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: Derek Catsam at dcat (blog) (8-20-07)
Thus when I came to Zinn’s letter to the editor in this weekend’s New York Times Book Review, I could see what was to follow. Let’s just parse the letter paragraph by paragraph. I’ll place Zinn’s words in quotation marks and will precede my own with *** in customary dcat fashion:
“Samantha Power has done extraordinary work in chronicling the genocides of our time, and in exposing how the Western powers were complicit by their inaction.”
*** In approaching his letter this way, Zinn is setting Powers up in order to knock her down. But let’s keep in mind who the respective writers – Zinn and Powers – are and their relative status not in book sales, but on the actual issue of global genocides and the Western responses to them. Oh, and I am curious what action, in light of what follows, Zinn would have advocated Western powers taking in the face of the genocides Powers has chronicled so well.
“However, in her review of four books on terrorism, especially Talal Asad’s “On Suicide Bombing” (July 29), she claims a moral distinction between ‘inadvertent’ killing of civilians in bombings and “deliberate” targeting of civilians in suicide attacks. Her position is not only illogical, but (against her intention, I believe) makes it easier to justify such bombings.”
*** One can only assume that in what follows Zinn will try to claim that intent does not matter, that intending to kill someone is no different from unintentionally killing someone. I really hope I do not have to explain to any sentient person why an unwillingness to distinguish between the two is monumentally stupid.
“She believes that ‘there is a moral difference between setting out to destroy as many civilians as possible and killing civilians unintentionally and reluctantly in pursuit of a military objective.’ Of course, there’s a difference, but is there a “moral” difference? That is, can you say one action is more reprehensible than the other?”
*** Yes, you can. I’d like to be more snarky about it actually, because the question is so obtuse, reveals such sophistry, that it warrants little more than scorn. But the answer to the question is so patently clear that I’m at a loss for snarkiness except to say that yes, intending to kill someone is worse than inadvertently killing someone in almost any imaginable case. Morally worse. Or, as he’d have it for reasons I cannot quite divine, “morally” worse.
“In countless news briefings, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, responding to reporters’ questions about civilian deaths in bombing, would say those deaths were ‘unintentional’ or ‘inadvertent’ or ‘accidental,’ as if that disposed of the problem. In the Vietnam War, the massive deaths of civilians by bombing were justified in the same way by Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon and various generals.”
*** Look, I loathe Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. I think they have been irredeemably terrible public servants, and though I will never know them personally, their public personas are to me disgusting, self-important, arrogant beyond words, and dangerous. I would not trust either of them to shit competently after a bran binge. But simply mentioning their name and halfheartedly using them as the spokesmen for a complicated idea (and for historical analogies that obscure more than they reveal) such as civilian deaths in war is simply shoddy argumentation.
“These words are misleading because they assume an action is either ‘deliberate’ or ‘unintentional.’ There is something in between, for which the word is ‘inevitable.’ If you engage in an action, like aerial bombing, in which you cannot possibly distinguish between combatants and civilians (as a former Air Force bombardier, I will attest to that), the deaths of civilians are inevitable, even if not ‘intentional.’ Does that difference exonerate you morally?”
*** Leaving “inevitability,” a concept of which good historians are always wary, aside for a moment, that “inevitability” still does not erase the difference between intending and not intending to kill people in war. And it does not elide the fact that targets can be chosen so as to minimize damage. It certainly does not address the issue of whether when countries go to war, they tend to be asking for moral absolution or exoneration. But that sidesteps the actual question, which is whether all deaths are morally the same or whether they are not. Zinn’s assertion is that intentionality does not matter. Ultimately, “exoneration” is not the issue, though invoking it represent a clever sleight of hand to try to obscure things.
“The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent. To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time.”
*** I am going to say otherwise. I am going to assert that there are morally superior stances to make, morally superior stances that when he has believed the morality to be on his side, Zinn has not ever been afraid to make. Indeed, Zinn’s career is nothing more than a series of moral judgments. (“You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” That was the title of one of Zinn’s books.) The terrorist chooses to target innocents. Their death is his goal, and the overarching objective beyond that goal is to instill fear ina population and their leaders so as to accomplish a political objective. I am willing to grant that aerial bombardment is problematic. But so too is manslaughter. The difference is that I’m not about to assert that manslaughter and murder are morally equivalent just because manslaughter is unpleasant and I wish it did not exist. More to the point, perhaps, I wish no one would have to kill another out of self- defense. But I’m not naïve or blinkered enough to argue that there is no difference between murder and a killing done in self-defense. Regretting some bad things does not make all bad things equal. Zinn is too smart not to know as much, but too fatuous a thinker to care.
SOURCE: AFP (8-21-07)
Iran is to release US-Iranian academic
Haleh Esfandiari, detained in Tehran since May on
security charges, as soon as a bail payment has been
made, a judiciary source told AFP on Tuesday.
"Her arrest has been changed to bail. Probably she
will be released tonight. We are waiting for the
deposit of the bail," said the source in the Iranian
judiciary, who declined to be named.
The official declined to comment on the case of Kian
Tajbakhsh, a US-Iranian urban planning expert who has
been held in jail on the same charges as Esfandiari
The semi-official Fars news agency also quoted
judiciary sources as saying that Esfandiari's status
had been changed to bail and her release was imminent.
SOURCE: http://dailyheadlines.uark.edu (8-20-07)
He shows time and time again that moderates did not control Southern politics. Southern liberal politicians for the most part were paralyzed by their fear that ordinary Southerners were all too aroused by the threat of integration and were reluctant to offer a coherent alternative to the conservative strategy of resistance.
In the book Badger writes that early on he wondered if he could be "an effective historian of the South? Could I understand the South, if, unlike Quentin Compson, I had not been born there?" Noted historian William E. Leuchtenburg, author of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal and The White House Looks South, says, "No commentator on twentieth century America, especially the American South, writes more perceptively, or more engagingly, than Tony Badger. Viewing the United States from a British perspective, he matches an extraordinary command of sources and a vivid style to a transatlantic angle of vision."
Anthony J. Badger is the Paul Mellon Professor of American History at Cambridge University and Master of Clare College. He is the author of a number of books, including North Carolina and the New Deal and The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933-1940. The book includes a foreword by James C. Cobb, the B. Phinizy Spalding Distinguished Professor at the University of Georgia.
SOURCE: OAH Newsletter (8-1-07)
... We will soon be formally announcing the pilot of a new project under the We the People banner titled Picturing America. This new initiative will open up another avenue of discovery and appreciation of our legacy, which stresses the importance of the visual arts in American history.
The major focus of Picturing America is to show that art speaks dynamically and forcefully about where a people have come from, what they have endured, and where they are headed. For example, we cannot imagine the history of Egypt without the pyramids, or of Italy during the Renaissance without the works of artistic giants such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. What these cultures accomplished through their art significantly affects how we see and understand them.
The history of America is also illuminated by its art. American art tells a story that began even before the birth of our nation; and like our country, it has recorded and served as a catalyst for our diversity, continued growth, and change. The vision of Picturing America is to take this story directly to our youngest citizens—those students in the critical K–12 age-group—at a time in their lives when they are beginning to form judgments about our culture.....
SOURCE: Nell Irvin Painter in the OAH Newsletter (8-1-07)
... Though we have many reasons to celebrate as we enter our second century, I want to call us to the task of thinking about our aspirations and our means toward reaching our goals. Here I need to tread a fine line between complacency and alarm. On the one hand, we are nicely solvent, with a financial cushion set aside for the inevitable rainy day. On the other hand, we have in the last couple of years overspent our income to the tune of $179,000 in fiscal year 2005-2006 and an additional $44,000 in 2006-2007. We have covered these shortfalls from our General Reserve Fund. If we continue along the present path, we may well exhaust our savings.
Let me try to clarify. These recent deficits are not related to the annual meetings of 2000 and 2005. Moving the annual meeting between two venues in St. Louis in 2000 and between San Francisco and San Jose in 2005 did not create enduring deficits, because the OAH Executive Board covered those extraordinary expenses by drawing on the OAH’s General Endowment. ...
We need to think again about how best to serve the interests of our 9,000 members. We are a varied group: professors, teachers, writers, independent scholars, and lovers of the history of the United States whose needs as historians the OAH seeks to serve. At the same time, we operate in a context of financial stringency. I come to you now to ask what’s most important to you, our members. Do you see the OAH as a professional organization, one whose dues mainly support an annual meeting and the publication of a scholarly journal, a newsletter, and a magazine for teachers of U.S. history? To what parts of the Strategic Plan do you give higher priority than to others? How broadly do you interpret the OAH’s mission, in terms of activities and in terms of fundraising?...
As a historian of the United States, how do you see the OAH’s furthering your interests? You can write to me at the OAH: P.O. Box 5457, Bloomington, IN 47407-5457 or online at: <http://www.oah.org/feedback/>. (Please select my name in the recipient pull down menu.) The other members of the OAH Executive Board will have access to your comments. You can find our names and photos on the OAH website: <http://www.oah.org/about/execbd/>. We will be discussing the Strategic Plan at the October meeting of the OAH Executive Board.
SOURCE: Press Release--Defend the Honor Campaign Website www.defendthehonor.org (8-21-07)
Latino organizations and leaders called on Ken Burns and Florentine Pictures to meet with a representative cross-section of the national Latino leadership to explain in detail the changes they have made to the film, how they plan to include the Latino experience in their future projects and how they plan to include Latinos on the Florentine team. They also call on PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger, as well as WETA-TV's CEO and president, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, to explain the measures that will be taken to assure that such a gross exclusion of the Latino community does not occur again in their current and future programming, and how they will supplement The War with other programming and activities to include the Latino experience, in particular with the educational programming.
