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: Martin Kramer in the Jerusalem Post (9-6-07)
One of Cole's angles is to emphasize the brutality of all occupations, which he highlights by telling this story of a French atrocity:
"At one point, the French are said to have brought 900 heads of slain insurgents to Cairo in bags and ostentatiously dumped them out before a crowd in one of that city's major squares to instill Cairenes with terror. (Two centuries later, the American public would come to associate decapitations by Muslim terrorists in Iraq with the ultimate in barbarism, but even then hundreds of such beheadings were not carried out at once.)"
Right away, there's something unhinged about the part in the parentheses, which seems to plead on behalf of the video decapitators in Iraq. ("Your honor, we only did them one at a time.") But Cole went even further in prepared remarks he delivered at the Washington-based New America Foundation on August 24. Again he told the story of the French dumping heads in a Cairo square, with this addition: "We now associate beheadings with Islamic terrorism. But Bonaparte and the French Republic of course were the great beheaders initially. It was a very modern technique."
It was a very modern technique. If he'd said it in Q&A, I'd let it pass. But he said it in prepared remarks. I won't even begin the litany of historical precedents, stretching back to antiquity. But I will link here to an article by Timothy Furnish, "Beheading in the Name of Islam," which looks at decapitation in Islamic theology and history, and shows that it's been a sanctioned punishment from the very beginning, for criminals, dissidents, rebels, and defeated enemies. Most famously, the Prophet Muhammad ordered 600 to 900 men of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza executed by decapitation. Muhammad and his followers would seem to have had a millennium's head start over Napoleon in the race for the title of initial "great beheaders."
Cole's description of beheading as "very modern" isn't just a mistake. It tells you just how driven he is to blame the West for everything he deplores and relativize even the most revolting acts of Muslim terrorism. Terrorists are cutting off heads in Iraq? The West started the beheading with Napoleon, so we're just reaping what we've sown. They use terror? It's because Bush, like Napoleon, has followed "the strategy of ruling by terror and swift, draconian punishment for acts of resistance." We are guilty not only of our sins. We are guilty of theirs, by our example and our actions. You see, until we came along, everyone got to keep his head....
SOURCE: David Brooks in the NYT (9-7-07)
As you read his work, you quickly see what priorities the new social contract should embrace. It should offer basic security, so Americans will feel comfortable enough to move around and seize new opportunities. It should demand reciprocity; if you contribute to society, you’re protected from catastrophes no one can control. It should foster personal responsibility, stimulating private savings and self-insurance among those who can afford it.
Finally, it should foster self-sufficiency; if people do slip and require government support, they should be induced to rebound and take care of themselves. If you are fortunate enough to be upper-middle class, you shouldn’t be rigging the game so you grab benefits that should properly be allocated to the needy.
Butler is no libertarian. He doesn’t believe individuals should just be given Health Savings Accounts and then sent off to shop for health care. Nor does he believe that the primary social relationship is between individuals and government.
He sees America as a thick society, and believes that unions, churches and community groups should be involved in health care and social support. He sees America as a decentralized society. The worst thing we could do is get the smartest people in a room and build one system from Washington. Instead, Washington should set parameters and states should be left free to innovate and compete.
He also sees society as a continuum between the dead, living and unborn. We shouldn’t disrupt the lives of those who are happy with the insurance they have. On the other hand, it’s immoral to shift the costs to our children and grandchildren. Long-term expenses should be calculated into every decision we make.
SOURCE: Daniel Pipes at FrontpageMag.com (9-7-07)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, North America's foremost Islamist group, bills itself as a"civil rights organization," suggesting it maintains high standards of decency and morality. But, as I personally can attest, it fails abysmally to do so. Its seven-year-long campaign against me has included misappropriation, misrepresentation, misquotation, defamation, and inaccuracy, prompting one one writer recently to compare its propaganda with that of Nazi Germany.
Consider several dirty-trick episodes:
DanielPipes.com: On December 15, 2000, simultaneous with the debut of my website, www.DanielPipes.org, John Michael Janney registered the domain www.DanielPipes.com. Janney was both a member of CAIR and an employee at InfoCom Corporation in Richardson, Texas (a firm subsequently shuttered by the U.S. government and its owners found guilty of illegal transactions with Hamas, Libya, and Syria). Shortly thereafter, his rogue" com" website automatically redirected visitors to a page on CAIR's site defaming me. After I threatened a lawsuit, Janney failed to renew www.DanielPipes.com and I took hold of it in early 2002.
Cybercast News Service article: A cub reporter from CNSNews.com attended a talk I gave on July 24, 2003, at the Young America Foundation conference in Washington. She mangled what I'd said in a report the next day, ascribing to me terms I never use ("militaristic Islam,""Palestine"), sentiments I do not espouse (that Middle Easterners are reluctant to"go the Christian way"), and policy recommendations I vehemently reject ("We should be saying to the state of Israel to integrate [the Palestinian refugees] and let them become citizens").
