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: http://www.metrobeat.net (2-13-07)
Greenville, South Carolina was no longer a sleepy little textile town in 1947. Hordes of her native sons had returned from the war restless...
SOURCE: Newark Star-Ledger (2-26-07)
It's time both for more-spring-related décor, and recognition of a different ethnic group. In like a lion, out like a lamb. Leprechauns and shamrocks. That sort of thing.
That's just the way of things, but what is troublesome about Black History Month is not its brevity, but rather the passive voice nature of so much of what is taught about the most searing conflict in the nation's history.
As if things just happened to other people, but were never caused by anyone.
Africans were kidnapped and sold into slavery.
They were chained up and shipped to North America.
Families were destroyed because they were sold without regard to kinship.
SOURCE: Guardian (2-26-07)
"What is truth" is not a question for politicians - they are the worst equipped to recognise it. Armenian genocides, the Holocaust, do not need politicians to sort out what happened. Politicians just need to make sure it does not happen again.
In 1897, the Indiana legislature passed a remarkably incoherent bill establishing that pi was equal to 3.2 or 4 or even 3.23. But not 3.142, etc, ad infinitum. It was stalled in the state senate, after being referred, in what one hopes was a sense of merriment, to the Committee on Temperance.
We should be lucky they were not Biblical literalists of the kind who keep trying to usher Darwin out of the schools and smuggle creationism in the front door. The Book of Kings clearly mandates that pi is three. If the creationists were only to travel in aircraft and cars designed on that basis, there would be an interesting demonstration of Darwin in action. It would do...
SOURCE: Counterpunch (2-24-07)
Let's not allow the N-word issue to be over-intellectualized into a debate that focuses on the style of language. The focus must be on the style of racist subjugation and hatred, including the pathologies of black inferiority and self-hatred.
We need to go back to the relevant beginning regarding the N-word and that is the international slave trade. Slavery begot the N-word. There were no "niggers" before slavery.
Slavery created the ugly, sordid hierarchy of skin which encompassed not just the hue of flesh but also facial and body features. Let's be absolutely clear about what we are dealing with--an insanity: the lighter or "fairer" the skin, the better; the straighter the hair, the better; the thinner the lips, the better; the pointier the nose, the better.
SOURCE: Weekly Standard (2-27-07)
The dedicated website of the George Polk Awards trumpets that the prize is"one of America's most coveted journalism honors-and probably its most respected." Bill Moyers and Russell Baker, among others, testify that the award means more to them than any other. The list of those cited since the award's inception in 1949 comprises a two-generation roll call of distinguished names in American journalism: Christiane Amanpour, Roger Angell, R.W. Apple, Homer Bigart, Jimmy Breslin, Walter Cronkite, Gloria Emerson, Frances FitzGerald, Thomas Friedman, David Halberstam, Seymour Hersh, Marguerite Higgins, Chet Huntley, Peter Jennings, John Kifner, Ted Koppel, Charles Kuralt, Joseph Lelyveld, Tony Lukas, Mary...
SOURCE: Weekly Standard (2-26-07)
... Why did one of the most successful Republican presidents in history--eight years that brought peace and financial solvency--leave no imprint on his party?
Dwight D. Eisenhower was a genial, shrewd, optimistic product of small-town middle America, the most popular general of a just war. His military experience gave an internationalist cast to his otherwise conservative beliefs. Harry Truman would have given him the Democratic party's presidential nomination in 1948. Instead, Ike gave the Republican party a smashing victory in 1952, reaffirmed in 1956. Irving Berlin even composed his campaign song.
But Republican Eisenhower was only casually interested in party-building. He had a deep antipathy to partisan politics, which he extended to its...
