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: Inside Higher Ed (1-31-08)
Like other similar sites, CiteULike allows users to register, create profiles and submit links that others can read, comment on, tag with relevant keywords and in turn share again. Moving away from the card-catalog view of scholarship, in which researchers dig through archives of recent and not-so-recent journal databases in sequence, the “social discovery” model, as Emamy describes it, allows colleagues to learn from each other’s bookmarks and potentially collaborate in groups....
“CiteULike is a real pioneer, I think,” said Dan Cohen, the director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, which created Zotero. Cohen noted that on Thursday — this morning — he had a conference call scheduled with CiteULike to “explore ways to work together,” such as the ability to import and export citations between the two interfaces.
The eventual goal, he said, is “the seamless transfer of scholarly resources wherever they may lie” — demonstrated recently by Zotero’s announcement that it was teaming up with the Internet Archive to allow scholars to delve into their hard drives and optically scan their documents for the public domain.
SOURCE: National Security Archive (1-31-08)
Supported by extensive declarations from experts, the petition describes the trial of the Rosenbergs as a defining moment in the Cold War, and argues that 57 years later, scholarly and public interest in these transcripts far outweigh any remaining privacy or national security interests in continued secrecy.
"This petition brings together scholars and journalists who have diverse and often divergent views of the Rosenberg case, Soviet espionage, and American counterespionage," commented Tom Blanton, the Archive's director. "What unites the petitioners is the opportunity to end the unnecessary secrecy and to open these unique primary sources to public and scholarly scrutiny."
Supporting declarations point out that details of the Rosenberg grand jury proceedings have come to light over the years, yet significant questions remain unanswered about the case that the grand jury records are likely to address. The declarations variously point to questions about the scope and targets of the spy ring, the conduct of government prosecutors, the weight of the evidence, particularly against Ethel Rosenberg, and the involvement of other individuals.
Among the declarants are historian John W. Berresford, National Security Archive Director Thomas Blanton, University of Prince Edward Island Professor Bruce Craig, law student Jennifer Dillard, Yale University Professor John Lewis Gaddis, Library of Congress Manuscript Historian John Earl Haynes, Temple University Professor Allen M. Hornblum, Professor Ronald Radosh, New York Times reporter and historian Sam Roberts, Yeshiva University Professor Ellen W. Schrecker, George Mason University Professor Martin J. Sherwin, St. Joseph's University Professor Katherine A.S. Sibley, Marquette University Professor Emeritus Athan G. Theoharis, and historian Steven Usdin. In addition, Robert Meeropol, on behalf of the families of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, submitted a declaration in support of the release of the grand jury records.
In the words of petitioner Sam Roberts, "Few cases in American jurisprudence have stirred emotions, generated debate in and out of government and the judicial system, and have had as enduring and divisive a political impact as the prosecution of the Rosenbergs..."
The petitioners include the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the American Historical Association, the American Society for Legal History, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Archivists, and New York Times reporter Sam Roberts. The petitioners are represented by David Vladeck of the Institute for Public Representation at the Georgetown University Law Center, who also served as counsel on the successful Hiss grand jury petition, and Debra L. Raskin, at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard in New York.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (1-29-08)
Skeletons are buried in meadows and beneath parking lots, and just beyond the rumble of trucks and cars near a major highway.
More than 570 hidden grave sites from World War II have been unearthed by a university professor intent on a fair accounting of the past in this former Yugoslav republic now riding high as current holder of the European Union presidency.
A slaughter was conducted in Slovenia in the war's last days and aftermath by the troops of Marshal Tito, the partisan leader and communist who would rule for decades across the region. Thousands of Germans, Croatians and others on the losing side of the war were killed.
History has long known that Slovenia was a field of vengeance. But Mitja Ferenc, a mild-mannered historian, is uncovering the depth of the killing—a level that few imagined.
The massacres were unexplored in communist times and given short shrift in the first decade after Slovenia broke free from Yugoslavia in the 1990s. But Ferenc's digs have cracked a psychological barrier in Slovenia and sparked political debates anew about the sins of World War II.
Ferenc's greatest — or worst — discovery emerged last summer. He returned to an old anti-tank trench near the city of Maribor that had given up 1,179 skeletons in 1999 when road workers cracked its perimeter.
This time, Ferenc explored farther and located a pit of skeletons that he believes stretches for a half-mile. Military gear indicates that these were Croatians and Germans. Ferenc believes as many as 15,000 dead lie in this spot of timberland—a mass grave of historic proportions for Europe and especially for a country of just 1 million people at the time.
SOURCE: Doug Lederman at the website of Inside Higher Ed (1-29-08)
In preparing its election-themed Almanac and Reader 2008, the editors of the journal, which specializes in articles that are short, readable and entertaining (attributes not typically associated with that particular media form), came across a plea to agricultural economists from “The Non-Partisan Fact-Finding Committee for Hoover 1932.”
The request, the brainchild of Edward L. Bernays, whose work laying the groundwork for public relations earned him the moniker “the father of spin,” was designed to build support for the premise that the post-Depression economy was on the rebound, which wasn’t exactly the prevailing view being put forward by the campaign of Hoover’s Democratic opponent, Franklin D. Roosevelt. A September 16, 1932 telegram from Herbert Wachsmann (but charged to Bernays’s Western Union account) contained this plea:...
