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: Chronicle of Higher Education (11-30-06)
Baylor officials say the decision not to publish the book under the Baylor name, made in mid-November, was not influenced by the angry response it evoked from Herbert H. Reynolds, who was president of the Baptist institution from 1981 to 1995 and served as its chancellor from 1995 until 2000.
A week earlier, Mr. Reynolds had fired off an e-mail message to the book's editors -- Barry G. Hankins, a professor of history and church-state studies at Baylor, and Donald D. Schmeltekopf, who served as provost under both Mr. Reynolds and his successor as president, Robert B. Sloan Jr.
In the message, dated November 7, Mr. Reynolds complained that the book, Baylor Beyond the Crossroads: An Interpretive History, 1985-2005, gave a distorted view of the past two decades. He also threatened to divulge potentially damaging information about Mr. Sloan, who championed a controversial vision for the university that Mr. Reynolds opposed.
Mr. Sloan, who wrote a chapter in the now-suspended book, left the presidency in 2005 to become chancellor after three no-confidence votes by faculty members, and on Tuesday became president of Houston Baptist University.
In an interview a day after his inauguration at Houston Baptist, Mr. Sloan said that he was unbothered by the apparent threat and that he had nothing to hide. "I have written and spoken and preached publicly, and my life has been pretty well scrutinized for the past few years," he said.
"What does disappoint me," he added, "is that the book is not going to be published. I think it's always unfortunate when people give in to external pressure to suppress information. This is a very collegial disagreement that needs to be aired. That's why we have universities and books like these. The suppression of a book -- or threats that some have made if a book is published -- is completely antithetical to Baptist principles of academic freedom and open discussion."...
SOURCE: New Republic (11-23-06)
The solemn hour approaches. It will soon be just three hundred years since the Pilgrims let go their anchor off the coast of Cape Cod. A flood of oratory will surely descend upon us. The New England Societies, the Pilgrim societies, the Forbears societies, the Colonial Dames, and the French and Indian War societies, and all those who need an excuse for a night out will attend banquets given under the benign auspices of astute hotel managers. College presidents, serene, secure, solemn, and starched will rise and tell again to restless youths the story of Miles Standish and Cotton Mather. Evangelical clergymen will set aside special days for sermons and thanksgivings. The Archbishop of Canterbury (shades of Laud!) will send a cablegram to the Back Bay Brotherhood! We shall be shown again, as Henry Jones Ford (Scott-Irish) once remarked, "how civilization entered the United States by way of New England." We shall hear again how it was the Puritans who created on these shores representative and democratic republics, wrested the sword of power from George III, won the Revolutionary war, and freed the slaves. It has ever been thus. Egomania must be satisfied and after dinner speakers must have their fees.
The flood of half truth, honest ignorance, and splendid conceit will produce an equal reaction--a cry of rage and pain from the improvers of America. Mr. H. L. Mencken will burst upon our affrighted gaze in full war paint, knife in teeth, a tomahawk dripping with ink in one hand, a stein of Pilsner in the other, and the scalps of Professors Phelps, Sherman, and Matthews hanging to his belt. He will spout a huge geyser of pishposh and set innumerable smaller geysers in motion near Greenwich village.
In view of the clouds on the horizon and the impending deluge, it would be well to take our latitude now and find our course lest we should be blown ashore and wrecked upon the rocks of Plain Asininity. Nothing would be more sensible than to renew our acquaintance with Green, Gardiner, Prothero, Hallam, Lingard, Clarendon, Ludlow, Bradford, Usher, Bancroft, and the other serried volumes that flank the wall. The record seems to stand faintly clear: an autocratic Stuart monarchy and an intolerant ear-clipping Church, the protests of the purifiers, qui ... receptam Ecclesiae Anglicanae disciplinam, liturgiam, episcoporum vocationem in quaestionem palam vocarunt, immo damnarunt, the propositions of Cartwright, the godliness of the independents, the Mayflower compact, Cotton Mather's Magnalia, and all the rest.
But neither the orators nor the contemners are content with the plain record. They must show how the Puritans had all the virtues or all the vices. Once the term Puritanism had fairly definite connotations. Now it has lost them all. By the critics it is used as a term of opprobrium applicable to anything that interferes with the new freedom, free verse, psycho-analysis, or even the double entendre.
Evidently in the midst of much confusion, some definition is necessary and for that purpose I have run through a dozen eulogiums on the Puritans (not omitting G. W. Curtis's orations) and an equal number of attacks on the Puritans (not omitting Mencken's Prefaces). From these authentic documents I have culled the following descriptive terms applicable to the puritans. I append a table for the benefit of the reader. Puritanism means:
Resistance to tyranny
A free church
A free state
A holy Sabbath
Liberty under law
The gracious spirit of Christianity
Enmity to true art
I look upon this catalogue and am puzzled to find "the whole truth." When I think of Puritan "temperance" I am reminded of cherry bounce and also the good old Jamaica rum which New England used to make in such quantities that it would float her mercantile marine. When I think of "demonology," I remember that son of Boston, Benjamin Franklin, whose liberality of spirit even Mencken celebrate, when he falsely attributes it to French influence, having never in his omniscience read the Autobiography. When I think of "liberty and individual freedom," I shudder to recall stories of the New England slavers and the terrible middle passage which only Ruskin's superb imagination could picture. when I think of "pluck and industry," I recollect the dogged labors of French peasants, Catholic in faith and Celtic in race. When I see the staring words "brutal intolerance" I recall the sweeter spirit of John Milton whose Areopagitica was written before the school of the new freedom was established. When I read "hypocrisy" and "canting" I cannot refrain from associating with them the antics of the late Wilhelm II who, I believe, was not born in Boston. So I take leave of the subject. Let the honest reader, standing under the stars, pick out those characteristics that distinctly and consistently mark the Puritans through their long history.
If we leave generalities for particulars we are equally baffled. Some things of course are clear. The art of reading and writing was doubtless more widely spread in New England than in the other colonies but that has little or no relation to education or wisdom. Until the 1890 New England did most of the Northern writing for "serious thinkers." It is not necessary to name authors or magazines. New England early had a considerable leisure class free for excursions into the realm of the spirit, but whether that was the product of Puritanism or catches of cod is an open question. Most of our histories have been written in New England, but the monopoly has long passed. New England contributed heavily to western settlement, to the Union army, and to the annual output of textiles. Puritanism did not build our railways, construct our blast furnaces, or tunnel our hills.
But when one goes beyond so many pages of poetry, so many volumes of history and sermons, and the Puritan Sabbath one is in a quaking bog. Critics attribute the raucous and provincial note in our literature to the Puritans. No student of the history of colonization would make that mistake. What have the millions of French who have lived and died in Canada produced to compare with the magnificent literature of France? How many Greek colonies scattered along the shores of the Mediterranean could rival the metropolis in sculpture or tragedy? The rusticity of the province was not monopolized by Puritans.
Take then the matter of government. The Mayflower Compact, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, and the Fundamental Articles of New Haven set forth a form of religious brotherhood as old as the Church at Jerusalem described in the Acts. The Pilgrims were not Puritans anyway, but even if they were they did not invent the term or the idea of a compact. The so-called democracy of the Massachusetts Bay Corporation was nothing but the democracy of an English company of merchant adventurers brought to America. What was not religious was English. Nothing was new. Nothing in the realm of the ideas was contributed by the Puritans.
Consider also the spirit of our government. If new speak of American democracy, must we not think of Jefferson rather than John Adams or Fisher Ames? And Jefferson was born in Virginia, the original home of slavery, indentured servitude, an aristocracy, and an Established Church. Moreover his doctrines, especially his political views were not as Mencken implies "importations" from France. Any schoolboy who ever heard of John Locke knows better. Was John Locke a Puritan?
Did Jefferson create American democracy? I resort to a Puritan of the Puritans who according to authentic documents knew and loved good whiskey, Daniel Webster. He delivered an oration at Plymouth on the Pilgrims, and he told more solid truth than will be found in all the oratorical eruptions that will break forth in this harassed land next December. And what did he say? "Our New England ancestors ... came to a new country. There were as yet no land yielding rent, and no tenants rendering service. ... They were themselves either from their original condition or from the necessity of their common interest, nearly on a general level in respect to property. Their situation demanded a parceling out and division of the lands and it may be fairly said that this necessary act fixed the future frame and form of their government. The character of their political institutions was determined by the fundamental laws respecting property.