Worst of all, she stated that"Pipes added that he doesn't perceive the Islamic people as divided into two groups: the radical terrorists and those who are not." In fact, I said that I don't perceive Islamists dividing into two groups but see them all as totalitarians. Using this faulty report, CAIR"action alert" number 390, dated July 27, trumpeted the headline"Daniel Pipes Compares ‘Islamic People' to ‘Nazis'."
I pointed out to the CNSNews.com editors the mistakes their reporter had made. They listened to a tape of my talk, acknowledged their journalist's errors, and retracted her article, pulling it from the website and sending letters, both electronic and paper, to CAIR to inform it of this action. CAIR, however, refused to acknowledge the retraction, and its calumny against me remains on its website to this day.
Shi‘ite endorsement: On August 20, 2003, a group calling itself"American Muslims of the Shia tradition" sent me a letter endorsing President Bush's nominating me to the U.S. Institute of Peace board, which I promptly posted. Leading the charge against my nomination, CAIR pressured the signatories to withdraw their endorsement, which some did. CAIR then accused me, in its"American Muslim News Briefs," dated September 15, of having"misrepresented" their support.
In response, the Shi`ites favoring my nomination issued a second statement exposing CAIR's methods:"On August 20, 2003, a group of Shia organizations endorsed Mr. Pipes. However, on September 13, 2003, few members of this group withdrew their endorsement stating that they had no knowledge of that endorsement. Also, they alleged that Mr. Pipes misrepresented the issue by listing their names as the endorsees. That was not so. He acted in good faith on the statement that was made available to him. We regret this action on their part." In short, the Shi`ites accused CAIR, not me, of misrepresentation.
Edward Kennedy letter: In a letter to the Boston Herald on August 29, 2003, Sen. Edward Kennedy explained his opposition to my USIP nomination earlier that month. He also praised me, writing that"Pipes is a serious scholar, and I would support him for another post." In its distribution of this letter (American Muslim News Briefs, August 30, 2003), CAIR reprinted Kennedy's letter, omitting the above sentence.
Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has for years engaged in dirty tricks against Daniel Pipes.
Giuliani campaign: As PipeLineNews.org showed in its article,"CAIR Continues Its Campaign of Deceit against Daniel Pipes," when the news came out in August 2007 of my connection to Rudy Giuliani's campaign for the presidency, CAIR sent out an attack piece,"Muslim-Basher Joins Giuliani Campaign," that thrice twisted my words. For example, CAIR quoted me telling the American Jewish Congress in late 2002:
I worry very much from the Jewish point of view that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims...will present true dangers to American Jews.
Ah, but as with the Kennedy letter, watch out for those slippery ellipses. Here is the full quote:
I worry very much, from the Jewish point of view, that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims, because they are so much led by an Islamist leadership, that this will present true dangers to American Jews.
"Because they are so much led by an Islamist leadership" - i.e., I worry about American Muslims because they are led by CAIR and other groups with an extremist agenda. Mysteriously, that phrase dropped out. My statement takes on a different meaning with it back in.
As PipeLineNews.org puts it,"CAIR has once again proven itself to be comprised of dissimulators, engaging in a well-established pattern of half truths and misrepresentations that would make any of the Third Reich's propagandists proud."
SOURCE: David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin at FrontpageMag.com (9-7-07)
... An entire Santa Cruz curriculum devoted to similar revolutionary agendas is also one of the oldest and most influential Women’s Studies programs in the country. Its creators have renamed it the Department of Feminist Studies to reflect their real agenda which is to provide a training center for political radicals. The chief architect of these academic programs is Bettina Aptheker, a former Party comrade of Professor Davis and a well-known Berkeley radical in her own right. Like Huey Newton, Aptheker received her PhD from the Santa Cruz History of Consciousness program, which allowed her to submit as a “scholarly” thesis, a collection of political articles previously rejected by the Communist Party’s publishing house because of her deviation on the “woman question” (Aptheker is a lesbian activist).
In a recently published autobiography, she described her initial reluctance to take on an academic career, and explained how she overcame her hesitation when Marge Frantz, a lecturer in American Studies at Santa Cruz and, like Aptheker, a Bay Area Communist, advised her: “It’s your revolutionary duty!” Aptheker was duly made the instructor for the “Introduction to Women’s Studies” course in the fledgling program: “I redesigned the curriculum and re-titled it, ‘Introduction to Feminism,’ making it more overtly political, and taught the class in the context of the women’s movement.”
According to Aptheker, most of her students “were activists themselves” and nothing remotely academic entered her lesson plan: “Teaching became a form of political activism for me, replacing the years of dogged meetings and intrepid organizing with the immediacy of a liberatory practice,…” This abusive approach to education was made possible by the abdication of university authorities and the shirking of their legal obligations to students and the public....
SOURCE: Juan Cole at Informed Comment (blog) (9-7-07)
CCGA maintains that the speakers, authors of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, needed to be balanced by an opposing viewpoint. But both have spoken there before without needing to be immediately contradicted by someone else. (Personally, I object to this idea of 'balancing' speakers during their events; lots of controversial views have been expressed at CCGA without a counter. If they want balance, they can invite someone else later in the year or the next year. And note that in the US public sphere and media, "balance" almost never requires that a real living Palestinian be allowed to speak for him or herself, alongside representatives of the Zionist point of view. Otherwise Abraham Foxman would have to carry a Palestinian around with him everywhere he spoke, to provide 'balance'.)
