Roundup: Talking About History
This is where we excerpt articles about history that appear in the media. Among the subjects included on this page are: anniversaries of historical events, legacies of presidents, cutting-edge research, and historical disputes.
SOURCE: Easily Distracted (Blog) (1-31-06)
One part of it that caught my eye in particular was Berube’s observation that the defense of academic freedom should be one part of a wider commitment to procedural liberalism (not “liberalism” in the sense of “those Democrats are liberals”, liberalism in the wider sense that includes most American conservatives save for the religious or cultural right). It caught my eye partially because it reminded me of what frustrates me in some discussions of academic freedom: that more than a few scholars who rise in defense of academic freedom are either agnostic about procedural liberalism in the wider sense or actively antagonistic or dismissive of it.
[John Radzilowski, Ph.D., is a writer, historian, and senior fellow at Piast Institute (http://www.piastinstitute.org). He can be contacted at email@example.com.]
"Outrage” … “cause for shame” … “incendiary.” This was the mainstream media’s reaction to President Bush’s speech this week in Riga, Latvia, wherein he strongly denounced the injustice perpetrated on half of Europe 60 years ago at the Yalta Conference. It was a Yalta that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed to the Soviet takeover of half of Europe. What followed was nearly 50 years of repression, killing, and, of course, the Cold War.
This week Bush recognized that shameful history. He called Yalta “one of the greatest wrongs of history”...
This week, a Wall Street Journal story by Daniel Golden showed just how tense debates are over how religious history is taught in public school textbooks (January 25). He described Hindu, Islamic, and Jewish groups complaining about and fighting over the way these texts treat their pasts....
SOURCE: WSJ (1-27-06)
You would think, by now, with a half-century of scholarship behind us and a great deal of damning evidence on display, we would not have to be arguing about the guilt or innocence of various iconic figures of the late 1940s and 1950s: Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White or, perhaps most notoriously, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. But the martyr status of such figures seems irresistible, even today, to a certain kind of sentimental leftist. They still remain symbols of some malevolent American quality--never mind the truth of what they actually did.
Such was the lesson of a forum last week in Manhattan convened to discuss the "artistic influence" of the Rosenbergs. The invitation to the event, sponsored by the Fordham Law School, referred to the Rosenbergs as "the accused." It was a tellingly exculpatory phrase. For the record, both Julius and Ethel were convicted...
SOURCE: Claremont Review of Books (winter 2005-2006) (1-27-06)
Strange, then, that these days many commentators believe that Goldwater's conservatism was a different species from Reagan's and, especially, from George W. Bush's. Though admittedly an economic conservative, Goldwater has become an icon of opposition to social conservatism. When the 2004...
SOURCE: New York Review of Books (2-9-07)
In his book Righteous Victims (1999), Benny Morris, the Israeli journalist and historian to whom The New...
SOURCE: Japan Focus (1-22-06)
... Critics say Mr Koizumi makes up for his lack of diplomatic finesse by his deftness at substituting real issues with those of his own creation.
He insists that his decision to visit Yasukuni is a 'matter of the heart' and that it is natural for a prime minister to express gratitude to his country's war dead.
But China and South Korea are not complaining about him praying for the souls of his countrymen who fell in battle, or pledging not to go to war again.
The problem is that Mr Koizumi insists on doing both at the infamous shrine.
Mr Koizumi, it seems, fails to understand this. Or perhaps he has never tried to do so.
As a young man and even after becoming a politician, he had not displayed the slightest interest in Yasukuni. It was only when he ran in the 2001...
SOURCE: National Review Online (1-26-06)
So here I am facing another Minnesota winter, looking to expand my mind. Naturally I turn to "The Winter & Spring 2006 Community Education Catalog" of the Eden Prairie, Minnesota public schools, where I see the very first course offering is "Da Vinci Code Historical Seminar."
Did you find the historical events in the 2003 fictional best-seller interesting but too fantastic to believe? Actually, most of the background items cited in the book were tied to events purportedly recorded in history.
I struggled with "purportedly recorded" for a while, but decided to move on. As the rest of the description made clear, the point of this course is to explain how The DaVinci Code, the Dan Brown novel that claims Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a baby and that Opus Dei is a murderous conspiracy charged with protecting the Divine Descendents, is...
SOURCE: WSJ (1-25-06)
Religious pressure on textbooks is growing well beyond Christian fundamentalists' attack on evolution. History books are the biggest battleground, as groups vie for changes in texts for elementary and secondary schools that cast their faiths in a better light.
Two Hindu groups and a Jewish group have been set up in the past three years as textbook watchdogs, adding to Islamic advocates who have monitored history textbooks since 1990. In addition, some Sikhs have started to complain about being short-changed in history textbooks.
All are seeking to extract concessions as California holds its periodic approval process for history textbooks. The process drives school-district purchases in the most populous state, and books adopted for California typically are the ones that schools in the rest of the country end up using for several years....
SOURCE: Nation (2-13-06)
Other groups have sought to monitor American campuses for evidence of professors' political bias, but they used "volunteers" rather than offering to pay students--most notably the David Project's campaign against Columbia's Middle East Studies program [see Scott Sherman, "The Mideast Comes to Columbia," April 4, 2005] and the Middle East Forum's so-called Campus Watch. David Horowitz and his Students for Academic Freedom have been running a national campaign to get state legislatures to pass laws...
[Seth Perry is a Ph.D. student in the History of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School.]
