reason why I support the right of responsible posters to remain anonymous. Unfortunately there are lots of people who take the opportunity of anonymity to be irresponsible, but that doesn't mean that someone *must* reveal all their views to their employers or students.

    While I appreciate your support for Drs. Luker and Catsam, I can't really endorse your reasons.


    Peter N. Kirstein - 1/23/2004

    I did not see a reference to Al Qaeda.


    Charges of unprofessionalism are frequently used to discourage dissenting opinion.


    Colloquies on historical periodization and pedagogy are illustrative of "professional" discourse.

    Peter N Kirstein


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/23/2004

    Sorry to have been out of the loop in this discussion for the last couple of days. I was out in the midwest at a good liberal arts college and, yes, urging the students to vote. I did so while also encouraging them to think about the possibility that participation in elections as we experience them is a process of co-optation.
    But, really, Ms. Pryor, consider the possibility that several posters here are posting voluminously and pseudonymously and uttering the sort of radiclib claptrap that they wouldn't take responsibility for under their own names. Since they take no responsibility for nothing that they say, it may well be that they speak for no one at all.
    I hear via the grapevine that HNN will soon move to a process of registration for posting. That should lead an improvement in the quality of discussions found here.


    Carol Pryor - 1/23/2004

    I am offended deeply by the anti-American bias that is being exhibited here by so many. Academics who visit this website have the obligation to comport themselves in a manner that is completely professional and respectful.

    Much of the tirades directed against Mr Luker and Mr Catsam bespeaks a radicalism which is destructive, immature and apparently an advocacy of communism and revolution. While both signed and anonymous contributors seem to harbor such animosity toward this country, I question whether they would be so generous with their fiery, pro-Qaeda rhetoric, if they were either truthful about their appellations or indeed currently employed in academia.


    Carl Jusic - 1/23/2004

    Let me be clear. To encourage students to vote is egregious and similar to requiring the Pledge. No, teaching is not about encouraging students to vote. No, teaching is about encouraging students to think about voting. Is it relevant? Is it productive? Is it appropriate? Then they can decide for themselves.

    Do not be too sanguine about your poll. Most Americans don't vote and presumably the outcome might be different than yours.

    Have fun singing your Anthem. A hate filled, violent, immoral war song regaling the success of one group of humans to kill another. It is just a good old white fight song.

    Vote and sing and bring your Lipset, Bancroft and Parkman with you. I will bring Williams, Hobsbawm, Chomsky.





    Derek Catsam - 1/22/2004

    OK, so you loathe the constitution, you loathe democracy, you loathe America (normally I hate this form of rhetoric, but in your little j'accuse you "indicted" me for loving my country and for singing the National anthem. Since all the things you listed are things you purport to oppose, I think it's safe to say you hate the US, yes?). We get it. We all get it. By the way, I might have missed it on the news, but apparently we did NOT kill Saddam, even though we clearly had opportunity.
    You think it is unconscionable to encourage students to particpate in the American political system? And yet you then claim what a Nader vote meant. That's a curious blend of bunkum and hypocrisy. Meanwhile you can continue your little "court historian" ad hominem. You just continue to reveal that you have no clue what the term means.
    By the way, you must then think that the Voting Rights Act was a bad thing, right? That is the only possible way for you to be consistent. You'd have told John Lewis and MLK and the rest who were at Selma, "you are wasting your time. I tell my students not to vote. And I just lectured a professor telling him why he should tell students to vote." And of course you think the MFDP was engaged in pure folly because, well, they were about political participation. Yup, Fannie Lou hamer just needed old Carl Jusic to set her straight -- not only was she wasting her time, she was actually participating in a fraud! Unless she supported a solipsistic third party candidate closer to his beliefs -- you see then there is an explaination as to why voting for that candidate is valid but voting on the whole is not. So this is what it looks like on the other side of the looking glass.
    Meanwhile, are you that insecure that you need to put both where you got your MA and BA, but also you have to point out that Oberlin is a great school? And do you implicitly believe that Wash U is not a great school? (See my post attesting to my belief in Oberlin's status by the way -- I think thou doth protest too much or something).
    By the way, you seem to aver that you in fact have a PhD, and that is fine. Perhaps you have an academic post. But don't categorically assert that it is not ok for me to encourage my students to vote. You do not have the final say, you are not the arbiter of what is right and wrong, you certainly are not the guage of proper citizenship. You oppose these sorts of exercises, but I'd be willing to take a poll, a vote a caucus, a plebescite, or what have you that would indicate that most people would believe that voting is a good thing.
    As for whether you did a good job in profiling me, what you actually did was a good job in caricaturing me. But you are not one for nuance of opinion, of subtlety, or apparently of allowing people to assert their own beliefs. You'll have your supporters in your beliefs here on HNN. But I'll stand by my liberal principles that I outlined in response to your post, principles far more complex than your cartoonish ones, which are thus wrong in their simplicity.
    Once again, if you see between the two parties a "marginalia of difference" you simply are not paying attention, or you are so swept up in the superiority of your opinions that you do not accept that there are a range of beliefs among people who think very diferently from you. If you really think that Al Gore would have passed the same tax cut as Bush, or that he would have handled Iraq precisely the same way, then you must be deluded. If you agree that Gore would not have done the same tax cut, that he would have handled iraq differently, then you are undercutting your own "there is no difference" folly.
    Are you saying that those of us on who support Democrats and those who support Republicans and who see the clear and present differences, and who see that within those parties there are gradations of beliefs and opinions, are all wrong, that the differences don't exist and that you see better than all of us? Are you that much smarter than the rest of us? Why not just acknowledge what you actually seem to believe -- that we need a much more radical alternative, be it a third party, or whatever? At least that would not insult the intelligence of the rest of us who see a difference between, say, John Kerry and George Bush, or Kucinich and Ashcroft. Hell, some of us even are so apparently deluded that we see differences among the current democratic candidates. I guess you'll just have to set me straight on that next time you lecture me about my encouragiung students to vote. Egads.


