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: Japan Focus (4-11-07)
SOURCE: Jamie Glazov at frontpagemag.com (4-11-07)
FP: Kasey S. Pipes, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Pipes: Thanks for having me. I’m a longtime reader of Frontpage.
FP: Well thank you. So what inspired you to write this book?
Pipes: I’ve always been fascinated by both Eisenhower and the civil rights movements. I think they are two of the greatest stories of the 20th century. So it occurred to me: why not look at the intersection of these two stories? Originally, I was intrigued by the story of Ike...
SOURCE: NY Review of Books (4-9-07)
Helen Rountree has long been the principal authority on the outlooks, beliefs, and purposes of the "uncivil" Virginians, the Powhatans, the name she applies to all the tribes under the paramount chiefdom of the man Powhatan. Under the guise of biographies, Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough tells the story of Jamestown from the viewpoint of the "Real People." Since they left no written records, she has to rely (as we all...
SOURCE: Britannica Blog (4-9-07)
Humanity has had a love-hate relationship with numbers from the earliest times. This relationship is especially appropriate to discuss this week, as yet another Friday the 13th rolls around.
As I explain in greater length in my entry on “number symbolism” for Encyclopaedia Britannica, the enormous range of symbolic roles that numbers have played in various cultures, religions, and other systems of human thought can be gauged from a brief survey, which I aim to provide this week in five, daily blogs, covering number mysticism and numbers 1-20, plus 100.
Numerical coincidences abound, and they are often so remarkable that it is difficult to explain them rationally. Not surprisingly, many people become convinced that these coincidences have irrational explanations. What, for example, should be made of the famous...
SOURCE: New Republic (4-9-07)
Now, a series of important documents and two new books provide more proof for Beinart's assertion. Alan Johnson, editor of an online magazine, Democraitya, has published recently released British Cabinet memos written by Labor's foreign minister, Ernest Bevin, in 1948. Bevin called for Europeans to take the...
SOURCE: New Republic (4-9-07)
... Addressing racial inequality is definitely a good thing, but pursuing official slavery apologies as a means of doing so could hurt blacks more than it may help them--particularly those whose circumstances most reflect the disparities that apology advocates seek to address.
ebates over controversial topics like slavery have a tendency to tie up legislatures whose time could be spent more productively. Only a last-second stopgap tax increase spared Georgia a severe fiscal crisis in 2003, after the legislature had spent an entire session arguing about the appearance of Confederate symbols on the state flag instead of addressing the budget and other issues such as health care and educational reform. A statewide poll suggested that nearly 70...
SOURCE: Guardian (4-8-07)
British history, or at least the history of English expansion, is flashing past us with unnerving and, perhaps in Scotland, consequential speed. Anniversaries prompt questions and suggest reassessment, particularly in Jamestown, where the histories of Britain and Anglophone, Protestant America meet at the moment when the characteristics of one nation were transmitted to the new settlement and so to the America of today.
As yet, the Jamestown anniversary has attracted little fuss, but for world history, the precarious foothold gained by the English that summer is by far the most important of the '07 dates. It occurred in the reign of James I, but the achievement was really the result of...
SOURCE: Weekly Standard (4-2-07)
Ronald Reagan is weeping. There, on the cover of the March 26 Time magazine, under the headline "How the Right Went Wrong," we see the old lion, a tear rolling out of his eye and snaking down sadly over the contours of his aging, but still good-looking, once-was-a-movie-star face. And what is he mourning? The state of his party, lapsed from the peaks to which he had lifted it, and sunk in the depths of despair. "These are gloomy and uncertain days for conservatives," writes Karen Tumulty, grimly. "Set adrift as it is, the right understandably feels anxious as it contemplates who will carry Reagan's mantle into November 2008. . . . The principles that propelled the movement have either run their course, or run aground, or been abandoned by Reagan's legatees." Reagan by contrast looms as a beacon of...
SOURCE: NYT (4-6-07)
Everything here, for example, is from late-18th-century Virginia, with crucial exceptions including: no slavery apart from the dramatizations (although until just a few decades ago here forms of discrimination and segregation were still commonplace), flush toilets and freshly painted buildings as carefully tended as suburban developments, which in some ways Colonial Williamsburg resembles.
One doesn’t really step into the past here, or in any...
History is full of assholes. Hitler being one of the worst, though of course there were others.
The BBC reported on Monday that a number of British schools are planning to avoid teaching the Holocaust in history classes for fear of upsetting Muslim pupils. Other contentious subjects include the Crusades, the slave trade, the history of Israel and gravity.
According to a government-funded report, “Staff may wish to avoid causing offence or appearing insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes.” It went on to say that, “In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship.”
Fair enough. Delving into the socio-political quagmire that is Israel-Palestine might be a bit much for 12-year-olds. But last time I checked Wikipedia, the Holocaust wasn’t a...
SOURCE: Alternet (4-5-07)
These blood-curdling revelations were published this week in Israel and around the world. The conclusion is self-evident: The Palestinian Authority, which is responsible for the schoolbooks, cannot be a partner in peace negotiations. What a shock!