For more than two hundred years the freeholder and his wife who labored with their own hands shaped the course of American development. This fact has more to do with American democracy, American art, American literature, as Mencken himself knows and says, than all the Puritanism ever imported into New England. The yeoman and his wife were too busy with honest work to give long hours to problem plays, sex stories, or the other diversions of "the emancipated age." Imagine Bernard Shaw, Gilbert Chesterton, or Baudelaire doing a turn at log rolling or at spring plowing in the stormy fields of New Hampshire! Sufficient unto the day is what comes out of it. Whoever will not try to see things as they really are need not set himself up as a critic or teacher. And let it be remembered that the Irish, Germans, Poles, Hungarians, and Jews are not the only people who can be objective, high, diaphanous, Olympian, and understand "poor crude America, with its dull, puritanical, Philistine history."
It was not the Puritans that inflicted professors and doctors of philosophy upon us and doctor's dissertations, seminars, research, and "thoroughness." It was not a Puritan nor even an Englishman who first spent five years on the gerundive in Caesar. It was not a Puritan who devised the lecture system, or professorships of English literature. The Puritan may not measure up to Mencken's ideal of art, but he did build houses that are pleasing to the eye and comfortable to live in, and he never put his kitchen midden before his front door. Let us remember also that it was not the Puritans who expelled Shelley from Oxford, and that Lincoln, of New England origin, loved a ripping story, wrote a good hand, had irregular notions about Providence, was not a Sabbatarian, and did not advocate the eighteenth Amendment.
SOURCE: Bruce Craig in the newsletter of the National Coalition for History (11-29-06)
Notably, a few historians will join the advisory council. They include: Mary Habeck -- an associate professor of history at Yale University and currently a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University. She is the writer and editor of a number of books focusing on international relations in the past and present;
Wilfred M. McClay -- a history professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a former professor at Georgetown University, Tulane University, and Johns Hopkins University. McClay is also a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of "The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America" (1994), which received the Organization of American Historians' 1995 Merle Curti Award for the best book in American intellectual history;
Jay Winik -- a leading public historian who has authored numerous books and articles. His New York Times best-selling book, "1865: The Month that Saved America," is part of the "Modern Classic" series and served as the basis for an Emmy-nominated History Channel special; and
Allen Guelzo -- a professor and director of the Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He has written multiple books and essays, including "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President" and "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America," both of which won the Lincoln Prize and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize.
The other new members of the council are: Jean Bunting III, Jane Marie Doggett, Robert Martin, Manfredi Piccolomini, Kenneth Weinstein, and Jean Bethke Elshtain. These new members bring to the council a wide variety of experiences and knowledge in the humanities. NEH Chair Bruce Cole predicts that, "Their collective wisdom will help guide the Humanities Endowment in the years ahead."
For more detailed profiles of the members, visit
SOURCE: Bruce Craig in the newsletter of the National Coalition for History (11-29-06)
The Business Ventures unit of the Smithsonian Institution has been under scrutiny for some time now regarding accounting and management issues. However the contract entered between the SI and Showtime dramatically increased public criticism. The letter to relevant Congressional appropriations and oversight committees notes that the Smithsonian Institution has been under attack by scholars and film makers since entering into a controversial contract that grants the Showtime Network certain exclusive rights to the Institution's staff, collections, and archives. The letter states that while the details of the contract are unknown, it has been established that it includes a "30-year term, a non-competitive procurement" and that organizations such as PBS and the History Channel (to name but two), are all viewed as "competitive," and hence the contract impacts their and other independent film makers potential access to the Smithsonian for programs they wish to produce.
For months, the Smithsonian has steadfastly refused to release the terms of the contract or address the concerns and criticism to the satisfaction of critics. The letter notes that SI officials have also not responded to questions from the Senate Finance Committee, the House Appropriations Committee or the House Committee on Administration. While Congress has authorized the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study, the draft report remains confidential as well.
The letter calls on Congress to take action and shed light on the Smithsonian Showtime deal. At the very least, the contract "should be made available to the public and reforms could be instituted that would allow for increased dialogue and consultation with the public before a contract is agreed upon." With the House and Senate set to convene to discuss bills left to be conferenced, there is an opportunity to amend bills that limit public access to contracts.
To view the letter, visit http://public.resource.org/smithsonian_congress.html.
SOURCE: Daniel Pipes at frontpagemag.com (11-29-06)
The question arises because, with the radicalization of the American universities, moderate voices have jumped into academic personnel issues. For example, note some controversies just in Middle East studies in 2006:
· Joseph Massad at Columbia: His promotion to associate professor met with public opposition; the forthcoming decision over his tenure will likely spark even more contention.
· Juan Cole at Yale: The University of Michigan historian was on track to New Haven until columnists John Fund, Joel Mowbray, and others brought attention to Mr. Cole's writings, prompting key Yale professors to reject his appointment.
· Kevin Barrett at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: When it became known that he believes the Bush administration perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, his teaching of "Islam: Religion and Culture" spurred a statewide debate.
· Nadia Abu El-Haj at Barnard: As the anthropologist faces a tenure decision, her 2001 book, Facts on the Ground has been criticized by alumnae and archeologists (William Dever of the University of Arizona calls her scholarship "faulty, misleading and dangerous"; James Davila of St. Andrew's University deems it "daft").
· Wadie Said at Wayne State: Led by StandWithUs.com, critics argue that his appointment to the law school "would dilute academic standards, be detrimental in the classroom and exacerbate problems on campus." Other non-academics, like the Wayne State Middle East Law Students Association, support Mr. Said's appointment.
In addition, Joel Beinin's relocation to the American University in Cairo from his tenured position in history at Stanford (an unusual career move) may be related to the wide criticism of his work.
These developments raise two questions. Firstly, do outsiders have a legitimate role influencing academic personnel decisions? The American Association of University Professors general secretary, Roger Bowen, says absolutely not: "Non-academics and external advocacy groups should not be permitted to intrude in hiring and tenure cases in the academy."
I beg to differ. Educational institutions may appoint whomever they wish, but they cannot expect immunity from public criticism. Precisely because academe offers unique job security, public evaluation of untenured academics has a potentially vital role. The more pre-tenure scrutiny, the better. Organizations like Campus Watch focus precisely on those areas that tenure committees typically miss.
As for tenured faculty, robust public criticism can keep them in line by embarrassing them and hurting their credibility. Juan Cole characterizes senior professors as "sort of like baseball players" whom other teams look at "from time to time, as recruitment prospects." In response, Martin Kramer of the Shalem Center notes that "We don't put baseball players on pedestals, and a whole section of the newspaper relentlessly criticizes their performance. Academics want to have it both ways: lifetime job security, sports-like celebrity, lots of vacation time, and no accountability."
In their insistence on squelching dissent, ironically, Middle East studies academics replicate Middle East dictators, who demand that their regimes be exempt from judgment. But while dictators can lose their jobs, tenured academics effectively cannot, making their errors uniquely consequence-free.
Second, how effective are outside efforts to influence the process? Frank H. Wu, law school dean at Wayne State, predicts that lobbying professors against Wadie Said's appointment could well backfire. Some faculty members, he says, "might be so turned off by the e-mail coming in that they may be persuaded to take a position that they might not have otherwise."
Other than exposing the immaturity of professors who would take such a step, this statement completely misses the point. The ivory tower exists at the sufferance of those who subsidize it. Just as Supreme Court justices read the election returns, so professors ultimately cannot ignore the parents, alumni, legislators, and government bureaucrats who pay their salaries. And as those stakeholders increasingly become aware of the professors' failings, they can begin to demand improvements.
(The distinction between private and public universities hardly matters here, as the two overlap considerably. If the University of Michigan derives a mere 8% of its annual budget from state sources, private universities rely heavily on government funding for students, projects, research, overhead, and even fraternities.)
The way ahead is clear: concerned outsiders should track university developments, including personnel decisions, so as to begin the process of redeeming the university, that grand and noble institution temporarily gone astray.
