This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: Independent (South Africa)/AFP (2-20-06)
"I acknowledge my guilt on this charge," Irving said, seated behind a witness stand facing judge Peter Liebetreu.
Irving, who faces a possible 10 years in jail, said he now realised his statement that "there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz (was) false".
But Irving had earlier told reporters upon entering the court in central Vienna in handcuffs that it was "ridiculous for me to be standing here on trial for something I expressed 17 years ago."
"I am not a Holocaust denier," he said. "My views have changed. History is a constantly growing tree... The more documents are available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989."
Asked about the Holocaust, he said: "I would call it the Jewish tragedy in World War 2" and that millions of Jews died.
Irving, whose handcuffs were removed as the trial began, insisted on the accuracy of his historical research, as Liebetreu peppered him with questions about Holocaust denials he had made in the past and how he felt about them now.
Irving said he had changed his mind since 1989 after discovering documents, some of them from Adolf Eichmann, who organised the Nazi genocide of the Jews, while on a trip in Argentina.
But Irving insisted on the logic of some of his past statements, such as saying that the fact that 100 000 people survived Auschwitz was a sign that the gas chambers did not exist, even if he now regretted the formulation.
Under questioning from prosecutor Michael Klackl, Irving also refused to say that his statement about the gas chambers was tantamount to denying the Holocaust occurred.
"That was no Holocaust denial, that was only (a statement) about a part of the (Holocaust) history," Irving said.
Klackl later told reporters: "We know about David Irving, that he always tries to arrange every evidence and find many reasons why you should take his argument in the right way."
Klackl said he was "convinced" the jury of six women and two men would reach a verdict Monday, although he refused to speculate on the outcome.
Irving, 67, faces a 10-year prison sentence under an Austrian law that prosecutes those who "deny the genocide by the National Socialists or other National Socialist crimes against humanity."
The right-wing historian was arrested in November after a routine check on a highway in Austria.
The warrant for his arrest was issued by a Vienna court in 1989 after he allegedly denied at meetings in Austria that the Nazi regime used gas chambers in concentration camps.
Irving was on trial for also saying that the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews was not the work of the Nazis but "unknown" people who had dressed up as storm troopers and that Adolf Hitler had in fact protected the Jews.
The Holocaust was Nazi Germany's systematic slaughter of some six million Jews, mainly in the later years of World War 2.
Irving has become notorious worldwide for attempting to establish, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that Hitler was not party to the Holocaust, that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz, and that the number of Jews killed by the Nazis was greatly exaggerated.
He has been condemned by the courts several times, notably in Britain and Germany, and last year he was refused entry to New Zealand.
He is reportedly also banned from residing in Australia, Canada, Italy and South Africa as well as Germany.
Irving sparked widespread outrage with his book Hitler's War in 1977, in which he claimed the Nazi dictator did not know about the mass killings of Jews until 1943 and that he never ordered the Holocaust.
In 2000, Irving lost a high-profile libel case in London against US historian Deborah Lipstadt, who called him a "Holocaust denier" in her book, Denying The Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth And Memory.
Irving carried a copy of Hitler's War when he entered court on Monday.
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN Blog, Cliopatria (2-17-06)
NB: A note from Harvard suggests that Crimson headlines may be misleading.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-15-06)
Mr Irving, 67, who has been held in an Austrian prison since last November, said he did not consider himself to be a Holocaust denier but had no choice but plead "guilty as charged".
"Under the law I've got no alternative," he told the television channel More4 News.
But he added: "I deny that I'm a Holocaust denier. This is a filthy smear."
The charges date back to 1989, when the Right-wing author of books such as Hitler's War gave speeches in Vienna and Leoben in which he disputed the existence of the gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps.
Under Austrian law, denying the Holocaust is illegal and punishable with a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Mr Irving said he had been labelled a Holocaust denier by Austrian and German journalists and deliberately misunderstood. "It means they've not read anything I've written since the actual offence was committed, which is 1989 - 17 years ago," he said.
"If they read that, they'll see I describe in great detail what Hitler and his troops were doing to the Jews behind the Eastern front … I'm very angry indeed about it."
Mr Irving was arrested in Austria in November, where he was to give a lecture to a Right-wing student fraternity.
He accused Austria of acting like a "Nazi state" for allegedly burning books of his that the authorities found - to their embarrassment - in the prison library.
Mr Irving, who lives in London and Florida, said his lawyer had advised him to plead guity.
Mr Irving lost a high-profile court case in London in 2000 in which he sued the US academic Deborah Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust denier. The judge described him as a "falsifier of history".
SOURCE: Alyssa A. Lappen at the website of Campus Watch (2-17-06)
It is a sad fact that many feminist academics"have adopted a pro-PLO and pro-terrorist line of thinking." Middle East Studies specialists are among the worst.
The doyenne of this camp is Duke University's Miriam Cooke, a professor of Arabic and Women's Studies. Cooke champions what she calls the"production of knowledge," especially on the Middle East, not to impart accurate historical information, but"to question structures of power." Middle East academics must admit that they belong"to a power with definite interests in the Orient." And students should only ask questions about power, not what is actually being said. They must learn"to ask, Under what circumstances would such an argument--no matter how preposterous--make sense? … In what ways does it legitimate certain kinds of cultures while subordinating or outlawing others?" Cooke's goal is no less than the eradication of Western"imperialism."
Cooke is a card-carrying member of the"root causes" crowd. In October 2001, she bemoaned the"catastrophic" 9/11 attacks—but blamed them on the U.S. The causes dated"back through the Gulf War to the establishment of Israel in 1948." The U.S. had instigated the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, she alleged, and the"Afghans" (sic) rightly took their revenge. She also comes close to justifying mass murder; the"apparently innocent business of moneymaking in New York City and of policymaking in Washington DC," seen as criminal elsewhere, had"direct and mostly negative consequences for most of the rest of the world." There is little"apparent innocence" when it comes to capitalism.
Predictably, Cooke rejects democratization in Iraq. At a March 26, 2003 forum on Iraq's future at the John Hope Franklin Center, the then-President of the Association for Middle East Women's Studies opposed the"U.S. imperialistic project in the region" and suggested instead that fresh wave of Western colonialism was driving Islamism. She pretentiously predicted that"Mourning will follow this war...." Like Shi'ite women"driven out of their homes in southern Iraq in March 1991," they would"enter refugee camps in Saudi Arabia and then proceed to exilic futures outside the Middle East." Unfortunately for Cooke's prognostication skills, no such futures have occurred, although for Shi'ite women this has not turned out too badly.
Cooke's hyperbole is on display in her statement that Campus Watch"is the Trojan horse whose warriors are already changing the rules of the game not only in Middle East studies but also in the US University as a whole." She warned that"They threaten to undermine the very foundations of American education," and compared CW's goals to Nazi"tailoring of education for specifically national purposes." Evidently word of Godwin's Law has not reached Duke.
A kindred spirit, Sarah Shields, is associate history professor at nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Shields teaches Islamic civilization and"topical courses" on Middle East women, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the modern Middle East."Topical" is usually a code word for"trendy nonsense."
Her spring 2000 honors course on"A Century of Protest in the Middle East" focused on"struggle and dissent" and featured readings like Intifada, in which Stanford University partisan Joel Beinin described Palestinian violence from 1988 to 1992 as a"strike for peace," praised"the first martyr of the uprising," and excused the"small number of violent incidents" against Israelis. Shields, too, described Islamic terrorist groups like Hamas, Taliban, Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood as"Islamic Political Movements."
Shields' 2002 course on"Women in the Middle East" was no better. It focused on things that"enable and circumscribe women's roles and choices" but assumed an almost entirely Islamic perspective. Readings featured the Qur'an and Hadith (linked from the Islamist Muslim Students' Association) and Huda's Homepage, an apology for radical Islam. The class also publicized a conference on Middle Eastern"Social Policy and Family Responses," organized a"public film festival" and collected"oral histories" from Middle Eastern women in North Carolina. But the only Middle Eastern women discussed were Muslims; Christians, Jews, Zororastrians and others were not worthy of consideration. How the prevalent Arab and Muslim custom of female circumcision" circumscribes" Middle Eastern women is best left tot he imagination.
But Shields does not limit her politics to the classroom. In April 2002 she published a maudlin letter to her father (a rabbi) at the radical left CommonDreams website."...Jews must never, never, never be silent when injustice occurs, because our silence makes us complicit," she wrote, adding,"we have become the oppressors." Her father's past fights against racism and ghettos in the U.S. were equivalent to that of Palestinian Arabs now."There are Palestinian terrorists," she admitted. But she excused them because they were raised"under occupation." Humiliation gives people"no alternative to violence." Evidently suicide bombers are simply following Malcolm X's dictum"by whatever means necessary."
These feminist stars of Middle East studies unfortunately have plenty of company. Stanford Humanities Teaching Fellow Rochelle Davis hopes to eviscerate Israel's right to Jerusalem. In a chapter of Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighborhoods and their Fate in the War, entitled"The Growth of the Western Communities, 1917-1948," Davis noted that the British"relinquished what had become a vibrant and cosmopolitan city to be ravaged [and] divided in the 1948 War over Palestine." She bemoaned the fate of 30,000 Arabs who fled western Jerusalem, their property loss, subsequent poverty and separation from Jerusalem's rich cultural life. Davis ignores the premeditated local and international Arab attack on Israel the moment the state declared independence. This inconvenient fact alone negates the notion that"1948 Jerusalem" is open for negotiation to Palestinian Arabs. One must also wonder about the real sources of Jerusalem's cosmopolitanism.
At Brown University's Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, 2005-2006 post-doctoral fellow Lori Allen is ostensibly an anthropologist but finds her calling in bashing Israel full-time. The very title of her current project,"A Genealogy of Suffering: Human Rights and the Holocaust in the Formation of Palestinian Nationalism," drips with disdain for Jewish suffering, and perversely implies that Palestinian Arabs have been submitted to a Holocaust at Jewish hands. In 2002, Allen issued a similar defamation in Counterpunch: After watching Israeli soldiers arrest several Palestinians, she wrote:"It is impossible not to be reminded of similar scenes that I know of only from pictures, books, and movies. I hear the echoes of the voices of those who said then: ‘I didn't know what was happening, I didn't think it would be this bad, I didn't know what to do'." This ritual invocation of the Holocaust is as flat as it is fraudulent.