    Carl Jusic - 1/22/2004

    Thanks.
    1) I did pretty good job in profiling you.
    2) I do not think you should tell students to vote. I do not think you should make that judgment for them or try to influence them in that manner. That's what I mean. You were raised in believing voting is one's civic duty; that it is a means of making a statement and having a stake and a voice in policy. I would prefer a professor tell her students NOT TO VOTE. That this country needs not reform but revolution. Not voting but resistance. Not presidential debates but debates about the value and efficacy of the presidency. A Nader vote was a way of saying not to the marginalia of difference; no to TWO parties who voted to kill SADDAM and invade his innocent land.

    I think it is unconscionable for a professor to urge voting. You probably would condemn a non-court historian who would say "Really US history class; don't vote. It is a waste of time and all you are doing is providing a reaffirmation of a system that is irrelevant and useless. Please don't vote; all you are doing is playing into the system of chimerical alternatives when there aren't any. Now, listen to me. If it is alright for you to tell students to vote--it isn't--then I would ask you support the rights of professors to actively, purposeful, profess to their students NOT to vote.

    ABC should be ashamed of having Vote on their logo.

    A.B. Oberlin--GREAT SCHOOL
    M.A. Washington University in St Louis
    Ph.D. won't say


    Derek Catsam - 1/22/2004

    Carl --
    A statement so nice you had to make it twice, I see. (I know, I know -- it actually happens easily, with one slip of the key).

    i understand what you are saying about the anonymous posters, but sometimes it can be a bit harder to ignore them than you think.

    As for your litany of "You probably"s, let's just say that I am not quite sure where you get your room for speculation. Have you taken my classes? Even further, before you set yourself up as the arbiter of what is and is not socially just, you might want to take a look at my work on race and politics in other articles on this website. Nonetheless, let me take a crack at your "I probablies":

    No I am not a socialist. I am not sure that is a bad thing. I daresay it is a good thing. Hit me with social democrat and we'll talk.

    A revisionist? With regard to what issue? I do not know of any historian who is a blanket revisionist. In my main areas of civil rights in the US, I am not sure what I would be revisionist against. I would say that I buy into the revisionist school of reconstruction, though it is hardly rtevisioonist anymore. In my South African work I am a revisoionist from many apartheid era historians, but again, that is a bit of an anachronistic term. most people use that word with no clue as to what it actually means and how historians wrestle with it.

    A radical? Probably not. I am a liberal. A good old fashioned American liberal. Some people see that as a naughty word. I do not.In fact, I think there must be some virtue to it since the far right and the far left use is sneeringly as a term of scorn and derision.

    No, the GOP and the Dems are not the same party. This assertion is just idiocy. There are differences. Read the party platforms from the last ten elections and tell me they are the same.

    I do see history as a weapon for social change. But I do not see history as an ideological cudgel. I do not believe in inculcating my students. I believe they are smart enough to think for themselves. I do not believe it is my right or responsibility to guide them. I think the left, the right, and the center all come up for criticism at various times, and I try to be as fair as possible. On election day I ask them to vote. I don't advocate how, and in fact I tell them they should vote if for no reason than to get the pleasure of knowing they may have canceled out mine.

    I am not willing to denounce the present administartion as criminal because I do not believe that they are. I think they have made mistakes, some grave, but no, not criminal. I will, however, be voting Democrat in the next presidential election.

    The invasion of Iraq was not a monstous evil. The administration clearly was not as forthright, or did not have as much intelligence as they should have. It could have been delayed. the diplomacy could have been handled better. The link between al Quaida and Hussein was never even close to being shown. But removing murderous despots is not evil, and liberals should have been the first to articulate as much, as we should have been with Rwanda, to put our foreign policy as human rights money where our mouths were.

    The Hot Seat is simply an accounting of those historians who are, in fact, on the metaphorical hot seat. I am not certain which ones you believe to be utterly innocent of all charges. But historians who plagiarize, make up data, or otherwise intentionally falsify belong on some sort of hot seat.

    The New Left revisionists and William Appleman Williams did some important things for the study of American history. They sometimes overcompensated, they sometimes missed the mark entirely, and they sometimes were wrong. I am not in the business of veneration or hagiography. The New Left historians did some good things. They did some wacky things. The world, even the historical profession, is not a cartoon.