MESA, with about 2600 members, is just the professional organization of the researchers at North American universities who mainly teach and write about the Middle East. You'll never see most of them on television and they aren't often consulted by politicians, but they are the ones who know Middle Eastern languages and spend a lifetime trying to understand the place.
Anyway, here's MESA's letter:
4 September 2007
Marshall M. Bouton, President
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
332 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1100
Chicago, Illinois 60604-4416
Dear Mr. Bouton:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). We wish to convey to you our distress regarding your decision to cancel a forum, scheduled for September 27, 2007, in which two of this country’s most distinguished professors of Political Science, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, were to speak about their new book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. This action on your part constitutes a serious violation of the principles of free expression and the free exchange of ideas. We urge you to invite professors Walt and Mearsheimer to speak at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs at a mutually convenient time in the near future. It is important to rectify the effect that your cancellation on July 24 has had in reinforcing an intellectual environment that seeks to restrict informed and critical discussion of issues that are vital to this country’s future.
The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. The preeminent organization in the field, the Association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has more than 2600 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.
According to numerous press reports, pressure from supporters of Israel who are critical of Walt and Mearsheimer led you to take the highly unusual step of canceling the previously scheduled event. In these reports, you are cited as saying that the speakers are controversial and that you preferred that they appear in “an appropriate forum” balanced by an opposing viewpoint. Yet, John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, have spoken before the Council on numerous occasions in the past without being forced to share the podium with those who oppose their points of view. It is only in this case, that of a presentation critical of Israeli policy and its supporters, that they have been subjected to the litmus test of “balance.” We regret that you chose to succumb to pressure exerted on the Council and are dismayed that in justifying your actions you have adopted the argument that controversial ideas should not be aired unless they are immediately and at the same event “balanced” by opposing views.
As the Association of American University Professors, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many other organizations have persuasively argued in official statements, the argument of “balance,” selectively invoked, has been repeatedly used to stifle the free exchange of ideas, especially when it comes to discussions about Israel and U.S. foreign policy. We are concerned that your decision --reminiscent of that taken by the Council-General of the Polish Consulate in New York to cancel a talk on Israel and U.S. foreign policy on October 3, 2006 by the renowned historian New York University Professor Tony Judt-- contributes to raising the wall of censorship. Indeed, three other organizations in Chicago as well the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, among others, have since either cancelled or turned down appearances by the authors.
We strongly urge you to reconsider your decision of July 24, and in the process affirm your support for free expression and the free exchange of ideas, by inviting Professors Walt and Mearsheimer to give a talk at the Council without requiring that they share the podium and without restrictions on the content of their presentation.
We look forward to your response.
SOURCE: Benjamin Schwarz in the Atlantic (10-1-07)
The Stripping of the Altars drew on a dizzying array of sources and concentrated on the externals of medieval Chris tian ity: sacraments, altars, processions, images. In this far more tightly focused book, Duffy examines a small, concrete body of evidence in order to illuminate the history of prayer—which, he acknowledges, “is as difficult to write as the history of sex, and for some of the same reasons”—and its relationship to the development of intimacy, interiority, and individuality. ...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) (Click here for embedded links.) (9-5-07)
None of that was necessary.
Mr. Finkelstein and the university have reached a settlement, and he has resigned.
Finkelstein and DePaul Settle (Inside Higher Ed)
SOURCE: http://www.provincetownbanner.com (9-6-07)
Merging art and action, theater and history, “The People Speak” has toured the country with various actors performing voices of dissent throughout history, such as Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, Emma Goldman, Helen Keller, Eugene V. Debs, Fannie Lou Hamer, Genova Johnson Dollinger, a striker at General Motors in Flint, Michigan, and James Lawrence Harrington, a Gulf War resister, among others.
“The People Speak” comes to Provincetown Town Hall in a special event in recognition of the sixth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. Presented by the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, performers include Erin Cherry, Andre Gregory, Laura Esterman, Robert Finch, Cortez Nance, Hubert Point-Du-Jour, John Rothman, Kathy Shorr, Lili Taylor and Jeff Zinn, WHAT artistic director and son of Howard Zinn, who will introduce the excerpts. ....
SOURCE: Scott McLemee at the website of Inside Higher Education (9-5-07)
This was a title one might reasonably expect to see issued by a commercial publisher: Shanker, who died in 1997, was for many years the president of the American Federation of Teachers, which he helped build into one of the strongest unions in the AFL-CIO. It now has more than a million members, including about 160,000 who work in higher education; even if only one in a hundred were interested in the union’s history, that is quite a potential audience.
At the same time, it was a surprise to find the book published by a press better known for titles in cultural theory: works embodying a certain abstract radicalism, several miles in stratosphere above the labor movement. And Shanker, besides being a union bureaucrat, was something of a hardboiled ideologue – a fierce Cold Warrior, but no less ardent a Culture Warrior, denouncing both affirmative action and multiculturalism in tones that were, let’s say, emphatic.
