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: AlterNet (6-5-08)
Early this year, the Toronto District School Board voted to require all public high school students in Canada's largest city to complete a new course titled "Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications." It includes a unit on the Armenian genocide, in which more than a million Armenians perished in a methodical and premeditated scheme of annihilation orchestrated by the rulers of Turkey during and just after World War I.
The school board members each soon received a letter from Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts, rebuking them for classifying the Armenian genocide in the same category as the Holocaust. "The tragic fate of the Armenian...
SOURCE: Slate (6-4-08)
Forty years ago, Robert F. Kennedy was murdered on the very night he defeated his fellow anti-war insurgent Eugene McCarthy in the California Democratic presidential primary. This week the news media are full of remembrances of RFK, rehearsing how his assassination, echoing his brother's five years earlier, dashed a generation's hopes for a new era of liberalism. But in a political season that resembles 1968, another aspect of the assassination is also worth considering, especially with the Democratic Party now seeking to unify its ranks. For in 1968, the persistence of intra-party divisions—which helped usher in the presidency of Richard M. Nixon—stemmed not just from the tragedy of Kennedy's murder but also from McCarthy's own subsequent failure of leadership. McCarthy's refusal to extend a hand to disoriented Kennedy supporters after...
SOURCE: National Review Online (6-5-08)
Take the new book by conservative pundit Patrick Buchanan, Churchill, Hitler and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World. Buchanan argues that, had the imperialist Winston Churchill not pushed poor Hitler into a corner, he would have never invaded Poland in 1939, which triggered an unnecessary Allied response.
Maybe then the subsequent world war, and its 50 million dead, could have been avoided. Taking that faulty argument to its logical end, I suppose today a united West might live in peace with a reformed (and victorious) Nazi Third Reich.
On the Left, novelist Nicholson Baker’s nonfiction title, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of...
SOURCE: New Republic (6-4-08)
Was the May 1968 French uprising an anarchist attack on all forms of authority, as some libertarians believed? Was it an assault on conservatism, as its most visible leader, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, predicted?
Was it an attempt to rescue the left from Soviet-style communism, which would explain why the communist unions opposed the students? Was it an act of hypocrisy by young protesters who embraced Che Guevara and Mao Zedong at the same time that they targeted Charles de Gaulle's authoritarianism and Stalin's European heirs? Was it just a tantrum by the rich kids who ripped up the cobblestones in the Latin Quarter out of boredom? Or was it, as the protest slogans invited us to think, one...
SOURCE: http://americas.irc-online.org (6-3-08)
The four decades that have passed since the "Worldwide Revolution of 68"—a concept coined by Immanuel Wallerstein—seems like sufficient time to attempt to understand the direction taken from that moment on by the anti-systemic struggle in Latin America. In order to do that we must divert our attention from large epic events such as the Tet Offensive of the Vietnamese fighters, the May manifestations in Paris, and the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City, just to recall three events that had an impact throughout the whole world.
The truth is that these three events do not account for all of the social and political energy...
SOURCE: Slate (6-2-08)
Congratulations on your excellent new political history of our times. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who first made his name with The Age of Jackson, would appreciate the homage implied in your title. And I suspect he might also agree—and I certainly do—that, like it or not, Reagan was the transcendent figure of fin-de-siecle politics in America.
Your first two chapters do a great job laying out the crisis of the old order. In the 1970s the entire American political establishment, which traditionally hewed to the pragmatic center, faced a series of challenges it could not handle. Establishment liberals and small "c" conservatives alike were left, as you say, "philosophically at loose ends."
While noting the lingering effects of Watergate and Vietnam, you point out that Americans had other reasons to question the basic competence of the political establishment. Stagflation confounded the conventional wisdom. Meanwhile, violent...