    As for how Marx could have had a "Kingian passion," I simply don't know since the former antedated the latter by more than half a century. Marx was a vital, important thinker. He also proclaimed late in his life that he was not a Marxist. Lots of horrible, horrible things have been done in that man's name, that's for sure. But in intellectual history, Marx is a vital figure. No, he is not front and center in most of my classes, as I do not teach European intellectual history, but he appears where his thoughts had an impact on historical actors whom I do teach.

    Yes, I voted for Gore, not Nader. Nader gave us Bush. No Nader in Florida, no Bush. Had Nader given a damn about a third party, about a progressive insurgency, he'd have tried to have gotten 5% of the vote in states where one side or the other had a clear win, thus getting his party on this year's ballot. If you voted for Nader in Florida, I blame you for the tax cut, you for the Patriot Act, you for the Defense of Marriage Act, you for Charles Pickering you for . . . . .

    Third parties can play a vital role. If they are actually about third parties. Nader's callous disregard for establishing a third party and instead for blowing the fluglehorn of his own collossal ego does not represent an effort at doing so. I do, however, not see a viable third party anytime soon. That is not a value judgment so much as a simple analytical assertion.

    Slave reparations: I believe we do reparations in the form of public policy geared toward making the lives of descendents of slaves, indeed most Americans, better. And I will gladly have the government cut checks for former slaves and their immediate progeny. But no, if by reparations you mean simple cash payments, I do not. But I think reparations should be a springboard to a discussion about a more, well, dare I say "liberal" domestic policy.

    I do think Vietnam was a mistake. I do not think it was a Hitlerian exercise in genocide. Because it was not. Who was the genocide aimed against, precisely? (Remember, words actually have meaning -- genocide has a specific meaning). Further, the equation of "stuff I don't like" with Hitler (or Stalin) is noisome, worthless, ahistorical and truth be told, just plain dumb.

    When on search committees I look for the best candidate. I believe in affirmative action. I would discount them if they randomly placed words in capital letters for no apparent reason. But no, I don't look for any type of candidate beyond the best one.

    I do think Kerry is a damned good alternative to Bush.

    Kucinich was not a waste of all people's time. But he was irrelevant to this campaign. I did not let him waste my time.

    Damned right I am proud to be an American. I love my country, I just want it to be what it is but better -- this after all was the goal of the civil rights movement, to make America live up to its lofty pronouncements. I sing the National Anthem at ballgames. Indeed, the a cappella group I sing in in the DC area (I used to live here and I am back in the area now) has sung the National Anthem at Camden yards on several occasions, as well as at a number of prominent and less so engagements. (We also know the Canadian national Anthem and a bunch of other groovy tunes).

    There you have it -- a fairly good assessment of who I am, in response to Mr. Jusic's assertions of who I am. If you got this far, you are a better, more patient man than I.

    But at least it's on record the next time I am accused of being whatever it is I'll be accused of next by the far right and the far left ad hominem-ites.

    dc


    Carl Jusic - 1/22/2004

    Derek,

    Reread my opus and you will see that the reference to ignoring was not accusation of nonresponsiveness but a charge to those who are irritated by criticisms that are anonymous, to simply ignore them. Otherwise, you give appropraite legitimacy to their musings. It is not effective to criticise anonymous posters, denounce them even and yet respond to their every inquiry.

    They are not doing anything terribly wrong or cowardly in my estimation. If you and RL and others find them not acceptable, again I imagine an editorial request to stop that would dissuade a great number.

    Perhaps Court Historian is too strong a term.
    But you are not a socialist,
    You are not a revisionist,
    You are not a radical,
    You are not a believer that both the democratic and republican parties are virtually branches of the same Schlesingerian Vital Center.
    You do not see history as a weapon for social change.
    You are not willing to denounce the current administration has criminal.
    You are not willing to state taht the invasion of Iraq was a vicious, monstrous evil.
    You are not willing to take a stand on the Hot Seat component of this webiste that includes some historians who did nothing wrong, nothing to be ashamed off
    You probably do not acknowledge the greatness and glory of William Appleman Williams and the New Left Revisionist.
    You probably mention Marx in your classes in a safe manner to avoid even the hint of honouring his Kingian passion of freeing the oppressed.
    You probably voted for Gore and not Nader.
    YOu probably think Third Parties are irrelevant and waste of a vote as opposed to being a principled exception to this fraud of a democracy.
    You are probably against slave reparations.
    You probably think Vietnam was a mistake but not a Hitlerian exercise in genocide.
    You probably when on search committees look for a caucasoid liberal as opposed to a transgender minority who brings REVISIONIST, RADICAL history.
    You probably think Kerry is a real good alternative to Bush.
    You probably thought Kucinich was a waste of time.
    Finally, you are probably proud to be an American and sing the National Anthem at baseball games or at commencement.


    Carl Jusic - 1/22/2004

    Derek,

    Reread my opus and you will see that the reference to ignoring was not accusation of nonresponsiveness but a charge to those who are irritated by criticisms that are anonymous, to simply ignore them. Otherwise, you give appropraite legitimacy to their musings. It is not effective to criticise anonymous posters, denounce them even and yet respond to their every inquiry.