Not to be outdone is Deborah Starr, who in 2001 joined Cornell University as Assistant Professor of Near Eastern studies, specializing in Jewish Studies. She too organized a ditzy seminar for the 2005 Middle East Studies Association meeting, on" The Mediterranean Memory Trade" and has signed her share of anti-Israel and anti-American petitions: On July 18, 2002, Starr signed an"Open letter from American Jews to our Government" that ran in the New York Times. It called for two national states, partition along the pre-1967 borders, Israeli evacuation of all"settlements in the occupied territories," renunciation by both sides of any further territorial claims—and blamed the U.S."for the current tragic impasse, by virtue of our massive economic and military support for the Israeli government: $500 per Israeli citizen per year." It also demanded that the U.S."make continued aid conditional on Israeli acceptance of an internationally agreed two-state settlement." One wonders what her view is now that Hamas has declared that it will never recognize Israel.
In February 2003 with the Cornell Forum for Justice and Peace, Starr opposed the Iraq war in a petition that described the impending war as"the gravest danger faced by the U.S. in more than a generation," and"a humanitarian catastrophe and a constitutional crisis." It falsely accused the U.S. of having a goal of"US military domination of the world" and called the War on Terror an assault on"traditional conceptions of civil liberties." Significantly, it called for the abuse of the classroom; signatories consigned to"make class time available" to discuss Iraq issues,"emphasizing ...the ramifications of the current crisis." Parents of Cornell students must have been especially pleased.
Feminism was intended to remove shackles. In the case of Middle East Studies, however, feminists have succeeded in adding more of the same, becoming as biased and tendentious as the boys.
 Chesler, Phyllis, The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom (2005), pp. 102-103.
 Beinin, Joel,"From Land Day to Peace Day and Beyond," Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising Against the Israeli Occupation (1989, Beinin, ed with Lochman, Zachary), pp. 205-216.
SOURCE: Jacob Laksin at Frontpagemag.com (2-16-06)
According to Schrecker, this campaign intends "to impose outside political controls over core educational functions like personnel decisions, curricula, and teaching methods," and warns that this "not only endangers the faculty autonomy that traditionally protects academic freedom, but it also threatens the integrity of American higher education." McCarthyism, she is convinced, is on the march.
Schrecker’s indictment is fantasy. "Political controls" have not been proposed nor is there a credible threat to "faculty autonomy" And far from assailing the integrity of university faculties, the campaign for academic freedom aspires to restore it, not only by reviving the unfashionable ideal of a marketplace of ideas, but also by curbing the abuses of professor-activists who see in-class political speechifying, rather than education, as their primary mission.
Why Schrecker would tendentiously equate such efforts with McCarthyism is no mystery, however. A self-described radical, Schrecker has long labored to keep the American university as a preserve of "progressive" values. That this has meant the near-total exclusion of perspectives at variance with regnant left-wing orthodoxy is a price that Schrecker, along with many of her likeminded colleagues, was all too happy to pay. Now she is determined to depict a formidable challenge to the institutional status quo as the second coming of what she regards as the single greatest injustice in American history: the political persecution of American Communists during the Cold War.
Yet Schrecker’s account of what she broadly terms "McCarthyism" has never been convincing. Her academic work is less a serious survey of the political tensions of the Cold War than an accretion of apologetics for the American Communist Party, liberally salted with denunciations of anti-Communists, who Schrecker indiscriminately labels McCarthyites. Yet what makes Senator McCarthy a symbol of evil for Schrecker is not his demagogic excess but his opposition to Communism, a point she forthrightly puts forth in her 1986 book No Ivory Tower : McCarthyism and the Universities, in which she writes that "what made McCarthy a McCarthyite was not his bluster but his anti-Communist mission…"
Full of passionate intensity against Communism’s foes--Schrecker’s 1994 work The Age of McCarthyism is devoted principally to raging against what she repeatedly calls the "anti-Communist crusade"--Schrecker has been conspicuously more reluctant to grapple with the crimes committed in the name of Communism at the behest of its Soviet sponsors. Executed spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, far from traitors to their country, were possessed of a "non-traditional patriotism," according to Schrecker, and had a "grotesquely disproportionate punishment inflicted on them." The same applies to other Communist spies, who "were internationalists whose political allegiances transcended national borders." About the worst Schrecker can bring herself to say about the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss--with respect to whose confirmed guilt she affects a dismissive agnosticism--is that they "reinforced the image of Communists as Russian spies."
By contrast, Schrecker is unsparing in her attacks on anti-Communists. Reading The Age of McCarthyism one might conclude that the ultimate tragedy of the Cold War was the defeat of the American Communist Party as a viable political force. "With their demise," Schrecker laments, "the nation lost the institutional network that had created a public space where serious alternatives to the status quo could be presented." Indeed, as she sees it, it was anti-Communism, whether espoused by political opportunists like McCarthy or anti-Communist liberals like Sidney Hook, that was "undermining" American democracy, not the Communist true-believers who eagerly betrayed their country to serve the interests of their Soviet impresarios. In keeping with that analysis, Schrecker regards the Cold War as the "most extensive episode of political repression in American history."
But while the Cold War is over, Schrecker has not revised her thesis that political repression remains a mainstay of American academic life. Professors are still being tyrannized for their politics, Schrecker insists in her latest Chronicle of Higher Education article, only today the targets of the witch-hunt are not Communists but academics who are perceived to be "radical, one-sided, and hostile to Israel and the United States." Schrecker’s proof: the 2003 dismissal of Sami Al-Arian from the University of Southern Florida.
Schrecker could have hardly picked a more telling illustration. Al-Arian, after all, is the onetime North American head of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad; he has explicitly called for the deaths of Americans and Israelis; he raised funds for terrorist organizations; and he attempted to secure a terrorist leader, Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, a spot on USF’s faculty. He is, in short, a living refutation of Schrecker’s claim that the critics of American universities are inventing biases and spotting extremism where none exist.
Such contradictions, however, have not prevented Schrecker from portraying al-Arian as a victim of political persecution, not unlike the Communist idealists who populate her books. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2002, Schrecker contended that al-Arian’s firing confirmed that "universities are going back to political correctness…It’s really political repression."
Significantly, Schrecker harbors no illusions about al-Arian’s terrorist past. She nonetheless maintains that, in dismissing him, the USF administration had committed the more execrable crime--a crime that, according to Schrecker, evidenced a larger campaign to crush political dissent on American university campuses. "Whatever the extent of al-Arian’s involvement with Palestinian jihadists, his travails, though they may ultimately lead to an American Association of University Professors censure of USF, could have been predicted," she wrote in the fall 2005 edition of the National Education Association ’s Higher Education Journal. In the same issue, Schrecker wrote disapprovingly of the Bush administration’s prohibition of funding to persons "who commit, threaten to commit or support terrorism" and complained that "[t]he government’s heightened security concerns are affecting research."
More recently, Schrecker has sought to avoid the subject of al-Arian’s terrorist activities. In her latest brief on behalf al-Arian, in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Schrecker disingenuously describes him as a "Palestinian nationalist" and reprises her claim that his dismissal from USF was "a classic violation of academic freedom: It involved his off-campus political activities." Schrecker notably declines to elaborate on the nature of those "political activities." Rather, and with characteristic mendacity, Schrecker likens al-Arian to the academics whose supposedly benign "communist sympathies" made them the targets of unforgiving McCarthyites in the 1950s. Sami al-Arian, it would seem, is the latest prophet of the "non-traditional patriotism" Schrecker so admires.
To be sure, Schrecker’s vigorous defense of academic freedom has its limits. While Schrecker has long championed the free speech rights of academics whose views roughly accord with her own professed radical politics, she has not seen it fit to extend the courtesy to other professors. As a member of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), formerly as the editor of its magazine, Academe, and presently as a member of the AAUP National Council, Schrecker stayed silent when DePaul University dispensed altogether with due-process proceedings and suspended adjunct professor Thomas Klocek for engaging a Palestinian student group in an argument. Schrecker and the AAUP similarly declined to take an interest in the case of University Colorado professor and evangelical Christian Phil Mitchell, who was fired for assigning a book on 19th century Protestantism.
Nor could Schrecker muster any sympathy for the troubles of Kansas State University professor Ron Johnson, who was fired from his post as an advisor to the school’s newspaper after administrators capitulated to campus protestors upset at the paper’s supposed inattention to "diversity issues." And while Schrecker and the AAUP ignored several prominent instances of misconduct by radical faculty at the City University of New York, the AAUP did not hesitate to pass a resolution expressing "grave concern" at the state of academic freedom when sociology professor Timothy Shortell voluntarily withdrew his bid to become the department chairman after his attack on religious believers, whom he derided as "moral retards," prompted public outrage.
In these cases and many others besides, Schrecker’s oft-voiced commitment to academic freedom was nowhere in evidence. That’s not particularly surprising. If her career is any indication, Schrecker’s notion of academic freedom mainly entails excusing the extremism of academic radicals while condemning their critics as "right-wing" censors bent on suppressing political dissent. A cynic might call that McCarthyism.
SOURCE: NYT (2-16-06)
His death was announced by his wife, Peggy, who said he had lung cancer.
When Mr. Peterson's account of black baseball was published by Prentice-Hall in 1970, little was known of the Negro leagues apart from the memories of black Americans who had been thrilled by players like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard. Black baseball had flourished in a segregated America but was largely ignored by the mainstream press and went out of business in the 1950's, soon after the major league color barrier had been smashed.
When Mr. Peterson was growing up in Warren, Pa., he had seen some of the great Negro leaguers in barnstorming games. He later played baseball at Upsala College in East Orange, N.J., and worked as an editor for The World-Telegram and The Sun. When the paper closed in 1966, he turned to freelance writing and set out to learn the history of the Negro leagues by interviewing the star players and studying microfilm of black newspapers.
Mr. Peterson was inspired by those memories from his boyhood. In the preface to "Only the Ball Was White," he recalled: "One summer day in 1939 a kid squatted on the bank behind home plate at Russell Field in Warren, Pennsylvania, fielding foul balls (which could be redeemed for a nickel each — no small consideration in those days), and saw Josh Gibson hit the longest home run ever struck in Warren County. It was one of many impressive feats performed by touring black players that excited the wonder and admiration of that foul-ball shagger. This book is the belated fruit of his wonder."
Mr. Peterson's book traced black baseball's history from the 19th century and provided first-person accounts, brief biographies of leading players, league standings and statistics. Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Rex Lardner called the book "a worthy and fascinating addition to anyone's baseball library."