SOURCE: Doug Moe at http://www.madison.com (11-28-06)
Stanley Kutler, the esteemed U.S. historian who lives in Madison, was sipping tea on the far west side Monday afternoon and thinking about something his late, great colleague in the UW history department, George Mosse, used to say about being a professor.
"We don't teach," Mosse said. "We perform."
Recalling his friend, Kutler chuckled and said, "Good teaching is like good theater in a way. I mean, you don't want to take your clothes off. They'd throw things at us. But we're performing. Of course we are."
Warming to the subject, Kutler said, "Richard Nixon was an actor in high school. He claimed to have been a very good actor. 'Better than Ronald Reagan,' he said." Kutler chuckled again. "He always had to one-up everybody."
Next week, at the Washington Stage Guild theater in Washington, D.C., history, academia, politics - and, yes, show business - will come together when for the first time a public reading of Kutler's long-germinating play, "I, Nixon," will be performed.
The reading at the Stage Guild - highly regarded for its staging of the works of George Bernard Shaw and for discovering new plays of merit - is scheduled for Monday. Later in December, in Chicago, there will be a second reading of Kutler's Nixon play. That one is slated for the Victory Gardens Theater, which is housed in the newly renovated Biograph Theatre. (You want history? The Biograph has history. It's where the gangster John Dillinger was gunned down by the FBI in July 1934.)
There will no doubt be those who can make some kind of linear connection from Dillinger to Nixon. Kutler, though not a Nixon fan, is not one of them. For all his attention (in books like "Abuse of Power") to Nixon's dark side, Kutler's overall take has much more nuance. That's what makes "I, Nixon" so eagerly anticipated.
It has been, in any case, a long time coming. Kutler somewhat grumpily says he has been through "approximately 5,700 drafts" of the play. In a sense he has been learning on the job ever since his eyes snapped open at 4 a.m. one day a decade ago (an occupational hazard for authors with a looming deadline) as he approached the finish line on "Abuse of Power," his groundbreaking book on Nixon's Watergate tapes. Looking beyond the book, Kutler whispered to himself: "This is the stuff of drama."
He had some theater contacts in New York and sent them a summary and then a draft of a one-actor play about Nixon. A producer acquired the rights and hired a playwright. The new writer added characters and bells and whistles and when, in the end, nothing came of it, Kutler's feelings were mixed. At least he had his play back.
He tinkered, bringing the one-actor concept back. "I've done far more rewriting on this than anything I've ever done," he said. "It has been both frustrating and rewarding."
Two years ago, Kutler made a breakthrough when a theater insider read it and said, "Stanley, this is a great history lesson. It is not a play."
Now it is - and at least two prestigious theaters think enough of it to be hosting readings in the coming weeks. Potential producers, actors and investors are invited to the readings. Kutler will fly to Washington for Monday's performance at the Stage Guild. Afterward, he'll be on stage himself taking questions. The theater director has warned him that the questioning can at times get pointed.
"Every so often I get terrified thinking about it," Kutler said....
SOURCE: http://www.nationnews.com (11-25-06)
The principal of the University of the West Indies' Cave Hill Campus made this disclosure on Thursday night at the launch of the second edition of the book, which was originally published in 1990.
Beckles told a rapt audience at the Shell suite of the university that for three years he received calls threatening to kill him, to kidnap his children and to blow up his house from people who took issue with his public stance.
"We were told we were manufacturing history; we were told we were racist," stated Beckles, explaining how his position on Barbadian history was received at that time.
He said that on one occasion he received seven death threats in one day, prompting him to call the police and receive an armed escort for a night-time lecture he was giving.
"It is not easy to give a lecture looking at a gun," the professor said wryly.
The ordeal had been worth it, however, he said, for in the end it ushered in a new perspective on local history.
"This is a different time because many of the things we said then, now appear to be common sense."
Beckles' book traces Barbadian history from the time of the Kalinago (Caribs) right up to the 21st century.
In the late 1980s, he was embroiled in public controversy over what he termed the economic disenfranchisement of Barbados' majority black population, fiercely criticising a number of local companies for excluding Blacks from their boardrooms.
In particular, he targeted The Mutual, now Sagicor and in July 1989 sought – and failed – to get a seat on the board in an historic and highly publicised election campaign among policyholders.
SOURCE: Daily Princetonian (11-20-06)
Now a pioneer revered in both Englishand Chinese-speaking circles and professor of history and East Asian studies emeritus, Yu has come a long way. As he is fond of telling friends and colleagues, he is a self-taught scholar. He is the author of more than 30 books, covering perhaps as many themes of Chinese history, culture and philosophy.
"He is maybe the most important historian of China alive today," East Asian studies chair David Howell said. Before his retirement in 2001, "many students every year applied to Princeton in hopes of conducting their research and writing their theses under Professor Yu's tutelage."
Howell said Yu's success in Chinese studies was because of his exceptional style of scholarship. "One of his strengths is that his range is incredibly wide," he said. "He always knows something about even the most obscure issues in the field."
Yu's scholarship spans two millennia of Chinese history, touching upon, among other things, markets in despotic rule and gender in literary masterworks.
SOURCE: Beaumont Journal (11-22-06)
The event will be from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Dishman Art Museumat Lamar.
Students, faculty, staff and other well-wishers invited to join in the event,
said History Department Chair John Storey.
Wooster has been a t e a c h e r, scholar and administrator at Lamar and is nationally known as an author and historian.
Regents of The Texas State University System adopted a resolution Nov. 17 honoring him as distinguished professor emeritus of history. The history department conference room in the Archer Building will be named in his honor, said Lamar President James Simmons.
Wooster is "a great Texan who has told the state's story to generations past, present and to come," the regents said in their resolution. "[He has] touched, guided and inspired the intellectual lives of thousands of students, as well as hundreds of thousands of Texas seventh graders who learned the history of this great state by reading his widely adopted 'Texas and Texans.'
"Dr. Wooster, a masterful storyteller, delivered spellbinding lectures that attracted students and scholars alike to Lamar University, earning for himself the reputation for excellence sought by every classroom instructor . . . (his) fairness, goodwill, decency and evenhandedness toward students and colleagues brought him the high regard and respect that today are synonymous with his name."
Additional information about the Nov. 28 reception is available from the Lamar Department of History, at 880-8511.
SOURCE: Rick Perlstein in In These Times (11-7-06)
Journalistic compilations are a crucial part of America’s literary, intellectual and political heritage. They enjoyed a golden age in ’60s and ’70s trade publishing: Gazing over the library of books I am using to write my own history of the years 1965 to 1972, I see collections by Joan Didion, Garry Wills, Jack Newfield, Steven V. Roberts, Jonathan Schell, J. Anthony Lukas, Tom Wolfe and Michael Herr, compiled from Esquire and the Nation, National Review and the New Republic. Without them, our understanding of postwar America would be much the poorer.
Well, we are without them now. Trade publishers today rarely print such compilations—and our understanding of the years we are now living through has suffered for it. Thus it is altogether fitting and proper—though, in the grand scheme of things, a little sad—that university presses should pick up the slack.
It fell to Princeton University Press to publish How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime, a compilation of articles from the (London) Guardian and Salon by the great Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton aide and a longtime journalist who did some of his important early work for In These Times. The best of the classic journalistic compilations draw out common threads that lie scattered across occasional pieces, often tied together in an introductory essay. This gives the compilation a twofold purpose, as both a document of an era and an argument about that era. In this regard, How Bush Rules is exemplary, convincingly arguing that George W. Bush is “the most willfully radical president of the United States,” by documenting in real-time the episodes that have made up his presidency.
Equally impressive is how Blumenthal’s columns stand the test of time. Even the oldest pieces aren’t dated: Developments that other journalists, in their will to innocence towards the regime in power, were either ignoring or downplaying at the time, Blumenthal was reporting as outrages. Colin Powell knew much of what he was spewing to the United Nations back in January of 2003 was crap. Bob Woodward, apparently, has recently just learned this. Sidney Blumenthal wrote about it two-and-a-half years ago.