SOURCE: James McPherson in the NY Review of Books (subscription only) (2-14-08)
Neely's article had great influence. Few historians now describe the Civil War as a total war. Perhaps I was the last one to do so, in an article first published in 1992 and reprinted in 1996. In the nine years that separated the second and third editions of my textbook on the Civil War and Reconstruction, I changed my occasional use of the phrase "total war" to "hard war."...
eely's final chapter addresses the question of casualty figures in the Civil War. He does not challenge the data that at least 620,000 soldiers died in the war. Rather, he questions the interpretation of these data. This number of deaths "has played an important role in the modern transformation of the image of that conflict into a forerunner of terror and unrestrained violence." These 620,000 dead amounted to 2 percent of the American population in 1861. If 2 percent of Americans were to die in a war fought today, the number of American war dead would be more than six million. This startling fact might call into question the conclusion that the Civil War was "remarkable for its traditional restraint." So these figures must somehow be sanitized. The figure of 620,000 "lumps the dead from both sides together and calls them all 'Americans,'" Neely points out. "Such a mixing of opponents is rarely done in studying other American wars.... If we consider the Civil War casualties one 'country' at a time, then the 360,000 Union dead do not equal even the 407,000 Americans killed in World War II" and "the 260,000 Confederate dead constitute but 64 percent of the 407,000 Americans killed in World War II."
Such an argument is breathtaking in its contempt for the reader's intelligence. The 360,000 Union war dead were 1.6 percent of the population of Union states. An equivalent American death toll in World War II would have been 2.1 million and would today be 4.8 million. The 260,000 Southern dead constituted 2.9 percent of the Confederate population (including slaves), which would translate into 3.9 million of the 1940s population and 8.7 million today. By disaggregating the Union and Confederate tolls, as Neely wants us to do, the proportionate casualty rate for the Union is almost as large as when they are lumped together and the Confederate rate is far greater—and each is several times more catastrophic than for any other war, including World War II. These figures demonstrate the opposite of what Neely wants them to prove.
The same is true of the numbers game Neely plays with a comparison of the American Civil War and the Crimean War of a few years earlier, between 1854 and 1856. The death toll for all nations involved in that war was 640,000, which slightly exceeded that of the American Civil War, as Neely notes. What he does not tell the reader, however, is that the combined population of the four principal nations that fought the Crimean War (Russia vs. Turkey, Britain, and France) was about 130 million, four times the 32 million in the Union and Confederacy. In the Crimean War, fewer than 10 percent of soldier deaths occurred in combat; the rest were caused by disease. By contrast, 35 percent of soldier deaths in the Civil War resulted from combat wounds. On a per capita basis, combat mortality in the Civil War was therefore about fifteen times greater than in the Crimean War. This reality underscores the irony of Neely's statement that "the true significance of the Civil War casualty figures is quite the opposite of what has been asserted routinely about them in the past." In fact, what has been "asserted routinely" is exactly right, and its "true significance" undermines much of Neely's argument.
Mark Neely has been one of our best Civil War historians and Lincoln biographers for the past quarter-century. This book, unfortunately, does not measure up to his previous work.
SOURCE: Carl Hartman in a dispatch by the AP (1-27-08)
Lewis sees a resemblance between the advanced Western civilization of today compared with the backwardness of many Muslim countries and the advanced Muslim civilization of the first millennium compared with the backwardness of Europe at the time. He acknowledges the comparisons seem remote.
"Yet it is in the long fraught saga of cultural roles reversed and political hegemonies upended that we can discern many of the causes for the troubled history being made in the 21st century," he writes.
Lewis, who teaches history at New York University, pokes fun at colleagues who see the defeat of the Muslim advance into western Europe, near Poitiers in the year 732, as ending a threat to Western civilization.
On the contrary, he sees it as a pivotal moment "in the creation of an economically retarded, balkanized and fratricidal Europe that, by defining itself in opposition to Islam, made virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, persecutory religious intolerance, cultural particularism and perpetual war."...
SOURCE: Japan Times (1-27-08)
As he said in a 1994 lecture at the Kyoto Conference on Japanese Studies: "Japan studied the rest of the world, but until recently that world studied Japan very little." Indeed, it was only with the generation that Jansen represents that "new awareness throughout the world [realized] that Japanese culture and civilizations deserve and indeed demand serious attention as an important part of the world's cultural heritage."
It is this that is celebrated in the present volume [JAPAN AND ITS WORLDS: Marius B. Jansen and the Internationalization of Japanese Studies, edited by Martin Collcutt, Kato Mikio and Ronald P. Toby. I-House Press, 2007], contributions by old friends and former students forming a tribute, which is also an extension of the major themes and concerns in his work. Evolved from the Marius Jansen Memorial Conference held at the International House of Japan in December 2001, this collection of essays and tributes form not only a deserved festschrift but also a continuation of Jansen's findings, interests, and methods.
As one of the contributors, Tom Havens, writes: "Marius Jansen exemplified the virtuoso scholarly life . . . . He produced more books, chapters, and articles after age sixty than most historians do in a lifetime." And all were influential. The Japanese historian Hiroshi Mitani credits him with being the first to generate a synergy between Japanese and American researchers. Before then, "the relationship between research on Japanese history in Japan and the United States had been rather like two puppies chasing each other's tails."
SOURCE: http://www.iol.co.za (1-25-08)
He was killed in front of his wife, Nicky, in a botched attempted robbery at his Fugitives' Drift Lodge and Guest House at Rorke's Drift on January 26 last year.
Police were swift to round up the first of the six-strong gang, and five have so far been arrested. Three have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including the trigger man, who received 25 years. Two others, who plan to deny any involvement, are still awaiting trial.
Police Director Johan Booysen, of the Organised Crime Unit, said on Thursday that the police knew who the sixth suspect was, and it was "just a matter of time before we track him down".