Many books on black baseball have been written in the decades since, transforming a long-neglected chapter of baseball history into a well-chronicled saga.
Mr. Peterson also wrote "Cages to Jump Shots: Pro Basketball's Early Years," "Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football" and "The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Thomas, of Westfield, N.J.; a daughter, Margaret Peterson, of Salisbury Township, Pa.; and two grandsons.
In his memoir, "Hardball," Bowie Kuhn recalled that when he became baseball commissioner in 1969, a debate had arisen over whether to induct stars of the Negro leagues into the Hall of Fame. The Peterson book, Kuhn said, "focused greater attention on the accomplishments of Negro League players."
In 1971, Paige became the first Negro leagues star inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he has been followed by 17 others. Mr. Peterson was named to the 12-member unit that will vote Feb. 27 on the possible induction of additional figures from black baseball. In view of his failing health, he had cast a ballot in absentia.
In an epilogue in "Only the Ball Was White," Mr. Peterson called for giving full honors at Cooperstown to Negro leagues stars. "So long as the Hall of Fame is without a few of the great stars of Negro baseball," he wrote, "the notion that it represents the best in baseball is nonsense."
SOURCE: AScribe (2-16-06)
For her book, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," Doris Kearns Goodwin will receive $50,000 and a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens life-size bust, "Lincoln the Man." A formal ceremony will take place April 6 in New York City. The Lincoln Prize is the nation's most generous award in the field of American history.
"Goodwin's bravura study of the Lincoln administration - not only Lincoln himself but the remarkably gifted, competitive, indefatigable men who helped their President to save the Union and end slavery - has deservedly earned critical praise and popular enthusiasm," said Gilder and Lehrman in announcing the prize Feb. 10. "The product of exhaustive research, original interpretation, and deep insights into the period, the book is further blessed by its author's bold narrative style: dramatic, evocative, and deeply moving. This is a once-in-a-generation scholarly achievement that has drawn hundreds of thousands of new readers into history's greatest story."
Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author in history for her book about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, "No Ordinary Time." Her other books include "Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream," "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" and "Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir." She is a regular political commentator for television and radio, including "Meet the Press" and "The Today Show." She currently resides in Concord, Mass.
"This prestigious award was originally and specifically designed to honor signal accomplishments in the field that are 'aimed at the literate general public,'" said Gettysburg College Prof. Gabor Boritt, who serves as chair of the Lincoln Prize. "This year's striking achievement by Doris Kearns Goodwin gives us the welcome opportunity to highlight this important aspect of the Lincoln Prize."
In addition to Goodwin's book, three others received honorable mention, including Carol Bundy's "The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-1864," Margaret Creighton's "The Color of Courage: Gettysburg's Forgotten History - Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War's Defining Battle" and Richard F. Miller's "Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry."
Gilder and Lehrman, together with Gettysburg College Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies Gabor Boritt, established the Lincoln Prize in 1990. It is the nation's most generous award in the field of American history. The Gilder Lehrman Institute has amassed one of the nation's greatest private collections of American historical documents and devotes itself to education by supporting magnet schools, teacher education, curriculum development, exhibitions and publications.
Past Lincoln Prize winners include Ken Burns in 1991 for his documentary, "The Civil War," and James M. McPherson in 1998 for his book, "For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War." Last year's winner was Allen Guelzo, now a Gettysbug College history professor, for his book, "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation."
SOURCE: BBC News (2-16-06)
But as Europe proudly flexes its freedom of speech credentials in the ongoing row over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, even some of his enemies are uneasy that he now faces up to 10 years in an Austrian jail for his unpalatable historical views.
The British academic will go on trial in Vienna next week over two speeches he made in Austria in 1989, in which he disputed the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.
While a number of European countries have laws against Holocaust denial, nowhere has the ban been more sacred than in Germany and Austria, whose very identities have been forged from the rejection of what was perpetrated in the middle of the 20th Century.
And yet among Vienna's chattering classes, there are the first rumblings of debate.
At the heart of the matter is whether the distortion of such a fundamental period of history is a greater problem than the suppression of the right to express contrary interpretations - however unpleasant, and indeed inaccurate, they may be.
SOURCE: Press Release--American Historical Association (2-16-06)
The AHA is committed to fostering historical research and instruction unencumbered by government restrictions that could infringe on academic freedom and intellectual exchange. While recognizing that there may be individuals who pose a genuine security risk and for whom there are legitimate reasons to delay the granting of an H-1B visa, the association notes that in Dr. Ari’s case that there are no perceptible grounds for such treatment. Under such circumstances, a fine scholar whose only apparent offense is his indigenous identity could be permanently excluded from U.S. academia. The AHA appealed to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider the decision to subject Dr. Ari to conspicuous revision, and asked that he be granted the visa requested by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Dr. Ari earned his Ph.D. in history at Georgetown University in the fall of 2004. He has served as a consultant on social and economic issues confronting the Aymara community with various organizations (the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank) in the Washington area, and has also been a visiting assistant professor at Western Michigan University and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas. Upon completion of his doctoral degree, he was offered the position in History and Ethnic Studies at Nebraska, so that he could begin teaching in the fall of 2005.
To read the letter in its entirety, please go to the AHA’s web site: www.historians.org/press [or click on the Source link above].
The American Historical Association is a non-profit membership organization founded in 1884 and incorporated by the congress in 1889 for the promotion of historical studies and the dissemination of historical research. It is the oldest and largest professional historical organization in the United States, bringing together nearly 5,000 institutions, 118 affiliated societies, and more than 14,000 individuals, including college and university faculty, public historians, independent scholars, archivists, librarians, and secondary school teachers.
Regarding the reprinted review of my book, The German-American Experience, by Robert Frizzell I thought I had made it clear three years ago when this issue first arose that in my preface I clearly stated that I had revised and expanded a work. Since then I have had a collegial discussion with the reviewer and have consulted with colleagues and scholars in this field of study. I apologize to those who found my preface inadequate in explaining my historical approach. I am always open for honest discussion of German-American scholarship and research.
With kind regards,
Don Heinrich Tolzmann
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at the HNN blog, Cliopatria (2-14-06)
Well, for what it's worth (and that's obviously not much), here's the list of historians who made the cut for David's list:
Baylor University: Marc Ellis
Boston University: Howard Zinn
Columbia University: Hamid Dabashi
________________: Eric Foner
________________: Manning Marable
________________: Joseph Massad
Georgetown University: Yvonne Haddad
University of California, Berkeley: Hamid Algar
University of California, Irvine: Mark Le Vine
University of California, Los Angeles: Vinay Lal
University of California, Santa Cruz: Bettina Aptheker
University of Colorado, Boulder: Ward Churchill ________________________: Emma Perez
University of Michigan: Juan Cole
University of Pennsylvania: Mary Francis Berry
Western Washington University: Larry J. Estrada
I've used a fairly expansive definition of who is a historian to create this list. I don't think Ward Churchill, for example, deserves the honor. Indeed, the list includes people like him who received academic appointments despite being unwelcome in history departments. The list is a peculiar one, even if you excluded such people from it. How do you account for it putting a serious scholar like Eric Foner shoulder-to-shoulder with a serious fruit loop like Peter N. Kirstein? Indeed, it's remarkable how few on the list are, like Foner and Juan Cole, seriously influential among other historians.
The larger list is a mirror of the fevered brain of David Horowitz. Sociologists, gender and ethnic studies people were more likely to make the list than historians. People on the Left, certainly, but also people of Middle Eastern and Latin American descent were more likely to find themselves there than others of us. It's a hodge-podge of confused conspiratology.
SOURCE: Press Release -- Washington College (2-15-06)
This year's finalists are General George Washington: A Military Life by Edward Lengel (Random House), A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America by Stacy Schiff (Henry Holt), and Iron Tears: America's Battle for Freedom, Britain's Quagmire: 1775-1783 by Stanley Weintraub (Free Press). The winner of last year's prize-the inaugural award-was Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton.
Finalists were selected by a jury of distinguished scholars of early American history, including Carol Berkin of Baruch College, Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute, and Gordon Wood of Brown University.
"In each work selected, the jury saw refreshing perspectives on our nation's founding era," said historian Ted Widmer, director of Washington College's C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize."Although only one book will be selected for the award, all are worthy of special attention."
At $50,000, the George Washington Book Prize is one of the largest non-fiction prizes in the United States. (The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award both award $10,000 to recipients.) The winner will be announced during ceremonies on Tuesday, May 23, 2006, at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens in Virginia.
The annual prize is administered by Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, launched in 2001 as an innovative forum for new scholarship about American history, culture, and politics. Washington College, located in colonial Chestertown, Md., was founded in 1782 and was the only institution of higher learning that the first president patronized during his lifetime, donating not only funds but also his name to the institution.
Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. Increasingly national and international in scope, the Institute targets audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public. It creates history-centered schools and academic research centers, organizes seminars and enrichment programs for educators, partners with school districts to implement Teaching American History grants, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, and sponsors lectures by eminent historians. The Institute also funds awards including the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and George Washington Book Prizes and offers fellowships for scholars to work in history archives, including the Gilder Lehrman Collection.
The oldest national preservation organization in America, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has owned and managed the home of George Washington for nearly 150 years, opening its doors annually to approximately one million people. The George Washington Book Prize is an important component in the Association's educational outreach program, which engages millions of teachers and students throughout the nation.
For more information, visit gwprize.washcoll.edu.
SOURCE: Robert W. Frizzell at the website of H-Ethnic (12-1-03)
[Robert W. Frizzell is Director of Libraries, Northwest Missouri State University.]
Review of: Don Heinrich Tolzmann. The German-American Experience. Amherst and New York: Prometheus Books, 2000. 466 pp. Illustrations, tables, maps, notes, index. $35.00 (paper), ISBN 1-57392-731-7.
To begin with a personal note, I first met the author in 1980 and have met him at professional meetings a dozen times since. I have always found him to be friendly, modest, unassuming, and entirely likable in person. He is a tireless promoter of German-American studies--a field stigmatized for much of the twentieth century and, even after the ethnic revival which began in the 1970s, much under-studied by American historians. Don Tolzmann is also a fellow librarian. As a librarian, he has done much to gather, improve access to, and promote the use of German-American written materials. Thus it is a quite distasteful task to report that the book reviewed here is in no way up to the standards its author has set in his work, as the long-time president of a scholarly organization, and as a librarian.