Speaking as a historian of political culture in the age of Richard Nixon, I can testify that one of the biggest challenges is answering this question: What did the public know and when did they know it? It won’t be hard for historians of the Bush regime—they can just pick up this book. They’ll find out, for example, that a year ago at least someone was reporting on the highly relevant fact that Susan Ralston, the aide who fell on her sword and resigned in October after FOIA revelations of close ties between Jack Abramoff and the White House, had worked as Abramoff’s assistant before she became Karl Rove’s.
Also worth noting is the erudition with which Blumenthal contextualizes and sustains several of his key themes. One of those themes, which I’m convinced more and more historians will be converging upon, is the “Oedipal” interpretation of the Bush presidency. Everyone knows Bush Jr.’s re-invasion of Iraq has much to do with manfully completing the job Bush Sr. was supposedly too girlish too stomach. But Blumenthal has the depth to go beyond the frequent banality of such comparisons. He notes, for example, “Just as the elder Bush picked someone [as vice president] who might have been one of his sons, young Bush chose a version of his father.” I’d never thought about that. Now, when I look at Dick Cheney, I can think of little else. Not only has our sad, neurotic president punished his father by disdaining his policies; he’s twisted in the knife by palling around with such an ostentatiously manly surrogate father....
SOURCE: AlterNet (11-27-06)
Khalidi, the Edward Said Chair of Arab Studies at Columbia University, asks a simple question: In the wake of the colonial Middle East, why have Palestinians failed to achieve statehood? A cursory look into Palestinian history shows that it's not for a lack of desire. But as their Arab neighbors have gained independence, it remains an elusive goal for the Palestinians.
In"The Iron Cage," Khalidi argues that since the British took administrative control of Palestine in 1922, Palestinians have been forced to play politics with some of the world's most significant powers. In their uphill battle for statehood, Palestinian leaders have faced not only the British, but the well-organized Zionist movement, and what Khalidi calls the"shark-infested waters of Arab politics." Khalidi visited San Francisco recently during his national book tour, and met me at Union Square to discuss his new book. Liv Leader: Your last book"Resurrecting Empire" was published a year into the war in Iraq. Many of your dismal predictions about the Iraq war have proven true. So why did you choose to write about Palestine when Iraq is on everyone's mind?
Rashid Khalidi: You're right, Iraq is a timely issue. I've been working on"The Iron Cage" for more than 10 years. I actually interrupted this book to work on"Resurrecting Empire" because I just couldn't focus on this issue in the wake of 9-11. I saw that a number of disastrous wars were coming at us and that people were going into them completely, totally and utterly blind. I wrote"Resurrecting Empire" as an attempt to affect the public debate on the Iraq war.
In a way The Iron Cage doesn't fit as well into the current political season as would another book on Iraq. In a way I think it's germane. Our policy in the Middle East is so utterly wrong-headed and our policy on Palestine is a part of it. American policy is not just rooted in the history of American policy towards Palestine since the 1940s, but in the history of great powers policies since the 1920s.
One of the things that has to be looked at is the responsibility of the international community and of the dominant powers, whether Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, and the United States since World War II, to creating this situation. So I think it actually is timely and speaks directly to what I think should be a major issue.
Why is the U.S. so loathed and hated by the people in the Middle East, who actually have nothing against our freedoms, democracy, and love our economic system They are dying to go to Disneyland, but they cannot stand our foreign policy. Could it possibly be that fact that they think that what we do in terms of Palestine is stupid and morally wrong?
SOURCE: NYT (11-28-06)
In a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Mr. Zelikow, an intellectual known for peppering his statements with historical references, said progress on the Arab-Israeli dispute was a “sine qua non” in order to get moderate Arabs “to cooperate actively with the United States on a lot of other things that we care about.”
A State Department spokesman was quick to distance the department officially from Mr. Zelikow’s remarks, which ruffled the feathers of American Jewish groups and Israeli officials. But the administration may soon be doing what Mr. Zelikow advised, starting a renewed push for a Middle East peace initiative, in part to shore up support in the Arab world for providing help in Iraq.
If it works, the architect of the plan will not be around to see its conclusion. On Monday, the 52-year-old Mr. Zelikow, after 19 months serving as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s in-house contrarian and advocate for realpolitik in American diplomacy, submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 2. He said that he would return to the University of Virginia, where he has an endowed chair as a history professor.
In his resignation letter, Mr. Zelikow cited “some truly riveting obligations to college bursars” for his children’s tuition and said he would remain available to help the administration where he could. While Mr. Zelikow, in an interview, maintained that he was not leaving his post because of any disgruntlement, one administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject publicly noted that Mr. Zelikow had been frustrated with the pace of the administration’s diplomatic efforts on the Middle East, Iran and North Korea.
Whatever the reason for Mr. Zelikow’s departure, in losing him Ms. Rice is losing not only one of her most trusted advisers, but also one of the few people in the State Department willing to speak with candor during closed-door meetings on American diplomatic efforts....
SOURCE: WaPo (11-28-06)
Philip D. Zelikow, 52, holds the unassuming title of "counselor," but in many ways he is Rice's intellectual soul mate, and he plays a critical role in formulating policy at the State Department. In his resignation letter, he cited professional and personal obligations, including a need to return to an endowed chair that the University of Virginia has held vacant for four years and to pay "some truly riveting obligations to college bursars" for his children's education.As a sort of minister without portfolio, Zelikow was a one-person think tank for Rice, churning out lengthy and sometimes blunt memos calling for confronting the deteriorating situation in Iraq, overhauling the administration's detainee policies and using the North Korean nuclear crisis to build a new security structure in northeast Asia. He also played an important role in Rice's decisions to strike a nuclear energy deal with India and to offer to join European-led nuclear talks with Iran.
Zelikow proved to be a controversial figure at the State Department and in the administration for his willingness to challenge administration orthodoxy and for his sometimes abrasive approach. But Rice valued his insights and contributions, aides said, even when descriptions of some of his memos began to surface in news reports.
In an interview yesterday, Zelikow said Rice "knew I had done no wrong." At no time, he added, was he quoted reflecting on people's personalities or disclosing private discussions with Rice.
"Philip is a close friend and we will continue to enjoy this friendship in the years ahead," Rice said in a statement. "I appreciate Philip's dedicated service during this time of historical change."...
While Zelikow's name was sometimes floated for open jobs, such as deputy secretary of state, Rice aides said he was not seriously considered for anything but his current post, which did not require Senate confirmation. Zelikow had rubbed some lawmakers the wrong way when he served as executive director of the commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Friends said that Zelikow, who was appointed in February 2005, never intended to serve a full four years at the State Department but that he feels bad about leaving Rice before she has selected a deputy. If he did not leave now, he would not be listed in University of Virginia course catalogues for the upcoming semester, which would then delay his return until September.
Once he leaves the government, Zelikow will be able to supplement his salary with consulting projects and by writing books. He said he wants to write scholarly books, not a tell-all on the Bush administration, which is"no doubt a disappointment to my wife."
Asked what his departure means, Zelikow said:"Liberated from this weight, the secretary will soar higher and higher."...
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (11-27-06)
The University of Massachusetts at Boston professor not only has made numerous visits to the Cuban capital since 2002, he has also cleared all the hurdles to co-authoring a book with a Havana scholar — something that a few years ago would have seemed highly unlikely.
U.S. Department of State policies have made it difficult for academics from the United States and Cuba to form partnerships — particularly since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Publishers’ and authors’ organizations have filed suit over regulations of the U.S. Office of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control that the groups say effectively kept American publishers from publishing books that originate in a country that is subject to a U.S. trade embargo.
The State Department has clamped down on study abroad in Cuba, as well as scholarly visits to the country. But in 2004, the Treasury Department loosened its restrictions on publishing contracts, opening the possibility for cross-country collaboration and allowing Cluster and his co-author, Rafael Hernández, a Cuban citizen, their window of opportunity.
“When the winds are blowing right it’s possible to do these things,” Cluster said.
He and Hernández are traveling the Northeast this month in preparation for the release of their title, The History of Havana (Palgrave Macmillan), due out this week. The 320-page book covers the economic, social and cultural history of Havana. “The goal is to say: ‘What was it like to live in Havana at all these periods and why?’” Cluster said. “The ‘why’ gets into politics, economics and city planning a bit.”
The authors think their effort represents the first jointly written book between U.S. and Cuban scholars whose book was commissioned in advance by an American publisher.