At the urging of a corporate sponsor, Burns met with two Latino groups in early May and reiterated that he would include interviews with some Latino veterans in the 14.5 hour documentary, without offering many details. This was a commitment that he and PBS had already made publicly. Citing the results of this meeting, Burns and PBS officials at both the national and local levels have declared the issue closed.
"Ken Burns cannot choose to make a secret deal with only two of the many Latino groups that were involved in this issue and in discussion with him and PBS, and then claim that the matter is resolved," explains Marta García, co-chair of the New York Chapter of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and one of the founders of Defend the Honor, a Latino grassroots mobilization that first raised the alarm about Latino exclusion from this PBS documentary at the beginning of this year. "He must bring closure to this issue by paying the Latino leadership of this country the respect, respeto, of meeting with us to explain himself and his future relationship to the Latino community."
Some progress had been made on the issue over the past several months in that Burns has added interviews with two Mexican American veterans and one Native American to the 14 hour and 28 minute documentary. "But make no mistake," said Iván Román, executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, "we will withhold judgment on how meaningful that additional material is - whether it truly speaks to the Latino experience and whether it is reflected in the companion book and educational material."
In subsequent statements to the press, Burns has been dismissive of the arguments that the inclusion of Latinos is about historical accuracy rather than political correctness.
"It is unfortunate that Ken Burns continues to see this issue as one of politics and rhetoric that he must rise above," said Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez, the University of Texas journalism professor who co-chairs the Defend the Honor Campaign. "It has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with historical accuracy and inclusion."
Rosa Rosales, national president of LULAC, said that it was crucial for the Latino organizations to publicly challenge statements in the press by Burns and PBS that the issue had been resolved. "As Ken Burns travels across the country as part of the $10 million promotional effort by PBS, he still characterizes this as a terrible misunderstanding," Rosales said. "It's no misunderstanding. We understand perfectly that he only added the new interviews under pressure and, right now, it looks like he's not very proud of that new material."
Another sticking point are the discrepancies between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant proposal that provided federal funding for the film, and what he and PBS have said in recent months. For instance, Burns has said repeatedly in news interviews that in the more than 6 years of production, "no Latinos came forward" to be interviewed about their WWII experiences. But he apparently excluded Latinos from the beginning: in the NEH grant proposal submitted in 2004, Burns and Florentine Films said that the film "will celebrate American diversity" and that it will be about the "diversity of wartime America . . . African-American, Japanese American and white."
"This is certainly very different from the way he discusses his film today in defending himself against Latino criticisms," observes Jess Quintero, president of the Hispanic War Veterans of America.
That documentary will shape how Americans view WWII, and if short shrift is given to the Latino contributions, there will be a reinforcement of the widespread ignorance of the Latino contribution to the building of the U.S. "Ken Burns and PBS are playing recklessly with our history, both as Latinos and Americans," observes Gus Chavez, one of the co-chairs of the Defend the Honor. He concludes, "This is something every American should be upset about."
"We are very uncomfortable with taking Burns and PBS' word that they have addressed the Latino community's concerns before actually seeing the product," Armando Rendon of Defend the Honor Campaign of Northern California adds. "The anger in the grassroots Latino community continues unabated by the manner in which he and PBS have handled this matter."
Afro-Latino Project, Queens College (CUNY), Flushing, NY
APITO Centro Cultural de Puerto Rico (ACCPR), San Juan, Puerto Rico
Defend the Honor
Latino Literacy Now, Los Angeles
League of United Latin America Citizens (LULAC)
Lic. Rudy L. Ramos Civil Rights Chapter of the American GI Forum, San Antonio, Texas
National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), Washington, DC
National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), Los Angeles, CA
National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), Los Angeles, CA
National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP), New York, NY
National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention (LCAT), New York, NY & Wash., DC
Individuals (affiliations for identification purposes only):
Vicente "Panama" Alba, New York, NY
Frances Aparicio, Ph.D., Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
Luis Aponte-Parés, Boston, MA
Louise Bonanova, Civil Rights Investigator (Retired), Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education, San Francisco, CA
Grissele Camacho, Esq.
Ed (Gato) Castillo-Rubio, Commander, Viet Nam Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9305 of Imperial County
María Elena Cepeda, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Latina/o Studies, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
Evelyn Collazo, New York, NY
Edgar De Jesus, AFSMCE East Region Area Organizing Director, and National Bronx Member, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LACLA)
Minerva Delgado, Bronx, NY
Dra. Rosalina Diaz, Associate Professor of Education, Medger Evers College (CUNY), Brooklyn, NY
Martin Espada, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Jaime Estades, Brooklyn, NY
Myra Y. Estepa, Brooklyn, NY
Dolores M. Fernández, Ph.D., President, Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College (CUNY), Bronx, NY
Ricardo R. Fernandez, Ph.D., President, Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY), Bronx, NY
Juan Flores, Ph.D., Visiting Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University, New York, NY
Cynthia Garcia Coll, Ph.D., Charles Pitt Robinson and John Palmer Barstow Professor Professor of Education, Psychology & Pediatrics, Brown University, Providence, RI
Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Queens, NY
Gabriel Haslip-Viera, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Sociology, City College of New York, City University of New York, New York, NY
Hilda Hernández-Gravelle, MSW, Ed.D.
Tanya K. Hernandez, Professor of Law and Justice, Frederick W. Hall Scholar, Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, NJ
James Jennings, Ph.D., Professor, Tuft University, Boston, MA
Miriam Jiménez Román, Afro-Latino Forum, New York University, New York, NY
Francisco J. Gonzalez, Cottage Grove, MN
Aldo Lauria Santiago, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Raul Madrid, Ph.D., Department of Political Science, University of Texas at Austin
Miguel "Mickey" Melendez, New York, NY
Carlos Molina, Ph.D., New York, NY
Edwin Karli Padilla, Associate Professor of Spanish, University of Houston-Downtown
Franklyn Perez, Esq., Hostos Community College, Bronx, NY
Luis O. Reyes, Ph.D., New York, NY
Eugene Rivera, Clinical Coordinator, Hill Health Center, Middletown, CT
Clara E. Rodriguez, Ph.D., Bronx, NY
Luz Rodriguez, New York, NY
Carlos Rodriguez-Fraticelli, Ph.D., University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
Placido Salazar, USAF Retired Vietnam Veteran, State Veterans' Affairs, Officer of The American GI Forum of Texas, San Anotnio
Carlos Sanabria, Ph.D., Coordinator of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, City University of New York, Bronx, NY
Izzy Sanabria, publisher, Latin NY Magazine; Salsamagazine.com
Dr. José Ramon Sánchez, Chair, Department of Urban Studies, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY
Nelson Sierra, Albany, NY
Hector Soto, Esq., La Resurreccion UMC Social Justice Committee, Bronx, NY
Donato Tapia, JD, San Francisco, CA
Hon. Esteban Torres, former U.S. Congressman, California
Gloria Tristani, former Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Luis Urrieta, Jr., Ed.D., Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Texas at Austin
Richard Valencia, Ed.D., Department of Educational Psychology, University of Texas at Austin
Angela Valenzuela, Ed.D., Department of. Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Administration, University of Texas at Austin
Armando Vazquez-Ramos, Ph.D. , Chicano & Latino Studies Department, California State University, Long Beach
Emilio Zamora, Ph.D., Department of History, University of Texas at Austin
Howard Shorr, Portland, Oregon
Instead of providing moral clarity in a time of war, too many academics busy themselves inventing strategies to get along peaceably with genocidal terrorist groups and the governments that aid and abet them. Among the appeasers, three professors of Middle East studies stand out: the University of Minnesota's William O. Beeman; Boston University's Augustus Richard Norton; and Harvard University's Sara Roy.
William O. Beeman, professor and chair of the department of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, as well as president of the Middle East section of the American Anthropological Association, apparently thinks the bloody, belligerent Iranian regime can be placated by politeness. In a recent article (scroll down), Beeman counseled the U.S. to negotiate with Iran using "language" that is "unfailingly polite and humble."
Humbleness toward a regime hell-bent on building the bomb, funding terrorists worldwide, threatening to wipe Israel off the map, seizing U.S., British and Canadian citizens as hostages, and supplying weapons that kill American servicemen in Iraq?
"Politeness," is hardly the best tactic for dealing with opponents who clearly hold strength in the highest regard, but such is Beeman's recommendation. Unfortunately, it's advice that the Bush administration, and the State Department in particular, appear to be following, and the lack of desirable results thus far point to its ineffectiveness. The recent decision to consider classifying Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization provides hope that realism may yet prevail.
If appeasing Iran's mullahs wasn't bad enough, Boston University professor of international relations and anthropology Augustus Richard Norton wants to do the same with their proxy, Islamist terrorist group Hezbollah. Funded in part by the Iranian regime and responsible for the deaths of untold civilians, Hezbollah hardly provides the foundation for civil society.
Yet, Norton's recently published book, Hezbollah: A Short History (2007) repeats all the usual talking points aimed at softening both the group's image and the West's response. In his review of Norton's book, the Jewish Policy Center's Jonathan Schanzer elaborates:
Norton, a former observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, states in his prologue that he seeks to provide "a more balanced and nuanced account" of Hezb'allah, which he calls a "complex organization." Of course, there is little that is complex or nuanced about a group that receives an estimated $100 million a year from the radical Islamic regime in Iran to carry out violence, and has used violence as its raison d'être dating back to the 1980s.
Extending his regard to the new terrorist thugs on the block, Norton, along with Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies scholar Sara Roy, penned an article for the Christian Science Monitor in June titled, "Yes, You Can Work With Hamas." As they put it, "There can be no peace process with a Palestinian government that excludes Hamas." Norton and Roy assert that international recognition and diplomacy will somehow obscure the fact that Hamas is dedicated to wiping out Israel-an inconvenient fact that they simply ignore.