About half of both the substance and the wording of the first 180 pages of this book duplicate Theodore Huebener's The Germans in America (1962). This process begins on page 36 of the work, where several lengthy sentences are repeated from page 3 of Huebener's book. By page 39 of Tolzmann, only 29 of about 400 words on the page do not appear on pages 5 and 6 of Huebener. The next page of Tolzmann (page 40) has, by my count, only nine words that are not on pages 6 and 7 of Huebener.
To be sure, Tolzmann acknowledges Huebener. In the preface, he says, "I leaned heavily on Huebener, especially for the period from the American Revolution through the Civil War" (p. 12). But this is an entirely inadequate and quite misleading description of what was done in the production of this book. Most of the text on pages 65-78 directly duplicates pages 25-41 of Huebener, and this material concerns the period before the Revolution. Wherever he uses a long passage from Heubener, Tolzmann omits an occasional word, phrase, sentence, or even a couple of paragraphs. For example, on page 97, by my count, only 5 of the approximately 400 words on the page do not repeat pages 44-46 of Huebener, but at one point two paragraphs of the original are omitted and at another point, a sentence of the original is dropped. Sometimes Tolzmann inserts a word, sentence, or even paragraph of his own. Occasionally he reverses the order of two of Huebner's phrases. Even in the first half of this book, there are sections as long as twenty pages that do not come from Huebener.
Huebener's words are not put in quotation marks or indented. In addition, there are several cases where Huebener's words are given with references to endnotes listing other sources. For example, the first sentence of the first full paragraph on page 39 of Tolzmann is identical to a sentence in Huebener. But the endnote following that sentence in Tolzmann cites two of Tolzmann's own publications.
The second half of the work under review does not repeat Huebener, although a passage of approximately 400 words on pages 374-375 directly duplicates material on pages 29-30 of Volume 2 of Albert Bernhardt Faust's The German Element in the United States with Special Reference to its Political, Moral, Social and Educational Influence (rev. ed., 1927). The remainder of the book has not been checked for correspondence with Faust's text.
Even that portion of the text which does not repeat the words of another writer is often quite problematic. The factual errors, large and small, are so numerous as to be quite disconcerting. We are told that the Black Death in Europe "was followed in the fifteenth century by the Reformation, revolutions, and the Counter Reformation" (pp. 52-53). It need hardly be mentioned that the Reformation, the German Peasants' Revolt, and the Catholic Reformation were in the sixteenth century. Many of the errors in this book come from over-generalization or over-statement. For example, "Almost every German-American community had its own Turnverein" (p. 391). Many cities and towns did in the second half of the nineteenth century, but most rural German settlements, including quite large ones, did not.
Some of the author's errors result from simple misreadings of his sources. Tolzmann tells us that in 1859, Abraham Lincoln purchased the Illinois Staats-Zeitung, which was an important Chicago German newspaper (p. 207). For this the author cites Carl Wittke, The German Language Press in America (1957). But in fact, Wittke makes it clear that the German paper Lincoln bought was the small Illinois Staatsanzeiger of Springfield (p. 145). Lincoln never owned the larger German paper. Another example of Tolzmann being unable to read his sources correctly concerns the memorial service held for Carl Schurz in Chicago in 1906. The speaker quoted at length was not, as Tolzmann says, "President James of the University of Chicago" (p. 174), but rather the former president of the University of Illinois, Edmund J. James. Tolzmann cites A. E. Zucker, ed., The Forty-Eighters: Political Refugees of the German Revolution of 1848 (1950, p. 250). In fact, on that page is a speech by Mark Twain. The speech by James that Tolzmann quotes is on pages 67-68.
Misinterpretations abound, many caused by the author's lack of understanding that so many people of German heritage in the United States have fully assimilated into the cultural mainstream of white America.
The problems in this book begin at the beginning. In the first paragraph of the introduction, we read, "Everyone in the United States is either an immigrant or a descendant of one" (p. 17). Although Oscar Handlin could get by with a related statement half a century ago (The Uprooted: The Epic History of the Migrations That Made the American People ), there are, in fact, full-blooded Native Americans whose ancestors have been on this continent 10,000 or more years. How can any historian who has made any effort to keep abreast of trends within the discipline in the last few decades ignore the Native Americans?
We read on page 31, "The first permanent colony in the part of the New World that became the United States was the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia." What of the Spanish settlement in St. Augustine, Florida, during the sixteenth century? The author believes that "the early Spanish predominance in the New World was short-lived" (p. 29). Is 250 or more years a short period of time? The author complains incessantly about the failure to recognize the presence and accomplishments of Germans in America. Yet, he shows little sensitivity to other ethnic groups. In fact, the tone of this book sometimes moves beyond filiopietism to ethnic chauvinism.
Unwarranted ethnic advocacy leads the author to ignore German-American faults and failures and to ignore, all too often, the fissures and divisions between Germans on this side of the Atlantic. We are told that as early as 1856, although somewhat reluctant to join at first, "German-Americans generally saw the Republicans as the party holding the greatest promise for the future and felt that it was in their best interest to make a commitment to them" (p. 205). This is nonsense. To be sure, many Germans, especially in urban areas, were voting Republican by 1860. Yet German Catholics in this country and conservative German Lutherans (except in the state of Missouri) have generally voted for the Democrats. Likewise, the author ignores Victor Berger's socialist movement in Milwaukee and all other German-American socialist activity. He omits any discussion of German-American organized labor activities except for brief coverage of the Haymarket affair in Illinois. He omits reference to any of the publications stemming from the Chicago German Workers Project.
In fact, the author seems completely unaware of all but a few of the best monographs on German-American history published over the last thirty-five years including those by Carol K. Coburn, Kathleen Conzen, David Detjen, Stephanie Grauman-Wolf, Walter Kamphoefner, Bruce Levine, Stanley Nadel, Linda Schelbitzki Pickle, A. G. Roeber, and Edmund Spevack, to name only a few important writers on this side of the Atlantic. Again and again Tolzmann cites his own edited and republished versions of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century works. Thus, far too much of the book takes a "contributionist" approach to German-American history that is at least two generations out of date.
The second half of the book, while out-of-date in its "contributionist" approach, is thoroughly up-to-date in that it is a part of the contemporary American culture of competitive victimization. Most scholars who study German-Americans recognize that Germans in America are not strong players at this game. Of course, there was considerable nativist pressure against the Germans in the 1850s, heavy persecution in many areas of the nation during the First World War and the internment of 6,362 aliens and citizens, many with their families, during the Second World War. Today, the legacy of the Holocaust continues to taint things German in the minds of many Americans. Yet Germans have generally found it relatively easy to assimilate into Middle America, if they chose to do so, at least by the second generation. Tolzmann's account of the First World War relies on Frederick Luebke, but instead of Luebke's calm and judicious way of letting the sometimes appalling facts of those few short years speak for themselves, Tolzmann takes a very shrill tone. The facts Tolzmann presents about interning Germans during the Second World War are not well known. Here the author could have made a real contribution to enlighten his readers, but so much problematic material precedes the discussion of World War II that few discerning readers will get to that section.
Many other objections to this work are possible but would be redundant. All in all, one is at a loss to explain why someone in the author's position would attempt to publish such a book.
. Frederick C. Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty: German Americans and the World War (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1974).
SOURCE: Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed (2-13-06)
... An exact disciplinary breakdown is difficult because many of the professors do interdisciplinary work. But by far, Middle Eastern studies seems to be the most dangerous field to Horowitz, with at least 15 scholars on his list who do work on the subject. Many other professors on the list work in relatively new fields such as ethnic studies, gay studies, or women’s studies. But there are also plenty of people from traditional fields such as history, English and law.
Horowitz said in an interview that the fields that are well represented on his list are “most prone to the corruption I am describing.”
Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who is among the 101 and who is also president of the Middle East Studies Association, said that it’s not surprising that Horowitz would go after his colleagues. “He is an ideologue and he has a particular view of the Arab-Israeli conflict which cannot be sustained by anyone who studies the region with primary texts and a global perspective,” Cole said.
Cole said that he’s not particularly concerned that Horowitz will change anyone’s views. “I think he has no impact whatsoever,” Cole said. “He’s not relevant to our academic governance or the way we make decisions in the academy.”
At the same time, Cole had seen the section written about him and was ready to question it. He said, for example, that Horowitz falsely accuses him of stressing the Jewish role in the neoconservative movement, and of calling Israel a fascist state. Cole said that while he may have criticized individual Jews who are neoconservatives, he never calls that movement a Jewish one, in part because he doesn’t believe it reflects the views of most Jewish people. Further, while Cole said that he has said that the Likud Party has “fascist elements,” he does not call Israel a fascist state.
Asked to back up the claims in his book, Horowitz noted a reference in a Cole column to “Israeli fascists,” but that is, of course different from the claim in the book that Cole “routinely brands Zionism” as “fascist.” Asked to back up the book’s claim that Cole focuses on a Jewish neoconservative group whose views he disagrees with, Horowitz sent back a quote from a Cole column in which Cole criticizes “powerful Likudniks” within the U.S. government and also Paul Wolfowitz, But in the column, Cole does not identify who the “powerful Likudniks” are (and in fact many of the Likud’s most powerful supporters in the United States aren’t Jewish) and doesn’t refer to Wolfowitz’s religion.
Cole called the chapter on him “dishonest” and said that it is “if not libelous, then verging on it.” He declined to say if he’s planning any legal action.
SOURCE: Brandon Lowrey in the Colorado State Collegian (2-10-06)
The three cartoons shown to the about 125-student class included a satirical sketch of the prophet wearing a bomb on top of his head and another that depicted him wielding a sword, surrounded by women. They originated from a Danish newspaper.
Zaki Safar, vice president of the Muslim Student Association, said the cartoons make the holy figure out to be a terrorist and a "sex maniac" who oppresses women.
"The one with the bomb on his head was the worst," the Saudi Arabia native said, still teary-eyed just after 2 p.m., when class let out. "I cried with tears in the middle of the class."
Other students chuckled at the cartoons or were puzzled at the reaction, he said.
The professor, James Lindsay, said he presented the cartoons in response to student inquiries; several students told him they did not understand the logic behind the anger over the cartoons.
Normally, he said, he stays away from addressing current events in the history course, but this time he decided to take the opportunity to offer students some context.