SOURCE: Smithsonian Magazine (2-1-07)
The large-caliber guns of artillery warfare with their power to atomize bodies into unrecoverable fragments and the mangling, deadly fallout of shrapnel had made clear, at the war's outset, that mankind's military technology wildly outpaced its medical: "Every fracture in this war is a huge open wound," one American doctor reported, "with a not merely broken but shattered bone...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (2-23-07)
The preservation of buildings from the recent past — broadly defined as the period from around 1945 to 1975 — is a popular subject, even if it is still widely debated in scholarly circles. We've seen the incredible revival of places that emerged in that era, like Palm Springs, Calif., where it seems as if each month a fabulous new hotel or motel opens to a thrilled audience of Hollywood hipsters and design mavens from near and far. At the same time, however, we've watched great buildings of midcentury genesis or significance — like Richard Neutra's Maslon House in Rancho Mirage, Calif., or the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles — be demolished, sometimes overnight.
Similarly, the regard for and treatment of midcentury buildings on campuses has been, and continues to be, widely divergent. Some say that such history is too...
SOURCE: History Today (2-23-07)
The Soviet launch of Sputnik on October 4th, 1957, plunged the American people into black despair. In one dramatic stroke, the Russians had undermined the credibility of the United States as a modern, dynamic nation. Worse still, it seemed that if the Russians could put a satellite into orbit, they could surely fire intercontinental ballistic missiles at American cities with deadly accuracy, a point made repeatedly by Senator Lyndon Johnson, the Democratic frontrunner in the race for the presidency. He warned his fellow Americans that, if they did not wake up to the problem, before long the Russians ‘will be dropping bombs on us from space like kids dropping rocks onto cars from freeway overpasses’.
A few days later, when rockets were on...
SOURCE: NYT (2-22-07)
The bluntness of HUD’s solution reflects a degree of historical amnesia that this wounded city cannot afford. In its rush to demolish the apartment complexes — and replace them with the kind of generic mixed-income suburban community so favored by Washington bureaucrats — the agency demonstrates great insensitivity to both the displaced tenants and the urban fabric of this city.
Offering perhaps a last chance to bring some sanity to this process, a congressional subcommittee is scheduled to open...
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (2-22-07)
Everyone is talking about "the loss of leadership" so often that it has become a clich . But when the prime minister and the Defense Ministry are receiving single-digit approval ratings and the only serious candidates to replace them are both failed prime ministers who were resoundingly kicked out of office by the electorate, it's hard to find another name for it.
Naturally, at time like these, the public and media begin to feel nostalgic and begin casting back to a time when we seem to remember real leaders.
Ariel Sharon, though wildly popular only 14 months ago, is not a good candidate for these memories. With the engulfing charges of corruption, Sharon is suddenly being seen in a different...
SOURCE: Jamie Glazov interview posted at frontpagemag.com (2-22-07)
FP: Dore Gold, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Gold: I appreciate the opportunity to get into real substance, which has become a trademark of Frontpage.
FP: Well thank you.
What inspired you to write this book?
Gold: Originally, I felt it was necessary to respond to the charges that Yasser Arafat made at the end of the Camp David summit in July 2000 that denied the core of our Judeo-Christian heritage. As you might remember he tried to assert that there never had been a Temple in Jerusalem.
But what he essentially did was to throw a stone of historical lies into a lake and its ripples...
SOURCE: National Review Online (2-21-07)
... Should any such Americans wish to learn more about our country's greatest and most reverence-inspiring monument, the Lincoln Memorial, by looking for information to the National Park Service website, here is what they will find under the heading "Symbol of Democracy":
One of the interesting things about monuments and memorials is that they often say more about the generation that built them as they do about the person or period they were originally intended to commemorate. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial really says much more about this nation in the wake of the Civil War.
The generation that designed the Lincoln Memorial essentially constructed a highly idealized, colossal white-marble memorial to American democracy. The...
SOURCE: Democracy Now (2-21-07)
Officials at the Olympic Games managed to quell any disruption until two black Americans, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who finished first and third in the 200-meter run, bowed their heads and, at great personal risk to themselves, raised their fists in the Black Power salute during the national anthem as a...