An exceptional orator and passionate historian, Rattray regularly gave presentations overseas on the Anglo-Zulu War, creating interest for his business, the war and also for other tourism businesses in the region.
"His talks were spellbinding. Even if he was talking about something like running a bed-and-breakfast business at one of our tourism meetings, you could always guarantee the place would be packed out," said Dave Sutcliffe, chairman of the Battlefields Tour Guides Association.
"His presentations overseas were an enormous advertising platform for the area and we have lost that. He has left very big shoes to fill."
However, tourism had not suffered as a result of his murder; if anything, it had increased soon afterwards as a result of the huge publicity surrounding his murder, Sutcliffe said.
Rattray's widow vowed to continue her work at the lodge and said on Thursday that there had been no cancellations, while future bookings were looking "good".
SOURCE: NYT (1-28-08)
Henry Louis Gates Jr., a writer and a professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard, is the editor in chief of the magazine, called The Root, which he conceived with Donald E. Graham, chief executive of the company. The magazine is based in Washington, free to readers and will be found at www.theroot.com.
Several well-known authors and scholars have agreed to contribute to The Root, including Malcolm Gladwell and William Julius Wilson. The managing editor is Lynette Clemetson, who was until recently a reporter in Washington for the The New York Times and previously was a national and foreign correspondent for Newsweek.
SOURCE: NYT Book Review (1-27-08)
No American politician of the 20th century is more reviled by historians and opinion makers than Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, the Wisconsin Republican whose 1950s anti-Communist crusade is synonymous with witch-hunting and repression. Actually, no politician even comes close. Herbert Hoover? True, the Great Depression occurred on his watch, goes the current wisdom, but Hoover can’t be blamed for a global catastrophe, and his economic programs paved the way for needed reforms. Richard Nixon? True, the Watergate scandal justified his resignation, but Nixon was a master statesman, we are reminded, whose initiatives produced détente with the Russians and an open door to China.
For McCarthy, there’s been no such balancing act. Americans have learned to view him as the nation’s most dangerous modern demagogue. Pick up a dictionary and you’ll find the word “McCarthyism” defined as “the practice of publicizing accusations with insufficient regard to evidence” and “the use of unfair investigatory methods to suppress opposition.” To be labeled a McCarthyite is akin to being called a liar or a fraud. His loudest current admirer is Ann Coulter, a fact, I suspect, that even the senator would have found unsettling.
My own biography of McCarthy was published in 1983. What most surprised me was the warm reception it got from hard-nosed conservatives like Pat Buchanan, who considered the book more balanced than what had come before. My final judgments on the senator did acknowledge his role in highlighting a number of security problems in the federal government, something previous writers had been reluctant to do. But I also described him as a serial slanderer who poisoned political debate, weakened government morale and made America look ridiculous in the eyes of the world.
A few years ago, on assignment for this newspaper, I attended a memorial service for McCarthy at his grave site in Appleton, Wis. It’s an annual event, sponsored by a local group that hopes to turn the senator’s birthday into a national holiday and put his likeness on a postage stamp. Most of the celebrants were elderly, and several belonged to the far-right John Birch Society. “There aren’t a lot of us still around,” an 87-year-old McCarthy supporter told me. “When we die, who’ll be left to tell the truth about Joe?”
He needn’t have worried. A full-throated defense of the senator is now in the bookstores. Written by M. Stanton Evans, a conservative journalist whose roots stretch back to Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, it carries a title, “Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies” (Crown Forum, $29.95), that well explains its thesis. Though a handful of other pro-McCarthy books have appeared over the years — the most recent being Arthur Herman’s “Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America’s Most Hated Senator” — none created much interest among conservatives. But “Blacklisted by History” is drawing significant attention on the political right, where the reviews have ranged from gushing (The Weekly Standard) to scathing (National Review). If nothing else, Evans has forced his movement friends to look again at McCarthy. For conservatives, the crazy uncle has finally left the attic....
SOURCE: NY Review of Books (2-14-08)
The statement below was delivered by a delegation of U.S. peace activists on November 16, 2007 to Ambassador Martin Palous at the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the United Nations in Manhattan. The statement was in support of demonstrations in Prague and Brno against the military base that were scheduled for the following day. The delegation to the Czech Mission was organized by the New-York based Campaign for Peace and Democracy, which had assembled U.S. peace leaders to meet with Czechoslovak representatives in the same building in November 1989 in protest against the repression of student demonstrations in Prague û demonstrations that culminated in the victory of the "Velvet Revolution" in Czechoslovakia.
We, the undersigned, declare our solidarity with the November 17, 2007 protest by the "No Bases Initiative" in the Czech Republic, where demonstrations took place against the plans of the Czech government to host the radar for a U.S. anti-missile system.
The No Bases Initiative chose the date of November 17 because, in their words, this date "has come to symbolize the overthrow of the undemocratic regime in the former Czechoslovakia and the return of representative democracy. This change came about because of the protest of hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Prague eighteen years ago." In the view of these Czech activists, resistance to the introduction of new foreign military bases is the most fitting way to commemorate that anniversary.
Polls have shown that a significant majority of the people in the Czech Republic oppose the U.S. military facilities, but the Czech government is flagrantly ignoring public opinion. As the No Bases Initiative notes, "Politicians had known for a number of years of U.S. plans to install a military base on Czech territory but had kept this information from the public. They didn't consider it important to tell voters before last year's parliamentary elections either." This Saturday, Czech protestors will be calling for a popular referendum to vote on this critical issue.