He showed the Danish-drawn cartoons lampooning Muslims and Muslim-drawn cartoons satirizing Europeans and Jews, along with historical and modern Islamic texts and art.
Satirical depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad - or a holy figure belonging to any other religion - is considered profane in Islam, said philosophy professor Idris Hamid, who specializes in cosmology.
To Islam, free speech does not include the right to injure what another party holds sacred, Hamid said, citing a passage in the Islamic holy book, the Quran: "Do not abuse or mock those whom they adore and serve besides god. Otherwise they may abuse or curse god without knowledge."
"Satire is a tool by which people are pulled apart," Hamid said. "And witness what happened in light of these cartoons. In the name of freedom of expression, in satire, you pull people apart, whereas the goal of Islam is really to bring them together."
Lindsay also showed Muslim-drawn cartoons deriding Jews, Christians and even Muslims. What's worse is that these and other cartoons widen the gap between Islamic and Western cultures, Safar said, and that's exactly what his student group is trying to combat.
He said freedom of speech should be used responsibly and not give such a powerful voice to the most ignorant in each culture.
"There are morons everywhere, whether Jews or Muslims (or Christians)," Safar said.
Khaleel Alyahya, president of the CSU Muslim Student Association, said that the cartoons violate values commonly held by Muslims.
"Muslims believe your freedom stops where it's going to hurt others," he said.
The polar takes on the cartoons has illustrated a large difference between Islam and the West: Tolerance is an aspect of Western life, but not necessarily a part of Islam, Lindsay said.
The professor used the movie "The Life of Brian" as an example. The film, made by the cult comedy crew Monty Python's Flying Circus, lampooned the story of Jesus by following the life of an average guy who was born in the manger next door to Christ.
"Christians aren't really thrilled with 'The Life of Brian' but they don't go and shoot Terry Jones and Monty Python's Flying Circus," Lindsay said.
These offensive cartoons and others, which have appeared in European newspapers, have recently fueled violent uproar in Islamic countries. Mobs have mounted assaults on European embassies - especially those belonging to Denmark, the origin of the cartoons.
Though an independent Danish newspaper published the artwork, blame and sanctions have been aimed at the country's government. Iran has cut off all trade with Denmark, the Associated Press reported.
The Danish-drawn cartoons were published in an Egyptian newspaper in September, but did not stir the masses until the Imam began his campaign in recent weeks.
However the Danish Imam, or Islamic spiritual leader, created even more horrific anti-Islamic cartoons as well and circulated them to push other Muslims to action, Lindsay said.
One of the photos Lindsay displayed in class showed a dog, considered a filthy beast in Islam, mounting a Muslim woman bent over in prayer.
Another was a photograph of a contestant in a French hog-calling contest who was wearing a fake pig nose. The Danish Imam purported it was a depiction of Muhammad and circulated these pictures and others to create anger, Lindsay said.
Responses have ranged from attacks on embassies to circulations of cartoons poking fun at the Holocaust.
Students interviewed on campus Thursday afternoon generally supported the professor's decision, so long as the presentation was tactful.
"I think it's almost necessary ... in an academic setting, if you're studying it," said international studies senior Jonathan Bishop. "It's especially valuable to see what the controversy is over, not just that there is a controversy."
Another student agreed.
"Everywhere I've heard in the media takes the side of the Muslims," said Bobby Hodge, a liberal arts senior. "Since it's (shown in) a class, it's dealing with current events."
Others said they would have been offended in the class if they were Muslim, but noted that the acceptability of the cartoons hinges on their presentation - whether it was objective and academic, or ethnocentric and ignorant.
But Safar was firm in his belief that the blasphemy should simply not have been shown.
"(Lindsay) made a huge mistake by putting up the cartoons," Safar said. "Not only that, he's making the gap between the three religions bigger and bigger. ... Making chaos between people - I don't think that's the correct way of achieving peace."
The professor, on the other hand, articulated Western societies' own uncompromising take on freedom of expression.
"My job is not to bring people together," Lindsay said. "My job is to teach history. History is not pleasant in many cases, and I made it very clear in class that this is America and you all have the right to offend but you do not have the right to not be offended
SOURCE: Virginia-Pilot (12-31-69)
On Sunday, the newspaper debuted "A Moment in Time" by Dan Roberts.
When the beloved George Tucker died last year, hundreds of readers of The Virginian-Pilot asked us to continue publishing a history column.
On Sunday, the newspaper debuted "A Moment in Time" by Dan Roberts.
SOURCE: Press Release -- Gilder Lehrman Institute (12-31-69)
Ms. Goodwin will be awarded $50,000 and a large bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ bust of Lincoln. The formal ceremonies marking the 16th annual Lincoln Prize will take place at a dinner April 6 at the Union League Club in New York City.
Commented Mr. Gilder and Mr. Lehrman: “Doris Kearns Goodwin’s bravura study of the Lincoln administration—not only Lincoln himself but the remarkably gifted, competitive, indefatigable men who helped their President to save the Union and end slavery—has deservedly earned critical praise and popular enthusiasm. The product of exhaustive research, original interpretation, and deep insights into the period, the book is further blessed by its author’s bold narrative style: dramatic, evocative, and deeply moving. This is a once-in-a-generation scholarly achievement that has drawn hundreds of thousands of new readers into history’s greatest story. We are indeed proud to honor Doris Kearns Goodwin.”
Mr. Gilder and Mr. Lehrman, who are the co-founders of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, created the Lincoln Prize in 1990 together with Professor Gabor Boritt, Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.
Noted Professor Boritt, who serves as Chairman of the Lincoln Prize: “This prestigious award was originally and specifically designed to honor signal accomplishments in the field that are ‘aimed at the literate general public.’ This year’s striking achievement by Doris Kearns Goodwin gives us the welcome opportunity to highlight this important aspect of the Lincoln Prize. Team of Rivals is both a scholarly achievement and a national best-seller. It reflects the years of research that its author devoted to her project, as well as the dazzling craft that only the most gifted writers can muster.”
In addition to the Lincoln Prize honor for Ms. Goodwin’s work, three other books—including one that breaks new ground in the study of the Civil War’s most famous battle, and two that explore the heroic wartime role of Harvard University alumni—won honorable mention: Carol Bundy’s The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-1864 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Margaret Creighton’s The Color of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History—Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle (Basic Books); and Richard F. Miller’s Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (University Press of New England).
The jury for the 2006 prize includes two Lincoln Prize laureates: chairman Richard J. Carwardine (Lincoln, 2004), Rhodes Professor of American History at Oxford University in England; and James M. McPherson (For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, 1998), George Henry Davis Professor of American History Emeritus at Princeton University. The third member of the jury was historian Elizabeth Varon, professor of history at Temple University, whose first book, We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (1998) was a finalist for the Virginia Center Book Award.
Praising its “literary accomplishment” together with its “magisterial and epic quality,” the jury called Team of Rivals “an impressive chronicle of Lincoln’s political management in seeking, winning, and holding the presidency,” revealing how “a pragmatic, wise, magnanimous, and empathetic president kept control of a talented if sometimes dysfunctional cabinet, and impressed his purposes upon them.” Added the jury: “At 750 pages long, it is a measure of its literary quality that it feels far shorter than many books half its length. If its weight makes it hard to pick up, its quality makes it equally hard to put down. Goodwin has brought her protagonists to life.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin, a resident of Concord, Massachusetts, won the Pulitzer Prize in history for her book about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, No Ordinary Time. Her other books include Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, and Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir. She is a familiar face to millions of Americans as a commentator on the American presidency for Meet the Press, The Today Show, and many other television programs.
This year’s Lincoln Prize jury also praised Carol Bundy’s biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr. as “a richly textured portrait [written]…with an almost unmatched eloquence, even lyricism.” Author Bundy, a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a film writer in the U.S. and Britain. This is her first book.
The jury called Richard F. Miller’s Harvard’s Civil War “a path-breaking study” that “moves beyond a conventional approach to incorporate social, political, and cultural history into military analysis.” Miller, an independent scholar who has authored or co-authored two other books, is a Harvard graduate. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.
Finally, the jury assessed Margaret Creighton’s The Colors of Courage as “the most successful effort to date to integrate the stories of noncombatants with the military history of the war.” Creighton is professor of history at Bates College, and a resident of Yarmouth, Maine.
Fisher, a specialist in American government and separation of powers issues, is one of the superstars of the CRS, whose work is widely cited and universally respected by his academic colleagues.
He "is a national treasure, the foremost expert on the constitutional law of the presidency," wrote George C. Edwards III, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University in a letter to the Librarian of Congress last week. He "is widely regarded as the nation's preeminent expert on the institutional powers of Congress and the presidency" according to Cornell W. Clayton of Washington State University.
Now Fisher, age 71, is in trouble at CRS for having expressed views critical of Bush Administration policy.
See "Expert on Congress's Power Claims He Was Muzzled for Faulting Bush" by Yochi Dreazen, Wall Street Journal, February 9:
The roots of the dispute go back several years and derive from an unresolved disagreement about the proper function of the CRS, and the nature of analytical objectivity.
"We must all see to it that our ability to serve the Congress... is not compromised by even the appearance that we have our own agenda as an agency; that one or more of our analysts might be seen as so set in their personal views that they are no longer to be trusted to provide objective research and analysis; or that some have developed a reputation for supporting a position on an issue to the extent that CRS is rendered 'suspect' to those on the other side," wrote CRS Director Daniel P. Mulhollan in a January 23,
2004 Director's Statement:
That statement set off alarm bells among CRS analysts.
"No one disputes that our work must be non-partisan," wrote Louis Fisher in a reply to Director Mulhollan at the time. "But if the front office puts the emphasis on neutrality, balance, and even-handedness, there is little room for careful, expert analysis."
"Most of the criticism of our work that I am familiar with, from CRS staff and Congress, is that our reports are too diffuse and rambling, without theme, direction, or conclusion. If lawmakers merely want background material to give them a starting point, a descriptive CRS product can be helpful. For deeper and more thoughtful analysis, Congress may decide it has to go elsewhere,"
See his January 31, 2004 memo on CRS Standards for Analysis here:
The uncertain premise of the dispute is that Congress desires deep and thoughtful analysis. What complicates matters further is that in many cases, as they say on the Comedy Channel, "the facts are biased" against the Bush Administration.
