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: Haaretz (8-9-07)
SOURCE: FrontpageMag.com (8-9-07)
The Religious Left, in its historical commemorations, rarely if ever recalls the great holocausts committed by the totalitarian tyrants of the 20th century. The tens of millions slain by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Tojo, not to mention the hundreds of thousands killed by Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Kim Il Sung, among others, never have reached a high level of importance.
But never do the anniversaries of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August 6 and August 9, go by that the Religious Left does not mournfully don its sack cloth and ashes to atone for the mass murders purportedly committed by a vengeful United States.
The National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons is now the main interfaith apologist for America's crimes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Founded by the late preacher-activist William Sloane Coffin, its members include...
SOURCE: http://www.blackcommentator.com (8-9-07)
Thirty-five years ago, the covers were pulled off the Tuskegee syphilis experiment conducted by the Macon County Public Health Service (PHS). The 40-year experiment allegedly was set up to study the impact of untreated syphilis on some 600 black men, about 200 in a control group, beginning in 1932.
Although it certainly wasn’t the first or last of racist experiments on black people, historian James Jones and author of Bad Blood has described as "the longest non-therapeutic experiment on human beings in medical history."
In her book, Medical Apartheid, Harriet Washington explores the “dark history of medical experimentation on black Americans, from colonial times to the present.” Washington gives numerous examples of lesser-known experiments on black men,...
SOURCE: New Haven Review (8-7-07)
Re: John Patrick Diggins's, Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History (Norton).
In his 1990 memoir Being Red, the novelist Howard Fast offered glimpses of Depressionera America that come back to me whenever I try to understand Ronald Reagan. Most of the people Fast knew in the desperate New York City of the nineteen-thirties never locked their apartment doors. When he and a girlfriend slept in Central Park on summer nights (to escape moral strictures as stifling as their bedrooms), they feared not that muggers would attack but that a policeman might walk by. Even the worst waterfront or urban ghetto was safer then. The country was constricted materially and morally, but it was strangely more spacious and hopeful, in ways few Americans have dared recall or imagine—except while under Ronald...
SOURCE: Butterfliesandwheels.com (blog) (8-4-07)
In July I had one of those good news/bad news days. First the good news. In response to the detailed complaint I had submitted in February 2007 to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about their promotion of the film “Einstein’s Wife”, I received the following from Simon Melkman, ABC Audience...
The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, based at the University of Washington under the direction of Professor James Gregory, is a multi-media website dedicated to documenting the Pacific Northwest’s multiracial labor and civil rights history. It offers over 1000 primary documents and photographs, over 70 video oral histories, original research essays produced by undergraduate and graduate students, short films, slideshows, historical overviews and bibliographic guides. The project is a rich web-based resource designed to provide teachers, students, community members and researchers with information about Washington State’s turbulent past.
While the site covers various movements for social and economic justice throughout the twentieth century, the bulk of materials fall into the period between World War II and the 1980s. There is a particular emphasis on the...
SOURCE: WSJ (8-8-07)
In a globalizing economy, America's competitive edge depends in large measure on how well our schools prepare tomorrow's workforce.
And notwithstanding the fact that Congress and the White House are now controlled by opposing parties, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are bent on devising new programs and boosting education spending.
Consider the measure -- the America Competes Act -- that recently passed Congress and is on its way to the president's desk. The bill will substantially increase government funding for science, technology, engineering and math ("STEM" subjects). President Bush, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings as well as House Speaker...
SOURCE: Slate (8-6-07)
For a guy with a reputation as an intellectual slacker, George W. Bush has always professed a surprisingly strong interest in history—however politicized some of his takes on the past may be. Bush has likened the "war on terrorism" to the Cold War, compared the occupation of Iraq to that of Germany, endorsed the "stab in the back" theory of America's defeat in Vietnam, and fancied himself Harry Truman redivivus, standing firm in pursuit of noble goals while getting trashed as the worst president ever.
For all this attention to the past, Bush's study of history has recently taken a turn toward the philosophical, at least by his own standards. Instead of just grabbing for analogies to serve as talking points, Bush appears to have become a pensive, almost romantic thinker ruminating about the ultimate design of...
SOURCE: Independent Review (Libertarian magazine) (8-7-07)
In recent years, one of the most common metaphors for using tax cuts to discipline government spending has been “starve the beast.” The idea is that if revenues are unilaterally reduced, this reduction will lead to a higher budget deficit, which will force legislators to enact spending cuts. Thus, using tax cuts to bring about spending cuts has been called “starving the beast.” The budgetary experience of recent years, in which Congress has enacted large tax cuts and large spending increases at the same time, has caused some former supporters of the starve-the-beast idea to reconsider their view. However, the metaphor remains a powerful one. In this article, I trace the origins and development of the idea and the reasons why it rose...