The proposed new U.S. base in the Czech Republic and related interceptor missiles to be based in Poland mark a dangerous escalation. As activists from the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as from Hungary, Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom have stated, "The realisation of the US plan will not lead to enhanced security. On the contrary - it will lead to new dangers and insecurities. Although it is described as 'defensive,' in reality it will allow the United States to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. It will also put 'host' countries on the front line in future US wars." (Prague Declaration, "Peace Doesn't Need New Missiles -We say no to the US missile defense system in Europe" May 2007)
Indeed, the announcement of the plans for military bases in the Czech Republic and Poland has already produced an ominous response from Russia. The projected U.S. radar in the Czech Republic and 10 missile interceptors in Poland don't constitute an immediate threat to Russia's nuclear deterrent, with its thousands of warheads, but as the New York Times pointed out on October 10 of this year, "Kremlin officials are believed to fear that the system in Central Europe will lead to a more advanced missile defense that could blunt the Russian nuclear force" Russian officials have threatened to direct their missiles toward Europe if the United States proceeds with the system. They also have said they will suspend participation in a separate treaty limiting the deployment of conventional forces in Europe." This is an unjustified reaction, endangering innocent populations, but is part of the crazy logic of superpower confrontation that the U.S. move exacerbates.
Washington claims that the new facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic are designed to respond to a missile threat from Iran, but there is no credible evidence that such a threat exists today. And the militaristic stance of the United States, far from protecting the U.S. or Europe from such a threat in the future, only enhances its likelihood. We need only to look at the example of North Korea, where years of military threats from the United States provided a strong inducement to seek nuclear weapons for their defense.
We do not believe that any nation should develop nuclear weapons, which by their nature are weapons of vast and indiscriminate mass destruction. The United States and other nuclear powers can best reduce the danger of nuclear warfare by taking major steps toward both nuclear and conventional disarmament and refraining from waging or threatening "preventive" war -- not by expanding the nuclear threat. Such steps by the existing nuclear powers would create a political context that would powerfully discourage new countries from developing their own nuclear weapons.
Many of us, as Americans, have a particular moral responsibility to speak out. U.S. bases threaten the world. According to respected foreign policy analyst Chalmers Johnson, in 2004 the U.S. had 737 overseas military bases, not counting garrisons in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, nor U.S. military and espionage installations in the UK. This vast network of overseas bases supports a foreign policy of military interventions and global intimidation.
We are dismayed that the Czech Republic, rather than standing as a beacon for peace, is cooperating with the expansion of the Pentagon and allowing a military base to be imposed on the country. We are further dismayed by the fact that the Czech Republic recently opposed a UN resolution highlighting concerns over the military use of depleted uranium. It was one of only six countries to oppose the resolution that was supported by 122 nations. With such actions, the Czech government is doing a disservice both to its own real security, by making the Czech Republic a target, and to the prospects for peace and the spirit of November 17.
We are inspired by the principled actions of the people in the Czech Republic who are taking to the streets to resist the steps toward a new Cold War being pursued by elites unresponsive to public opinion. We join with them in a commitment to bring together the people of all countries in building an international movement for peace, democracy and social justice.
The majority of people in this country now believe that the invasion of Iraq was disastrously wrong and that they were systematically lied to by the Bush Administration about the reasons for going to war, and they are wary of new U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. At the same time, the administration's scare tactics are generating popular support for aerial attacks on Iran. It is therefore imperative to speak out now against Washington's threats, to educate public opinion, and to build organized opposition to aggression against Iran, as well as support for immediate, complete withdrawal from Iraq. It is time to demand a new democratic U.S. foreign policy that genuinely expresses solidarity with the aspirations of people for liberty everywhere, renounces once and for all imperial intervention, and is committed to real disarmament.
SOURCE: NYT (1-27-08)
The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, his son, Leland Avery Westerfield, said. H. Bradford Westerfield lived in Watch Hill and Hamden, Conn.
Dr. Westerfield’s former students in four decades of teaching, who also included Senators John Kerry and Joseph I. Lieberman and assorted cabinet officers, White House advisers and intelligence officials, often cited his influence in framing their approach to public policy.
Mr. Cheney repeatedly said Dr. Westerfield helped shape his hard-line approach to foreign policy. But an article in The Nation in 2004 reported that Dr. Westerfield came to regret the hard-nosed lessons Mr. Cheney said he had learned. Dr. Westerfield explained that his own politics had become much more dovish since advocating uncompromising anticommunism in classes Mr. Cheney attended, transformed in large part by America’s troubles in the Vietnam War.
SOURCE: Daniel Beekman at the Seattle Times blog: Blogging Beijing (1-21-08)
Since her championship performance in track & field at China's second annual National College Games in 1986, Brownell has worked to build cultural bridges between Beijing and the 'West.'
Her first major work - "Training the Body for China" - was well received in 1995, and her second â€“ "Beijing's Games: What the Olympics Mean to China" will hit bookshelves this March."
A member of the International Olympic Committee's Selection Comittee and anthropology department chair at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, Brownell feels, more or less, at home here. From 2002-2006, she translated Olympic diplomat He Zhenliang's biography.
I spent an afternoon with Brownell at her current base of operations - Beijing Sport University. A Fulbright U.S. Research Scholar for 2007-2008, she is working closely with Chinese academics and officials. Below: a truncated version of that interview.
What do you recall from your first year in Beijing - 1985-1986?
I first came here in 1985 to study Chinese at Bei Da (Beijing University). At that time I was a national-class track & field athlete in the United States - in the heptathlon. Actually, I had just competed in an international meet. I'd already begun my Ph.D at the University of California - Santa Barbara, I'd studied Chinese for two years and written two master's theses. My plan was to research sports in China.
