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: OAH Newsletter (5-19-06)
Collaboration was much in evidence at our 99th annual meeting in Washington last month. The conference was our regular quadrennial joint meeting with the National Council on Public History and public history...
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (5-19-06)
The University of Colorado committee investigating Ward Churchill has found him guilty, guilty, guilty. And on some level, they’re right: Churchill is guilty of occasionally shoddy scholarship and the dubious practice of ghostwriting, and perhaps even more. But we should be alarmed by the investigative committee’s report, and not merely because the committee exists only because of a concerted effort to fire Churchill for his obnoxious and idiotic comments about 9/11 victims.
By stretching the meaning of “research misconduct” far beyond its true definition, and by supporting the suspension and even dismissal of a tenured professor for his use of footnotes, the Colorado committee is opening the door to a vast new right-wing witch hunt on college campuses that conservatives could easily...
SOURCE: National Trust for Historic Preservation (5-16-06)
Like many Americans, I thought for a long time that historic preservation
was just about saving grand historic and architectural landmarks –
places such as Four Mile here in Denver and the Hotel de Paris in Georgetown
– as well as areas such as Lower Downtown where preservation could
be a tool for revitalization.
There’s no question that’s part of what preservation is all about. But the more time I spent in the West – and I’ve spent a great deal – the more I realized that preservation is much more than that. It’s also about the very first imprints that man made on the land – the rock art, cliff dwellings, pueblos, kivas and other remnants of the earliest civilizations that flourished here. These cultural resources, mostly...
SOURCE: goacta.org (5-1-06)
The controversy surrounding ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill now focuses on whether the University of Colorado will find him guilty of professional misconduct. But the case of Ward Churchill raises questions with far greater ramifications.
Is there really only one Ward Churchill? Or are there many? Do professors in their classrooms ensure a robust exchange of ideas designed to help students to think for themselves? Or do they use their classrooms as platforms for propaganda, sites of sensitivity training, and launching pads for political activism? Do our college and university professors foster intellectual diversity or must students toe the party line? To answer these questions, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni went to publicly available resources—college...
SOURCE: NYT Book Review (5-14-06)
"The powers of ordinary men are circumscribed by the everyday worlds in which they live, yet even in these rounds of job, family and neighborhood they often seem driven by forces they can neither understand nor govern."
The opening sentence of "The Power Elite," by C. Wright Mills, seems unremarkable, even bland. But when the book was first published 50 years ago last month, it exploded into a culture riddled with existential anxiety and political fear. Mills — a broad-shouldered, motorcycle-riding anarchist from Texas who taught sociology at Columbia — argued that the "sociological key" to American uneasiness could be found not in the mysteries of the unconscious or in the battle against Communism, but in the over-organization of society. At the pinnacle of the government, the military and the corporations, a small...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (5-15-06)
You may have read that the National Archives and Records Administration has allowed some federal agencies to withdraw declassified documents from public view. That the Smithsonian Institution has
signed an agreement with Showtime Networks to create an on-demand cable-television channel. That the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to search the papers of the late investigative journalist Jack Anderson. But have you thought about what those controversies mean taken together?
Historians view them as three serious threats to the integrity of access to documents and artifacts of national importance. The cases are very different, but all should be matters of concern to the entire scholarly community and the larger public. Each involves the excessively generous definition by a federal agency of what the public has no right to see....
SOURCE: Atlantic Monthly (6-1-06)
SOURCE: Philadelphia Daily News (5-12-06)
WHEN I WAS a graduate student, a professor handed back an early draft of my dissertation - a treatment of how Quakers influenced the beginnings of public schooling in 19th century Philadelphia - and exclaimed: "You're religious! What else is wrong with your thinking?"
I immediately understood that my beliefs and his Marxist interpretation were at odds and that if I wanted a doctorate I would have to compromise my position.
While I was disillusioned by the politics of academia, I realized that I was not the first graduate student who had to play them. "Academic freedom" was subject to the professor's definition, especially if he had tenure.
David Horowitz, a conservative commentator and author of "The Professors: The 101 Most...
SOURCE: LAT (5-9-06)
Under her proposal, textbooks would have to "accurately portray in an age-appropriate manner the cultural, racial, gender and sexual orientation diversity of our society." They also would have to include "the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the total development of California and the United States."
It's a twisting of what history textbooks are supposed to do: tell about the most important contributions, and misdeeds, of people in history, regardless of their beliefs and...
SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle (5-7-06)
In 1950, a U.S. Senate committee released a report on the "employment of homosexuals and other sex perverts" in the federal government. The report warned that gays "lack the emotional stability of normal persons," so they could be easily blackmailed by Communist spies. Newspapers claimed that 10,000 gays had infiltrated federal agencies, posing what Sen. Joseph McCarthy called a "homosexual menace" to national security.