SOURCE: http://www.theledger.com/ (11-18-06)
But is the Thanksgiving Americans celebrate today mere myth-making, resting on ahistorical stereotypes?
Take the fabled turkey, for example. Did it even inhabit eastern Massachusetts in 1621? And the much-venerated Thanksgiving meal: Was it a bountiful celebration of fraternal cooperation or more a series of "backwoods diplomatic encounters" to ease tensions between the new English arrivals and the long-established Algonquian-speaking residents?
If you answered "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second - the first Thanksgiving meal more likely incorporated raccoon stew than cranberry sauce - you may think you know where British author and journalist Godfrey Hodgson is taking readers in his new book, "A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the Myth of the First Thanksgiving" published by PublicAffairs.
But in fact, Hodgson's aim is not so much in correcting the historical record as in affectionately exploring the ways a beloved national celebration with strong religious undercurrents has reinvented itself over time.
And indeed, as Hodgson makes clear, Thanksgiving has always expressed "deep religious impulses."
"Christians recognize in it an echo of the breaking of bread that is at the heart of their observance," he writes, "while Jews have often seen it as a kind of seder, in that it commemorates, by a shared meal, a journey toward salvation."
Hodgson, 72, lives in Great Britain and is an associate fellow at Oxford University's Rothermere American Institute. He makes it abundantly clear, both in the book and in person, that he loves Thanksgiving.
"It's a quiet celebration," Hodgson said recently in an interview in New York City to promote the book, "but it's inclusive, and it's been terribly important in American history."...
SOURCE: Eric Gibson in the WSJ (11-25-06)
Founder and senior partner of his own firm and dean of the Yale School of Architecture, Mr. Stern knows something about the long view. Since 1983, he has been writing a history of New York City's architecture and urban fabric. Four volumes have already appeared: "New York 1880" (covering 1865-90), "New York 1900" (1890-1915), "New York 1930" (the interwar years) and "New York 1960" (World War II to the bicentennial). They range in length from 500 to 1,400 pages, but the latest, "New York 2000" (Monacelli Press, $100), outdoes them all. Covering 1976 to 2000 and written, like the others, with the assistance of co-authors, it runs to 1,520 pages--and nearly 11 pounds. It landed in bookstores, dainty as a wrecking ball, earlier this month.
Interviewed in a sleek, minimalist aerie that serves as his "writing room" two floors above his architectural offices in the West 30s, Mr. Stern says that the terror attacks of 2001 and their aftermath might have made a more logical stopping point. But he opted for the millennium when he realized that the story of rebuilding Ground Zero was "a psychodrama that's going to go on forever."
Will there be a "New York 2030"? Maybe, although by then "I'll be 93 or something like that," he observes.
Building by building, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, borough by borough, Mr. Stern's five books trace New York's rise from prosperous but provincial city--limited to Manhattan island and largely bounded by 42nd Street and the waterfront--to the sprawling, five-borough world capital it is today. They paint a picture of a city in flux, an urban palimpsest undergoing a perpetual, 140-year makeover that shows no signs of stopping. The comment made by one observer in 1866 could almost be the city's motto: "A new town has been built on top of the old one, and another excavated under it."
One surprise is that the qualities we variously celebrate and rail against today aren't of recent vintage, but were in evidence within the first decades after the Civil War: the city's infectious energy; its magnet status to those in search of opportunity, be they immigrants or transplants from other parts of the country ("Why did John D. Rockefeller move from Cleveland?" asks Mr. Stern, rhetorically. "He knew he had to be in New York."); its role as a financial center; the congestion, the overbuilding and the middle-class flight; the insistent pressure to expand outward; and the primal need to conquer distance and height through unheard-of feats of engineering. "The story stays the same, but the characters are always new," notes the author.
A recurring theme throughout the series is New York as America's "representative city." That will be bitter gall to those in the hinterlands who already think New Yorkers are too full of themselves by half, but Mr. Stern briskly ticks off his arguments. "It is the financial capital of the country. It is the cultural capital. And now it's the media capital. It is also the part of the country that has the richest representation of the diversity of the country," he says. "And it has these amazing institutions which, though they are New York institutions, are really national," like the Metropolitan Museum and the New York Public Library.
Lastly, he says, New York has things that no other city in the U.S. has, at least not in the same way. "Frederick Law Olmstead built in many places," says Mr. Stern. "But Central Park is incomparable." Case closed....
SOURCE: Pierre M. Atlas in Indianapolis Star (11-22-06)
When discussing a controversial issue, what does it mean to be "fair and balanced"?
This question confounds not only journalists but academics as well. What does it mean to bring "balance" into the classroom or into scholarly discourse? Should all perspectives be given equal weight? Do all perspectives deserve equal weight?
As I write this I am attending the 40th annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association. MESA is the premier international academic society for those who study all aspects of the Middle East, its history, peoples, languages and cultures. More than 2,000 scholars are here from around the world, professors and graduate students representing numerous academic disciplines.
Walking through the halls of the conference hotel one hears numerous languages, including French, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Hebrew. MESA is a dynamic and multi-voice organization, and its conference aims at providing a safe space to discuss controversial issues in a scholarly manner.
At least, that's the goal. Given the enormous diversity of its membership and the intensity of the crises in the Middle East today, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the quest for academic "balance" can get lost in the shuffle. And that, of course, begs the question: How do we define academic balance?
At a roundtable discussion on last summer's Israel-Lebanon war, the five panelists, some from Lebanon and some not, expressed nuanced differences when discussing Lebanon's internal politics. But they uniformly condemned Israel's actions in the war as "aggression," and repeatedly referred to Hezbollah's actions as "resistance." Supporters of Israel argue that Hezbollah started the conflict, and thus it bears ultimate blame for the war's costs. But the panelists expressed a view held by many in the Arab world that Israel has a long history of aggression against Lebanon, that it was looking for any excuse to start the war last summer, and that the United States gave it the green light.
One panelist showed pictures of the war's massive destruction: numerous shots of Lebanese neighborhoods flattened like pancakes, bridges blown apart beyond all recognition, and weeping mothers at funerals of civilian Lebanese killed by Israeli bombs. There were no pictures -- or even any mention -- of the hundreds of Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Lebanon suffered the bulk of the war's destruction, and more than 10 Lebanese were killed for every one Israeli. But does that mean that Israeli suffering should be ignored completely?
Most of the audience's questions were sympathetic to the panelists' point of view, but not all. One MESA member asked why there was no Israeli perspective on the panel, and if this disparity was appropriate at an academic conference. He was told that they did not see the need to have an "Israeli apologist" sitting beside them.
I asked why the speakers labeled Israel's attacks on Lebanese cities "aggression," but called Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli cities "resistance." Doesn't that suggest that some civilian deaths are valued less than others? Although I didn't get a direct answer, one panelist made the morally problematic assertion that the quantity of deaths made Israel's actions "worse" than those of Hezbollah.
The five panelists flatly rejected the notion that they should seek "balance" on this issue. They said that, as scholars, what mattered was that they "speak the truth," rather than give equal time to all sides.
But whose truth? Conservative pundits often accuse academia of the "crime" of postmodern thinking -- of denying that basic facts and certainties exist. This, they say, leads to moral relativism.
But "truth" is often multi-faceted, consisting of different and sometimes incompatible perspectives. All of history's totalitarian movements, secular and religious, have begun with people believing that they possessed "the Truth" with a capital T. Scholarly discourse, at its best, articulates and acknowledges different understandings of the truth, and thus serves as an antidote to such absolutist thinking.
I sat stunned as the panelists asserted that there was only "one truth" to the Lebanon conflict. In that moment, my MESA colleagues sounded more like the conservative attackers of academia than the progressive, postmodern thinkers they thought themselves to be.
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (11-21-06)
These debates follow the cancellation last month of a lecture by Tony Judt, a professor at New York University, at the Polish consulate in New York City, amid charges that the Anti-Defamation League had encouraged Polish officials to call off the talk. And in June, Yale University turned down Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who is a leading figure in Middle Eastern studies, for a position — after a lengthy period in which critics of Cole argued that he was not a suitable choice for the position, in part because of his criticism of Israel. And Princeton University has faced criticism over a possible hire as well.