After arriving, I went to the coach of the track team at Bei Da. He said I could join. I still remember that conversation - him asking me my best performances and times. My Chinese wasn't good at that point and he had a thick provincial accent. I had trouble understanding him. He couldn't believe that I'd just been training at such a high level - only a few weeks before. He kept thinking I was a retired athlete, because in China at that time you just didn't see high-level college athletes. All the athletes with promise were tracked into the state sports system, where their education was de-emphasized. In fact, that was a major problem back then. The state sports system was producing more high-level athletes than could be absorbed back in as coaches and administrators. They called it an 'exit problem' - chulu wenti. Even at that time, people were making efforts to hook up the state sports system with colleges - like in the U.S.
Anyway, as it happened, China's second National College Games were to take place that year. Other universities had been recruiting student athletes like crazy - accepting those with low admission scores and, in some cases, waiving entrance exams. All the universities hoped to gain face from the Games. But Bei Da (generally considered China's top university) had refused to lower its admission standards. The coaches there were worried that Bei Da was about to lose face.
That year, the Games were to consist of only two sports: track & field and basketball. So when Bei Da's coaches and administrators realized that they had a legitimate student on their doorstep who had passed all the requisite tests and who was a heptathlete capable of setting records and medaling in a number of events (Brownell), they were ecstatic. I was the answer to their prayers....
SOURCE: Robert KC Johnson at HNN blog, Cliopatria (1-25-08)
In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve come to a very different view of Chafe because of my involvement in the lacrosse case. In March 2006—based on less than one week of press reports—Chafe penned an op-ed implying that the whites who kidnapped, beat, and murdered Emmett Till provided the appropriate historical context through which to interpret the behavior of the lacrosse players. (For good measure, his op-ed got the year of Till’s murder wrong.) Last spring, Chafe accused “bloggers who have targeted the ‘Group of 88’" of “sending us e-mails and making phone calls wishing our deaths and calling us ‘Jew b-’ and ‘n-b-’.” When I obtained unequivocal denials from each of the dozen or so bloggers who had penned posts criticizing the Group, Chafe confessed he had no evidence for his claim. But, he asserted, Group of 88 members had received vile (anonymous) e-mails—as if the existence of these e-mails was grounds enough for him to level such an explosive allegation against the bloggers who had criticized the Group.
Chafe is no longer commenting on the lacrosse case, but, sadly, he has remained cavalier in his use of the facts. Earlier this week, the Duke professor published an op-ed on the dispute about Hillary Clinton’s comments on LBJ and Martin Luther King, Jr. This, it would seem, is a topic of contemporary significance on which someone with Chafe’s academic credentials could offer the public scholarly guidance.
Clinton’s remarks were worthy of strong criticism, less for the substance of what she said than for their symbolism in a campaign that has employed—to borrow the analysis of the former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party—Lee Atwater-like race-baiting. As occurred with Atwater, the tactics have been effective; both entry polls from Nevada and current polls from South Carolina have shown a strong white-black split in the electorate absent in Iowa. This racial polarization has made Clinton the prohibitive favorite for the nomination: there are, after all, more white Democrats than black Democrats.
Chafe, however, avoided the politics of Clinton’s move, and instead criticized her on the substance. Too many politicians, he complained, “have trumpeted King’s demand that individuals be judged ‘by the content of their character,’ not the color of their skin.” Such an approach made King appear too “moderate.” Moreover, Chafe added, “what Senator Clinton failed to acknowledge is the degree to which Kennedy and Johnson had records prior to 1963 that were as shameful on issues of civil rights as that of many conservative white Southern legislators.”
This is, to put it mildly, a peculiar interpretation of the Civil Rights Era. Few people, I suspect, would consider Robert Caro to be excessively pro-Johnson. Yet even Caro presents a largely favorable view of Johnson’s role in passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act—the first piece of civil rights legislation Congress had passed in eighty years. The measure was occasion in which, as Caro points out, LBJ was at his best, since his political interests coincided with the well-being of the country.
Before 1957, every civil rights bill in the 20th century had failed because of a Southern filibuster. Having decided to champion a civil rights bill, Johnson confronted the key question of how to do so without alienating Southern senators, whose support he needed as majority leader. He also needed to craft a bill that could obtain the two-thirds vote necessary for cloture, since no cloture vote had succeeded in the Senate since 1919. On that front, conservative Republicans held the balance of power.
The 1957 bill was far weaker than most civil rights activists wanted. Working in concert with some cooperative liberals (chiefly Frank Church), Johnson pushed through an amendment requiring jury trials for all alleged violations of Title III (which dealt with public accommodations). Yet the bill was also a significant symbolic advance, and it’s unlikely a more comprehensive version could have cleared the Senate in 1957.
How does Chafe describe Johnson’s performance in securing the passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act? “Although he receives credit for shepherding a civil rights bill through Congress in 1957, Johnson in fact eviscerated that law of all substantive content, leading liberal senators to call it a ‘sham.’” A few liberal senators (such as Paul Douglas) did so describe it. Most, however, supported the measure.
Johnson likewise had a complicated personal record on civil rights issues. He used blatant race-baiting rhetoric in opposing the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Yet he also was one of only three Southern senators (Albert Gore, Sr. and Estes Kefauver were the other two) not to sign the Southern Manifesto, the 1956 document denouncing Brown.