    They are not doing anything terribly wrong or cowardly in my estimation. If you and RL and others find them not acceptable, again I imagine an editorial request to stop that would dissuade a great number.

    Perhaps Court Historian is too strong a term.
    But you are not a socialist,
    You are not a revisionist,
    You are not a radical,
    You are not a believer that both the democratic and republican parties are virtually branches of the same Schlesingerian Vital Center.
    You do not see history as a weapon for social change.
    You are not willing to denounce the current administration has criminal.
    You are not willing to state taht the invasion of Iraq was a vicious, monstrous evil.
    You are not willing to take a stand on the Hot Seat component of this webiste that includes some historians who did nothing wrong, nothing to be ashamed off
    You probably do not acknowledge the greatness and glory of William Appleman Williams and the New Left Revisionist.
    You probably mention Marx in your classes in a safe manner to avoid even the hint of honouring his Kingian passion of freeing the oppressed.
    You probably voted for Gore and not Nader.
    YOu probably think Third Parties are irrelevant and waste of a vote as opposed to being a principled exception to this fraud of a democracy.
    You are probably against slave reparations.
    You probably think Vietnam was a mistake but not a Hitlerian exercise in genocide.
    You probably when on search committees look for a caucasoid liberal as opposed to a transgender minority who brings REVISIONIST, RADICAL history.
    You probably think Kerry is a real good alternative to Bush.
    You probably thought Kucinich was a waste of time.
    Finally, you are probably proud to be an American and sing the National Anthem at baseball games or at commencement.


    Derek Catsam - 1/22/2004

    Carl --
    I love Oberlin. Had a great weekend there once in college. I assume your subtle reference is to my criticizing someone long ago on these posts who claimed to be an "Oberlin trained historian." Since Oberlin does not have graduate programs in history, that is an impossibility, much like claiming to be an Oberlin (or Williams, if you prefer) trained lawyer or doctor. Oberlin is a wonderful school, one of the best. And Williams is both a wonderful college and the surname of the greatet hitter who ever lived. In any case, you say "so ignore me and those who" blah blah blah, and yet isn't what I am doing the exact opposite of ignoring you? Am I not I actually engaging you? Do you engage in that sort of preemptive whioning in all of your interactions with others? I mean, seriously, where do you get that you are being ignored here? And what, precisely, does your working class background have to do with anything? I too come from working class stock. How is any of that germane?

    You still are clueless about what a court historian is if you think any of us who write for HNN get any of our sustenance from it. It is a sideline. Something we do to get ideas out there. I get no sustenance from it. None. Zero. And how, precisely, have I lost my objectivity? And what, beyond ersatz insight, should I draw from a nonsense phrase like "her source of sustenance is the same as the object of her scrutiny"? What on earth does that even mean? In any case, given that despite its critics, HNN has a pretty varied range of opinion writers, and I have taken time to defend one, a friend of mine, your ad hominem attack calling me a court historian is annoying, but it lacks any basis in fact. Nonetheless, if you derisively label all people loyal to their friends, it is no wonder that you find such comfort in providing succor to the anonymous who libel and smear and proclaim themselves to be beyond reproach in their chosen field without any recourse of the rest of us to verify their claims. In the meantime, my Amazon.com search for "Grammarian," whose rebuke of Ralph as being a secondary scholar to him began this whole tangled web, did not reveal any books on King. Funny that.

    dc


    S. Gompers - 1/22/2004

    They are uniting. Read the current issue of AAUP Academe that chronicles student TAs, readers, tutors, athletes that are organizing on campuses throughout the US. They are being recruited by UAW, Communication Workers of America and other unions from UMass-Amherst to Brown.

    One of the issue's articles is entitled: "Will Universities Lock Out Students."

    Dr King would have approved of this I believe. His death in Memphis was occasioned by his second trip to support work conditions and the strike by Sanitation Workers. It is often overlooked that King's last journey was to support organized labor.

    I have enjoyed many of these posts--regardless of their provenance--on seminal years, Dr King's dissertation follies etc. Informed, lively and interesting.

    "Students of the World Uniting"

    Remember Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese liberation of their country in 1975.





    Carl Jusic - 1/22/2004

    A court historian is a term, that refers to a historian that loses objectivity because her source of sustenance is the same as the object of her scrutiny.

    Perhaps it was Plato or maybe Pinochet who wrote: "If anonymity, by definition is fraudelent and without merit, than they should be ignored and not responded to."

    Responding to them legitimizes them. Again, if neo-court historians who sometimes write for LNN, are able to convince the editor that such contributors are not welcomed--even if not digitally prevented--then I am sure they would decline in number.

    Absent that, I say to NYGUY, Grammarian, R. Stemler, Son of Stemler, Marianne, A Historian, Homer Simpson, bring it on.

    I am just a working class bum who thought Williams was a ballplayer and not a school in Mass. So just ignore me and those who studied at Oberlin who lack nuance, elan and the capacity to write with introspection and verve.