This weekend, the Middle East Studies Association, of which Cole is the president, voted to expand the work of its academic freedom committee — which has focused on helping scholars in the Middle East — to engage in efforts on behalf of colleagues in the United States.
“The subtext of these controversies is whether it is going to be allowed for Palestinians to hold positions in academe in the United States. Is it going to be allowed for people who are not Zionists to hold positions? Is there a Zionist litmus test in the United States?” said Cole in an interview Monday. He characterized the pro-Israel groups’ activities as “the privatization of McCarthyism” and said that they represented the most serious threat today to academic freedom in the United States....
SOURCE: diverseeducation.com (11-22-06)
“The students are disappointed in America and they say it now openly, even on the television: ‘Bring back Saddam and we will apologize and he will restore order to the country,’” said Dr. Saad Jawad, professor of political science at Baghdad University.
The professors spoke on one of dozens of panels throughout the three-day conference, which featured Middle East scholars from the United States and around the world.
Speaking to a crowded conference room, the Iraqi professors’ bleak picture of a life under siege brought some in the audience to tears. Since the U.S. invasion in 2003, they said, thousands of Iraqi professors have fled the country. More than 200 have been assassinated and the rest live in fear of saying anything that might offend any number of groups, all suspected of murder and mayhem in Iraq. When asked who was behind the killings, the professors’ list was long: Sunnis, Shias, radical Islamists, Americans, Iranians, Israelis, Kuwaitis.
“The problems in Iraq are bigger than I can express,” said Dr. Taher Al Bakaa, the former minister of higher education in Iraq, now a visiting scholar at Harvard University. Hundreds of scholars have applied to come to the United States, but only a small percentage are accepted, according to the Scholars at Risk Network, a group that helps threatened professors.
Conference organizer Dr. Dina Rizk Khoury, associate professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University, says the panel was one of the weekend’s most critical. Talking about Baghdad University, she calls the situation in Iraq a “systematic attempt to dismantle what was once the premier institute of higher education in the Arab world.” Khoury says academic freedom in the country has fallen victim to anarchy.
Jawad, who had arrived in Boston three days earlier, said his classes are cancelled so frequently, he has taught only twice since the semester began in October. When not working, he rarely leaves his house. He said a death threat posted on his office door makes him afraid to go outside with his family in case an attempt is made on his life. Earlier in the month, his colleague, Jassim al-Asadi, dean of administration and economics at Baghdad University, was gunned down with his family in their car. Many of Jawad’s students have had relatives and friends killed, including one young male doctoral student whose father was gunned down in his doorway.
“Nobody knows the reason,” Jawad said. “I am depressed.”
Despite widespread reports of a brewing sectarian war between Shias and Sunnis, Jawad says students on campus are growing tired of the religious radicals and beginning to protest against them.
The professors put some of the blame on the radicals, but directed most of their ire towards the failed U.S. occupation. Bakaa, who was also president of Iraq’s second largest university, Al Mustansiriyah University, from 2003 to 2004, said he had received almost no additional funding for academic life since the occupation. Buildings destroyed during the first Gulf War were rebuilt in two months under Saddam’s regime, yet the Americans have repaired nothing, he said. When professors are threatened or killed, there is never any investigation.
“Iraqi professors are being killed by everyone, and nobody has told us if any killers have been caught. Nothing has been done,” Jawad said. “One U.S. soldier was kidnapped and Baghdad is on full alert, but the killing of an Iraqi professor? Nothing happens.”
The professors said the problems began with attacks against scientists suspected of doing “weapons of mass destruction” research. Later, professors who had joined Saddam’s Baath Party were targeted. Now, roaming mafia groups have joined in and are kidnapping professors for ransom.
SOURCE: Charles Burress in the San Francisco Chronicle (11-22-06)
The provocative claim that there was no turkey in the Pilgrims' first harvest feast in 1621 comes from a newly published history of Thanksgiving by British journalist and historian Godfrey Hodgson.
But devotees of holiday authenticity need not kiss the gobbler goodbye. Hodgson's claim is more tosh than truth, according to scholars and Pilgrim experts.
"There were turkeys there," declared the president of the Organization of American Historians, Richard White, who is the Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University.
"Do whatever you can do to lay this scurrilous rumor aside," pleaded Kathleen Curtin, food historian at the Plimoth Plantation living-history museum in Plymouth, Mass., recoiling from a gaggle of inquiries prompted by the book.
"We had a film crew from 'CBS Sunday Morning' -- they had it on 'good authority' that there were no turkeys," she said. "It's so frustrating."
The "authority" is Hodgson's book, "A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the Myth of the First Thanksgiving." His account -- featured Nov. 12 in The Chronicle's Sunday Book Review -- tackles several alleged myths about the Pilgrims.
"There were, however, no turkeys at Plymouth," he writes, describing this revelation as the "most shocking of all, given the central part played by turkey in the modern mystique of the holiday."
The publisher, PublicAffairs Books of New York, touts the purported revelation as a key selling point. The book's Web page description begins with the absence of turkey, and the book's dust jacket declares, "There was, for a start, no turkey."
One shocked reader, were he alive, might be William Bradford, the famous governor of Plymouth Colony whose account -- "Bradford's History 'Of Plimoth Plantation' " -- includes what the Pilgrims gathered in their first harvest in 1621: "And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many."
Another new book on the Pilgrims, the best-selling "Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick, devotes a chapter to Thanksgiving that accepts Bradford's account of the "great store of wild Turkies" among the food that was gathered. ...
SOURCE: Martha's Vinyard Times (11-22-06)
Mr. Philbrick is a resident of Nantucket and the author of such acclaimed histories as "In the Heart of the Sea," the National Book Award-winning story of the whaleship Essex. His latest effort, "Mayflower," was released in May and immediately jumped to the New York Times bestseller list, where it spent more than four months. His life is settling down now after a three-month tour that took him from coast to coast promoting his book. This fall, he's finding time to reflect on the powerful connection "Mayflower" made with American readers, and how this project has changed his perspective on the holiday that harks back to the popular story of Pilgrims and Wampanoags who feasted together in the autumn of 1621.
"I think that with this book," Mr. Philbrick says, "this is going to be a different Thanksgiving for me. It's been an emotional year - I'm still working this book over in my mind, and this Thanksgiving, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens."
"Mayflower" shines a historian's light on the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth. It also places the early adventures of the settlers in the context of a larger story that most of us weren't taught in school - the tenuous peace between settlers and Native Americans that lasted for two generations before disintegrating, in the 1670s, into what was arguably the bloodiest conflict in our nation's history, King Philip's War.
Author describes an unadorned first Thanksgiving
Following are excerpts from Nantucket author Nathaniel Philbrick's book, "Mayflower," an account of the voyage of the Mayflower, the settlement of Plymouth Colony and the savage conflict known as King Philip's War that ended years of relative peace between colonists and natives.
"We do not know the exact date of the celebration we now call the First Thanksgiving, but it was probably in late September or early October, soon after their crop of corn, squash, beans, barley, and peas had been harvested. It was also a time during which Plymouth Harbor played host to a tremendous number of migrating birds, particularly ducks and geese, and Bradford ordered four men to go out "fowling." It took only a few hours for Plymouth's hunters to kill enough ducks and geese to feed the settlement for a week. Now that they had "gathered the fruit of our labors," Bradford declared it time to "rejoice together ... after a more special manner."
The term Thanksgiving, first applied in the 19th century, was not used by the Pilgrims themselves. For the Pilgrims a thanksgiving was a time of spiritual devotion. Since just about everything the Pilgrims did had religious overtones, there was certainly much about the gathering in the fall of 1621 that would have made it a proper Puritan Thanksgiving. But as Winslow's description makes clear, there was also much about the gathering that was similar to a traditional English harvest festival - a secular celebration that dated back to the Middle Ages in which villagers ate, drank, and played games.
Countless Victorian-era engravings notwithstanding, the Pilgrims did not spend the day sitting around a long table draped with a white linen doth, clasping each other's hands in prayer as a few curious Indians looked on. Instead of an English affair, the First Thanksgiving soon became an overwhelmingly Native celebration when Massasoit and a hundred Pokanokets (more than twice the entire English population of Plymouth) arrived at the settlement with five freshly killed deer. Even if all the Pilgrims' furniture was brought out into the sunshine, most of the celebrants stood, squatted, or sat on the ground as they clustered around outdoor fires, where the deer and birds turned on wooden spits and where pottages - stews into which varieties of meats and vegetables were thrown - simmered invitingly.