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (9-5-07)
On Tuesday, the Middle East Studies Association released two letters protesting what the group considers to be serious violations of academic freedom. One concerns Norman Finkelstein, the DePaul University political scientist who was denied tenure in June and who has since been placed on a paid leave, with his classes called off and his office shut down. The other concerns the decision by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to call off a lecture by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, two scholars who have written a book that is harshly critical of the influence of Israel and its supporters on U.S. foreign policy.
Today, Finkelstein is expected to stage a protest over his situation by teaching the class that the university canceled and then going to his old office, from which he has been barred. Finkelstein has vowed to enter the office, even if that gets him arrested, in which case he says he will go on a hunger strike. (Update: On Wednesday, Finkelstein and the university announced a settlement. Details will appear tomorrow on this site.)
Meanwhile, at Barnard College, a tenure case that has been attracting attention since last fall is getting more intense (at least among those outside the college). Competing Web sites offer analyses of the work of Nadia Abu El-Haj, an anthropologist whose book that criticizes the use of archaeology by Israel has been praised by some and panned by others. A critic’s column this week that suggested that El-Haj’s status as a Palestinian was an important area of inquiry is being cited by Middle Eastern studies scholars as a sign of how ugly some of the debates have become.
In all the cases, there are claims and counterclaims. And the Middle East has of course long been a source of debate on American campuses. But to people with a range of views on the issues, it seems that this academic year is starting off with these disputes as tense as ever, with enough flashpoints to assure numerous conflicts.
SOURCE: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail (9-6-07)
Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney joined a growing band of critics questioning the legitimacy of the $900,000 taxpayer-funded book deal awarded to Griffith University academic Ross Fitzgerald.
Dr Fitzgerald scored the plum job to write a new history of Queensland to commemorate the state's sesquicentenary in 2009 without a public tendering process.
Mr Seeney used Question Time to chide Premier Peter Beattie over the deal, which has already raised eyebrows in academic and publishing circles.
"Why has the Premier given almost $1 million to Ross Fitzgerald, another Labor mate, without a tender process to write a history of Queensland when Raymond Evans, described as the state's most eminent historian, has just published the book A History of Queensland at no cost to the taxpayer?" Mr Seeney said.
Mr Beattie told Parliament that Dr Fitzgerald's book would prove a vital public asset."I make no apology for ensuring that a definitive history of Queensland is written as part of our great state's 150th birthday celebrations," he said.
The Opposition criticism comes in the wake of an attack on Dr Fitzgerald this week by Brisbane Institute executive director Kay Saunders.
Dr Saunders, a former professor of history at the University of Queensland and ex-wife of Dr Evans, said Dr Fitzgerald was the wrong man for the job.
She insisted Mr Evans' A History of Queensland, published by Cambridge, rather than Dr Fitzgerald's new work, would come to be regarded as the definitive text.
SOURCE: http://www.roanoke.com (9-4-07)
They have developed an illustrated brochure and an interactive Web site focusing on the trail's 500 miles through Virginia and its museums, festivals and historic buildings from Frederick County west through Shenandoah, Rockbridge, Botetourt, Roanoke, Montgomery, Pulaski, Wythe, Smyth, Washington, Scott and Lee counties.
"That's a big group and a lot of territory to cover," said Kitty Barker, tourism development specialist with the Virginia Tourism Corp. Baker has coordinated the work of the tourism representatives.
"This is a human story about those early years, when it was a wilderness," she said.
The story the project tries to tell is about the courage and spirit of those early pioneers and what they went through just to survive.
But Mary Kegley, a longtime historical researcher from Wytheville, said other historians she knows refer to the brochure as"tourism trickery."
The so-called Wilderness Road never went through any of those localities except Scott and Lee, she said. Other parts of the migratory path outlined in the brochure were known by such names as the Great Road. Kegley said the brochure contains historical errors, inconsistent facts and is a blemish on the tourism industry."We historians are very upset over this mockery of our history," she said.
For example, the brochure says Daniel Boone wintered in Montgomery County before his crossing of the Continental Divide into what was called the Great Wilderness. Not so, said Kegley."He was never waiting in Montgomery County to go anywhere."
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) (Click here for embedded links.) (9-7-07)
Mr. McCoy, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is the author of A Question of Torture: CIA Inter rogation From the Cold War to the War on Terror (Metropolitan Books, 2006). The book is a detailed indictment, brimming with outraged accusations — what one reviewer called "a flashlight beaming into the dark closets of government."
It is also a book that has come under fire for alleged distortions and overstatements. Mr. McCoy has been criticized for suggesting that two towering figures in the discipline, Donald Hebb and Stanley Milgram, worked with the Central Intelligence Agency. He has also been accused of being too quick to see nefarious connections between psychologists and the government, and of basing grand conclusions on skimpy evidence.
In a paper to be published next month by the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, he takes on his detractors and digs further into the "deep, dark" history of psychology.
"If you don't diagnose the disease," asks Mr. McCoy, "how can you find the cure?"...
SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ (9-4-07)
Collins was a noted Halifax teacher, historian and leader. He served as an educator for more than 20 years at schools in Halifax and Windsor. He retired in 1983 as principal of Cornwallis Junior High School in Halifax.