So if California passes a bill requiring instruction about gays in history, will students hear about this sordid chapter of our past? I doubt it. That's because the bill's supporters -- like so many of us -- regard history as therapy. They want the gay kids to feel good.
Listen to the bill's author, Sen....
SOURCE: Geoff Wade on H-Asia list (4-24-06)
As has probably been apparent to some on the list, a number of persons around the globe have become a trifle upset with the fabrications of Mr. Gavin Menzies, his publishers and his co-conspirators. Rather than rebutting each claim repeatedly and diversely, it has been decided to create a website where rebuttals and criticisms can be mounted alongside the original claims. Persons interested in the issues can then access these at will.
The new website can be found at:
I urge anyone who has applied their scholarship to the 1421 issue, the associated Liu Gang fake 1418/1763 map or the upcoming Island of Seven Cities volume to share their findings on the website.
If anyone has any queries on the site or aspects of it, please do let me know.
National University of Singapore
A liberal advocacy group in Washington recently committed intellectual genocide on American Indians. Authors of the group presumed to fabricate Indian history, as if real Indian history doesn’t matter. Authors simply created an Indian story to suit the purposes of the advocacy group, and published it in a school text manual as fact.
SOURCE: Japan Focus (5-3-06)
[Aso Mining Company had been producing coal to fuel Japan’s modernization for nearly 70 years by the time Aso Taro, Japan’s current foreign minister, was born in 1940. Faced with a severe heavy labor shortage as the China war gave way to the Pacific War, Japanese industry increasingly turned to Korean, Allied POW and Chinese forced labor. Some 10,000 Korean forced laborers toiled under miserable conditions for Aso Mining. In addition, it is now emerging that 300 Allied prisoners of war performed forced labor at Fukuoka POW Branch Camp No. 26, better known as the Aso Yoshikuma coal mine. Two-thirds of the prisoners were Australian; one-third was British; two were Dutch.
None of these 300 men ever received...
SOURCE: WSJ (5-5-06)
Sigmund Freud, one of the crucial authors and thinkers of the 20th century, was born in Moravia in 1856, and taken to Vienna as a child by his Jewish father and mother. Only a few professions were open to Jews in 19th-century Vienna, one of them being medicine. Freud consequently received a medical degree in 1881, and then wrote on hysteria. He would become the founder of modern psychoanalysis, among his many other achievements.
Freud died in England in 1939, after being ransomed from the Gestapo subsequent to the Nazi takeover in Austria. It is now exactly 150 years since his birth and two-thirds of a century since his death, and there is still no general agreement on the nature of his achievement. Yet 20th-century literature truly begins with Freud.
* * *
Freud was so prolific that any choice of his most significant books is somewhat arbitrary...
SOURCE: Education Gadfly, Newsletter of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (5-4-06)
Last month, the Washington Post's David Broder wrote a column trumpeting the value of teaching civics to American students. He interviewed Sandra Day O'Connor and former Colorado Governor Roy Romer (now serving as Superintendent of Los Angeles's schools), both of whom are spokespersons for the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools (CMS).
A trip to CMS's website reveals many applause-worthy sentiments--indeed, simply acknowledging the importance of civics education is commendable.
Yet both CMS and Broder's fawning column make the same mistake that plagues many civic education initiatives. Instead of proposing that students learn civics through rigorous study of historical events, meaty biographies of important Americans, or lessons that integrate American history and politics with philosophy and character...
SOURCE: NewsMax.com (5-1-06)
Earlier, many film festivals refused to screen it. Now many Latin American countries refuse to show it. The film's offenses are many and varied. Most unforgivable of all, Che Guevara is shown killing people in cold blood. Who ever heard of such nonsense? And just where does this uppity Andy Garcia get the effrontery to portray such things? The man obviously doesn't know his place.
And just where did Garcia get this preposterous notion of pre-Castro Cuba as a relatively prosperous but politically...
SOURCE: Oxford University Press Blog (4-20-06)
I’m passionately committed to the cause that distinguishes us from all other animals -- the ability to transcend an illusory sense of NOW, of an eternal present, and to strive for an understanding of the forces and events that made us what we are. Such an understanding is the prerequisite, I believe, for all human freedom. In one of my works on slavery I refer to “a profound transformation in moral perception” that led in the eighteenth century to a growing recognition of “the full horror of a social evil to which mankind had been blind for centuries.” Unfortunately, many American historians are only now beginning to grasp the true centrality of that social evil –- racial slavery --- throughout the decades and...
SOURCE: New Yorker (5-8-06)
From the moment that Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, in 1781, American allies reported seeing “herds of Negroes” fleeing through Virginia’s swamps of pine and cypress. A few made it to a warship that...