    "Workers of the World Unite"


    Derek Catsam - 1/21/2004

    Carl --
    Settle down. I did not aim my post at you, but rather at Grammarian, as should have been plain. Mine just got posted last, after yours, in the sometimes mystical way that HNN posts occur.
    I am not a staff member at HNN. I have no power there whatsoever. I have written for them several times, but that is not the same, as you ought to know. If I have an op-ed appear in the Times does that mean I have any control over editorial policy? And if I defend someone who writes something for the Times after I've had an op-ed published, does that really mean that I am some insider? Does this mean that none of us who have written for HNN can aver defend one another in the public forums because then we'll have to address scurrilous claims from Grammarian and Carl Jusic? What your "Court Historian" comment even means is beyond me. Do you know what a court historian is? Because your usage of the term indicates that you do not. A court historian on/for HNN would be an historian with inside access writing the history on HNN.
    As for anonymity, here is why many of us are carping: Grammarian explicitly claimed that he was an expert, mnoreso than Ralph, on King. If one wants to be anonymous, that's fine. But then you get no claim to expertise, certainly not above other experts whose records are known, because that expertise cannot be validated. In any case, what is disingenuous about our complaints? We complain that people write under the cover of anonymity and then either slam people or else create personas that do not match the reality. There is nothing disingenuous (ie false or misleading)about that claim. Some of us simply don't like being insulted by people without the courage to give their real names, and we certainly don't like being told that our pedigrees don't stand up to someone whose pedigree is unverifiable, particularly when that pedigree is then being used to present an argument from authority.
    As for whether or not senior historians reveal themselves on this website, unless you have evidence that they do not (and as I recall, a good number of historians have given their names in articles and otherwise) your claim is mere speculation intended to insultthose of us who do contribute -- ie, we should be embarassed by our exposure. I'm sure Ralph can live without worrying that you are embarassed for him for his writing for HNN, but it still seems that you are insulting those who contribute by presuming to speak for all of those who do not.
    dc


    Derek Catsam - 1/21/2004

    Carl --
    Settle down. I did not aim my post at you, but rather at Grammarian, as should have been plain. Mine just got posted last, after yours, in the sometimes mystical way that HNN posts occur.
    I am not a staff member at HNN. I have no power there whatsoever. I have written for them several times, but that is not the same, as you ought to know. If I have an op-ed appear in the Times does that mean I have any control over editorial policy? And if I defend someone who writes something for the Times after I've had an op-ed published, does that really mean that I am some insider? Does this mean that none of us who have written for HNN can aver defend one another in the public forums because then we'll have to address scurrilous claims from Grammarian and Carl Jusic? What your "Court Historian" comment even means is beyond me. Do you know what a court historian is? Because your usage of the term indicates that you do not. A court historian on/for HNN would be an historian with inside access writing the history on HNN.
    As for anonymity, here is why many of us are carping: Grammarian explicitly claimed that he was an expert, mnoreso than Ralph, on King. If one wants to be anonymous, that's fine. But then you get no claim to expertise, certainly not above other experts whose records are known, because that expertise cannot be validated. In any case, what is disingenuous about our complaints? We complain that people write under the cover of anonymity and then either slam people or else create personas that do not match the reality. There is nothing disingenuous (ie false or misleading)about that claim. Some of us simply don't like being insulted by people without the courage to give their real names, and we certainly don't like being told that our pedigrees don't stand up to someone whose pedigree is unverifiable, particularly when that pedigree is then being used to present an argument from authority.
    As for whether or not senior historians reveal themselves on this website, unless you have evidence that they do not (and as I recall, a good number of historians have given their names in articles and otherwise) your claim is mere speculation intended to insultthose of us who do contribute -- ie, we should be embarassed by our exposure. I'm sure Ralph can live without worrying that you are embarassed for him for his writing for HNN, but it still seems that you are insulting those who contribute by presuming to speak for all of those who do not.
    dc


    Carl Jusic - 1/21/2004

    My God Professor Catsam, what the hell did I do? IF HNN were to state, they do not want anonymous posts, then say so. I am not anonymous. But all this carping about anonymous is disingenous. IF HNN perfers that people sign their posts, then SAY so. If HNN prefers that only valid screen names, be proffered, then say so.

    I think Grammarian is correct in referring to staff persons at HNN covering each other as if there is not a conflict of self-interest.

    This website would attract less anonymous personages, I am NOT one, and senior historians would probably be inclined to sign their names, if there was not this silly bantering and ravings from "historians" who write for HNN.

    How many senior historians reveal themselves on this website and I will tell you why it is minimal. Either they don't consult it or they would be embarassed at exposure. Yet without an HNN request, their contributions should continue without HNN court-historians complaining. Change the policy or live with it.