Roy has long been invested in forging the idea of a "New Hamas" by attempting to downplay the group's openly genocidal ambitions and picturing them instead an enlightened group of do-gooders interested only in social services and education-a sort of Salvation Army with real guns. Unfortunately, reality doesn't support this depiction, and the push for normalization of relations with Hamas favored by Roy and Norton represents nothing more than wishful thinking with lethal results.
Such willful blindness is rooted in the reflexive anti-Western nature of many of today's Middle East studies academics. Their eagerness to put the best face on groups and governments widely known for practicing the art of deadly deception parallels their instinctive distrust of their own country and, in a larger sense, the West.
But these academic appeasers are playing a dangerous game. For, as history has repeatedly proven, weakness in the face of aggression only leads to further bloodshed.
SOURCE: Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam (8-17-07)
Yesterday, I wrote a post about the scurrilous campaign waged by Campus Watch, Frontpagemagazine and their allies against Barnard anthropology professor Nadia Abu El-Haj. Distressed that this Palestinian-American academic is verging on earning tenure from a distinguished institution like Barnard College (and by extension, Columbia University), they've circled the wagons in a valiant effort to stave off the inevitable and overturn the academic fates.
After doing considerable online research last night, I pieced together much of the negative and positive evaluations of her work and the substance of the arguments against her earning tenure including the petition campaign organized by one Paula Stern Barnard '82. In the comment thread for my post, one of my readers, Jesse Walker, managing editor of Reason Magazine, did even more painstaking research and discovered that in one instance, the petition actually"quotes" Abu El-Haj saying the exact opposite of what she writes in her book. Here is what the petition says:
She asserts that the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a “pure political fabrication.”
In truth, this is what Abu El-Haj actually writes in her book on page 250:
While by early the 1990s, virtually all archaeologists argued for the need to disentangle the goals of their professional practice from the quest for Jewish origins and objects that framed an earlier archaeological project, the fact that there is some national-cultural connection between contemporary (Israeli)-Jews and such objects was not itself generally open to sustained discussion. That commitment remained, for the most part, and for most practicing archaeologists, fundamental. (Although archaeologists argued increasingly that the archaeological past should have no bearing upon contemporary political claims). In other words, the modern Jewish/Israeli belief in ancient Israelite origins is not understood as *pure* political fabrication.
Speaking of"pure political fabrication," Jesse has caught the Stern Gang in an out and out fabrication of the Abu El-Haj record. You leave that"not" out at your peril, Paula.
The petition presents this as Abu El-Haj's alleged view on scientific evidence and her scholarly method:
We are aware that Abu El Haj excuses herself from the expectation that scholarship will be based on evidence. In her introduction, she informs the world that she “Reject(s) a positivist commitment to scientific methods…”
Instead of using scientific standards of evidence, her work is “rooted in… post structuralism, philosophical critiques of foundationalism, Marxism and critical theory…and developed in response to specific postcolonial political movements.”
This is what Abu El-Haj actually writes (with passages quoted in the petition in italics) on pages 8-9:
Questions concerning the relationship between interpretation and data and between theory and evidence have come center stage as increasing numbers of archaeologists are debating the politics of their own discipline, including its potential uses and the implications for their professional work. Rejecting a positivist commitment to scientific method whereby politics is seen to intervene only in instances of bad science, such critics have argued that archaeological knowledge (as but one instance of scientific knowledge) is inherently a social product. Rooted in multiple intellectual traditions (poststructuralism, philosophical critiques of foundationalism, Marxism and critical theory, a sociology of scientific knowledge) and developed in response to specific postcolonial political movements (specifically, demands for the repatriation of cultural objects and human remains by indigenous groups in settler nations such as Australia, the U.S. and Canada), this critical tradition is united, at its most basic level, by a commitment to understanding archeology as necessarily political.
What is clear here is that Abu El-Haj, who is NOT an archaeologist herself but rather an anthropologist, is summarizing the beliefs of a school of archaeologists and not her own beliefs at all. Clearly, she has great sympathy for these beliefs, but she is not describing her own.
University of North Carolina anthropologist Gregory Starrett wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education comment thread on this story the following about the mendacity of those attempting to smear Abu El-Haj:
It’s a pity so few of the people who express outrage about Abu El-Haj’s book have read it. Most of the accusations the petition makes are false, distorted, or without evidentiary support, including the claim that Abu El-Haj does not read or speak Hebrew, the claim that she denies the existence of ancient Israeli kingdoms, and the notion that scholars never use unattributed quotations. The latter, at least, is standard practice in cultural anthropology, intended to protect the identity of the individuals with whom we speak. On other occasions, Abu El-Haj’s opponents have claimed that she spent almost no time in Israel for her research (she was there for two years) and that she cites no Hebrew-language sources or archaeological reports, a claim which is easily checked—and disproved—simply by looking at her bibliography. The irony in this latter charge is the odd assumption that Israeli archaeologists and scholars only write for their colleagues in Hebrew, making the Israeli scholarly community sound far more insular than it is. The thoughtless and irresponsible claims of the petitioners, not Abu El-Haj’s research, is the real shame.
Conclusion: the petition is a fraud as is almost everything that comes from organizations like Campus Watch and FrontpageMagazine. To those who disagree with Abu El-Haj's views I say"fine." Oppose her or her tenure process. But sign this petition knowing it is a tissue of lies and distortions.
Richard Silverstein: Barnard Alumni Cabal Opposes Tenure
SOURCE: John Gravois in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (8-20-07)
Central to the controversy is Ms. Abu El-Haj's book, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (University of Chicago Press, 2001), which argues that Israeli archaeology has been shaped by Israeli national identity, and vice versa.
This month a group of Barnard College alumnae posted an online petition urging that Ms. Abu El-Haj be refused tenure and outlining several criticisms of her book (The Chronicle, August 15). That petition, which has drawn more than 1,000 signatures, accuses her of being unfamiliar with Israeli archaeological research, of relying on anonymous sources, and of not being able to speak Hebrew. It also characterizes Ms. Abu El-Haj's book as a partisan indictment of Israeli archaeology that denies outright the existence of an ancient Israelite civilization.
Last week supporters of Ms. Abu El-Haj posted a counterpetition. Many of them cited the high esteem Ms. Abu El-Haj's research has been accorded in the fields of anthropology and Middle East studies, and many others directly countered the accusations leveled against the assistant professor -- including the allegation that she does not speak Hebrew.
"Anybody who reads her work can see that it is replete with Hebrew sources, both written and oral," Lisa Wedeen, chair of the political-science department at the University of Chicago and a scholar of the Middle East, said in an interview. She said that the book contains Ms. Abu El-Haj's own translations from Hebrew, and that they are "fluid and idiomatic."
Accusations that Ms. Abu El-Haj cannot speak Hebrew stem from an earlier scrutiny of her work by a group called the Va'ad ha-Emet, or Truth Committee, which said that she repeatedly confused the Hebrew words for "settlement" and "stream."...
SOURCE: CBS News Sunday Morning (8-19-07)
"Edwin Budding invented the lawnmower in 1830," Ted Steinberg, a history professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, told Sunday Morning correspondent Serena Altschul. "He got the idea for the lawnmower from a carpet cutter."
Steinberg wrote a history of the American lawn, called "American Green."
"Americans did inherit the lawn from their British ancestors, as it were, the British aristocracy," he said. "Washington and Jefferson, for example had lawns, attempting to imitate their counterparts in Britain."
Steinberg says the lawnmower created what you might call a grassroots revolution in America.
"First of all, the lawnmower provided the conditions for lawn democracy," he said. "A society where just about everyone could afford to purchase a machine to cut the grass."
Steinberg says that today's mowers are actually not much different than Budding's 19th century design.
"In fact, it is the same design," he said. "And like many mechanical inventions, if the person gets it right the first go-around, it's just a matter of tinkering around the edges in improvement."
SOURCE: Times (UK) (8-18-07)
Professor Akçam is a Turk and an historian. In 1999, 84 years after the event, he completed a harrowing doorstop of a book on the Armenian genocide – densely factual and unsparing of the Turkish culprits – now published in English. As a result, he is being hounded from Istanbul to his Midwestern academic exile by ultranationalists from his home-land . . . and by spooks.
That’s his theory, anyway. How else to explain what happened in Montreal in February when he was detained by airport police who said that they had grounds to suspect he was a terrorist. Those grounds turned out to be hostile postings on amazon. com and his own Wikipedia page, doctored by people who had also, apparently, not only alerted precisely the airport personnel who would be handling Akçam’s flight, but also had information on the historian’s past, including a 1974 arrest for protesting at Turkey’s invasion of northern Cyprus, that had never had been in the media.
So who gave the tip-off? Akçam laughs wearily. He doesn’t know. “But my arrival was known of by the Turkish consul. He was even invited to my lecture.”
There might be something comical about this Wiki-assisted harassment – except that two weeks earlier, Akçam’s friend and fellow intellectual, the Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink, was murdered in broad daylight on an Istanbul street. His crime, like Akçam, was to have used the “G-word” to refer to the state-sponsored murder of between 300,000 and 1.3 million Anatolian Armenians in 1915 with the term reserved by the 1948 UN convention on genocide....
SOURCE: National Journal (7-13-07)
NJ: I'm interested in your media habits, the publications, broadcasts, websites, and other media fare that you consume on a regular basis. Let's go through the day -- what do you see or hear first?
Billington: I usually skim The Washington Post over breakfast, maybe 15 or 20 minutes. I think the edit and the op-ed page of The Post is very good. It's well written, and it's varied. I admire brilliant analysis, which is very rare but it does happen.
NJ: What about driving to work?
Billington: Music, NPR. The music keeps me from road rage. It usually helps me maintain a reasonable degree of humanity.
NJ: And at the office?
