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: Reuters (3-6-09)
During a six-month period in 2008, Raphael Haim Golb, whose father Norman Golb is a University of Chicago professor of Jewish history, created dozens of Internet aliases in the names of individuals who were active in Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship.
Norman Golb has taken the position the scrolls were produced by multiple Jewish sects.
According to the Manhattan District Attorney's office, Mr Golb was motivated by the belief that his father's theories were not taken seriously enough.
Mr Golb did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Golb is charged with identity theft, criminal impersonation and aggravated harassment, and faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted.
HNN Editor: NYT reported the following:
Reached at his office in Chicago on Thursday afternoon, Professor Golb said he was shocked at the allegations leveled against his son, who is a real estate lawyer and has a Ph.D in comparative literature from Harvard.
“My son is an honorable person,” Professor Golb said. “He could not have done such a thing.”
Professor Golb said that opposing scholars had tried to quash his views over the years through tactics like barring him from Dead Sea Scrolls exhibitions. He said he saw the criminal charges as another attack on his work.
“Don’t you see how there was kind of a setup?” he said. “This was to hit me harder.”
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (3-6-09)
Items up for sale on the site include Hitler's walking stick, available for £7,000, and a goblet and spoon given as a christening present by Heinrich Himmler to Hermann Goering's daughter, which can be bought for £4,000.
Irving authenticates the goods, which are offered by other sellers, and takes a 15 per cent cut commission.
The 70-year-old says he is currently trying to confirm the authenticity of bones said to be from Hitler and his girlfriend Eva Braun. Strands of the Fuhrer's hair are also expected to go on sale for £130,000.
Irving was unapologetic about his activities and said there was demand for "authenticated" Nazi memorabilia.
SOURCE: http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com (3-6-09)
Jews achieved their dream of statehood over 60 years ago. Oren, who specializes in diplomatic and military history at The Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based research institute, maintains that Israel’s current leaders, much like those before them, must continue to make difficult decisions to protect the country’s hard-earned sovereignty.
Israel wields tremendous power for so tiny a nation, said Oren during a Feb. 26 talk at Cleveland Hillel Foundation on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. With threats facing the country, Oren believes Israel has brandished its strength responsibly, even in light of the worldwide criticism levied during its three-week incursion into Gaza.
“There is nothing this army could have done differently,” contends the New Jersey native who years ago served as a paratrooper with the Israel Defense Forces. Under the circumstances, “Israel acted in a morally exemplary manner.”
Those circumstances included an enemy using a densely populated urban setting as a “shield,” explains Oren. Israel’s assault on Gaza killed more than 1,300 Palestinians. However, the historian notes that the gunman-civilian casualty ratio was the lowest in any urban combat situation since the end of World War II. Palestinian groups have refuted this claim.
SOURCE: http://www.westbranchtimes.com (3-4-09)
Obama, however, has the chance to learn from Hoover’s mistakes. And the things he did right.
“This might be a warning for President Obama and others in the future,” Hoover historian and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee history professor Glen Jeansonne said. “Entering office on a great wave of popularity is no guarantee of maintaining it when you leave office.”
Jeansonne’s comments, as well as those of Hoover Library-Museum Director Timothy Walch, come after C-SPAN on Feb. 12 released a ranking of all 42 former presidents, with Hoover earning a spot at No. 34.
His ranking puts him ahead of John Tyler, George W. Bush, Millard Fillmore, Warren G. Harding, William Henry Harrison, Franklin D. Pierce, Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan. But both Jeansonne and Walch think Hoover ought to be much higher, perhaps in the upper half.
SOURCE: Mills Kelly at edwire.com (2-26-09)
Imagine my surprise when all of the students in that classroom seemed so much older than I was. I was planning to bolt out the door, but Professor Kraehe (1921-2008) arrived before I could and I couldn’t leave without walking in front of the lectern, so I decided to sit tight and hope he didn’t notice me. To my consternation, as soon as the class ended he asked me to follow him to his office. Because this was my first class as a college student, I naturally thought I was in serious trouble, especially because by then I knew I was in a graduate class.