    Derek Catsam - 1/21/2004

    Oooohhh, I'm a disgrace now. Of course I made five points in my post, none of which you actually bothered to address, and instead you went right for the ad hominem. Huzzah, anonymous one. By the way,it's now unprofessional to defend a friend and colleague? How so, precisely? And how is it a good old boys network if we do? Ralph is my friend. I respect him as a colleague. Saying so, and using my own name in so doing, is the exact opposite of being "unprofessional." Calling people "desgraceful" or labeling them a "disgrace" (has our self proclaimed grammarian lost his thesaurus?) is, however, the apogee of unprofessional conduct, especially when done fecklessly under the cover of a pseudonym.
    dc


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/21/2004

    I'm not at all sure what Grammarian is challenging me to do here. In volumes I & II of the Papers of Martin Luther King, it is clear that Dr. King was rather careless in his citation of sources from the earliest of his academic work through his dissertation. It makes no sense at all, then, to attribute the plagiaries in the dissertation to the exigencies of life in Montgomery. Rather, they were extensions of established practice. What other facts does Grammarian wish to cite? What trumps does Grammarian hold? I'm calling Grammarian's hand.


    Jonathan Dresner - 1/21/2004

    Forgive a non-Western historian jumping ignorantly into a debate this deep (and so suddenly hostile), but I'd like a clarification myself.

    Your disagreement with Dr. Luker is somewhat obscure to me. You seem to be arguing that Rev. Dr. King was a plagiarist. Dr. Luker appears to be agreeing with you (as I read http://hnn.us/comments/29137.html), but disagreeing over the timing of King's practice of plagiary. You seem to be countering with overwhelming proof of plagiarism, but I don't see anything about timing.

    I do hope this last wasn't your final comment: I'd like to see this clarified. And I think you have to grant that our collective unwillingness to grant authority to an anonymous poster is at least a little justified.


    Carl Jusic - 1/21/2004

    Let's lower the rhetoric and not be too harsh. You made some cogent points above and below and you have been heard! If friends and fellow journalists want to team up, so what? They at least identified themselves in doing so.

    I did check your sources and I am sure many saw the Journal of American History exploration of this topic many years ago. You had every right to discuss this and raise it and not feel defensive about it.

    Plagiaism can never be excused but it does not tell the entire story about a person.



    Grammarian - 1/21/2004

    Scholars working on a collection of King's papers confirmed in November 1990 that significant parts of Rev King's Ph.D. dissertation had been plagiarized from the work of Jack Boozer, a fellow student, and the theologian Paul Tillich.

    I will say no more on this topic despite the dynamic duo's fraternal order of rhetorical police. I would not want anyone to construe my reminder of the great man's plagiarism as an effort to minimize his immortality. Yet a website that prides itself on outing and hounding all kinds of plagiaristic transgressions--on its puerile and vicious Hot Seat-- should be able to incorporate this reminder of the great King with academic probity and maturity.

    Remember Albany, Selma, Memphis, Chicago, Watts, Detroit, New Jersey, Tulsa,


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    Care to respond to my sources on Dr King's plagiarism? Bring it on. Let's have a debate here on the facts!!!

    Or will Mr Luker censor me because he knows quite well I can trump him on this period.

    A Historian


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    You two a disgrace. You are writers for this magazine and spend your time defending each other as if this were a brotherhood. How unprofessional of both of you. I am sick of how this webiste has degenerated into a good ol' boys network.

    It is absolutely disgraceful.


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/20/2004

    Thanks, Derek. I can get _real_ polite with people who own up to being who they are and, thus, accept responsibility for what they say. Anonymous posters put their pants on one leg at a time, just like I do (except that I accept responsbility for what I say). Grammarian sounds rather like a fire hydrant demanding courteous treatment.


    Derek Catsam - 1/20/2004

    Grammarian --
    With all due respect, Mr. Luker's work on civil rights is well known. His work on the King papers certainly is. When you say, in a really snotty tone, that you have published more than him, my first tendency is to doubt it. My second is to say that I am as familiar with this historiography as anyone, and I'd know your work if what you say is true, and certainly on this point of plagiarism, Ralph is right on the facts and on the interpretation, and I don't care if you are David Garrow or Taylor Branch. My third is to say that it is all a moot point -- your anonymity means that your claim can never be substantiated. You could claim to be anyone you want, and we can never know if you are lying or not. Fourth, it is rather unseemly that you would correct Ralph's obvious typo and then misspell the word "agreed." Fifth, Ralph certainly has been more than polite in his exchange with you.
    dc


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    I agree with you and I did not mean to imply that his plagiarism should in any way detract from his grandeur and greatness as an advocate of non-violence. I think I alluded to that in each post.

    Your comments on Kerry were apt and right-on. I remember when I was in Nam, he was one of the founders and advocates of the VVAW. Now he seems to have used the war in a much different manner. I do not know if I share quite the same level of hostility to him, but I would have voted for another candidate in Iowa.


    Louisa Beford - 1/20/2004

    http://www.vietnamwar.com/BeyondVietnamMLK.htm

    I think it appropriate to dwell on issues of greater importance than Dr King's approach to scholarship. This is the greatest speech ever given on the Vietnam War. Unlike phony Sen Kerry, Dr King would never have used his service in an immoral war as a cheap trick to gain the luxuries of presidential monarchy in this vicious land.


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    What is the Project's response to the accusations of plagiarism against Dr. King?