"The name Lou Collins is synonymous with heritage preservation in Nova Scotia," Philip Pacey, president of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, said.
A founding member of the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union, past president of the Nova Scotia Camping Association and a longtime Scout leader, Collins was perhaps best-known as the champion of Halifax heritage, fighting to protect historic buildings.
Collins was the first to object to tall buildings obstructing the view of Halifax Harbour from the Halifax Citadel. He was the first chairman of the Halifax Landmarks Commission and a longtime member of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia.
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (9-4-07)
[Earlier, on 9/1/07 there was this at Cliopatria:]
This morning, Stuart Taylor, KC Johnson's co-author of Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, was interviewed on NPR's"Morning Edition." At the link, you can listen to the interview. NPR also offers an excerpt from the book's Chapter 8:"Academic McCarthyism."
SOURCE: Yorkshire Post (9-3-07)
Much in demand across the UK, he works with organisations that include Historic Royal Palaces, the National Trust, English Heritage, and many museums and historic private houses. His prolific writing includes The Gentlewoman's Kitchen, Traditional Food in Yorkshire,The Complete Housekeeper and The Book of Carving.
His is highly specialised work, and there are only one or two historians in the country who are as skilled and knowledgeable.
Peter Brears began volunteering in museums as a secondary schoolboy, living then in the pit village of Outwood near Wakefield. His dad was a colliery baths supervisor....
SOURCE: The Age (9-1-07)
It is also one of the most contentious. At the festival yesterday, philosopher A.C. Grayling, author of Among the Dead Cities, a work questioning the morality of the Allied saturation bombing of Germany in World War II, was asked by a member of the audience whether critics of the bombing were guilty of imposing contemporary standards on past generations.
Grayling responded by taking his audience back further into the past: all the way back to classical Greece, in fact.
Citing Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, about the long conflict between Athens and Sparta, Grayling noted that the ancient historian had set as one of his tasks the demonstration of how warfare corrupted moral sensibilities.
For example, the people of Athens debated in their assembly whether to massacre the inhabitants of Mytilene, a city that refused to comply with Athens' political demands.
The notion that slaughtering innocent non-combatants is inherently wrong, Grayling insisted, is not something human beings made up yesterday. This kind of killing troubles even those — or perhaps especially those — who believe they are fighting in a just cause. What is more, people who claim that sometimes killing the innocent is necessary typically do not argue that it is moral, but rather that sometimes moral qualms must be overridden....
SOURCE: LAT (9-2-07)
WHEN Ken Burns was working on his first professional documentary, in 1979, he pestered playwright Arthur Miller for an interview on its subject, the Brooklyn Bridge. Miller had written "A View From the Bridge," so Burns figured he would have wisdom to share about the stately span. But when the fledgling filmmaker traveled to Miller's farm in Connecticut, "I arrived with heart pounding, he's 6-foot-5 and leans in, 'I don't know a god-damned thing about the Brooklyn Bridge!' " Burns recalls. "I just must have looked so mortified."
The playwright did not give him a chance to reload his camera. Burns got to ask a single question and to this day can quote, to the word, how Miller replied: "You see, the city is fundamentally a practical utilitarian invention and . . . suddenly you see this steel poetry sticking there . . . . It makes you feel that maybe you too could add something that would last and be beautiful."
Just like that, the unknown Ken Burns had: (1) the ending of his film, (2) a story to tell in graduation speeches he would be asked to give when he too became famous, and (3) a mantra for his life: "Maybe you too could add something that would last and be beautiful."
Burns, whose latest documentary series, "The War," begins Sept. 23 on PBS, has always been drawn to statements that sum things up in the broadest way. Posted on the wall of his office here, behind his own farmhouse, is a pearl from Tyrone Guthrie, the Minneapolis theater impresario: "We are looking for ideas large enough to be afraid of again." Burns is forever quoting historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. also, about how our fractured society suffers from "too much pluribus and not enough unum." So it is in "The War" that the opening minutes have former Marine pilot Sam Hynes saying, "I don't think there is such a thing as a good war. There are sometimes necessary wars," thus providing a theme that runs through Burns' seven-parter, all 14 1/2 hours of it.
Burns has a sum-it-up for himself as well. He says right out that he's about "Waking the dead" and that this stems from his mother's death when he was 11. He volunteers in interviews and speeches that there wasn't a day of his childhood when he wasn't aware of her cancer and that it influenced "all that I would become."
He did not see this link until well after he had earned renown for "The Civil War," which captured the nation's imagination in 1990 and gave people a new way of looking at still photographs, which freeze a moment in time but which he animated by zooming in, or scanning over them, the technique now called the "Ken Burns Effect." He says he was telling a friend how for years whenever he got a birthday cake, "I'd blow out the candles and wish that she'd be alive. He said, 'What do you think you do for a living? . . . You make Jackie Robinson and Abraham Lincoln and Louis Armstrong come alive. Who do you think you're really trying to wake?' "...