In addition to ducks and deer, there was, according to Bradford, a "good store of wild turkeys" in the fall of 1621. Turkeys were by no means a novelty to the Pilgrims. When the conquistadors arrived in Mexico in the sixteenth century, they discovered that the Indians of Central America possessed domesticated turkeys as well as gold. The birds were imported to Spain as early as the 1520s, and by the 1540s they had reached England. By 1575, the domesticated Central American turkey had become a fixture at English Christmases. The wild turkeys of New England were bigger and much faster than the birds the Pilgrims had known in Europe and were often pursued in winter when they could be tracked in the snow.
The Pilgrims may have also added fish to their meal of birds and deer. In fall, striped bass, bluefish, and cod were abundant. Perhaps most important to the Pilgrims was that with a recently harvested barley crop, it was now possible to brew beer. Alas, the Pilgrims were without pumpkin pies or cranberry sauce. There were also no forks, which did not appear at Plymouth until the last decades of the seventeenth century. The Pilgrims ate with their fingers and their knives....
SOURCE: NYT (11-23-06)
Re “An Iraqi Solution, Vietnam Style” (Op-Ed, Nov. 21):
Mark Moyar implies that if Ngo Dinh Diem, the leader of the South Vietnamese government, had been given free rein in 1963 to suppress opposition, we would have had a different outcome in Vietnam.
But the Kennedy administration’s decision to encourage a coup against Diem’s government rested on the realistic understanding that Diem could neither maintain his country’s public support nor effectively counter the Communist insurgency.
The fact that Diem’s successors also failed at the same challenges suggests not that Washington made the wrong decision in abetting a coup but that our surrogates in Vietnam lacked the political wherewithal to defeat the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, despite our military support.
The lesson for us from Vietnam is not to assume that civic order in Iraq will come from giving Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki free rein in combating insurgents. Rather, it is to understand that we cannot impose democracy on a country with such different cultural and political traditions from ours.
The more important lesson is that, like Vietnam, we should not have entered Iraq in the first place. We are now caught in another quagmire with no good solutions except to withdraw and refocus our efforts on combating larger long-term threats against our national security.
Washington, Nov. 22, 2006
The writer is the author of biographies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and a forthcoming book about Richard M. Nixon and Henry A. Kissinger.
SOURCE: NYT (11-22-06)
The cause was melanoma, his brother, Benjamin, said.
Mr. Cate’s most recent book, “Friedrich Nietzsche,” was published in the United States last year by the Overlook Press. Reviewing the biography in The New York Times Book Review, William T. Vollmann called it “a warmly intelligent introduction to Nietzsche.” He added, “Between the lines I sense a sincere sadness and discomfort about what became of Nietzsche, whom the author so clearly reveres.”
Curtis Wilson Cate was born in Paris on May 22, 1924, to transplanted American parents. From 1943 to 1946, he served in Europe with the United States Army.
Mr. Cate earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard in 1947. This was followed by a master’s degree in Russian from the École des Langues Orientales in Paris and a master’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford.
SOURCE: Economist (11-2-06)
For the 1948 crowd, however, this way of thinking about the conflict is a mistake. They argue that peace is impossible unless Israel admits to and atones for the crime they say it committed nearly 60 years ago, in its independence war of 1948. That crime, they say, was deliberately to expel most of the Arabs of Palestine, close to 800,000 people, in order to be sure of having a Jewish majority for the Jewish state. Unless Israel somehow makes amends for this earlier catastrophe, which the Arabs call the nakba, peace is an impossibility.
Ilan Pappe, a political scientist at the University of Haifa, is one of the purest Israeli exponents of the 1948 view. He knows how provocative it is to choose the phrase “ethnic cleansing” for the title of his latest book. But ethnic cleansing, he insists, is precisely what occurred in the first Arab-Israeli war. It was, he says, a long-premeditated crime, implemented ruthlessly and then systematically denied. In 1948 the Zionists did not happen to wage a war that tragically but inevitably led to the expulsion of parts of the indigenous population. The ethnic cleansing of all of Palestine, he maintains, was the main goal all along.
Inside Israel, the historiography of 1948 has been in ferment for more than 20 years. Israel and its admirers once clung to a simple collective view about the circumstances of the state's birth. In a Solomonic judgment, the United Nations voted to divide the contested land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arabs tried to strangle the Jewish state at birth. In the course of the war that followed, the Jews overcame vast odds, guaranteeing their survival and expanding the territory allotted to them under the original plan. In the course of the fighting, most of the Arab population fled.
The last bit of this over-simple narrative has by now been comprehensively debunked. In 1988 Benny Morris, an Israeli historian, published “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949”, challenging the view that most of the Arabs fled of their own accord, in panic or at the behest of the Arab states. In many towns and villages they were put to flight deliberately. Mr Morris said that there was no master plan to evict all the Arabs: many expulsions took place in the heat of battle and the fog of war. But he also argued that the idea of a population transfer had been carefully considered by David Ben-Gurion and the other Zionist leaders, and hovered behind their actions and deliberations.
Mr Morris and other “new historians” in Israel unleashed fierce argument. Other scholars accused Mr Morris of traducing Ben-Gurion through selective quotation. In a new version of “The Birth” in 2004, Mr Morris offered even more evidence of the extent to which the Zionist leadership hankered after a population transfer, and the alacrity with which they exploited the events of 1948 to bring one about. (Mr Morris also said, in an interview that stunned his supporters, that Israel was justified in uprooting the Palestinian “fifth column” once the Arabs had attacked the infant state, and that the number executed or massacred—some 800, on his reckoning—was “peanuts” compared with, say, the massacres in Bosnia in the 1990s.)
Mr Pappe, however, goes a good deal further than Mr Morris. He insists that there was indeed a master plan. On March 10th 1948, he asserts, 11 men met at the “red house”, the Tel Aviv headquarters of Israel's pre-state army, the Haganah, to put the final touches to Plan Dalet, “a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine”. That evening, military orders were sent to units on the ground to prepare for the expulsion of the Palestinians. Mr Pappe calls this group of men the “consultancy”, an ad hoc cabal of political and military leaders dominated by Ben-Gurion. And population transfer did not just “hover” in the background of their thinking, he says. It was central from the start....
SOURCE: FrontpageMag.com (11-16-06)
FP: KC Johnson, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Johnson: Thank you for speaking with me.
FP: Kindly summarize briefly for our readers what this case involving the three Lacrosse students is about.
Johnson: This is the story of how a case virtually devoid of evidence, constructed upon a tissue of procedural irregularities, nonetheless has lurched forward. At a March team party at an off-campus house rented by three lacrosse captains, one captain hired two exotic dancers to perform. After leaving the party, which ended sourly, an African-American dancer with a criminal record and a history of false allegations (including an unpursued claim that three men raped her a decade ago) claimed to have been raped to prevent being involuntarily committed at Durham Access Center. After going through multiple stories, the accuser eventually settled on a claim of a violent gang rape by three players (with three others, who were never charged or in any way identified, serving as accomplices). The rape, she alleged, lasted a half hour; and at least two of her attackers, who she said didn't wear condoms, ejaculated.
Although the second dancer contradicted her account in virtually every way; the team captains gave statements to police, without their lawyers present, denying the allegations and voluntarily turned over to police DNA samples and their e-mail account passwords; and although the team captains offered to take lie detector tests (an offer the police spurned); and no DNA matches of any sort between any player and the accuser's DNA appeared; and although an original photo line-up of the players found the accuser unable to identify her alleged attackers, D.A. Mike Nifong eventually indicted three players, including one, Reade Seligmann, whose attorney produced a videotape of him more than a mile away, at an ATM machine, at the time of the alleged crime.
FP: Let's talk about District Attorney Mike Nifong's conduct. What is your angle on it and why has the legal community and most of the media been so quiet about it?
Johnson: Nifong's conduct in this case is the most unethical of any district attorney I have ever seen; I cannot recall a case in the last 15-20 years in which this many procedural violations were known at this stage of the process.