Billington: I get an awful lot of information here at the library. I skim the newspapers, but I don't read any newspapers all the way through. Of course I look at The New York Times. I look at The Wall Street Journal or Financial Times. The Washington Times, too; that can be very helpful with information I wouldn't get elsewhere. I think daily newspapers are still very important. My media habits are like my book habits. I wolf through a great many things. I'm a fairly fast reader. I prefer to have a lot of inputs. I don't have time to read magazines. I have three or four friends around the country, and they send me, irregularly, things they think I ought to read. They know my interests.
NJ: No magazines at all?
Billington: The Week. I read that religiously because I find it's very efficient and it gives me a spectrum of opinion.
NJ: Any Web browsing at the office?
Billington: We get Google alerts and things like that from a variety of Web sources. What generally happens is, I don't spend too much time searching myself. My key associates take things down or relate them to me verbally. I try to see other papers from around the country and around the world. I have a special interest in Russia. I don't think [U.S.] media coverage of Russia is very good. It's the general problem of the decline of international coverage by American outlets, so you have to go to the foreign outlets themselves. If I get an inkling that there are things going on, I will go to some of my favorite European papers. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Swiss daily, is probably one of the best in Europe, if not the best. I will occasionally look at Le Monde in Paris. I've been reading Le Monde off and on for 60 years.
NJ: In the evening when you come home, do you read or watch anything habitually?
Billington: I will watch the evening news....
SOURCE: http://www.earnedmedia.org (8-17-07)
Historian and defense industry expert Charles Patricoff believes that based on history our role in Iraq should be a permanent one. "Look at how we helped rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II. Because of the good we did there and are doing in Iraq, I don't believe we should ever leave Iraq. If we stay and rebuild Iraq, we will demonstrate to the world that we remain the best force for good in the world. More importantly, we as Christians can better influence that region for the Kingdom of God."
Patricoff also points to the Supreme Court decision of Dred vs. Scott, where African Americans were deemed less than human, to call into questions the Roe vs. Wade Supreme courts ruling on the worth of unborn children.
Patricoff believes every human life has value, and that liberty can be found only in Christ. "I want to remind American Christians that 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.'"
In "Separation," the first of the five-book "Destination Hope" historical fiction epic, Charles J. Patricoff addresses slavery and liberty through the eyes of Confederate chaplain, Nathaniel Graham. As Nathaniel begins to understand that all men are created equal, he feels torn between his duty to the Confederate army and his newfound convictions.
"Most Civil War stories romanticize or glorify the period," says author Charles Patricoff. "This story, on the other hand, deals with the spiritual revivals that took place during the war and addresses the issues from a Southern Christian's point of view."
Patricoff, who teaches the American Civil War at Colorado Christian University near Denver, has studied the Civil War for over 40 years. Including his time in the US Air Force, Patricoff has worked in the defense industry for over 27 years. He currently works as a Sr. Contract Manager for Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp, a major supplier for the military, NASA, and Homeland Security.
SOURCE: HNN Staff (8-17-07)
The review appeared in the International Journal of Middle East Studies (Volume 39 Issue 03 - Aug 2007). The journal's editors were unaware that Gunter had blurbed the book; it reportedly arrived in their office sans cover.
After the review appeared two scholars objected to Gunter's decision to review the book. A contentious exchange ensued:
KEITH DAVID WATENPAUGH: A RESPONSE TO MICHAEL GUNTER'S REVIEW OF THE ARMENIAN MASSACRES IN OTTOMAN TURKEY
Michael Gunter should not have written a review of Guenter Lewy's The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide for IJMES or for any other scholarly journal, as he was intimately involved in the prepublication review and promotion of the book.
The mere fact that he did so, however, indicates a significant procedural failure on the part of the journal. Because these procedures rely on the collegial, ethical, and professional behavior of those asked to review books and articles for publication, it is Gunter himself who bears chief responsibility for an act that has undermined the credibility of IJMES and weakened its crucial position as the journal of record for the Middle East studies community. He is a senior political scientist at an established American university who has published books, articles, and book reviews. Believing that he was unaware of the ethical burden of conscientious review and the need to recuse himself in the face of obvious conflicts of interest is difficult, if not impossible.
Gunter's apparently unethical behavior cannot and should not be disconnected from the book he took it upon himself to review. Lewy's book is likewise the product of a series of ethical lapses, most particularly, genocide denial the purposeful misrepresentation through manipulation or misuse of the historical record of an episode of genocidal violence to lessen the perception of its severity, to put causal responsibility for genocide upon its victims or survivors, or to reject altogether that genocide took place. Moreover, it is a form of scholarly fabrication usually done in the hopes of promoting a particular political or social agenda and is wholly unrelated to the professional practice of historical revision. In this case, it is the genocide of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian citizens during World War I that is at issue. However, regardless of the specific subject, the project of genocide denial depends for its success, in large part, on the subversion of established principles and systems of professional scholarship and review. The way Gunter was able to subvert one of those critical principles and place this review in IJMES mirrors the larger vulnerabilities and potential failures of those systems exploited in order to publish Lewy's book in the first place.
Lewy is a retired professor of political science who specialized in contemporary American politics. His recent writings on mass violence including those on Native Americans, the Roma, and now the Armenians indicate a belief that the Shoah was the unique genocide of the 20th century, a position generally rejected by scholars of the Holocaust, including Raphael Lemkin, the Polish jurist who coined the term genocide in 1944.
Lewy's underlying rhetorical strategy is to contend that because there is no absolute agreement among historians of the Ottoman period that genocide happened or that historians cannot agree on all of the particular historical facts of the genocide one cannot conclude that genocide took place. This pseudomorph of critical rational discourse, inherently flawed though it may be, is the style employed most often in Holocaust denial and is similar to the lazy and anti-intellectual techniques used by policymakers to reject taking measures to combat global warming and by fundamentalist proponents of"Intelligent Design" who advocate the inclusion of the supernatural in high-school biology textbooks.
It is important to note that the larger purpose of Lewy's intellectual output is less to exonerate contemporary Turkey from a genocide that occurred at the beginning of the last century which I imagine is the hope of some of the book's supporters and elements of the Turkish state that have bought hundreds of copies of this book for free distribution than to construct a conceptual lattice for Holocaust exceptionalism and defend political claims that might be derived thereby.
The majority of the postpublication reviews of Lewy's work have identified obvious and egregious errors of fact, interpretation, and omission most of which presumably would have been caught had the text been carefully scrutinized by competent and nonpartisan readers. Thus, one can surmise that in the course of the editorial review the text was sent to individual scholars whose own views would ideologically cohere with those of Lewy's thesis and not necessarily to specialists in Ottoman history familiar with the archival evidence in its original languages or cognizant of the larger historiographical issues and context of the events of 1915 22. In addition, it is not too great a leap to conclude that only with this corruption of the process, in which editors and reviewers desperate to see this book come out regardless of its inherent weaknesses and lack of scholarly value were involved, would this work have been published by a university press. In the end, IJMES compounded this abuse of the process albeit inadvertently so when it ran Gunter's review.
Denial of this sort is a constant feature of the historical study of genocide, and Lewy's work is not an especially unique example of denial literature, either in form or substance. Still, seeking to silence or criminalize denial, as is the case in parts of Europe, is wrong. Ignoring it is usually a good strategy, but it has grown increasingly difficult in a time when knowledge is so fragmented and when the more traditional ways of evaluating the credibility and quality of scholarship are disappearing in the face of Google and Wikipedia. In the end, the way to deal with denial and collectively protect ourselves and our reputations from its corrosive influence is in public forums like IJMES. Here we can use consistent and transparent professional standards of review, disciplinarily and intellectually sound, to evaluate a work's evidence, argument, and overall scholarship. I am confident that, as Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote,"[s]unlight is the best of disinfectants." Unfortunately, we lost our initial opportunity to shed that much needed light on this work.
I also worry that unless and until Gunter's review is unambiguously and unequivocally revoked, it will continue to bear the IJMES imprimatur of legitimacy. Consequently, the journal is made an unwitting accomplice to denial. What is worse is relegating to the back pages comments by Joseph Kéchichian and me and then providing the individual whose actions visited this fraud upon the journal a chance to respond, combining to give the false impression that we are merely dealing here with a legitimate intellectual controversy and a difference in historical interpretations.
We must be concerned about the erosion of our academic freedom and freedom of speech and should take all measures necessary to protect both. That means preserving even the right, as is often the case, to be utterly wrong. Alongside that extraordinary category of rights, we must work even harder to take academic responsibility and enforce upon ourselves disciplinary rules and community-defined ethics. We should never confuse that act with censorship, self or otherwise, but rather see it as the fullest expression of our academic freedom.
Pierre Vidal-Naquet notes in his work on Holocaust denial, The Assassins of Memory (1993),"It is not enough to be on the right side of the issue. What is needed is ceaseless work, the establishment of facts, not for those who know them and who are about to disappear, but for those who are legitimately demanding as to the quality of the evidence." I would add only that as we study a part of the world where genocide denial has become an ugly and salient feature of public discourse, we should redouble our commitment to that task.
Upon reading the proofs of this exchange, the writer wished to make clarifications.
I have no objection to being labeled one of two Armenian gentleman,‚ but the Editor should note that I am of Northern European origin and am not Armenian.
JOSEPH A. KÉCHICHIAN: A RESPONSE TO MICHAEL GUNTER'S REVIEW OF THE ARMENIAN MASSACRES IN OTTOMAN TURKEY
Perhaps inadvertently, IJMES rendered a disservice to its readers by allowing Michael M. Gunter to review The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, by Guenter Lewy, because not only the book but also the reviewer pose serious problems.
Perhaps inadvertently, IJMES rendered a disservice to its readers by allowing Michael M. Gunter to review The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, by Guenter Lewy, because not only the book but also the reviewer pose serious problems.