See also "Hoekstra attacks CRS 'bias' on spy program" by Shaun Waterman, United Press International, February 9:
SOURCE: WSJ (2-9-06)
Louis Fisher, a 36-year veteran of the agency and an expert on the separation of powers, said his superiors wrongly punished him for giving interviews and publishing scholarly articles under his own name that contained criticism of the White House. Top officials deny those allegations, saying they were simply trying to protect the agency's reputation for nonpartisanship and objectivity.
The dispute has thrust the research service, a branch of the Library of Congress, into a debate about whether the Bush administration is trying to control the flow of information to lawmakers and the public. Earlier in the week, a political appointee resigned from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration after coming under fire for limiting access to an expert on global warming. The White House also faces accusations that it misled lawmakers about the true cost of the new Medicare drug benefit.
The standoff between Mr. Fisher and the research service's top leaders comes at a tense time for the agency. Its staffers have been complaining for months about a plan to cut 59 employees, many of them women and minorities, because of budgetary cutbacks. As of last fall, the research service had a total staff of 710, according to its own figures.
A spate of investigations by the service into hot-button issues, like the administration's domestic spying program, have raised its visibility and led to renewed scrutiny of its work. Reports questioning the legality of the spying program drew rebukes from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R., Mich.), who said the agency was trying to evaluate a "highly sensitive intelligence issue on which it had no firsthand knowledge."
The current dispute began in early January, after Mr. Fisher was interviewed by Government Executive, a publication about the federal government. He was quoted as saying that Congress had been overly deferential to the Bush administration's efforts to punish whistleblowers or otherwise suppress information. According to Mr. Fisher, his supervisor, Robert Dilger, walked into his office three days later and gave him a critical memo that said the interview meant that readers would assume that Mr. Fisher's "work cannot be presumed to be balanced."
"This is an intolerable result, and places in jeopardy your ability to continue to provide service to the Congress on this subject," Mr. Dilger wrote in the memo. "Such conduct on your part displays a lack of judgment in a matter on which you have been counseled on numerous occasions."
Mr. Fisher responded with a long memo to research-service Director Daniel Mulhollan, describing Mr. Dilger's letter as "offensive, ill-conceived, uninformed and strikingly lacking in balance, judgment and professionalism," as well as inappropriately threatening. He asked for a new supervisor and requested that the letter be removed from his personnel file.
Mr. Dilger said in a phone interview that his memo was "an internal communication from me to one of my employees that would be inappropriate for me to comment on," and referred questions to the Library of Congress media office. A spokeswoman there declined to say whether the letter would remain in Mr. Fisher's file or whether he would continue to report to Mr. Dilger.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (2-8-06)
Mr. Ingrao is project director of the Scholars' Initiative, an international effort to resolve lingering questions about the decade of wars in former Yugoslavia. Those wars not only brought about a violent end to that country but also severely tested international institutions like the United Nations, the European Union, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The plan of the Scholars' Initiative was simple enough: Create research teams combining reputable scholars from the Balkan region with their counterparts in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and elsewhere. The groups would address historical flashpoints created by the conflicts, with the goal of writing a history — anchored in solid scholarship — by consensus.
A clear plan, but its execution has been anything but simple. The wounds of conflict are still fresh. Not even a decade has passed since some of the events in the wars that created five nations. Agreement has been hard to forge among scholars in the region — and, at times, even among Western scholars of the conflict whose own views clashed. Even mundane things — paying scholars, arranging for travel — have been complicated by the relative poverty of Balkan universities and the vagaries of regional banking systems.
Mr. Ingrao has made 29 trips to the Balkans over the past five years to organize, cajole, and even bully the initiative's participants. He and the project's associate director, Thomas A. Emmert, a professor of history at Gustavus Adolphus College, have made uncounted hours of telephone calls, sent thousands of e-mail messages, arranged meetings, and raised almost $100,000 for the program from organizations including the U.S. Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the German Marshall Fund.
Mr. Ingrao recalls one trip to a meeting of scholars in July 2002 in Sarajevo, much of which he spent attempting to secure stipends for participants in the proper currency. "I missed half the conference in Sarajevo," he says with a chuckle. "Dealing with banks. Getting 50-euro pieces."
At many times, the initiative appeared quixotic. "If anyone had doubts," says Mr. Emmert, "they saw the doubts being realized whenever you got to any issue that is contentious."
Yet the project has achieved tangible results. Drafts of eight out of 11 planned papers are complete. More than 250 scholars from 28 countries have participated. Indeed, Mr. Ingrao and Mr. Emmert were in Philadelphia because three panels of the American Historical Association's annual meeting were focused on the initiative....
SOURCE: Alexander H. Joffe at FrontPageMag.com (2-6-06)
Cartoon Muhammads are all the rage. As threats and actual violence break out around the world over a Danish newspaper's irreverent depictions of Muhammad, how have Middle East studies specialists responded? And as the Organization of the Islamic Conferences demands the UN act against blasphemy, gunman search house to house in Gaza for foreigners to abduct to avenge the slight, and tens of thousands take to the streets, how many academics are leaping to the defense of free expression?
Few have in fact bothered to weigh in, perhaps proving that discretion is the better part of valor. But those who have provide an interesting cross-section of attitudes. For Ruth Mas, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, the answer is obvious:"It's racism, pure and simple," and the ensuing violence is merely Muslims"reacting (to) the racism, not to the blasphemy." This appears to be news to Abdel-Moeti Bayoumi, a member of Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy, who called for a boycott of Danish products on the basis of their supposed defamation of Islam, not"racism."
Mas handily plays the Islamophobia card, warning that Europe is reliving the 1930s only with Muslims as victims rather than Jews, and concludes by complaining that the cartoons reflect a"sense of entitlement to insult people in the name of free speech." On this of course she is precisely correct. For better and for worse free speech still includes the right to insult. In open societies no protections are given to those who wish to avoid being insulted save fingers stuffed in ears and the right to peacefully protest. That Christians and Jews (also known around many Muslim media outlets and mosques as the"sons of pigs and monkeys") manage to restrain themselves from indulging in kidnapping, assault, flag-burning and mass protest after similar provocations is apparently irrelevant.
One partial exception to free speech protection, at least in the US, deals with"shouting fire in a crowded theater," reckless or malicious speech that creates a clear and present danger by inciting imminent lawless action. On this theory Mas and others would presumably argue that non-Muslims have been incited by the cartoons, in fact the has opposite occurred. Tarek Fatah, a director of the Muslim Canadian Congress, sadly notes that"The protests in the Middle East have proven that the cartoonist was right… It's falling straight into that trap of being depicted as a violent people and proving the point that, yes, we are."
For John Esposito of Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding the matter is almost as simple. The cartoons and their responses show"a deep-seated belief that respect for Islam doesn't exist [in Europe, and] can be read as a deliberate attempt to provoke and test, not only religiously… It expresses the tensions toward immigrant communities. It says this is what democracy is about: nothing is sacred."
Nothing in the almost forgotten back-story of the cartoons suggests that Muslim immigrant communities were a target of any sort, or that the cartoonists deliberately set out to defy the"sacred" and to"test" Muslims. But in one respect Esposito is precisely correct, in democracy, when still equipped with the means of free expression, nothing is sacred, neither god(s) nor men.
Mark LeVine of the University of California at Irvine feels much the same way as Esposito;"I think part of it is just to show who's boss ... a way of saying to Muslims, ‘Look, you want to live here, this is what you're going to have to put up with.'" If by"put up with" LeVine means"free speech'" including satire, then we must agree. Again, there is nothing in the particular cartoons to suggest their goal is incitement against Muslims, or demonization of the faith. Viewers may wish to consider this and use their own judgment when comparing the Mohammad Image Archive with a collection of anti-Semitic cartoons from contemporary Arab media.
LeVine also makes it clear that really he does support free speech, just of the right sort:"I utterly support freedom of speech and I'm against any censorship, but then again, just because speech is free and permitted, doesn't necessarily mean you should go around uttering it. You can also go around screaming 'nigger' at black people. It's legal I suppose, why does that mean you should do it though?" Equating cartoon satire with racial slurs in this manner undermines LeVine's otherwise rousing defense.
Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub, a professor of Islamic studies at Temple University is exercised about the content of one or more of the cartoons, in which"Muhammad was portrayed as a terrorist." But he also raised a deeper issue:"It has a lot to do with the difference in belief about freedom…The essential difference is how freedom is understood. I believe that my freedom ends where the dignity and respect for all the prophets begins." Deciding where freedom of expression ends and abstractions such as dignity and respect for literary figures called"prophets" begins is a tricky business, and Ayoub offers no guidance.
The most cogent academic analysis on the cartoon affair, however, has not come from the United States, but from Lebanon.
Professor Hilal Khashan, an expert on politics and Islam at the American University in Beirut, says he is not surprised by the anger generated by the cartoons. He notes that in almost all majority-Muslim countries the secular and the religious cannot be untangled. This leads to a natural confrontation with the European secularist view.
"The answer [for this anger] is very simple," Khashan says."Western societies are secular. Muslim societies are heavily religious. Muslim political socialization is extremely deep and religious inculcation is essential in the raising of Muslim kids. Religion in this part of the world remains central to life and belief systems are highly important. Even highly secular political orders in the Arab world never tried to mess with religion. They never contested Islam as a system of beliefs."
In this era of globalization, Khashan continues, newspaper editors can no longer expect to be speaking to just a local audience, in this case Denmark. That can be both an advantage or present problems."Since we live in a highly interactive world, characterized by rapid communication and access to information, it becomes extremely difficult to talk about targeting a specific audience," he notes.
But nevertheless, Khashan says this uproar may have a silver lining if it encourages what he believes is desperately needed in the Muslim world: discussion about religious reform and Islam's role in society.
"Now there's an opportunity for Muslims to start a debate among themselves, and to be honest with you, no matter what the West tries to do to get Muslims to reform Islam, it won't work. Muslims have to think about religion and they have to revisit it [themselves] and they have to come to terms with it. Muslims must take a stand and they must begin the process of their religious reform," Khashan says.
Our favorite Saudi blogger The Religion Policeman has the matter precisely right:
It's not about the Prophet (PBUH) at all. It's all about us. Me, me, me! We are insulted. Why? Because we choose to be, it's our right. The cartoonists are mocking the present-day distortions of true Islam by the bigots and zealots and terrorists, and the bigots and zealots and terrorists don't like it. And they are telling the rest of the 1.3 billion that they feel insulted as well, even if they don't.