Truth is, there is nothing new here. Every few years, when all the other arguments for refusing to speak with the Palestinian leadership wear thin, the ultimate argument pops up again: Palestinian schoolbooks call for the destruction of Israel!
The ammunition is always provided by one of the"professional" institutions that deal with this matter. These...
SOURCE: TomPaine.com (4-5-07)
Forty years ago this week, on April 4, 1967, and a year to the day before his tragic assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rose to the pulpit of New York's Riverside Church to deliver one of the most controversial speeches of his life.
Entitled " Beyond Vietnam," the address was King's first public antiwar speech, and he gave it only after much trepidation and prayer. Believing that silence in the face of injustice is in fact complicity with evil, King wrote in his autobiography that,"The time had come—indeed it was past due—when I had to disavow and dissociate myself from those who in the name of peace burn, maim and kill."
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (3-31-07)
The decision by the Oxford and Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts (OCR) exam board has led to concerns that pupils will no longer understand the legacies of ancient civilisations.
The subject has introduced students to topics such as the birth of Athenian democracy, the growth of the Roman Empire, the beginnings of Christianity, the revolt by Spartacus against slavery and the battle of Thermopylae, where the stand by an small Greek force against the Persians in 480 BCE became the byword for heroic struggles.
Last night experts were saying that all these were examples of history that would be lost on future generations.
The irony is that the subject is being ditched at a time when it is growing in popularity - with 1,000 students taking the exam compared with just 300 at the turn of the century....
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer (4-5-07)
The Liberty Bell. USA. First-Class. Forever.
Philadelphia's famously flawed symbol will get a boost next week when the U.S. Postal Service rolls out its new "Forever" stamp, good for first-class postage regardless of future rate increases.
On the stamp, the Liberty Bell does appear to be timeless, a bronze icon of stability with an ethereal glow. The Postal Service calls the bell an "enduring symbol of American independence."
Around the country last week, newspapers joined in this chorus, with Associated Press stories describing the symbol on the stamp as "an icon of American freedom and independence."
And so it is, to...
SOURCE: Atlantic Monthly (5-1-07)
Churchill’s chronicle of the Second World War, which has all but permanently fixed the contours of the conflict in the popular mind, deliberately played down the Soviet superpower’s pivotal role in defeating the Axis. Since then, while scholarship advanced on, say, the Allies’ air war against Germany or the North African campaigns, it was...
SOURCE: Historically Speaking (2-1-07)
... If there is no “basic” story to tell, even within nations, let alone for the West, then any account is as good as any other. Common criteria dissolve; the center does not hold. If professional historians can agree on no landmarks, then those who use the past for their own purposes—politicians, ideologues, theorists—are free to choose their own. Those contemporaries who reject the special attention to politics that marked the pioneers of the discipline, and remained in place for nearly two and a half millennia, offer nothing in its place. The resultant impression of incoherence merely diminishes the influence of all historical work.
SOURCE: Britannica Blog (4-5-07)
I was interested to read the blog postings by Joseph Ellis and Michael and Jana Novak, having recently completed a book on the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers. I was initially inspired to write the book after hearing from various politicians and pundits the statement that the United States had been founded on Christian principles. Having done a fair amount of reading on the subject, I felt this was a gross misrepresentation. Mr. Ellis is correct, I think, when he says that “the common conviction that bound together most of the Founders was the belief in the complete separation of church and state.”
There were Founders who disagreed with the policy of separation, of course, and to read about the deliberations in the Virginia legislature over Jefferson’s Virginia...
SOURCE: Column (4-4-07)
It's become a TV ritual: Every year on April 4, as Americans commemorate Martin Luther King's death, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader."
The remarkable thing about these reviews of King's life is that several years - his last years - are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.
What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).
An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a...
SOURCE: News of Delaware County. (4-4-07)
Don’t you always wonder how tough the he-men of the silver screen really are? I’ve always wondered about that. John Wayne, for instance… his real name was Marion Morrison. Was he the real-life equivalent of “A Boy Named Sue,” or was he a wimp? From “Flying Tigers” (1942) to “Sands of Iwo Jima” (1949), the Duke fought World War II on movie sets, not on battlefields.
Ronald Reagan likewise spent his war on a Hollywood back lot, staring in such B-reelers as “Hellcats of the Navy” and “This Is the Army.” He donned a real uniform as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, but served in the First Motion Picture Unit, and not in the skies over Europe or the Pacific.
On March 30, 1981, aged 70, Reagan faced the first real bullets of his life. The assassination attempt, which wounded him, proved...
SOURCE: Slate (3-30-07)
"Certainty of knowledge not only excludes mistake, but fortifies veracity. … [T]hat which is fully known cannot be falsified but with reluctance of understanding, and alarm of conscience." (Dr. Johnson, meet Mr. Frey.)
Notable autobiographies were written in the late 18th century (by Casanova, Rousseau, and Benjamin Franklin) and in the 19th (by John Stuart Mill, Ulysses S. Grant, and many, many hundreds of others), and along the way, the word autobiography was invented; the Oxford English Dictionary's first citation is from 1797. The first recorded...