First, how is it that a person who has already praised a book on its back cover is asked to review it in IJMES? Indeed, the words of Gunter's dust-jacket quote ("A very significant contribution to a long-standing debate. There is no other comparable work that so objectively, thoroughly, and meticulously reviews and analyzes so many different sources on both sides of this bitterly divisive issue") find their way into his review virtually unchanged:"This is a very significant contribution to a long-standing historiographical debate … there is no other comparable work that so objectively and thoroughly reviews and analyzes so many different sources on both sides of this bitterly divisive issue." Because the dust-jacket quote was written prior to the book's publication, there are serious questions raised about the conditions under which the IJMES review was written and the motives of the author. Is it not tantamount to support for a promotional proclivity or, perhaps, even an example of blatant conflict of interest that prefigures in the tone and texture of the review?
Second, it is critical to note that Gunter, the reviewer, occupies a central place in the massive campaign—ardently promoted by successive Turkish governments—to deny the Armenian genocide. For decades he supported that campaign even though he has not produced a single work with a focus on this subject. Gunter has published two studies, Transnational Armenian Activism (1990) and "Pursuing the Just Cause of Their People": A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism (1986), as well as several essays that examine alleged Armenian"terrorism"—but none of his work was on the genocide, either directly or indirectly. Such lack of specialized competence in and of itself certainly does not, and should not, disqualify a reviewer from engaging in a reasonably crafted assessment if everything else falls into its proper place.
Unfortunately, this predicament is compounded, not mitigated, by the attendant fact that Gunter has placed himself in the forefront of a parallel campaign to promote, directly and indirectly and with remarkable zeal, the"official" Turkish line of denial of the Armenian genocide (resmi tarih). This is more significant when one considers that a host of Turkish historians, free from the shackles of the official line, are not only refusing to deny the genocide but in one way or another are also recognizing its occurrence. They are led by Fatma Müge Göcek (University of Michigan), Halil Berktay (Sabanci University), Engin Deniz Akarli (Brown University), Selim Deringil (Bogazici University), and, above all, Taner Akçam (University of Minnesota). Göcek dismisses what she called the Turkish government's denialist"master state narrative"; Berktay unequivocally concedes the truth of the"genocide"; Akarli concludes that the relevant facts"invite the term genocide"; Deringil dismisses a key element in the Turkish denial syndrome, namely, the bogus" civil war" argument; and Akçam explicitly concludes, on the basis of a plethora of official and authenticated Ottoman documents, that the wartime anti-Armenian measures were genocidal in nature, intent, and outcome. Akçam's latest book, titled A Shameful Act (a quotation attributed to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk denouncing the crime perpetrated against the Armenians), is filled with authentic Turkish sources that remarkably are ignored by Gunter.
In light of these views, Gunter's exaltation of the volume—in such terms as a hallmark of"academic objectivity and courage" and"no other comparable work that so objectively and thoroughly reviews and analyses"—calls for a closer examination of Guenter Lewy and his book.
One is dealing here with a book whose author admits a lack of familiarity with both Ottoman and Turkish languages. Lewy declares that he does not know Turkish at all and that he had to depend on"two Turkish speaking persons" (p. 292, n. 112) as well as on others"who have translated some important Turkish materials for me" (p. xiii). However, departing from a very common standard procedure, Lewy repeatedly avoids identifying those who, he says, helped him in the matter of translation of numerous documents. Would it be unfair to ask, under these circumstances, why go to such a highly unusual act of withholding?
Oblivious to this serious problem, Lewy then proceeds to take to task almost everyone who has published extensively on the Armenian genocide. For example, Donald Bloxham, Richard Hovannisian, Taner Akçam, and Erik Jan Zürcher are criticized for their emphasis on the role of the Special Organization (p. 88); Ronald Suny, Robert Melson, Leo Kuper, and Richard Hovannisian again for their rejection of the Turkish argument of Armenian provocation (p. 17); Melson and Hovannisian for their reliance on findings of the postwar Turkish Military Tribunal prosecuting the authors of the Armenian genocide (pp. 43, 78); and the late British historian David Lang and Melson on the relative value of the Naim–Andonian documents (p. 66). Topping this list is, of course, Vahakn N. Dadrian, who, Lewy admits, is his special target (p. 282, n. 3), not only in two chapters as he claims, but also throughout the book (see index, pp. 361–62).
A typical and, quite frankly, revealing blunder in this respect, probably due to his lack of Turkish, is Lewy's handling of Special Organization Chief Esref Kusçuba[sdotu ]i's confession of his involvement in the wholesale elimination of Armenians. In his personal account of an exchange with wartime Grand Vizier Said Halim Pa[sdotu ]a in Malta, when both were detained by the British, Kusçubai, referring to his involvement in the matter of Armenian deportations, identifies himself"as a man who had assumed a secret assignment" [hadisenin iç yüzünde va[zdotu ]ife almi bir insan]. Not knowing Turkish, Lewy in an endnote (p. 292, n. 112) admits that he consulted two"Turkish speaking persons," whose identities are, as noted above, suspiciously withheld and who evidently misled him. Dadrian not only quoted this item separately and identified it in an extra separate endnote ("Ottoman Archives and Denial of the Armenian Genocide," in ed. Richard Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide: History, Politics, Ethics [New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992], 300–310, n. 72), but also provided in italics the Turkish original text of that very quotation. This single case of distortion, if not outright falsehood, illustrates the level of scholarship present in the work. Incidentally, this is the same Dadrian whose three separate monographs—presumably scrutinized by several anonymous reviewers as IJMES protocol requires—were published in this journal (18:3 , 23:4 , and 34:1 ).
For all of these"accomplishments," Lewy has been amply rewarded by Turkish authorities in Ankara and abroad through the launching of a massive campaign to distribute his book free of charge to libraries and to select groups of diplomats. Equally noteworthy, Lewy has been decorated at a special ceremony in Ankara with, ironically, the Insanliga Karss i Islenen Suçlar Yüksek Ödülü (High Award for Fighting in Opposition to Crimes Against Humanity) by the Avrasya Stratejik Arasstirmalar Merkezi (ASAM or, in English, the Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies). It may be worth noting that ASAM is a well-known organization whose mission includes the systematic denial of the Armenian genocide through propagandistic and partisan research and publications; the organization is sponsored and underwritten by the Turkish government. Again, none of these facts is indicated in the review as Gunter chooses not to disclose them.
Superseding in import all these tribulations is, of course, the fundamental issue of the scholarly value of the book and the related matter of the competence of its author. Taking full advantage of the fact that the voluminous corpus of Turkish Military Tribunal files mysteriously disappeared following the capture of Istanbul by the insurgent Kemalists in the fall of 1922, Lewy in monotonous refrain repeats the standard argument—"the original is missing"—as if every single reference to all these documents was a deliberate and malicious fabrication. A case in point is the detailed narration of the organization and execution of the Armenian genocide by General Mehmet Vehip, the commander-in-chief of the Turkish third Army. The bulk of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire was subject to the military jurisdiction of that army, and the most gruesome and inexorable aspects of the genocide were inflicted upon that population—prior to Vehip's taking over the high command. The general's detailed account is not only prima facie evidence of the great crime, but it is also testimony to the uprightness and decency of a Turkish military commander—unfortunately a rarity of rarities in the all-consuming atmosphere of state-sponsored denials. Even though the original is missing, the full text was read into the record of the court-martial proceedings on 29 March 1919, with portions of it having been published in Tavim-i Vaayi[hamza ], the government's official gazette (no. 3540, 5 May 1919 and no. 3771, 9 February 1920). This entire text was also published in the April 1919 issues of the French-language but Turkish-owned newspaper Le Courrier de Turquie, as well as in Vait, a Turkish daily, on 31 March 1919.
Without mincing words, this vaunted Turkish general declared that the central committee of the ruling monolithic political party of Ittihad (the Union and Progress Party, otherwise identified as CUP), in line with the terms of"a resolute plan" (muarer bir plan) and"a definite prior deliberation" (mu[tdotu ]labira[sdotu ]d ta[hdotu ]tinda), ordered"the massacre and extermination" ( atl ve imha[hamza ]) of Armenians and that governmental authorities [rüesa[hamza ]-yi [hdotu ]ükumet] meekly and obediently submitted to this CUP order. Furthermore, the general disclosed that countless convicts were released from the empire's various prisons for massacre duty; he described them as"gallows birds" (ipten ve kazikdan kurtulmus yaranini) and"butchers of human beings" (insan kasaplari) (as cited in Taner Akçam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility , 154, and in Dadrian, IJMES 34 , 85, n. 111).
The utterly partisan thrust of Lewy's book has proven to be its very undoing as revealed by the countless factual and historical errors punctuating it. This deplorable fact is amply documented in a ten-part Turkish-language serial analysis undertaken by Akçam. Point by point and item by item, Akçam depicts these errors, at the same time expressing his amazement as to why a person with such limited knowledge of the subject would want to venture into such a project. Still, the errors in the Lewy volume are not only factual and historical but also include mistranslations and misquotations (see the Istanbul weekly Agos, June, July, and early August issues in 2006).
Finally, in his review, Gunter notes that"Lewy finds most valuable…the consular reports…of Leslie A. Davis, the wartime American Consul in Harput. Of special importance are accounts of his visits to several mass execution sites, one of the few such reports available from any source." Nevertheless, with remarkable abandon, he joins Lewy in glossing over the damning conclusion this American diplomat, a rare eyewitness to mass murder, reached when he reported to his superiors in Washington, D.C. In that pungent summary report, Davis"estimated that the number is not far from a million," when giving an approximation of the magnitude of Armenian victims. He also emphasized that the massacres were not all perpetrated"by bands of Kurds," as so emphatically claimed by Lewy (pp. 167, 173–74, 182), but by government-appointed and government-directed"gendarmes who accompanied" the deportee convoys. Confirming General Vehip's disclosure, Davis directly implicated" companies of armed convicts who have been released from prison for the purpose of murdering the Armenian exiles." The American consul's conclusion is compressed in this single statement:"The whole country is one vast charnel house, or, more correctly speaking, slaughterhouse" (Davis, The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat's Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1915–1917 , 156, 158, 160).FURTHER COMMENTS
Upon reading the proofs of this exchange, the writer wished to make clarifications.