It is as rewarding to see clear thinking and devotion to free speech among Saudis and Lebanese as their absence is distressing among Western academics. The intellectual roots of capitulation are plain to see, a combination of political correctness and the enduring myth that Muslims are either so special, or potentially so violent, that the rest of us must carefully avoid giving any offense. If Western leaders grovel and toss aside freedom of expression in the name of (dramatically one-sided)"tolerance and respect" we need only look to our universities to see where they learned how.
SOURCE: American Enterprise Online ()
Fischer’s ambitious “cultural history of the United States” includes the much-praised Albion’s Seed (1989), which identifies the enduring folkways that British immigrants carried to the New World, and his latest book Liberty and Freedom (2004).
Professor Fischer, who will deliver the American Enterprise Institute’s annual Irving Kristol Lecture in D.C. on March 8, spoke with TAE associate editor Bill Kauffman in his office at Brandeis University.
TAE: How did growing up in Baltimore shape you as a historian?
FISCHER: I’m an American mongrel: part German, part English. On my mother’s side we have memories of old Maryland, and uncles and cousins from the backcountry with names like Westmoreland. Others of my ancestors were Quakers. They all had various ideas of who they were and who I should be.
A lot of history had happened around Baltimore. I had an aunt who was blind and in her 90s. She told a story to my cousins and my brother and me—it was a big sprawling family—about a July day when from her home on a farm north of Baltimore there was a sound like the wind in the trees. She went outside and there was no wind. She looked up the road and saw a line of wagons as far as she could see. They were the wounded from Gettysburg.
That was told to us when we were very small, and I think that’s the recipe for making a historian. It was the immediacy of those events—the sense that they were happening to us in some way.
TAE: You grew up with a proprietary attitude toward the country—like it’s yours?
FISCHER: I would say so. My ancestors had fought in every major war. My father was superintendent of the school system in Baltimore in the 1950s when I was of an impressionable age. In 1954 he was implementing Brown v. Board of Education. I would hear these things discussed around the table, and then the next morning I’d see them in the newspaper.
So I had a sense of connection to the choices and decisions that were being made in the country. It also made me think that choices make a difference.
TAE: Your religious background is Protestant and you end up teaching at Brandeis.
FISCHER: My parents were both Lutheran and I was confirmed in a Lutheran church. Then I married a Methodist and we encouraged our children in the Protestant spirit to find their own way. One became an Episcopalian and the other became a Unitarian and is now a Buddhist. I live in a town that’s predominantly Roman Catholic and I teach very comfortably in my 85th semester at Brandeis, which calls itself non-sectarian Jewish.
TAE: Did you have any expectations about Jewishness that were either confirmed or shattered upon coming to Brandeis?
FISCHER: I found a kind of excitement that I didn’t find anywhere else. There were other schools that I had offers from at the same time. One was an old New England school and the people who interviewed me there were interested in who my grandparents were and where I got my sportcoats. I had another offer from a Big Ten school. They wanted to know if I could teach the General Survey course. I said, “How big is the class?” They said it’s usually about 500 students. And then I went to a very good Southern school and they said, “We normally have gatherings to talk about subjects of current concern. Do you want to come over and join us?” I said I would be delighted. What’s the subject? “Capital punishment.” So I went over, rehearsing my arguments against capital punishment—and the discussion was about methods of execution.
Then I came to Brandeis, and I met two people: John Roche and Leonard Levy. They were extraordinary characters, hard as nails, devoted to a scholar’s quest. As I arrived, they were having a furious argument about substantive and procedural due process. Their fists were on the table, the coffee cups were flying, and halfway through the conversation they turned to me and said, “Who are you?” I thought: this is the place for me.
TAE: The great forgotten upstate New York novelist Harold Frederic once had a character complain that “I cannot read or listen to the inflated accounts” of the role played in the Revolution by Massachusetts and Virginia “without smashing my pipe in wrath.” Have Massachusetts and Virginia claimed too much credit for the American founding?
FISCHER: I would say no. Virginia was nearly as large as the next two states combined. It dominated by weight of numbers, but also by several extraordinary traditions of leadership, which gave us not only George Washington but also Robert E. Lee, George Marshall, and others. They are very similar people in many ways. And there is another style of leadership in New England that I’ve always had high respect for. At Trenton, 60 percent of Washington’s army were New Englanders. They were very important in those critical first three years of the war. They dominated the army at Saratoga.
TAE: Your first book was about the Federalist Party—conservatives navigating the Jeffersonian era. If you look at the kind of government we have now, did Hamilton and the Federalists really win?
FISCHER: I don’t think of Hamilton as the model Federalist. The most important Federalist,
I think, was George Washingon. But there have been extraordinary reversals, like Abraham Lincoln’s story of the two wrestlers on the frontier who wrestled themselves into each other’s coats. So that lobbyists on K Street look like friends of Hamilton and talk like Thomas Jefferson.
It’s these interesting permutations and the way these legacies persist that are more striking than a single line of apostolic descent from any group in early America.
TAE: In Historians’ Fallacies, you lamented the “simple-minded moralizing” school of history. Are we living today in a golden age of simple-minded moralizing—you know, Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, therefore they were morally repugnant?
FISCHER: I quoted in that book a British historian who said that what British readers want to know about Napoleon is whether he was a good or a bad man. People want that sort of simple answer to a complex question. These people you speak of were very complicated, and we are increasingly getting simple answers to complex judgments of people in the past.
TAE: In Liberty and Freedom, you list a handful of groups in American history that have “put themselves outside the broad tradition of liberty and freedom”—among them certain apologists for slavery, early-twentieth-century Communists, and “elements of the academic left in American universities during the late twentieth century.” Are there any signs that this last group is withering?
FISCHER: Yes, things are changing very rapidly in academe. I think it was partly a generational phenomenon. The generation that came of age in the 1960s is now approaching retirement in the universities, and their children and grandchildren are very different in the way they think about the world. The excesses of these movements always build in their own corrections.
TAE: A lot of serious works about eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American history are enjoying popular success. Are we at the beginning of a new age of history writing?
FISCHER: During the 1970s and ’80s, the history sections moved to the back of the bookstore, and other disciplines in the universities cultivated non-historical or even anti-historical ways of thinking: They looked for timeless abstractions in the social sciences, or theoretical models in economics that transcended era and place. Then in the ’90s a sudden change appeared. Econometric history began to flourish. We got new historical movements in literature departments. My colleagues in literature are increasingly writing historically about their subjects. In philosophy, the history of ideas is what’s growing. The most rapidly expanding field in political science is called Politics in History.
I scratch my head about this. Why is it happening? Did people suddenly discover that history was happening to them, via the collapse of the Soviet Union? Or was it a revulsion against those timeless abstractions, those models like Marx and Freud, that didn’t seem to work very well as the world changed? Whatever it was, it’s a thought revolution of profound importance.
Then there’s the special case of the popularity of the Revolution and the early Republic. We’ve been through other periods of popularity of certain fields: World War II in the 1990s and the Civil War in the 1960s. They were driven by anniversaries. The Revolution and early Republic booms are not anniversary-connected.
We’ve been through many previous waves of rising interest in the Founders. In 1824-26 it was the death of Adams and Jefferson on the same day, and Lafayette’s visit, that were the spark. In the 1870s it was the centennial. Interest focused on nation-building, and the leading figures were Washington and Hamilton. In the late 1930s and early ’40s the focus was democracy, and the favorites were Jefferson and Madison. In our own time it has been John and Abigail Adams and other Founders. Washington’s back in the thick of it. Clearly people are looking for something. I think they’re looking for enduring values.
TAE: As though we’ve lost our way?
FISCHER: Many people are finding a way in these memories.
TAE: Judging from the books my daughter brings home from elementary school, kids today are learning that the Revolutionary and Civil Wars were fought primarily by runaway slaves and girls who dressed as boys in order to carry a gun. Is this didacticism more of a problem now in elementary grades and high school than in the university?
FISCHER: There are lags. Whatever was in fashion in the universities remains in fashion in other places a little bit longer. But what’s really interesting is to see how military history is rapidly expanding. I was down at the annual conference of the Society for Military History in Charleston last year, and their morale has never been higher. They have a sense that history is with them. And the morale amongst the social and cultural historians has never been lower: they think that history is against them. About ten or 15 years ago it was quite the other way. And I think that’s a straw in the wind. I’m very bullish about the way things are going. Each lunacy we go through holds open the possibility of a revisionist movement that is rational, mature, and thoughtful, and that’s what we need. These are exciting times for a historian.
TAE: Are there lessons we might draw from Washington’s Crossing that would apply to the current Iraq war?
FISCHER: I wrote that book before the Iraq war, and I think the answer is yes—not only from Washington’s Crossing but also from Paul Revere’s Ride. In the past, we’d gotten into wars in two different ways. Some of our leaders were very careful to, as Sam Adams said, stay in the right and put your enemy in the wrong. They were careful about who fired the first shot. Not only at Lexington and Concord but also George Washington, Lincoln, and FDR in 1941. On the other side are figures in American history who adopted the doctrine of preemption, always with disastrous results. General Gage in 1774 decided he would make a preemptive strike against the armaments of New England. Jefferson Davis and Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens explicitly justified the attack on Fort Sumter as a preemptive strike. What they did was to unite their opponents and divide their supporters.
I believe that we should have gone to war against Saddam Hussein, but we should have done it in a different way. He gave us a cause for war almost every week—firing on our aircraft, supporting Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines when they were murdering American missionaries, subsidizing terror bombers in the Middle East who were killing American civilians. We had cause for war against this man. I think the Baathists were as much of a menace to us as al-Qaeda or the Iranian leaders. They are our mortal enemies, and we have to deal with them.
But we did it the wrong way. We divided our supporters. We rallied our enemies. We did it on a shoestring. We did it not only as we did in Vietnam—trying to fight a major war without raising taxes—but we tried to fight a major war while we reduced taxes.
I still have high hopes for Iraq. I think there’s something going right over there. This great experiment in opening society in Iraq could still succeed. It will be a very long labor, and we have in the past sometimes shown remarkable stamina. We were 40 years in the Cold War, which is really quite amazing. I hope we can find the stamina to stay with this one.
TAE: We hear the word “freedom” all the time today but the word “liberty” seldom. Are freedom and liberty antithetical?
FISCHER: I don’t see it that way. But freedom is related to the rights of belonging—citizenship, voting, that kind of thing—while liberty is linked to the rights of independence. These two ideas are deeply embedded in our culture. They are susceptible to an infinite variety of combinations, and most of our ideas mix them in some way. There is always a tension, but the great majority of American ideas are created out of a combination. That’s what makes it such a rich and fertile tradition.