SOURCE: WSJ (2-21-07)
Indeed, Washington was a prosperous farmer and entrepreneur throughout his life. "He thought like an American businessman," says Jim Rees, the executive director of Washington's Mount Vernon estate. "He was a true disciple of the free enterprise system, and he sensed that our new system of government would encourage people to think creatively, take chances and invest."
Mr. Rees is proud that Mount Vernon is helping showcase our Founding Father's business career by opening a complete reconstruction of his 75-by-30-foot distillery, which at its peak turned...
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (2-21-07)
Ten years ago, the University of Virginia Press issued what turned out to be a very well-timed book , Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy by Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of law at New York Law School. In late 1998 came the results of a DNA test showing a match between descendants of Hemings and of Jefferson — corroborating the story (first put in the public record by an anti-Jeffersonian journalist in 1802) that the author of the Declaration of Independence had sired a number of children by one of his slaves. One part of the “American controversy” referred to in Gordon-Reed’s subtitle was over.
But not all of it was. The real subject of the book was not the question of whether Jefferson and Hemings had (as the preferred expression nowadays would call it) a relationship. Rather, Gordon-Reed’s attention was focused on how historians had, over the years, gone about weighing the...
SOURCE: LAT (2-21-07)
IN THE FIERCE struggles of the 19th century to abolish slavery, Abraham Lincoln remains the mythic American champion. In Britain, however, that honor belongs to William Wilberforce, the Christian activist and member of Parliament who thundered against the slave trade for 20 years. Friday marks the 200th anniversary of his legislative triumph — a campaign rich with lessons for modern-day reformers.
When Wilberforce first raised his voice in the House of Commons for the cause of abolition in May 1789, he spoke for 3 1/2 hours. Yet the absence of partisanship must have taken his colleagues by surprise. "I mean not to accuse anyone," he insisted, "but take the shame upon myself, in common indeed with the whole Parliament of Britain, for having suffered this horrid trade to be carried on...
SOURCE: NYT (2-21-07)
THE ability to use advanced forensics and minuscule traces of DNA to solve crimes, even cold cases decades old, has turned many Americans into armchair sleuths seeking to “solve” the unexpected deaths of people like Princess Diana and Anna Nicole Smith. But sometimes, old-fashioned evidence is as useful in solving puzzles as anything under a nuclear microscope.
Last weekend, a never-before-seen home movie was made public showing President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade just before his assassination. An amateur photographer, George Jefferies, took the footage and held onto it for more than 40 years before casually mentioning it to his son-in-law, who persuaded him to donate it to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. The silent 8-millimeter color film was of interest to most people simply because it showed perhaps the clearest close-up of Jacqueline Kennedy taken that...
SOURCE: FrontpageMag.com (2-20-07)
Readers of FrontPage Magazine are better informed than readers anywhere on subjects like the Left’s control of academia, media, and culture. But what about the Left’s continuing control of the publishing industry?
To be sure, the Left’s control of this hugely influential medium has waned with the advent of conservative imprints at several major houses. A new day has dawned, where the Left no longer can simply not publish an entire segment of opinion with which it disagrees. Nonetheless, the publishing industry continues to disregard conservative authors in notable ways, including not honoring them with literary awards, no matter how groundbreaking the work.
Another area within publishing where conservatives are disrespected by the Left is one that has gone unnoticed, and which I only discovered because I myself have been a victim: the influential book reviews published by Publishers Weekly, the flagship publication for the industry. A telling...
SOURCE: Nation (blog) (2-16-07)
The arc of history is long, and those who bend it over particularly wide stretches to time sometimes outlive memories of the most dramatic turns.
Such is the case with Thomas Fairchild, the last man to mount a serious electoral challenge to Joe McCarthy and the "ism" he spawned, who has died this week at age 94.
Fairchild's rendevous with destiny played out a very long time ago? In deed, on the day of the vote in which Fairchild sought to prevent the reelection of the red-...