"I mailed a letter to IJMES which was shared with Professor Watenpaugh. The reader may assume that we coordinated our letters, which we have not, and it may be important to point that out."MICHAEL GUNTER: A REPLY TO JOSEPH KÉCHICHIAN AND KEITH WATENPAUGH
I would have preferred not to reply to these scurrilous attempts at academic character assassination by Joseph Kéchichian and Keith Watenpaugh, but silence might have been misconstrued as somehow agreeing with them.
The main argument these two try to make against me is that I did not agree with their interpretation of what happened to Armenians during World War I and that I did not have a right to write my review of Guenter Lewy's The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide in the first place because I praised the book on its back cover. The two even declaim that by publishing my review IJMES"rendered a disservice to its readers" that has"undermined the credibility of IJMES" because I am guilty of"unethical behavior,""fraud," and so forth. They also lecture IJMES that, although it should publish their five pages attacking Lewy and me, the journal should not publish any reply that I might choose to make. Perhaps noticing that I live in Tennessee, the two even hurl the proverbial kitchen sink my way by accusing me of using"lazy and anti-intellectual techniques" employed"by fundamentalist proponents of ‘Intelligent Design’ who advocate the inclusion of the supernatural" What incredible, self-righteous, pompously ignorant arrogance!
First, there is no academic rule that someone who pens a few words of praise for the back of a book cannot later write a review of it. If there were, a number of good reviews never would have been written. Clearly, my review should stand or fall on its merits, not some alleged rule invented by my two detractors.
Second, neither Guenter Lewy nor I deny the terrible suffering imposed upon the Armenians. Any objective reading of Lewy's book and my review will make this obvious. What we do not agree with is the interpretation many Armenians and others make that what befell Armenians constituted premeditated genocide as defined by Armenians and their many supporters. My two critics notwithstanding, Lewy and I are not alone in this contention. Indeed, Edward J. Erickson's review of Lewy's book in the Middle East Journal 60 (Spring 2006) finds much to praise about it and concludes,"I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the question of what really happened to the Ottoman Armenians in 1915" (p. 379). Writing in the prestigious Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 23 March 2006, the distinguished German scholar of comparative genocide, Eberhard Jackel, also praised Lewy's book. A number of years ago IJMES also published a heated exchange between Richard G. Hovannisian and the late Stanford J. Shaw,"Forum: The Armenian Question" (IJMES 9 , 379–400). Such distinguished scholars of Ottoman history as Bernard Lewis, Roderic Davison, J. C. Hurewitz, and Andrew Mango, among others, have all rejected the appropriateness of the genocide label for what occurred. I guess this makes these other major scholars and publications also guilty of"fraud" and other related sins by daring to publish such thoughts!
Joseph Kéchichian furthermore incorrectly opines that"Gunter, the reviewer, occupies a central place in the massive campaign—ardently promoted by successive Turkish governments—to deny the Armenian genocide … even though he has not produced a single work with a focus on this subject." As anyone who knows my work on the Kurdish and Armenian questions realizes, I often have taken critical stands against the Turkish government. (Maybe the Turkish government has hired me to throw its critics off the scent!) In contrast, Joseph Kéchichian and Keith Watenpaugh clearly are spokespersons for the longtime, massive Armenian campaign to trash any scholars who dare to disagree with their own particular version of history. Indeed, in France, Armenians have even succeeded in making it a crime to criticize them. In 1995 the highly respected scholar of Turkish studies Bernard Lewis was actually fined for questioning the Armenian version of history. Despite their pious denials, it is clear that my two critics would like to extend the French system to the United States.
As for Kéchichian's erroneous assertion that I never"produced a single work with a focus on this subject," I would like to call to his attention a lengthy article I wrote (in an Armenian journal no less) on"The Historical Origins of the Armenian–Turkish Enmity" in a special issue on"Genocide and Human Rights" (Journal of Armenian Studies IV, nos. 1–2 , 257–88). A shorter, slightly different version appeared as"The Historical Origins of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism" (Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 9 [Fall 1985], 77–96). He might also note my short piece,"Why Do the Turks Deny They Committed Genocide against the Armenians?" published in the leading German journal on Middle East politics and economics (Orient 30 [September 1989], 490–93).
Moreover, my being asked over the years to write five separate reviews in the two leading journals on Middle Eastern studies in the United States has further recognized my objectivity on this subject. In IJMES I reviewed (1) Merill D. Peterson,"Starving Armenians": America and the Armenian Genocide, 1915–1930 and After (May 2005) and (2) Richard Hovannisian, ed., The Armenian Genocide in Perspective and Akaby Nassibian, Britain and the Armenian Question 1915–1923 (August 1989). In the Middle East Journal I reviewed (3) Vahakn N. Dadrian, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide (Autumn 1998), (4) Jacques Derogy, Resistance and Revenge: The Armenian Assassination of the Turkish Leaders Responsible for the 1915 Massacres and Deportations and Ephraim K. Jernazian, Judgment unto Truth: Witnessing the Armenian Genocide (Spring 1991), and (5) Kamuran Gurun, The Armenian File: The Myth of Innocence Exposed (Winter 1987).
Furthermore, my book"Pursuing the Just Cause of Their People": A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism (1986) opened with an entire chapter comparing differing Armenian and Turkish positions on what happened in 1915. It received some of the following positive reviews."This is in every respect a splendid book, which every university library and individual interested in the contemporary Middle East ought to purchase" (Middle East Studies Bulletin 21 [December 1987])."Professor Michael Gunter's study of contemporary Armenian terrorism is … carefully chronicled, and there is much material which helps to explain subsequent developments. … Well documented. … Gunter has made a notable contribution" (Middle Eastern Studies 25 [October 1989])."The book is an important one for anyone requiring a systematic account of a terrorist movement that began attacking Turkish officials and offices" (Christian Science Monitor, 10 March 1987). Illustrating the egregiously shocking way he interprets facts, however, Joseph Kéchichian pontificates that my book deals with"alleged Armenian ‘terrorism.’" Alleged? If this is how Kéchichian views recent Armenian terrorism, how can one trust his version of earlier events?
Finally surfeiting themselves with their badly conceived ad hominem attacks on my academic ethics and qualifications, these two Armenian gentlemen next turn their self-righteous diatribes against the accuracy of Lewy's book. Although they make some valid points regarding the Armenian massacres that neither Lewy nor I deny, the two also commit several blunders and possibly outright falsifications in their haste to preach to the choir. For example, they maintain"that a host of Turkish historians" are now agreeing with the Armenian version of history. Kéchichian manages, however, to name only five. Although their position provides food for thought, it hardly amounts to a mass conversion of Turkish scholars to the Armenian line. Indeed, the claim by one of the five (Taner Akçam) that Kemal Ataturk accepted the Armenian version of history is simply not true. Rather, Ataturk criticized the incompetence of the Ottoman government for not alleviating the sufferings of both Armenians and ethnic Turks.
Kéchichian further faults Lewy for not being able to read Ottoman and Turkish and for relying on two anonymous Turkish-speaking persons and others for translating important documents for him. Seeking to draw negative implications from this anonymity, Kéchichian declaims that their names have been"suspiciously withheld." This, of course, is simply another red herring because the translations will stand or fall on their accuracy, not on who made them. What probably really bothered Kéchichian here is that Lewy illustrates several times how pro-Armenian sources cite Turkish sources out of context or simply juxtapose them with ellipses to create different meanings. Vahakn N. Dadrian, often cited as one of the leading contemporary Armenian scholars of these events, is listed by Lewy as one of those who sometimes engages in these practices.
It is also interesting that inability to read Turkish does not prevent Kéchichian from praising as genocide experts Donald Bloxham, Robert Melson, and Leo Kuper, among others, who also do not know Turkish. In addition, if Kéchichian and his supporters understand Ottoman so well, why do some of them continue to tout as genocide evidence such obvious forgeries as the so-called Naim–Andonian documents and the supposed secret Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) meeting of February 1915 described by Mevlanzade Rifat? They weaken their own case by adding such spurious sources.
Kéchichian makes Esref Kuscubasi's statement that he was"a man who had assumed a secret assignment" read to be a confession of genocidal guilt, but as a head of the Special Organization, Kuscubasi naturally dealt with secret assignments. Taking that as a genocidal confession is the real distortion. General Mehmet Vehip's statements are hardly decisive. If the Ottoman government had been behind an extermination plan, Vehip was not in a position to know, as he was not part of the inner circles of power. At the most, Vehip was simply providing his own opinion, as he also did when he foolishly opined that Ataturk's war of independence was ruinous for the country. Leslie Davis was"not a rare eyewitness to mass murder." What he saw was corpses. How those people died and who killed them are matters open to debate. Davis relied entirely on his Armenian assistants and missionaries for information. When he wrote that convicts were released for the purpose of murdering Armenians, that was his opinion. There was a severe shortage of manpower during a desperate war, and making use of convicts is not an unusual practice. Lewy's lamenting of missing originals would be a concern of any objective scholar. If the postwar puppet Ottoman government was corrupt, the fact that some trial material was reproduced in the official newspaper of that government is not what one would necessarily call reliable evidence.
If Lewy's book may have been distributed free to a few libraries, it does not demonstrate that his book is somehow illegitimate. The fact that Lewy was presented with an award by the Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies (ASAM), a Turkish think tank, does not prove that he is lying and in the service of the Turkish government. An author does not control such matters. Kéchichian's claim that ASAM's"mission includes propagandistic and partisan research and publication" is an apt description of the Armenian Zoryan Institute that has published some of Taner Akçam's work. Erik Jan Zürcher received the Medal of High Distinction from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although he concluded in Turkey: A Modern History (1993) that"while the Ottoman government as such was not involved in genocide there was a centrally controlled policy of extermination, instigated by the CUP" (p. 121).