TAE: The word “liberty,” a rhetorical cornerstone of the Democratic Party throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, pretty much disappeared during the New Deal, and has seldom been on Democrat lips since. Is this a mistake?
FISCHER: Absolutely. The worst mistake that Kerry and Gore made was that the value of liberty was rarely mentioned. This was another instance of a party losing touch with the core values of society. The results when parties do that are always the same: they lose elections. I’m a card-carrying Independent. I really hope that the Democrats can reconstruct these great American values in a way that will give them new meaning and give them something other to do than complain about the Republicans.
TAE: Have you ever voted for a Republican for President?
FISCHER: I’ve never voted for a Republican for President in a general election, but I voted in the Republican primary for John McCain, who is my ideal of a strong centrist leader.
TAE: You’ve written that “every American generation without exception has become more free and has enlarged the meaning of liberty and freedom in one way or another.” This current generation is free to watch 200 channels on TV or have sex with strangers, but how has its political liberty been enlarged?
FISCHER: The main growth of liberty and freedom is the continuing expansion of the meaning of privacy—say, the expansion of freedom for gay Americans.
TAE: Have we lost or are we losing the practice of self-rule, so that citizenship is reduced to the almost meaningless act of going into a voting booth and pulling a lever for some stranger you see on TV?
FISCHER: I am deeply concerned about the abdication of participation in the public sphere.
But I’ve done a fair amount of work on the history of town meetings in America, and town meeting participation has traditionally been low as far back as we can trace it into the seventeenth century. Then something comes on the books that is hugely controversial: it might be the Stamp Act, or it could be a leash law—something that really touches lives—and suddenly participation jumps.
Also, civic participation can take new forms. I was having conversations at the Army War College with battalion commanders just back from Iraq about the way e-mail and the Internet have transformed relationships up and down the chain of command as people make suggestions and offer thoughts. I’m told there are some problems with the blogs soldiers are keeping. There’s this exchange developing, with much more open systems of command. So that’s a movement in a direction of greater participation.
TAE: Are there any figures in contemporary American politics you admire?
FISCHER: I find it very difficult to find a high leader in the White House since Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. The only exception is Ronald Reagan. I’m a little to the left of center, but I have high respect for Ronald Reagan, who changed the tone of this country and led it forward. He was truly a leader of a free republic. There are other leaders around the world whom I admire. Tony Blair is a marvel. I tend to be, as I think most Americans are, a little bit to the left of center on domestic questions and a little bit to the right of center on foreign and military affairs, and I think that’s exactly where Tony Blair is. He also has a largeness of spirit which Lincoln, FDR, and Washington had.
TAE: Do you worry about the effect that current levels of immigration will have on American culture?
FISCHER: No. The openness of this system has always been one of its greatest strengths, and I see no more warrant in the nativism of our time than in that of the 1790s or the 1920s. The nativist fears in those periods were falsified by events. We’re getting extraordinary creativity from our immigrants.
TAE: Has there been any effort to make a movie of Paul Revere’s Ride?
FISCHER: There’s been a lot of talk, but it hasn’t worked as a screenplay. We had trouble building a character for Paul Revere that supplied the dramatic materials the producers wanted. Also, Hollywood is dependent increasingly on foreign markets.
TAE: Do you prefer the old America of your studies to twenty-first-century America?
FISCHER: No. We’ve been living through a period of deep change, and interesting times. The idea that we’re somehow a degenerate species doesn’t hold up when suddenly this generation is tested by 9/11. The fire is still in the American soul, as it was in 1776.
SOURCE: Seth Perry in the Chronicle of Higher Education (2-3-06)
[Seth Perry is a Ph.D. student in the history of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School.]
People often assume I'm a Mormon. I study the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a vanilla-white, clean-cut Midwesterner, I fit pretty well into the average person's mental picture of what a Mormon looks like. The response I get when I explain that my interest is purely academic and accidental — I really just stumbled onto the right book at the right time — depends on the person I'm talking to. Both non-Mormons and Mormons are intrigued: the former by the church, the latter by my interest. Non-Mormons often become conspiratorial, ready to get answers to everything they've always wanted to know about the secrets of Mormonism but were afraid to ask. Mormons assume that I have a leaning toward conversion, or at least a desire to celebrate their faith. Rare is the interlocutor who assumes an unvarnished academic interest.
From where I stand, as a graduate student hoping to be part of Mormon studies in the future, such encounters appear as a microcosm of the field. The academic study of religion is itself relatively new, beset with a number of interpretive problems that have not been fully sorted out — issues of faith and scholarship, of the status of insiders and outsiders, of the parochialism that religion often brings out in scholars as much as in everyone else — and those problems are displayed in particularly stark relief with respect to the study of Mormonism.
I came upon Mormonism as an undergraduate, when I was looking for a subject in American religious history for a senior thesis. The first serious book I read on the subject was Fawn Brodie's biography of Joseph Smith, No Man Knows My History (Knopf, 1945), which is widely recognized as an abysmal piece of historiography (Brodie, a dissenting Latter-day Saint, handles the prophet with the abandon of an armchair psychologist). It is, however, an exquisite piece of writing, and I was hooked on the story Brodie wove. Peeling away the eccentricities of her book and of so many others, one recognizes that the Mormon story needs no embellishment, that the facts of Smith's life and the subsequent development of the religion he created are compelling enough as they stand....
The continued classification of Mormonism as a religious oddity carries over into scholarship to a surprising degree. In a class I took last year, we read the most well-known one-volume histories of religion in America and saw how, from Robert Baird in 1844 (Religion in the United States of America) to Sydney E. Ahlstrom in 1972 (A Religious History of the American People), historians have lumped Mormonism into a category of "religious outsiders" that implies preconceived notions about their behavior and belief. Ahlstrom's primary discussion of Mormonism, for example, comes in a chapter called "The Communitarian Impulse." Somewhat unusually, he chooses the early church's attempts at economic collectivism (never fully realized) as its defining mark, and so Mormonism ends up in a category with Brook Farm, the Oneida Community, and the Shakers. Like Wiccans and Scientologists, those groups are coded in a certain way. Consider how differently Mormons (and the other groups noted here, for that matter) would appear if they were under a heading such as "Christian Developments of the 19th Century" and classified by theology next to, say, Methodists, a classification that at least is no less defensible than "communitarian."
Other disciplines, as well, have a complicated relationship with Mormonism. Sociologists, for example, looking to test their theories, have not always treated the Mormon religion with the same sense of care employed in the study of other faiths. Students of non-Western religions have long dealt with a sort of essentializing, or caricature, and by now are profoundly sensitive to it. But the degree of sensitivity accorded non-Christian religions in the West seems to be proportional to those religions' proximity to Christianity and Judaism, the de facto points of reference for the vast majority of Western scholars. It seems easier to approach different religious points of view when they are far away, the experiences of an alien history and culture, rather than an "odd" arrangement of the features of a known world....
SOURCE: Star Pheonix (Canada) (2-2-06)
In 1884, an angry mob of men dressed in their wives' frocks, their faces streaked with aboriginal ceremonial paint, charged across the Canada-U.S. border from Washington to British Columbia, looking to kill.
They were looking for Louie Sam, a 14-year-old boy from the Sto:lo band on the Sumas reserve, who they believed was responsible for the murder of James Bell, a Washington shopkeeper who was shot in the head. Bell's store was burned and $100 worth of gold coins was stolen.
The mob found Sam in Canadian police custody, stole him away and hanged him from a tree just north of the border.
"I hope (viewers will) take from it that history is still important to people," Carlson said. "There are consequences of history that carry forward into the future, into the present . . . that are still meaningful that we need to address."
Carlson began working on the case in 1992 while he was living in Victoria and working as a research consultant for First Nations organizations. The Sto:lo people asked Carlson to look into the legend of a tree where it was rumoured the youth was lynched.
"What I found was a treasure trove of documents that described and analyzed this event in detail, beginning with a coroner's inquest where aboriginal people themselves testified, to these two undercover detectives who went into the United States and spent two weeks down there posing as farm labourers, collecting all kinds of information about who was involved in the original crime the boy was blamed for, and who organized the lynch mob that killed the boy to cover their tracks in the original murder," Carlson said.
Sam's death sparked a near race war as aboriginals fled the village where the teen was killed and talked about hanging an American from the same tree, or killing one American for every member of the mob who killed Sam.
The B.C. government placated the Sto:lo band by promising to track down Sam's killers and try them in Canada, Carlson said.
The U.S. wouldn't co-operate with Canada, and eventually Canadian police let the crime fade into history unpunished.
Reports Carlson found from undercover Canadian police officers indicate the lover of Bell's estranged wife and his brother-in-law plotted Bell's demise. The men brought Sam down to the U.S. under the false pretense of a job offer to provide witnesses with an easy scapegoat, Carlson said.
Following the documentary's showings at the Vancouver and Toronto International Film Festivals, B.C. Lt.-Gov. Iona Campagnolo brought the injustice to the attention of Washington Lt.-Gov. Brad Owen during his September visit to Victoria.
"Our government spent years seeking justice in the case without effect," she said.
"Today, the issue is still one contention between the Sto:lo people and our government. . . . The Sto:lo seek a formal apology for the murder from our two jurisdictions."
SOURCE: Daily Review (2-2-06)
Timothy Clark, a leading authority on modern art, is one of four humanities scholars chosen for the award. Besides his scholarly work, which includes criticism and research on Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet and Pablo Picasso, Clark was singled out as an outstanding teacher and mentor.
Clark will use the award to continue his research into the life of 17th century French painter Nicolas Poussin, but also to pursue his interest in the art of Picasso, according to the university.
Picasso "still looms uncomfortably over the visual culture of the past century in ways we have barely begun to account for," Clark said in a statement.
He said the award also will help him bring scholars to campus to teach courses in art history and fund a two-year postdoctoral fellowship.
SOURCE: WKTY (Lexington, KY) (2-1-06)
Banning died yesterday at U-K Hospital in Lexington. He was 64.
Banning was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his book "The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic." He also wrote a book about the conflict between the early political parties.
U-K history department chairman Dan Smith says Banning was a dedicated teacher. Banning had taught history at U-K since 1973.
Funeral services will be at seven p-m (eastern time) Friday at W-R Milward Mortuary - Southland.