    The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project addresses these concerns on pp. 25-26 of Volume II of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled "Rediscovering Precious Values, July 1951-November 1955," Clayborne Carson, Senior Editor. Following is an excerpt from these pages:

    . . . .The readers of King's dissertation, L. Harold DeWolf and S. Paul Schilling, a professor of systematic theology who had recently arrived at Boston University, failed to notice King's problematic use of sources. After reading a draft of the dissertation, DeWolf criticized him for failing to make explicit "presuppositions and norms employed in the critical evaluation," but his comments were largely positive. He commended King for his handling of a "difficult" topic "with broad learning, impressive ability and convincing mastery of the works immediately involved." Schilling found two problems with King's citation practices while reading the draft, but dismissed these as anomalous and praised the dissertation in his Second Reader's report. . . .

    As was true of King's other academic papers, the plagiaries in his dissertation escaped detection in his lifetime. His professors at Boston, like those at Crozer, saw King as an earnest and even gifted student who presented consistent, though evolving, theological identity in his essays, exams and classroom comments. . . .Although the extent of King's plagiaries suggest he knew that he was at least skirting academic norms, the extant documents offer no direct evidence in this matter. Thus he may have simply become convinced, on the basis of his grades at Crozer and Boston, that his papers were sufficiently competent to withstand critical scrutiny. Moreover, King's actions during his early adulthood indicate that he increasingly saw himself as a preacher appropriating theological scholarship rather than as an academic producing such scholarship. . . .


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    What is the Project's response to the accusations of plagiarism against Dr. King?

    The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project addresses these concerns on pp. 25-26 of Volume II of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled "Rediscovering Precious Values, July 1951-November 1955," Clayborne Carson, Senior Editor. Following is an excerpt from these pages:

    . . . .The readers of King's dissertation, L. Harold DeWolf and S. Paul Schilling, a professor of systematic theology who had recently arrived at Boston University, failed to notice King's problematic use of sources. After reading a draft of the dissertation, DeWolf criticized him for failing to make explicit "presuppositions and norms employed in the critical evaluation," but his comments were largely positive. He commended King for his handling of a "difficult" topic "with broad learning, impressive ability and convincing mastery of the works immediately involved." Schilling found two problems with King's citation practices while reading the draft, but dismissed these as anomalous and praised the dissertation in his Second Reader's report. . . .

    As was true of King's other academic papers, the plagiaries in his dissertation escaped detection in his lifetime. His professors at Boston, like those at Crozer, saw King as an earnest and even gifted student who presented consistent, though evolving, theological identity in his essays, exams and classroom comments. . . .Although the extent of King's plagiaries suggest he knew that he was at least skirting academic norms, the extant documents offer no direct evidence in this matter. Thus he may have simply become convinced, on the basis of his grades at Crozer and Boston, that his papers were sufficiently competent to withstand critical scrutiny. Moreover, King's actions during his early adulthood indicate that he increasingly saw himself as a preacher appropriating theological scholarship rather than as an academic producing such scholarship. . . .


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    http://chem-gharbison.unl.edu/mlk/thesis.html


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    I am not outdoing myself. I have published more than you have on King and the Southern apartheid system. He plagiarized his dissertation, I had links to the Boston University committee that aggreed not to revoke his degree (and I agree with that).

    I urge you to adopt a polite tone with me sir.


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/20/2004

    I doubt that you are correct in your third paragraph. Check Vols I & II in the Papers of Martin Luther King. You will find that plagiarism didn't begin when he moved to Montgomery. He was taught/he learned to repeat the words of respected authorities back to his respected teachers and they rewarded him for saying things that he knew they already believed.
    Try not to outdo yourself in your claims for any historical figure.


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    I do sir but for the "novitiates" who visit LNN, I want to make sure they are not given erroneous information.

    You are a gentleperson and a scholar.

    A general comment: I think Dr King's plagiarism on his doctoral dissertation was unfortunate but perhaps due to
    the competing pressures of his first ministry in Montgomery and perhaps a rather careless dissertation director, whose name I have not encountered.

    I consider Dr King to be a grand, world historic figure with a brilliance equal to Freud or Ford. If he were a historian, he would have been on the Hot Seat however.


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/20/2004

    surely you recognize a typo when you see one.


    G. Vara - 1/20/2004

    I believe this discussion of which year is more epochal in American history is pop-history. Mr Luker, while perhaps mistaken, was perhaps caught up in the drama of 1963 Time award when he said that.

    His thesis is not demeaned or mitigated by a 1968 v. 1963 argument. Lists and rankings are clearly not the stuff of history but analysis is.

    Yes I know the above posts are free speech and certainly appropriate in terms of tone and legitimacy. I just wish historians would be less AP, USAToday, ranking oriented.

    However to be consistent, I think Time person of the year, and USNews top schools rankings are equally banal and superficial which perhaps Mr Luker may have addressed.
    Yet Mr Luker felt the need to emphasize the selection and not the award itself: which is to be expected given the timing and purpose of the article.


    Grammarian - 1/20/2004

    Concensus is "surely" spelled consensus.


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/20/2004

    Even if P. Flum's exaggerated assertions of concensus in support of his or her own position were correct, surely Flum doesn't mean to suggest that I must agree with 90% of historians. We are, after all, talking about a judgment call based on evidence, not about the accuracy of evidence itself.