These problems, of course—and overly pious Turkish denials of any wrongdoing—do not prove or disprove what really occurred. Thirty years ago Gwynne Dyer aptly expressed the state of the disorderly discourse between most Armenian and Turkish exponents when he titled a revealing short analysis"Turkish ‘Falsifiers’ and Armenian ‘Deceivers’: Historiography and the Armenian Massacres" (Middle Eastern Studies 12 [January 1976]). Guenter Lewy also finds that"both sides have used heavy-handed tactics to advance their cause and silence a full and impartial discussion of the issues in dispute" (p. 238). However, his attempt to demonstrate this is denounced as a"fraud" by his Armenian critics.
Why then do most scholars accept uncritically the Armenian version of these events and demonize those who object? Why do Turks continue to maintain their innocence in the face of so much evidence? One must realize that the Armenian massacres in 1915 did not occur out of the blue but followed decades of Armenian violence and revolutionary activity that then elicited Turkish counterviolence. There are a plethora of Turkish sources documenting these unfortunate events. However, much more accessible to Western audiences are the studies by such eminent scholars as William L. Langer, The Diplomacy of Imperialism: 1890–1902 (1935) and Arnold J. Toynbee, The Western Question in Greece and Turkey: A Study in the Contact of Civilizations (1922), among others.
Armenians also have documented well that they sometimes gave as good as they received. See, for example, Louise Nalbandian, The Armenian Revolutionary Movement: The Development of Armenian Political Parties through the Nineteenth Century (1963), James G. Mandalian, ed., Armenian Freedom Fighters: The Memoirs of Rouben der Minasian (1963), and Garegin Pasdermadjian (Armen Garo), Bank Ottoman: Memoirs of Armen Garo (1990), among others. The Armenians, of course, present themselves as freedom fighters in these earlier events, but the objective scholar can understand how the Turks saw them as revolutionary and treasonous and may thus hesitate to characterize their response in 1915 as"genocide."
Moreover, throughout all these events, Armenians were never more than a large minority even in their historic provinces. However, they exaggerated their numbers before World War I and their losses during the war. Indeed, if Armenian figures for those who died were correct, there would have been few left at the end of the war. Instead, the Armenians managed to fight another war against the emerging Turkish republic following World War I for mastery in eastern Anatolia. After they lost, many Armenians in time came to claim that what had occurred after World War I was simply renewed genocide. Conversely, the Turks saw it as part of their war of independence and understandably hesitate to admit sole guilt for all these events.
Furthermore, as Christians, Armenians found a sympathetic audience in the West. Muslim Turks, by contrast, were the historic enemy of the Christian West. In addition, Armenians were much more adept at foreign languages than Turks and thus able to present their case more readily to the rest of the world. When the events in question occurred, Turks were again the enemy of the West and the object of Western propaganda. Of course, none of this excuses the horrible abuses that occurred, but these facts put what happened into a more accurate context and begin to explain why Turks feel that the term"premeditated genocide" is unfair to describe what occurred, especially when Armenians deny any guilt.
Moreover, Armenian willingness to employ unwise violence continued into more recent times despite the attempt by Joseph Kéchichian to term the murder of numerous Turkish diplomats in the 1970s and 1980s as merely"alleged Armenian terrorism." Several of these murders occurred in the United States. In addition, Armenian activists demanded that Cambridge University Press withdraw Stanford Shaw's History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (1977) because they did not agree with some of its findings; they threatened the noted UCLA history professor and even bombed his house in Los Angeles. Furthermore, one of the first things newly independent Armenia did upon winning its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 was to attack Turkic Azerbaijan and conquer some 16 percent of its territory. To this day, Armenia claims large sections of eastern Turkey. However, those who point out such inconvenient facts are denounced as"genocide deniers" who should not even have the right to express themselves. No wonder Turks are hesitant to confess to genocide as defined by their enemies.
RICK PERLSTEIN 8/15/07
The right's preeminent shrieking harpy—no, not Ann Coulter; even worse than Ann Coulter—importunes me with an"e-newsletter" about the latest goings-on at his David Horowitz Freedom Center. A tidbit that caught my eye:
One strong measurement of the effect we're having (and the need for what we do) came in the form of request from the head the FBI-California Highway Patrol Joint Counter-terrorism Task Force who called this week to ask if their group could use our flash video"What Every American Needs to Know About Jihad" as a training film.
See What Every American Needs to Know About Jihad for yourself, and let the California Highway Patrol know if you think this is productive use of their officers' time, and a useful contribution to California's public safety:
DAVID HOROWITZ 8/17/07
Does anyone wonder where the Tom Hayden-Jane Fonda SDS radicals went? The ones who chanted “Hey, hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today?” and cheered on the Communists in Vietnam, and went into the streets to demand America’s withdrawal from Vietnam and became suddenly silent when our troops were pulled and the Communists proceeded to slaughter two-and-a half million Cambodians and Vietnamese? Well today they are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, calling for a capitulation in the war in Iraq and referring to George Bush as Hitler, or perhaps merely suggesting that his mentality is fascist, while insisting and that America’s war in Iraq is a mask for conquest and imperial goals.
These aging New Lefties are also busy digging graves for the Jews in the Middle East by pretending that the genocidal Muslims in the Palestinian territories are really victims and that they only express genocidal desires because they’re frustrated and reduced to desperation by American and Israeli power. The lefties I’m referring to are grouped around magazines like the Nation and the American Prospect and websites like Daily Kos and Common Dreams; their organizations are among the netroots and Democratic Party caucuses like the “Campaign for America’s Future,” which are mandatory stations on the road to the White House for the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates.
These observations are provoked by an email I received from one of their number, a political piranha with intellectual pretensions named Rick Perlstein. His email read: “Couldn't find your jihad vid on YouTube as promised in your email today. What's the YouTube URL? – RP” Of course I knew who Rick Perlstein was, and the lack of a hello in his email or any modicum of civility, which even a political opponent could be expected to muster, might have caused a less generous fellow than I can sometimes be to ignore the communication or just tell him to get lost. After all, on past occasions he had attacked me pretty viciously, and this email was not a response to anything I had actually written but to an e-newsletter that my staff had put out which bore my signature.
But that is not the way I deal with people. Instead of treating him according to his deserts, I did what I usually do in such cases and let the insulting style float by me while responding thus:
“Dear Rick, I'm not sure which of our three videos you’re referring to. You can access all three at www.terrorismawareness.org....”
To which he replied: “Your e-newsletter says ‘What Every American Needs to Know About Jihad’ is on YouTube, which I’d like to embed on my site.”
By this time I had a pretty good idea that whatever he was going to do with the video was not going to be pleasant, but I went along with the program anyway: “I’m happy to be collaborating on something with you. I’ll have to pass this question on to my technical people…”
Perlstein did “embed” the video (which can be accessed here) on his website along with this commentary ...
"Young scholars of Middle Eastern literature or history are finding themselves ‘grilled' about their political views in job interviews, and in some cases losing job offers as a result of their answers," Anderson said. She carefully stressed that she wasn't talking about those who study policy or the current political climate.
This situation has arisen, Anderson said, because "outside groups that are critical of those in Middle Eastern studies ... are shifting the way scholarship is evaluated."
Anderson's lamentations are part of a rising chorus from professors who consider themselves besieged by external organizations whose mission is to critique the performance of scholars. These include the one I head, Campus Watch, to which Anderson clearly alluded in her remarks.
Academic radicals have for years controlled campus debate by blackballing internal opponents, intimidating students and crying censorship whenever their views or actions were challenged.
They got away with such behavior for two principal reasons: A sympathetic media assured the nation that universities were in the front lines of the fight for liberty and justice, and there were few external organizations or individuals offering sustained critiques of politicized scholarship and teaching. These helped ensure that the public's reservoir of good will toward universities remained full.
But times are changing.
Scholars no longer operate in an information vacuum. Their words carry great weight not only with their students, who pay for and deserve far better than they receive, but with the media, which funnel their often politicized, tendentious views to a broader public. Given such influence, it should shock no one that the professoriate is scrutinized and, when found wanting, challenged.
Anderson and company's frequently alleged claims that outsiders threaten their freedom of speech is, on the one hand, risible. Campus Watch and other organizations or individuals who critique academe don't possess the authority of the state; we have no subpoena power, no ability to force their acquiescence, nor do we seek it.
What we've challenged isn't the academics' right to speak as they wish. Rather, we've challenged their ability to practice their trade in hermetically sealed conditions free from the need to answer to anyone but themselves. We've held them accountable much as countless organizations and journalists have critiqued the behavior of other professions, from doctors and lawyers to clergy and businessmen.
Given this new reality on campus, it's almost understandable that outside critics could make the doyens of Middle East studies long for the days when they could operate behind closed doors. They had much to hide:
Apologetics: In May at Stanford, Arzoo Osanloo of the University of Washington decried "Western, paternalistic attitudes towards Muslim women," and asserted that Iranian women had made great strides since the 1979 revolution that brought the mullahs to power and implemented Sharia law.
She failed to mention the regime's ongoing crackdown on women who wear Western clothing or makeup, the brutal punishments (including death by stoning) of women accused of adultery, or the continuing illegal detention of American scholar Haleh Esfandiari of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
Hiding behind unproven death threats: In a failed attempt to silence critics and elicit media sympathy, some Middle East studies scholars claimed to have received death threats. Most recently, Nadia Abu El-Haj, an archaeologist [correction: she is an anthropologist] at Barnard College whose spurious denial of an ancient Hebrew connection to Jerusalem is designed to delegitimize the Jewish state, made such an unsubstantiated claim. Preceding her in making questionable charges were Khaled Abou el Fadl of UCLA and Joel Beinin of the American University of Cairo, whose charges against a journalist were dismissed.