SOURCE: Asaf Romirowsky at FrontpageMag.com (9-4-07)
Middle East scholar Walid Phares in his recent book The War of Ideas: Jihad against Democracy outlines the ideological basis in which the jihadists use to perpetuate their anti Western agenda. Phares who was born and raised in Lebanon brings to the table his personal experience as a Middle Easterner as well as his academic career as professor of Middle East Studies and terrorism.
One of the key factors the author reveals here is the methodology whereby the hearts and minds of young students become engrossed in Jihadism which is sold to them in what the author defines as “spiritual yoga.” Moreover, to say that Jihad is “holy war” is too simplistic. The definition of jihad and its meaning has become one the most common misconceptions today as we battle the war of ideas in the war against the jihadists. These debates on whether jihad is a psychological battle or whether it has an actual military connotation have become the center of debate in many university departments specifically in Middle East departments post-September 11th.
The fact of the matter is that Jihad has always had a military connotation despite what many would like us to believe. As David Cook underscores in his study Understanding Jihad, “to maintain that jihad means ‘the effort to lead a good life’ is pathetic and laughable in any case. In all the literature concerning jihad – whether militant or internal jihad – the fundamental idea is to disconnect oneself from the world, to die to the world whether bodily (as in battle) or spiritually (as in internal jihad). The priorities of jihad in Islam here are exactly reversed from the historical and religious realities: the armed struggle - aggressive conquest – came first, and then additional meanings became attached to the term.”
As a result of the above, we have seen the spread of an academic jihad which is growing across North American universities. Consequently, students and donors are blinded by Saudi and Wahabi money which has been fueling the system since the 60’s in an effort to what they consider to be “a fair and honest depiction of the Middle East” – this couldn’t been further from the truth. Phares’ experience as a professor who taught about the Middle East and terrorism is astonishing when one considers what he had to do in order to survive in his department. As he writes, “I have observed with amazement American students stripped of their basic rights to be educated accurately about the main geopolitical and ideological threats to their homeland. Instead of using classroom time to profoundly analyze the rise of what would become al-Qaeda or the Khomeini regime’s long-range strategies, we professors had to ‘clean up’ the diseducating process that blurred the intellectual vision of a whole generation.”
Furthermore, academic freedom has been used as a shield and a "get-out-of-jail-free card" when speakers are dismissed as conservatism-revivalism. The modern notions of free speech and academic freedom stem from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. Mill argued that free speech originates in society's want to discover the truth. By vetoing a right opinion, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to exchange an error for truth. But by banning a false opinion, Mill stated, we lose something almost as precious — a clearer perception of truth that is produced by its clash with error. If no foes are available to put your ideas to the test, Mill argues that one should invent arguments against your own beliefs.
Today, whatever goes on in a classroom is deemed protected by "academic freedom," whether it is academic or not. Only sexual harassment appears exempt from this blanket protection. Gradually, the entire campus has become an "academic freedom" zone, where protests and other activities now qualify as academic "speech." The freedom to critique is, predictably, directed mostly at the twin Satans, Israel and America, although efforts to curtail speech that academics find unpleasant and unacceptable have been long standing in the form of "speech codes" and restrictions on "hate speech." Clearly, academic freedom is a one-way street; only those having the correct opinions may claim it.
Finally, Phares’s book is an important contribution to continuing battle against the academic jihad which is infesting university classrooms. His book is an added value to Martin Kramer’s Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America where Kramer chronicled the takeover of American Middle East Studies by a cohort of politicized scholars who blamed the Middle East’s problems on the West and dismissed the threat of Islamist terror.
Winning the war against Jihadism necessitates winning the war of ideas as well as the war on the ground, and Phares book serves as a useful guide to make that happen.
 Cook, David. Understanding Jihad, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005, P. 42.
 Phares, Walid. The War of Ideas Jihad against Democracy, New York: Palgrave, 2007, P. 161.
SOURCE: Jacob Laksin at FrontpageMag.com (9-4-07)
It’s not every day that a book is discredited by the simple act of its publication. But that’s precisely what will happen with the release this week of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, an expanded version of the now-notorious London Review of Books essay by professors-turned-provocateurs John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard‘s Kennedy School of Government.
In the original essay, it may remembered, the authors leveled the sensational charge that Israel’s supporters in the United States, when not manipulating American foreign policy to Israel’s advantage and wrenching the country into the Iraq war, posed a terrible threat to American democracy. Lurking behind every curtain, the “Israel Lobby“ was guilty not only of “silencing skeptics” – presumably like Mearsheimer and Walt – but also of stifling debate about Israel in Congress and thereby subverting the “entire process of democratic deliberation.” Truly, this was a force to be reckoned with.
So, one can’t help but wonder: How is it that this all-effecting lobby, with infinite powers of intimidation at its disposal, has nonetheless failed to prevent the publication of a nearly 500-page tome that purports to expose its sinister doings? To those with a less conspiratorial cast of mind than the authors, the answer seems fairly obvious. There is not now nor has there ever been an omnipotent “Israel Lobby.” Of course, there are pro-Israel lobbying groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). And yes, these groups do influence American foreign policy. In this respect, they are no different than the Saudi lobby, which has bent American policy to the benefit of a famously corrupt and terrorism-sponsoring monarchy, though neither Mearsheimer nor Walt shows any interest in the subject.