    Impressed - 1/20/2004

    Mr or Ms Flum does make a most impressive case on the events of 1968. Even with the Kennedy death in 1963, I would tend to agree with Flum here. Ralph is surely correct in his characterization of 1963 as important, but Flum is giving the readers here specifics and not just mere left-wing rhetoric that is his norm.

    I wonder if Flum is a historian or not. I am and had forgotten completely about that Apollo mission which pave the way for the 1969 colonization. Good work Flum.


    P Flum - 1/20/2004

    I meant Goal Posts of course.


    P Flum - 1/20/2004

    Mr Luker is changing the gold posts to suit is strange assertion re 1963. He is now suggesting 1963-1965 should be compared to 1968. Three years to one.

    Which year was important in terms of electoral politics?
    1968
    Which year was more important in terms of antiwar protest?
    1968
    Which year was more important in terms Of GLOBAL radicalization and tumult?
    1968
    Which year was more important in terms of war?
    1968
    Which year was more important even in Civil Rights?
    1963 but the death of Dr King is hardly irrelevant in the CR struggle, not to mention Bobby's demise as well?

    Let's stay with a year by year comparison not 3 years to one and I would allege that 90% of the historians in the US, would aver that 1968 was more significant than 1963.


    Peter - 1/20/2004


    "It's good to have Professor Clarke's judgment about these things."

    You make a good point, Ralph. (That is a "positive" judgment).


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/20/2004

    "Marianne" is surely correct, isn't she? I suppose that it depends on whether one thinks that the remarkable accomplishments of 1963-65 or the great tragedies of 1968 are more important in the long run. I believe the former. Mr. Rafer's counter is not to the point because his first proposition is simply indefensible. My proposition is not.


    Ralph E. Luker - 1/20/2004

    It's good to have Professor Clarke's judgment about these things. It was not the judgment of my editors. I know it is the same person who regularly posts here under this name because it is as negative as usual. I do not recall having his praise for essays or op-eds which, in his judgment, were superior to this one.


    P Flum - 1/20/2004

    Allow me to rephrase my above post.

    "I think Mr Luker exaggerates grossly the significance of 1963 as the most seminal year since the war. Allow me to humbly, meekly and with considerable diffidence, suggest that 1968 might possibly have been more significant in its impact on the substantive issues of our time."

    "Mr Luker's sweeping statement, can possibly be construed as ignoring the more generalized importance of 1968 in areas of war, peace, political tumult and global affairs."


    Bill Rafer - 1/20/2004

    Ms. Marianne,

    Allow me to demur. One may strongly disagree with a historian's use of the word "surely" by presenting an alternative view with equal vigour and "equal certainty."
    This does not connote hypocrisy or inconsistency since historical debate on both sides may be equally fervent.

    However, in this case, the differences in importance between 1968 and 1963 are so stark--that the author's grandiose statement--that went beyond their significance in the Civil Rights movement--needed to be corrected with emphasis.

    Had he stated, "Surely, Richard Nixon was the nation's most ethical and effective president."

    One could opine:

    "Surely, a war criminal who committed genocide in Vietnam and covered up an invasion of the headquarters of the opposition party, does not deserve such august homage.



    Marianne - 1/19/2004


    Both are important, "surely".

    Seems funny to question the author's use of the word (and sentiment) "surely" while then advocating for another year with equal certainty.


    Bill Rafer - 1/19/2004

    I agree. No question 1968 was an epochal year without parallel. It even included Jane Fonda's Barbarella movie! Not to mention the Mexico City University massacre, and the French Revolution even though article referred to US only. Still Flum is absolutely right.


    P Flum - 1/19/2004

    The article is interesting and informative but..

    "Surely, 1963 was the single most important year in post-World War II America." Surely? Certainly? No debate?

    I would opine that 1968 and not 1963 was "surely" the most important year in postwar US history. King killed, Robert Kennedy killed, LBJ pulls out of primaries; McCarthy candidacy: TET offensive that began the end of the Vietnam war; Nixon elected; Pueblo seized by the North Koreans; the first Apollo 8 orbiting and return of the moon; the Russian incursion into Czechoslovakia; the Chicago Police riot and brutality at the 1968 Chicago convention.

    Hard to top that.


    Peter K. Clarke - 1/19/2004


    In more than one more comment, in past discussion threads, Ralph Luker has remarked that when he disagrees with the repetitive mantras of an incessantly featured writer on HNN, he simply chooses not to read him. I am reminded of these remarks now, not because Mr. Luker is excessively featured on HNN or is excessively repetitive or that I always find myself in disagreement with him, but because I stopped reading Time magazine decades ago. Especially now that the internet makes so much first rate journalism available, why waste "time' with the third rate variety ?

    Speaking of rating, with all due respect, this is not the best piece I've ever read by Mr. Luker. Simply put, the context is lacking. Given the limitations of space, the middle of the three poems could easily have been replaced by two or three sentences on the general criteria used by Time for selecting its Man of the Year (note, for example Hitler was also there once) and the specific reasons given in 1963 for choosing King.

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