This is a man who violated multiple provisions of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct simply to get a case. His most damaging violation was ordering the Durham Police not to follow their own procedures in the line-up that resulted in the identification of the three players charged. The procedures required five filler photos per every suspect; Nifong told police to confine the line-up to suspects—members of the lacrosse team.
The media, of course, were not initially quiet: led by the New York Times, early coverage all but had the players tried and convicted. The case fit into a comfortable narrative for a liberal media elite of out-of-control wealthy white athletes violating a poor African-American woman. As the case has collapsed, most media—with the crucial exception of the Raleigh News & Observer and CBS's 60 Minutes—abandoned interest in the affair, rather than revisiting their early flawed reporting. The New York Times, meanwhile, published a widely ridiculed August article that read more like a public relations piece for Nifong than a piece of journalism. The article contained four out-and-out errors of fact, all of which tilted the story in favor of the prosecution, and all of which the Times refused to correct.
FP: What has been the overall reaction of the Duke faculty and administration? What is your take on it?
Johnson: In the first week of the investigation (March 16-23), Duke administrators actively assisted the state. Without informing President Richard Brodhead, administrators demanded from the captains a candid account of the evening's events, allegedly citing a non-existent "student-faculty" privilege to encourage the captains to disclose any criminal activity. Multiple sources told me that Coach Mike Pressler, apparently acting on orders from above, instructed the other players not to tell their parents about the police inquiry. Meanwhile, Dean Sue Wasiolek arranged for a local lawyer, Wes Covington, to act as a "facilitator" in arranging for a group meeting with police.
After Nifong began his publicity barrage on March 27, faculty leftists became involved. Houston Baker, a professor of English and Afro-American Studies, issued a public letter denouncing the "abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us" and demanding the "immediate dismissals" of "the team itself and its players." Then, on April 6, 88 members of Duke's arts and sciences faculty signed a public statement saying "thank you" to campus demonstrators who had distributed a "wanted" poster of the lacrosse players and publicly branded the players "rapists." To date, not a single member of what has become known as the "Group of 88" has retracted his or her signature or publicly criticized Nifong's procedural violations.
(I started my blog as a response to the Group of 88's statement, which I considered a betrayal of the signatories' duties as faculty members, and only expanded to the case itself as the magnitude of Nifong's procedural misconduct became clear.)
As Brodhead failed to resist his faculty's assault on due process, his actions, whether intended or not, fortified a public image of guilt. On March 25, in an unprecedented move, the president cancelled (at the last minute) the lacrosse team's game against Georgetown, citing underage drinking at the party. Then, on April 5, Brodhead demanded Pressler's resignation, cancelled the lacrosse season, and issued a statement anchored by a lament on the evils of rape—at a time when the players were firmly denying any sexual contact, much less rape. These moves enjoyed enthusiastic support from Board of Trustees chairman Robert Steel. The president later issued a statement urging a trial, on the grounds that it would give the accused players an opportunity to be "proved innocent," in effect turning on its head 220 years of American constitutional history.
Based on the actions and statements of both the faculty and administration, a fair-minded neutral observer could only conclude that Duke's administrators and most outspoken professors believed that a rape occurred.
FP: Expand for us a bit on how this case intersects with political motivations.
Johnson: In Nifong's case, the political motivation was straightforward. An appointed district attorney, he was running in the May Democratic primary against two challengers: a well-known white woman, Freda Black, whom he had fired as an assistant district attorney in one of his first acts in office; and a weak black candidate, Keith Bishop. The party's electorate was about evenly divided between white and black voters.
Black was much better known than Nifong (she had helped prosecute a high-profile murder case in 2003), and in mid-February, she seemed on the verge of putting the race away. Nifong started having trouble raising money—he attracted only $1150 in contributions for all March—and, to keep his candidacy alive, he loaned his campaign nearly $30,000. (A lifetime bureaucrat whose wife is a "victims' rights" advocate, Nifong isn't personally wealthy.)
Then came the lacrosse allegation. Nifong took control of the police investigation, gave over 50 interviews that highlighted (in misleading fashion) an alleged racial motive for the alleged crime, and soared in polls. He captured the primary by 881 votes, thanks to robust showings in black precincts.
In the fall campaign, two unaffiliated candidates ran against him: with minimal support from the white community, Nifong again squeaked through, with less than 50%, thanks to overwhelming backing in black precincts. By the fall, he had abandoned all pretences that his motives were anything other than political, stating at one point that his trying the case would address Durham's "underlying divisions," and wildly claiming that his critics considered his prosecution "a threat to their sense of entitlement and that they do not trust a jury of Durham citizens to decide" the case.
FP: How do you think the Duke/Nifong case will turn out? Crystallize for us the main lessons we must all draw from it.
Johnson: Legally, the outcome of the case very much depends on the judge, Osmond Smith. Any judge with integrity would have to suppress the procedurally improper line-up ordered by Nifong and then used to indict the three players; without the results from that line-up, Nifong has no case. There are two other key decisions the judge could make: (1) He could grant a defense motion to force Nifong's recusal from the case, which in effect would dismiss the charges, since it's inconceivable any other prosecutor would try this case; or (2) he could grant a motion for a change of venue, which would effectively ensure an acquittal, since Nifong has constructed his whole case around appealing to biases with Durham's community.
There are myriad lessons we should draw from events of this case, including the following:
Rape law needs modification. Until the 1970s, rape law was far too friendly to the defendant; now it is the reverse. Nifong has done many unethical things in this case, but he has been correct in one assertion: under North Carolina law, a jury can convict solely on the testimony of the accuser and her identifying her alleged assailants. That means that, as a matter of law, Reade Seligmann could be convicted—even Seligmann has electronic and physical evidence that can definitely prove his innocence (he's on videotape a mile away at the time of the alleged crime).
Duke, as an institution, has revealed a hollow moral core. Seven months into a case of what might be the highest-profile example of prosecutorial misconduct in the last decade, two Duke law professors and two Duke arts and sciences professors have publicly criticized Nifong. Meanwhile, Group of 88 members continues to defend their actions, even to the point of making demonstrably false public assertions about the players. Meanwhile, Brodhead has shown himself unwilling or unable to lead the institution, allowing what amounts to a "separate-but-equal" system to be established in Durham, under which Duke students are second-class citizens.
The silence of North Carolina's political and legal establishment regarding Nifong's misconduct is stunning.
The media needs to reconsider how it covers rape cases. To a greater extent than any crime other than child abuse, a presumption of guilt exists.
The next time the NAACP speaks up on behalf of standard procedure in a criminal justice case, the media should ask why the organization betrayed 70 years of its principles on criminal justice issues to give Nifong a pass in this case.
In Durham, North Carolina, a robust constituency exists for the politics of revenge and prosecutorial misconduct.
FP: KC Johnson, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Johnson: Thank you for speaking with me.
SOURCE: Weekly Standard Scrapbook (11-27-06)
Needless to say, THE SCRAPBOOK was relieved to get these tidings because, frankly, we had been worried that there might be a prize somewhere out there that Dr. Franklin has not won.
For since publishing From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans in 1947, Dr. Franklin has been awarded (in addition to the usual hundred-plus honorary degrees, organizational presidencies, visiting lectureships, and appointments to advisory boards, delegations, and commissions) the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Jefferson Medal of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Encyclopedia Britannica Gold Medal for the Dissemination of Knowledge, the Charles Frankel Prize, the Gold Medal for History of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Cosmos Club Award, the Clarence L. Holte Literary Prize, the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, the NAACP's Spingarn Medal, the Organization of American Historians' Award for Outstanding Achievement, the Cleanth Brooks Medal of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the W.E.B. DuBois Award of the Fisk University Alumni Association, the Alpha Phi Alpha Award of Merit, and the Trumpet Award of the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.
That's a partial list, by the way, and just from the past few years.
Of course, THE SCRAPBOOK would never dream of telling the Nobel Peace Prize people in Oslo how to do their job, but we have a piece of advice: Dr. Franklin is 91 years old, and it would be pretty embarrassing to deny him an honor that has gone to the likes of Jody Williams, Jimmy Carter, and Le Duc Tho.