What AIPAC demonstrably is not is an author and arbitrator of American foreign policy. Indeed, that would be an impossible role to play for an organization whose supporters run the ideological gamut from Howard Dean and Barack Obama to John Bolton and Dick Cheney. To suggest that AIPAC sets foreign policy is thus no more plausible than the authors’ initial claim, eerily reminiscent of classic anti-Semitism and noticeably stricken from their new book, that AIPAC is a “de facto agent for a foreign government.”
But grant the authors this much: Strong, if by no means unwavering, support Israel has for several decades been a feature of American foreign policy. However, unless one is prepared to believe that the nearly 60 percent of Americans, whom polls show sympathize with the Jewish state over her Arab neighbors, are witless pawns of scheming lobbyists, the notion that American foreign policy has been shanghaied into serving Israel first sounds like so much wild-eyed paranoia. An unfriendly observer might even suggest that to the extent that Mearsheimer and Walt are defying a broad American consensus in favor of supporting Israel, it is they who are the real enemies of “democratic deliberation.” In a society that rightly values dissent, that would be grossly unfair. It would also be a more accurate reading of political reality than anything you are likely to find in The Israel Lobby.
For all the flaws of its argument, the book is not so easily dismissed. As academics in two of the country’s more esteemed universities, Mearsheimer and Walt naturally benefit from the prestige of their profession and lend credibility to the consortium of cranks who have long singled out Israel and her supporters as a malign influence on American policymaking. Raving about the “Zionist Occupied Government,” David Duke – a declared fan of The Israel Lobby, as it happens – could easily be dismissed as a demented bigot. Ex-Congressman Paul Findley and ex-Ambassador Andrew Kilgore, who saw the hand of the “Jewish lobby” behind their career disappointments, could be pegged as embittered politicians with axes to grind. Pat Buchanan, in laying the first Gulf War to the charge of “the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States,” could be seen with equal justice as a marginal figure with no significant constituency. In The Israel Lobby, the preoccupations of this political fringe have been culled from the ideological wilderness and repackaged as reputable scholarship. Conspiracy-mongering has gone mainstream.
In this sense, Mearsheimer and Walt are merely ambassadors for conventional academic wisdom. Best known for its association with Middle East Studies departments, hysteria about Israel and her supporters (Jewish and otherwise) has become a stock theme in academia. DePaul University’s Norman Finkelstein, for instance, has made a dubious career of calumniating “American Jewish elites” for forging a lasting alliance with Israel – an unforgivable offense for a man who considers early Zionist settlers “racists” and the nation they created an “apartheid” state. Similarly, the dean of academic radicalism, Noam Chomsky, has long reviled both Israel and all those who dare to speak in her defense, even devoting a book, Fateful Triangle, to attacking Israel’s supporters. (In the book’s foreword, the late Edward Said praised Chomsky for depicting the PLO and Arabs generally as the victims of a “profoundly inhuman, cynical and deliberately cruel” Israel.) More recently, their ranks have been joined by British historian Tony Judt. In 2005, Judt wrote in the Nation that to “say that Israel and its lobbyists have an excessive and disastrous influence on the policies of the world's superpower is a statement of fact,” a claim that nicely illustrated Judt’s ignorance of both politics and rhetoric.
To appreciate how Mearsheimer and Walt conceived their argument in The Israel Lobby, and to get a sense of their scholarly standards, consider this: Their text contains no interviews with members of the “Israel Lobby,” the government, or the national media that the lobby is alleged to have in its pocket. Instead, it draws for its substance on, among other secondary sources, the polemics of Norman Finkelstein, Chomsky’s Fateful Triangle, and Tony Judt’s essay in the Nation. An undergraduate history major would properly be flunked for submitting such a hack job. It says nothing good about the worlds of publishing and academia that Mearsheimer and Walt got a book contract instead.
Ultimately, the fact that the “Israel Lobby” is mostly fiction should upset no one more than the authors themselves. At least if there were a group capable of silencing all disagreement, they might have been spared a great deal of embarrassment.
SOURCE: Radio Free Europe (9-3-07)
Iranian-U.S. scholar Haleh Esfandiari, who was released from a Tehran prison on August 21, has reportedly received her passport from Iranian authorities and left Iran.
The Associated Press quotes her daughter, Haleh Bakhash, as saying Esfandiari plans to stay in Austria for a week to reunite with family before going back to the United States.
Her lawyer, Abdul-Fattah Soltani, told Radio Farda today that Esfandiari left Iran without any difficulties.
"Based on information I have received she apparently left Iran last night after she received her passport from the authorities," he said.
Wilson Center News
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (9-4-07)
Southern Illinois’s student newspaper, The Daily Egyptian, reported that at the Friday press conference in which President Glenn Poshard announced his intentions, he indicated that he “never considered submitting his dissertation to a committee outside the university for review.” Poshard, a former U.S. congressman and Democratic nominee for Illinois governor, holds three degrees from SIU – a university system that’s been beset by plagiarism scandals in recent years and is still recoiling after the former Carbondale chancellor was forced out less than a year ago for a plagiarism scandal of his own.