SOURCE: NYT (8-7-07)
On her blog, The Baby Name Wizard, Wattenberg tracks the rise and fall of naming fashions. One of her mega-observations, which isn’t that surprising, is that we are living in the age of the long tail when it comes to naming our kids. In 1880, just 10 names — William, John, Mary, George, etc. — accounted for 20 percent of all babies. Now those 10 names account for just 2 percent of American babies.
Name conformity peaked around World War II. Since then parents have been more and more likely to seek out the unusual. “Across regions, races and classes,” Wattenberg writes, “many thousands of American parents are united by a common bond: their mutual determination to be nothing like each other.”
SOURCE: Guardian (8-6-07)
Disarmament campaigners are not slow to advance further charges. Greenpeace maintains that a different American approach might have prevented the cold war, and argues that new research on the Hiroshima decision "should give us pause for thought about the wisdom of current US and UK nuclear weapons developments, strategies, operational policies and deployments".
This alternative history is devoid of merit. New historical research in fact lends powerful support to the traditionalist interpretation of the decision to drop the bomb. This conclusion may surprise Guardian readers. The so-called revisionist...
SOURCE: New America Media (8-6-07)
Sixty-two years ago, on Aug. 6, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima changed the course of world history. We still live in the shadow of Hiroshima, though most of us do not know why or how it happened.
The U.S. deployment of this weapon of mass destruction did not have to happen.
In fact, from a military point of view, Gen. Douglas MacArthur considered the bombing “completely unnecessary.” In July, when MacArthur learned that Japan had asked Russia to negotiate surrender with the United States, he told his staff: “This is it. The war is over. Hold everything in place for Olympic and Coronet [names for the invasion plans], but drop all work on them and get busy on the occupation.” The general knew there would be no need for an invasion.
In July, the Joint Chiefs...
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (8-6-07)
So even 70 years after the Holocaust, when it is clear that the Bergson's group's efforts led to the only US action to save Europe's Jews, supporting and upholding those efforts is considered a provocative political act. Yet memorializing men like Wise, who actively sought to undermine those efforts in order to maintain his warm relationship with Roosevelt, is considered uncontroversial.
As irksome as the lingering attempts to push Bergson into a political cubbyhole are, at least the public campaign launched by the Wyman Institute succeeded in convincing the Holocaust Museum to give his...
SOURCE: Letter to the Editor of the WSJ (8-4-07)
But what did not happen was the region-wide war or immediate chaos predicted by many who believed we had to maintain our massive military presence in Vietnam. A brutal dictatorship consolidated power in Vietnam, the region's refugee crisis worsened, and two years after we left Vietnam, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge launched a genocide.
Mr. Taranto mistakenly views the violence after 1973 as a direct result of our withdrawal. In fact, the violence arose from the conditions that led us to withdraw: a Vietnamese civil war we couldn't stop...
SOURCE: AHA Blog (8-2-07)
In this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, Richard Pells (a historian at the University of Texas at Austin) charges, “The vast majority of American historians no longer regard American culture—whether high culture or mainstream popular culture—as an essential area of study.” It’s an interesting article, and the Chronicle...
SOURCE: ednews.org (8-3-07)
If a college basketball coach is interested in a hot high school prospect this is a checklist of the kind of information that is made available to him about the student:
# of points for season yes (made available)
% of goals per game yes
# of three-pointers yes
% of three-pointers yes
# of free throws yes
% of free throws yes
# of blocked shots yes
# of rebounds yes
# of takeaways (steals) yes
Average points per game yes
# of minutes per game yes
# of assists yes
# of fouls per game yes
# of suspensions yes
SOURCE: International Herald Tribune (8-2-07)
Here's a little event that may have big implications. The Israeli education ministry has approved a textbook for Arab third graders in Israel that for the first time describes the 1948 war that gave birth to the state of Israel as a "catastrophe" for the indigenous Palestinians and their society. The Palestinians have always referred to 1948 as their nakba, or catastrophic national shattering, dispersal, exile, occupation and disenfranchisement.
This may be the first tangible sign that the Zionist Israeli establishment is prepared to move in the direction of acknowledging what happened to the Palestinians in 1948, which is a vital Palestinian demand for any serious peace-making effort to succeed. Israelis in turn would expect a reciprocal Palestinian...
SOURCE: http://www.macleans.ca (7-30-07)
One key issue concerns the practical value...