Despite his later claims to the contrary, Johnson also privately expressed racist sentiments. But what distinguished Johnson from his Southern colleagues, as Caro points out, was not a more progressive personal attitude on racial issues, but rather his ability to look beyond his personal bigotry to act for the public good.
How does Chafe describe this aspect of Johnson’s record? He mentions the FEPC fight but not the Southern Manifesto, and he notes that LBJ “repeatedly, and in public, he called his chauffeur the ‘n’ word” but nothing about how Johnson transcended his personal racism. “Lyndon Johnson,” he adds, “was no better” than Kennedy—who “had never advocated civil rights legislation as a senator, and voted to weaken the 1957 Civil Rights Bill,” and “was endorsed in 1960 by reactionary segregationists like Alabama’s Governor John Patterson.” Unmentioned in Chafe’s discussion of Kennedy’s pre-1963 record: the 1960 call to Coretta Scott King; or the administration’s successful 1961 effort to expand the House Rules Committee; or the President’s policies in the 1962 integration of Ole Miss.
Chafe’s interpretation of the Civil Rights Era, it seems, amounts to the following: on one side was Martin Luther King, Jr., and civil rights activists such as the Greensboro sit-in students. On the other side was anyone who opposed even some of the demands of the civil rights activists, or who made political compromises in the effort to get some civil rights legislation passed, or who was opposed to civil rights altogether. In this approach, the record of someone like LBJ (or, I assume, Frank Church) is “as shameful on issues of civil rights as that of many conservative white Southern legislators”—people like Strom Thurmond, or George Wallace, or Jim Eastland, or John Bell Williams. Such an absolutist interpretation obscures far more than it reveals.
If nothing else, the lacrosse case taught how unrealistic it is to expect academic devotees of an extreme race/class/gender worldview to look beyond their ideological preconceptions when commenting on public matters. A world in which LBJ or JFK had as “shameful” a civil rights record as Eastland or Thurmond is a world that few from the time would have recognized.
SOURCE: Jacob Weisberg in Newsweek excerpt of his new book, The Bush Tragedy (1-28-08)
Over a series of lunches at the vice president's residence in 2002, Lewis laid out his case for using American military power to change the regime in Iraq. Years of "anxious propitiation" had left the Muslim world convinced of our weakness. Force was what Arabs respected. A conclusive show of strength could catalyze a change in the opposite direction. The neoconservatives have a weakness for historical analogies—and for one analogy in particular. "Anxious propitiation" was a fancy name for appeasement, compromising with an enemy that needed confronting. In this analogy, Saddam was Hitler, who grew in strength as the West postponed challenging him. Or, if not Nazi Germany, Iraq was a Soviet-style totalitarian state, vulnerable to a combination of American moral and military pressure.
By mid-2002, Cheney had become a down-the-line ally of the neoconservatives. But that does not mean he had turned into some sort of democratic idealist. He never cited Bernard Lewis's theory in any of his public advocacy for the war. For the congenitally pessimistic vice president, transforming the political culture of the Middle East can't have been more than a castle in the sky, a long-shot best-case scenario. But the vice president surely recognized that the grandiosity of the neocon vision of a new Arab world would resonate with the president. For Bush, boldness had a constant allure. Remaking the Middle East via Iraq was just the kind of game-changing idea he went for....
SOURCE: Earth Times (1-24-08)
Recalling the events of the so-called "Third Reich" and the moral responsibility carried by Germany as a result helped to buttress democracy today, said the professor, who retired from Berlin's Humboldt University last year.
"One is confronted with the costs of an anti-democratic attitude," he said, adding that Germans in the modern federal republic had developed a kind of "constitutional patriotism" by contrast with the nationalist kind.
Nevertheless, Winkler came out against moves to ban the German National Democratic Party (NPD), the far-right party seen by its opponents as a successor to Hitler's Nazis.
Characterizing the NPD as severely fragmented, he called for the party to be countered by political means. A ban should be a last resort, said the historian, whose publications include the highly regarded The Long Road to the West.
Sketching the events of 1932 and early 1933, Winkler said that in the fraught political conditions of the day, "Hitler could present himself as the advocate of the disenfranchised," profiting from the collapse of the democratic system of the Weimar Republic.
"The fear of civil war became Hitler's most powerful ally," he said....
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-25-08)
The textbooks reviewed do feature discussion of black people and issues that affected them, but the most in-depth coverage is typically in a chapter on the civil rights movement, or sometimes civil liberties generally, found a study by the American Political Science Association’s Standing Committee on the Status of Blacks in the Profession. The study appears in the new issue of PS: Political Science & Politics.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (1-25-08)
Mr. Pinsker, an associate professor of history at Dickinson College, used those little-known letters — along with other recollections that many historians might dismiss as "peripheral" — to add detail and color to his book about the Lincoln family's three summers away from the White House, Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home. And beginning next month, Mr. Pinsker's research will help visitors picture the Lincolns' everyday lives when the handsome cottage they occupied here opens to the public for the first time.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which commissioned the book and published it in 2003, has just finished restoring the cottage as part of a $15-million project that has also converted a 1905 office building nearby into a visitors' center. Both are set to open February 19, the day after Presidents Day.
His research into Lincoln's summers at the Soldiers' Home brought him a new respect for historians outside academe, Mr. Pinsker says.
"When you're a historian focusing on politics, like I was, you just don't really care about houses. There's almost a culture of dismissiveness — there are house historians and then there are real historians. But I had a kind of awakening when I was working on this book — if you don't know the setting, you don't know the people. It really hit home for me."