It seems nearly impossible for those in the public discourse to talk evenly about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Commentators are given to hyperbole (the growth of Mormonism is "one of the great events in the history of religion," says intrepid sociologist Rodney Stark in a new book); fawning (according to a Newsweek cover story written by a Mormon, the faith is "optimistic, vigorous, a source of continuing personal growth for all who accept its blessings -- [it] in many ways echoes the American Dream"); snide joviality (Larry McMurtry writes of Joseph Smith's "prattle about an angel" in the New York Review of Books); or outright ridicule (in a New York Times book review, Walter Kirn, himself a lapsed Mormon, uses an analogy to belief in Santa Claus to explain how the growth of Mormonism may have nothing to do with its content).
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (1-25-06)
Just a stone's throw from the gray waters of Havana Bay and beyond it the Florida Strait, the museum is housed in an old presidential palace whose baroque facade and towering cupola conjure the feel of a cathedral.
Visitors get Cuban Revolutionary History 101, a barrage of information about what happened before Fidel Castro seized power in 1959 and what has happened since - all from the perspective of the government.
Cubans know the script by heart, but the island's official view of history can jar visitors such as Krystal Beckham, a 22-year-old senior at the University of California, Davis, who toured the museum on her third day in Cuba as part of a university study program.
"It's uncomfortable to think that something that you've always believed in is not perceived that way by everybody and maybe what you...
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-25-06)
It was not that surprising, last fall, to come across the call for papers for a new scholarly journal called Plagiary: Cross-Disciplinary Studies in Plagiarism, Fabrication, and Falsification. I made a mental note to check its Web site again — and see that it began publishing this month.
One study is already available at the site: an analysis of how the federal Office of Research Integrity handled 19 cases of plagiarism involving research supported by the U.S. Public Health Service. Another paper, scheduled for publication shortly, will review media coverage of the Google Library Project. Several other articles are now working their way through peer review, according to the journal’s founder,...
SOURCE: Slate (1-25-06)
SOURCE: NYT (1-23-06)
Alexis de Tocqueville tells this chilling story in "Democracy in America," and warns that the greatest threat the United States faces is the tyranny of the majority, a phrase he is credited with coining. His account of his travels through America in the 1830's, which is often called the greatest book ever written about America, is both an appreciation of American democracy, and a cautionary tale about its fragility.
Bernard-Henri Lévy, the well-known French intellectual, has just written "American...
SOURCE: Tolerance Magazine (Spring 2006) ()
Such disregard is glaring in many mainstream stories of Lewis and Clark.
"They wouldn't have made it if we hadn't been here to show them how to hunt and what wood to chop," Hudson's granddaughter, Cassi Rench, says of the Mandan's critical role in Lewis and Clark surviving the 45-below days of the winter of 1804-05.
"It was two men -- two men who encountered at least 48 different tribes," adds educator Judy BlueHorse of Portland, Ore. "And yet it's always a story about these two men."
In Recovery from 'Discovery' Dazzled by the notion of Manifest Destiny, American history tends to eulogize what Lewis and Clark "found" on their 7,400-mile journey. For Native Americans, the story instead is about what was lost -- lives, land,...
SOURCE: In these Times (1-23-06)
Both the Israeli and Palestinian political arenas are in turmoil. In Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke has left the country and his newly established party, Kadima, in disarray. In the Palestinian territories, the ruling Fatah party is rapidly losing popular support, and the Islamist party Hamas is gaining ground. Paradoxically, Hamas' steady ascent is part of Sharon legacy, while its imminent victory in the upcoming elections will help Israel's new leader transform Sharon's political vision into reality.
Sharon, the father of Israel's unruly settlement enterprise and the person responsible for thousands of deaths in the Lebanon debacle, including the Sabra and Shatila massacre, altered his strategic thinking during the last couple of years. After leading Israel's efforts to expropriate...
SOURCE: NY Sun (1-23-06)
... The Turkish government and people should use the Pamuk affair as a spur to rethinking the wisdom of their historical cover-up of the Armenian genocide. And to do that, they should look for guidance to the center of Europe itself, to Germany.
Since 1945, Germans, including German political leaders, have had to struggle with how to confront their country's and countrymen's crimes, chiefly the slaughter of 6 million Jews. This confrontation with historical truth, with their own country's and their own people's souls, with survivors, and with the need to perform repair, has been immensely complex and variable, with substantial successes and continuing failures.
To be sure, there was for decades no...
The whole question of liberal and leftist bias on university faculties came to the fore recently when a Conservative Alumni group offered $100 to any student who would take notes on the lecture of 30 faculty members at UCLA who the group identified as "radical professors"
I hardly think this an issue worthy of such extreme measures Yes, Conservatives are right--- university faculties are filled with liberals and leftists, but why is this a problem if they do their jobs well? The ranks of college football coaches are filled with born again Christians and rock ribbed Republicans, but I don't hear about legislative committees monitoring their activities to assure political and religious diversity in the locker room. Can you imagine the Pennsylvania State legislature calling in Joe Paterno and asking whether his coaching staff contains any marxists and...
SOURCE: Frontpagemag.com (1-23-06)
The Bruin Alumni Association is the brainchild of Andrew Jones, a UCLA graduate who briefly worked for the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and was fired for unethical behavior.
Unethical behavior continues to be a trademark of Jones' career. The bad publicity he has recently received is a consequence of the strategies he has chosen; Most centrally, his decision to pay students to target leftwing professors whom he pillories with crude epithets like "the dirty thirty." UCLA is also considering suing Jones for illegally lifting its logo and flying his organization under false colors. The Center is...