Denying others the right to speak: Last November, Michigan professor Kathryn Babayan aided efforts to disrupt the public lecture of her former colleague Raymond Tanter, who was invited to campus to speak about Iran.
Silence in the face of genuine censorship: Moreover, the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association, the umbrella group for scholars of the field, has yet to utter a word in protest of Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz's successful settlement against Cambridge University Press, which saw the American-authored book "Alms for Jihad" pulped and pulled from bookstores.
As for Anderson's worry that young job candidates are grilled about their political views, I wonder what she would make of this: During a follow-up interview for a teaching position in a large state university, Middle East studies professor Timothy Furnish was told that he "appeared to be more conservative than others in [his] field" and that he "sounded like Daniel Pipes."
No, he didn't get the job.
SOURCE: http://eurweb.com (8-16-07)
Dr. Hilliard was in Egypt to deliver a keynote lecture at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization (ASCAC), an organization he helped found.
He was also lecturing for a study trip led by Reverend Jeremiah Wright of Chicago. The cause of death is attributed to complications from malaria. "Dr. Hilliard was in his favorite place, with his favorite person - our mother, when he died," said his daughter, Robi Hilliard Herron.
Dr. Hilliard was married for nearly 50 years to the Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard, former mayor of East Point, GA and former school board member for the South San Francisco Unified School District.
Born in Galveston, TX on August 22, 1933 to Asa G. Hilliard, II and Dr. Lois O. Williams, Dr. Hilliard graduated from Manual High School (1951) in Denver, CO. He received a B.A. from the University of Denver (1955) and taught in the Denver Public Schools before joining the U.S. Army, where he served as a First Lieutenant, platoon leader, and battalion executive officer in the Third Armored Infantry (1955-1957). He later received his M.A. in Counseling (1961) and Ed.D. in Educational Psychology (1963) from the University of Denver. In pursuit of his education, Dr. Hilliard worked in many occupations including teaching in the Denver Public Schools, as a railroad maintenance worker, and as a bartender, waiter and cook.
The professional career of Dr. Hilliard spans the globe. He was on the faculty at San Francisco State University; consultant to the Peace Corp in Liberia, West Africa; superintendent of schools in Monrovia, Liberia; and returned to San Francisco State as department chair and Dean of Education. At the time of his death, Dr. Hilliard was the Fuller E. Calloway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University in Atlanta where he held joint appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education....
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) (8-16-07)
The group’s criticisms of Ms. Abu El-Haj focus on her book Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (University of Chicago Press, 2001), which argues that Israeli archaeologists have produced biased research that bolsters the “origin myth” of the Jewish state.
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (8-16-07)
After close to 30 years at Marquette University, Wolfe, a political science professor known for his course on constitutional law that weeds out the formerly pre-law undergraduates from the future lawyers, will leave his tenured job to prepare full-time for the fall 2011 launch of a not-yet-named university in a location to be determined. It’s a dream he’s had since the 1980s.
Though Wolfe doesn’t yet know precisely what programs the institution will offer, how many students it will accommodate or where funding will come from, he does have a strong sense of the university’s core purpose: giving students “a unified, integrated conception of reality” based on the scholarship of St. Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century Roman Catholic thinker, and even further back to Classical thinkers like Aristotle.
“Contemporary higher education is increasingly specialized and disintegrated,” he said. “We want to go back to the kind of education where students develop a coherent understanding of deeply integrated areas of study.”
There are other institutions with a similar ethos, and the United States alone features half a dozen colleges and universities named after Aquinas, with differing levels of reliance on his philosophy. Thomas Aquinas College, in Santa Paula, Calif., offers an interdisciplinary curriculum with no majors, minors, electives or specializations. The college emphasizes “great books” and eschews lectures for tutorials, seminars and labs.
SOURCE: NYT (8-16-07)
John J. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, were not totally surprised by the reaction to their work. An article last spring in the London Review of Books outlining their argument — that a powerful pro-Israel lobby has a pernicious influence on American policy — set off a firestorm as charges of anti-Semitism, shoddy scholarship and censorship ricocheted among prominent academics, writers, policymakers and advocates. In the book, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and embargoed until Sept. 4, they elaborate on and update their case.
“Now that the cold war is over, Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States,” they write. “Yet no aspiring politician is going to say so in public or even raise the possibility” because the pro-Israel lobby is so powerful. They credit the lobby with shutting down talks with Syria and with moderates in Iran, preventing the United States from condemning Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon and with not pushing the Israelis hard enough to come to an agreement with the Palestinians. They also discuss Christian Zionists and the issue of dual loyalty.
Opponents are prepared. Also being released on Sept. 4 is “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control” (Palgrave Macmillan) by Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. The notion that pro-Israel groups “have anything like a uniform agenda, and that U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East is the result of their influence, is simply wrong,” George P. Shultz, a former secretary of state, says in the foreword. “This is a conspiracy theory pure and simple, and scholars at great universities should be ashamed to promulgate it.”...
SOURCE: Michael Neumann at Counterpunch (8-15-07)
In December 2000 I had the privilege of meeting Raul Hilberg at a conference in Berlin.
The conference celebrated the 100th anniversary of Franz Neumann's birth. Franz Neumann was at first a politically engaged legal theorist, close to the German Social Democratic Party. Forced into exile by the Nazis, he gained respect for his work Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, for his teaching at Columbia University, and for a few influential articles in political theory. I was there because I am his son. Hilberg was there because his great work, The Destruction of the European Jews, began as a doctoral thesis under my father's supervision.
The conference consisted mainly of scholars, some young, some older and established. Among the older scholars were several well respected figures, but none had Hilberg's reputation. There were, of course, papers presented, pretty good ones, I thought. They were supposed to be twenty minutes but often, as usual, the text was much longer than that and the talks went overtime. Nevertheless they were carefully prepared and their length was no great burden on the audience.
When Hilberg's turn came round, he stepped up to the podium with a single scrap of paper. Oh, I said to myself, a star: one of those famous guys too good to do actual work for a little gathering like this one.
Hilberg's talk was the most beautifully clear, the most carefully organized and the most illuminating, by far. Near the end it had a subtly dramatic flair. When American intelligence came to organize the vast store of Nazi government documents they had collected, he said, they organized them into broad categories corresponding to the fundamental areas in which the Nazi state deployed its efforts. He described the categories. Where did they come from, he asked? It turns out they came from Neumann's Behemoth.
That, I believe, was Hilberg to a T. No fine words about Neumann's influence or intellect, no narrowly academic disquisitions on the evolution of modern German political theory, no funny stories about his old professor, not historical footnotes, nor - my own sin - a presentation of pet ideas whose relevance to the conference remained a mystery. He paid tribute by getting right down to the business of explaining exactly how Neumann's thought had impact on the business of the world. It was stylish, instructive, and would have been self-effacing had we not sat stunned at the intellectual power of what had been so succinctly laid before us....
SOURCE: AP (8-14-07)
Gaehtgens, 67, will join the institute on Nov. 1. He currently heads the German Center for the History of Art in Paris, which he founded in 1997.
His appointment, announced Tuesday, concludes a 10-month search for a successor to Thomas Crow, who said last fall that he was accepting a chair in modern art history at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.
The Getty Research Institute, a branch of the J. Paul Getty Trust, provides resources to art researchers and operates one of the world's largest art history libraries. It also organizes public exhibitions, lectures and conferences.
SOURCE: AHA Blog (8-13-07)
The American Association of Colleges & Universities defines liberal education as “a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of value, ethics, and civic engagement.” The Teagle Foundation Project will examine how a history major prepares students for diverse career paths and for avocational interests that enhance civic engagement in their communities.
SOURCE: Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (8-14-07)
Dr. Priscilla Jones was appointed as the first Historian of the Department of Homeland Security in February 2004. She left her position in early August 2007 to return to the Air Force History Office where she worked for ten years before joining DHS.
During her tenure as chief historian, Dr. Jones focused on preserving the early history of DHS by conducting, and overseeing the transcription of, oral history interviews with more than 70 senior leaders and other staff; establishing a history office archive with the help of a contract archivist; and advocating for and assisting in the preservation of electronic and other records of the department.
For many years, the National Coalition for History (NCH), in partnership with several of its member organizations including the Society for History in the Federal Government, worked to create a precedent that would authorize a federal history office in public law. In October 2003, President Bush signed into law the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-90) that included language authorizing the establishment of an Office of History at the DHS. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) spearheaded the effort to add report language (S. Rept. 108-86) authorizing the DHS History Office into law.
There is a connection, I think, between Kluger’s prose and his point of view. The bards of American growth, including even otherwise great writers such as Walt Whitman, wrote rather like Kluger. Expansion made its votaries expansive, in a bad way. Kluger has the same subject, though he thinks the process was much darker, accomplished by “daring, cunning, bullying, bluff and bluster, treachery, robbery, quick talk, double-talk, noble principles, stubborn resolve, low-down expediency, cash on the barrelhead and, when deemed necessary, spilled blood.” But he can’t change the rhetoric. He is a booster standing on his head.
SOURCE: Campus Watch (8-10-07)
Indeed, he holds the current "Quote of the Month" spot for his review of the film "300," in which he likens the Persian Empire to modern-day America and the Spartans to the "Iraqi resistance, the Palestinians, [and] Hizbullah," while attempting to justify suicide bombings by comparing them to the Spartans' last stand at Thermopylae. This is what many have come to expect from Dabashi, whose apologetics seem to know no bounds.
Dabashi makes another appearance of sorts in an outtake from the upcoming documentary, "Indoctrinate U." The film, which will feature interviews with Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes and Middle East scholar Martin Kramer, focuses on bias and the "institutional intolerance" that's rampant in higher education. Filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney has been making deleted scenes available at the "Indoctrinate U" website and the first of these involves Columbia University....