He also developed a new respect for Civil War re-enactors — not least because letters from re-enactors led him to Private Cutter's letters, squirreled away in the library at Allegheny College, in Cutter's hometown, Meadville, Pa."One of the things we need to do is get these different types of historians — these re-enactors and these preservationists and these academic historians — working together a little more," Mr. Pinsker says."There are opportunities in these forgotten places, like the Soldiers' Home, where people can do a lot of good if they work together."
SOURCE: News Release--OAH (1-23-08)
Guest Editors: Lawrence N. Powell and Clarence L. Mohr
This special issue grew out of a multidisciplinary conference held in March 2007. The issue and the conference were created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to examine the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Because we are so little removed in time from Katrina's 2005 landfall, the essays cannot, and do not, fully historicize the events surrounding the storm. They are intended instead to play a part in the writing of a "second draft" of this history.
The essays range widely, both chronologically and topically. They encompass urban, environmental, architectural, and musical history, as well as analyses of politics in three centuries and of carnival as a shaper of world views. The goal of the contributors is to provide a historical basis for thinking about Katrina's impact, a way to measure its significance from many perspectives.
*** SPECIAL ONLINE FEATURE! ***
The Journal of American History has created a companion online project for this special issue. The project features explanatory essays and several interactive graphic elements to enhance understanding of the print articles and of changes in New Orleans before, during, and after Katrina.
"An Introduction," by Clarence L. Mohr and Lawrence N. Powell
"Boundary Issues: Clarifying New Orleans's Murky Edges," by Ari Kelman
"An Ethnic Geography of New Orleans," by Richard Campanella
"New Orleans Architecture: Building Renewal," by Karen Kingsley
"The Atlantic World and the Road to Plessy v. Ferguson," by Rebecca J. Scott
"The Political Construction of a Natural Disaster: The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1853," by Henry M. McKiven Jr.
"The Politics of Poverty and History: Racial Inequality and the Long Prelude to Katrina," by Kent B. Germany
"Fade to Black: Hurricane Katrina and the Disappearance of Creole New Orleans," by Arnold R. Hirsch
"Water in Sacred Places: Rebuilding New Orleans Black Churches as Sites of Community Empowerment," by Donald E. DeVore
"Resilient History and the Rebuilding of a Community: The Vietnamese American Community in New Orleans East," by Karen J. Leong, Christopher A. Airriess, Wei Li, Angela Chia-Chen Chen, and Verna M. Keith
"The Post-Katrina, Semiseparate World of Gender Politics," by Pamela Tyler
"Carnival and Katrina," by Reid Mitchell
"Poverty Is the New Prostitution: Race, Poverty, and Public Housing in Post-Katrina New Orleans," by Alecia P. Long
"The Disneyfication of New Orleans: The French Quarter as Facade in a Divided City," by J. Mark Souther
"'They're Tryin' to Wash Us Away': New Orleans Musicians Surviving Katrina," by Bruce Boyd Raeburn
"Reflections of an Authentic Jazz Life in Pre-Katrina New Orleans," by Michael G. White
"The Mourning After: Languages of Loss and Grief in Post-Katrina New Orleans," by Marline Otte
"'The Forgotten People of New Orleans': Community, Vulnerability, and the Lower Ninth Ward," by Juliette Landphair
"Constructing New Orleans, Constructing Race: A Population History of New Orleans," by Elizabeth Fussell
"After the Storms: Tradition and Change in Bayou La Batre," by Frye Gaillard
"What Does American History Tell Us about Katrina and Vice Versa?," by Lawrence N. Powell
SOURCE: PBS (1-19-08)
Along came a former California governor named Ronald Reagan. He rallied his party at the Republican National Convention with these patriotic words: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."
Calling for a revolution, Reagan chose those words from the writings of America's first great radical, and our first best selling writer. His name was Thomas Paine. Over two centuries ago this month, Paine's most famous book, COMMON SENSE, sold what today would be fifty million copies. Farmers in the fields stopped to read it.
Other influential works followed including THE AMERICAN CRISIS which proclaimed, "These are times that try men's souls." George Washington took those words to heart when he ordered his troops to be read Paine's passionate call for liberty as they went into battle.
Thomas Paine's extraordinary life was both glorious and tragic. He was not always revered by some of our other founding fathers. You can read the story in this book by Harvey J. Kaye, THOMAS PAINE AND THE PROMISE OF AMERICA. Harvey Kaye teaches history and social change at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. He has dedicated much of his life arguing for Paine's decisive influence on the American experiment in democracy. Harvey J. Kaye was in town this week lecturing on Tom Paine. And he's with us now. Welcome.
HARVEY J. KAYE: Thank you. It's great to be here.
BILL MOYERS: Harvey, I have never met a historian more enthusiastic about his subject than you are about Thomas Paine. You seem obsessed with him. Why?
HARVEY J. KAYE: Well, I met Paine when I was a child at my grandfather's apartment in Brooklyn, New York. And my grandfather who was a trial lawyer, if he felt that way about Paine, I figured I ought to feel that way too. So, I adopted him. And I didn't-- I wasn't an American historian to begin with. I started out in Latin American studies. I moved into British studies. But I came to the conclusion that the only way to make a difference was to speak American. And the way to do that was to embrace my hero, Thomas Paine, in a public way. So, in the Nineties, it was time to start talking Paine-ized language. And I did so. Because sorry, there was no other writer from the past who spoke to Americans it struck me in the way he did. And spoke to Americans in every generation. And still does.
BILL MOYERS: How do you mean spoke to Americans?
HARVEY J. KAYE: Well, when Paine came to America, he came at the age of 37. When he came to America--
BILL MOYERS: Poor and--
HARVEY J. KAYE: Poor.