SOURCE: Ascribe (9-4-07)
"When students read about Pearl Harbor, World War II and the Cold War in their textbooks, it has always been clear what nations the United States was at odds with," says Randy Roberts, a professor of American history. "The war on terror is not so clear. Terrorism is associated with the Middle East, but historians do not want to use broad brushstrokes to condemn the actions of a few. What we are dealing with is more amorphous and historians are careful when it comes to explaining 'us' versus 'them.'"
This year marks the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Virginia and Pennsylvania. School-age youths who watched the attacks or followed the coverage on television are balancing those memories with what they are reading in their classrooms, Roberts says.
American history textbooks are revised about every four years to incorporate the new presidential administration, says Roberts, who co-wrote one high school and two college American textbooks, and has edited several others. He also is the 2006 Indiana Professor of the Year.
"Some students may not even think of 9/11 as history because it is so real for them," he says. "People think about it every time they board a plane or go through airport security."
And because 9/11 is still in the news, some people may disagree with how historians explain the event.
"I grew up in the shadow of the Cold War, and people from my generation remember the events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs, as well as neighbors who built bomb shelters and the movies that featured communist enemies," he says. "We often define ourselves in relation to our enemy. We view ourselves as an open society that promotes freedom, diversity, democracy and respect for every human life. We value things that terrorists by definition don't value. I think the war on terrorists makes us reaffirm our own core beliefs and asks us how do we fight this enemy without diminishing our own beliefs?"
SOURCE: Megan Marshall in Slate (9-4-07)
At about the same time I was taping up cardboard boxes in Berkeley [at the Women's History Research Center (1976)], Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who'd graduated from her own version of WHRC —the Mormon Sisters Inc., of Arlington, Mass., which put out a feminist newsletter celebrating the accomplishments of early Mormon women—to a Ph.D. program at the University of New Hampshire, published her first scholarly article. The article, "Virtuous Women Found: New England Ministerial Literature, 1668-1735,"—which appeared in American Quarterly, the 27-year-old journal of the American Studies Association—grew out of Ulrich's desire "to know more about ordinary women." She had mined Puritan funeral sermons for evidence about women whose lives had otherwise gone unrecorded. "Well-behaved women seldom make history," she noted in her opening paragraph, in explanation of her difficulty locating sources.
Ulrich went on to write three impeccably researched books—Good Wives (1982), A Midwife's Tale (winner of a Pulitzer in history in 1991), and The Age of Homespun (2001)—each one using new and ingenious methods to document the lives of "well-behaved" women. She also became a tenured professor in Harvard's formerly all-male history department. Meanwhile, that one-liner from her first article took on a life of its own, ironically seeming to endorse an entirely different, activist style of history-making from the quiet, quotidian one Ulrich preferred to write about.
The sentence "escaped into popular culture," Ulrich writes in her new book by that title, after journalist Kay Mills used it as an epigraph in her survey of American women's history, From Pocahontas to Power Suits (1995). From there, the sentence made its way onto T-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, and bumper stickers, where it "now keeps company with anarchists, hedonists, would-be witches, political activists of many descriptions"—the spiritual daughters of Laura X—along with "quite a few well-behaved women." It is a motto that has been embraced by, among others, nurses, school teachers, women in retirement homes, and a network of quilters based in Puyallup, Wash., who, according to their T-shirt-dealing spokeswoman, "see themselves as a little outrageous and naughty and out-of-control with their hobby."...
SOURCE: http://www.pressrepublican.com (9-4-07)
His voice echoed as a couple of dozen people listened intently, some of them bundled in heavy clothing to fight of the chill coming from a brisk wind off nearby Lake Champlain.
"This is a good day to be talking about this topic," he said, noting that the weather on Oct. 11, 1776, was very similar to this late August evening in 2007."But Arnold's plan would not have worked today."
Bearss is a nationally renowned historian who, in his 80s, still cherishes those moments when he shares his knowledge of the past with others. For this particular presentation, he was leading a tour of history buffs through the experiences of Benedict Arnold from patriot to traitor.
On that historic day during the Revolutionary War when Arnold faced a much stronger British fleet invading from Canada at Valcour Island, the wind was blowing as steadily as it did when Bearss led the tour discussion. However, it was coming down from the north on that eventful day, the opposite of the southerly breeze that greeted the tour members.
SOURCE: http://www.herald-mail.com/ (9-4-07)
Hanging on every word as Bearss described the opening clashes of what would be a long day of bitter battle and bloodshed, they were treated to the kind of detail one doesn't always get in history books.
Evoking, perhaps, an image of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Bearss waved a well-worn baton to show the direction from which the troops of either side advanced for the inevitable confrontation. But happily, the only advancing troops on this Labor Day were a few joggers and other tourists. And the closest thing to caissons were farm vehicles.
In the community of Civil War historians, Bearss is an icon. Chief Historian Emeritus for the National Park Service, he has conducted these battlefield tours as if it were a full-time job since retiring in the mid-1990s.
"I wouldn't do this 300 days a year if I didn't enjoy it," Bearss said.