BILL MOYERS: Uneducated.
HARVEY J. KAYE: He had been fired by the British government as having been a tax collector. Franklin had encouraged him to come but they probably expected little to come of it. But who knows what goes on in the mind of someone like Franklin. But Paine came to America. And almost overnight, he fell in love with the country. He saw incredible possibilities, incredible prospects. And I think even with the contradictions of slavery and the developing inequality, he saw that Americans had it indeed to make the world over again. Or Americans had it to become Americans. I think that's what he said to America …
BILL MOYERS: Now, that sounds like a cliché. What do you mean to become an American?
HARVEY J. KAYE: Americans were in the middle of a rebellion. They were already fighting a war. But meanwhile, Washington when he had his officers together as late as January '76 was still toasting the king. Jefferson, Adams, they all said, look, we're part of one nation with the British. And Paine looked out and he said, my goodness. These people can govern themselves. They were already doing so by way of committees in Philadelphia and up in Boston. And he believed that they needed to be made aware of what they were doing. So, it's as if Paine saw what Americans hadn't yet seen, but were already themselves doing.
BILL MOYERS: And yet, who knows him today? I mean, he's not on Mount Rushmore. There's no swell monument to him on the mall. Ask a hundred kids in school to name our founding fathers and they name Washington and Jefferson and Adams. And not one of them is likely to name Paine.
HARVEY J. KAYE: You know, this is interesting. That's what I thought. But when I meet people, you know, I ride in a cab or I walk or even my students. And somehow, they hear a line out of Thomas Paine. And they say, "Oh, I know that." Or they-- and then they realize, oh, that's somebody my father used to talk about. In other words, Paine is the kind of figure from the American Revolution who was passed down. And every generation passed it on in their own fashion. You know, the powerful and the properties and the privileged, the pious, they all tried to suppress Paine's memory. They often talked about him so much, it probably excited young people to read him. And over and over again, whenever they tried to suppress his memory, a new generation of liberals and progressives and radicals in America reclaimed Thomas Paine to lay claim to America's purpose and promise. Because he spoke of democratic America....
SOURCE: AP (1-23-08)
Jan T. Gross' "Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz" hit bookstores in Poland earlier this month, and has sparked a debate about anti-Semitism in this Eastern European country, which saw its Jewish population - once Europe's largest - nearly wiped out in the Holocaust....
This week, Gross has headlined a pair of debates in front of news cameras and standing-room only crowds in Kielce and Warsaw, highlighting the nerve he has struck in Poland with "Fear." The discussion Monday in Kielce was even broadcast live on national television and local radio.
Gross, who was born in Poland to a Jewish father and a gentile mother and left the country in 1968 during an anti-Semitic wave sponsored by Poland's then-communist regime, has said he wrote "Fear" as a Pole.
"I would like for my book to show people what an incredibly strong toxic poison anti-Semitism is in the general psychology of Poles, because it made us incapable of withstanding temptation," Gross told a crowd of some 250 people who crammed into a cultural center in Kielce, a town of 200,000 inhabitants, some 180 kilometers south of Warsaw....
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (1-23-08)
U. of C. said it is naming the committee after Nef in gratitude for nearly $9 million in cumulative gifts made by him and his widow, Evelyn Stefansson Nef. She continued to support the committee after her husband died in 1988.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-24-08)
Lisa Jardine, Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, will take over as the chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on April 1, the Government’s Appointments Commission announced yesterday. Professor Jardine, whose specialist fields of study include the history of the scientific revolution, succeeds Shirley Harrison, who stepped down in November after less than a year in the job.
Ms Harrison had originally been appointed to chair both the HFEA and the Human Tissue Authority before their planned merger, but resigned from the former post after ministers dropped the legislation that would have combined the regulators. The proposal had alarmed doctors, scientists and patient groups, who said the new body would have had insufficient expertise, placing patient safety at risk.
Professor Jardine’s appointment will end a period of uncertainty for the HFEA, which has been operating recently with an acting chairman and chief executive. Angela McNab, the chief executive, was seconded to the Department of Health’s public health team in October. She had been criticised by doctors and MPs for her handling of complaints against Mohammed Taranissi, a leading fertility specialist.
SOURCE: Fox News (1-23-08)
"Bild am Sonntag is grossly irresponsible for publishing horrendous and disgraceful claims about Mr. Cruise," said Karin Pouw, the church's public affairs director, according to thisislondon.co.uk.
World War II historian Guido Knopp was commenting on a video that surfaced last week of the "Mission Impossible" star making a religious speech four years ago at an International Association of Scientologists event.
SOURCE: NYT (1-24-08)
The death was confirmed by his daughter, Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer.
Mr. Lerman was chairman of the museum’s governing council from the time it opened on the Mall on April 22, 1993, until 2000. But his work to create the six-story building near the Washington Monument, with its silence-inducing exhibition spaces leading to an eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance, began in 1979. That year, President Jimmy Carter named Mr. Lerman to the advisory board of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, with the mission of building the museum.
SOURCE: AFP (1-23-08)
Ramadan was forced to give up a teaching position at the University of Notre-Dame in Indiana in late 2004 when US authorities revoked his visa at the last minute on the recommendation of the Department of Homeland Security.
The noted scholar, who lives in Britain where he is a senior research fellow at Oxford University, has since been barred from entering US territory, and has been unable to take part in several conferences in the United States.
But his case has now been taken up by civil liberties groups in the country, as well as by the university, which argues that the White House is trying to muzzle freedom of speech and intellectual thought.