Instead of telling me to drop the course immediately, Professor Kraehe sat me down, asked me to tell him about books I’d already read in the subject (two, I think) and then quizzed me on my knowledge of European history. At the end of our interview, he told me that I could stay in the class, but only if I came to his office hours every week without fail to discuss the readings and his lectures. Too scared to argue, I agreed. A week before the midterm he showed me a sample examination from a previous semester, a gift that saved me from a certain failing grade. Then he patiently suggested ways to study for an essay exam, the like of which I had never taken in high school. The “B+” grade I earned in that class and the “A” I earned in the second semester of the course are still my two proudest achievements as an undergraduate…even more so than the senior seminar paper I wrote under his guidance.
Imagine my surprise when I read his obituary and found out that he and I both were in our first classes at UVa that fall of 1977!
Somewhere along the way I became infected with Professor Kraehe’s enthusiasm for all things Habsburg and when I enrolled in my doctoral program it was in part because I wanted to reconnect with the issues he had raised in those lectures more than fifteen years before.
Ever since I became the professor I have tried to live up to the standard that Enno Kraehe set for me that first day of college in 1977, treating my students with dignity and respect. In that way I honor his memory every day.
SOURCE: Anthony Grafton at the dailyprincetonian.com (3-2-09)
Suddenly all occasions conspired against us. The economy turned sour. The anti war movement and everything that went with it made students and faculty less popular in many respectable circles. Foundations that had poured money into higher education turned to new causes. Private universities that had been rapidly expanding faculty and programs stopped; and cut; and cut again.
In 1972, The New York Times reported on thousands of historians fighting for the jobs — fewer than 200 of them — on offer at the American Historical Association. Young scholars competed bitterly, while senior scholars echoed Andrew Mellon as they called for the liquidation of lesser graduate programs.
Graduate programs in the humanities had traditionally offered only modest support, economic or professional. Life was cheap: In those days, Princeton’s grad students told the University not to bother building extra housing since they had access to plenty of modest-rent apartments. Many students worked their way through at least part of graduate school, pouring beer, driving taxis or washing glassware in a lab. Others borrowed money — in very modest amounts, by today’s standards. When it came time to write a thesis or go on the job market, the student simply did so, often with very little detailed guidance. The system gave its inhabitants a certain freedom — and not much else. So long as jobs awaited, it seemed to work.
But as prices rose, wages fell and jobs vanished, the old assumptions became more and more detached from lived reality. ...
SOURCE: Historians Against the War (3-4-09)
For the past several weeks the Steering Committee has been discussing revising or updating our policy statement that people have been signing to join HAW. We adopted the current statement on September 21, 2003, and it reads:
"As historians, teachers, and scholars, we oppose the expansion of United States empire and the doctrine of pre-emptive war that have led to the occupation of Iraq. We deplore the secrecy, deception, and distortion of history involved in the administration's conduct of a war that violates international law, intensifies attacks on civil liberties, and reaches toward domination of the Middle East and its resources. Believing that both the Iraqi people and the American people have the right to determine their own political and economic futures (with appropriate outside assistance), we call for the restoration of cherished freedoms in the United States and for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq."
Several times since 2003 the Steering Committee has expressed opinions on issues that were outside the literal framework of the founding statement, but that appeared to many people to be related. The Steering Committee criticized US government support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, and for the invasion of Gaza earlier this winter. Last fall we adopted a set of "discussion points" on Afghanistan that called for the US to withdraw rather than to escalate.
More recently, there has been discussion of formalizing a broader scope for the organization, either through a more general statement by the Steering Committee or by a new statement of unity for HAW as an organization. A proposed document that could potentially serve either purpose is included in this message. We invite feedback on either or both of the following points:
-- The substance of the statement: Do you have concerns about the proposed text? Would you suggest revisions?
-- The purpose of the statement: If it were to be adopted after the process of feedback and revision, should it be simply as a statement of opinion by the Steering Committee (parallel to the earlier statements on Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan) or as a re-definition of HAW itself? (If we follow the latter course, it would be subject to approval in an e-mail ballot open to recipients of the HAW-Info messages.)
Please send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. This statement is also posted on our blog, and those who so wish can discuss the proposal at
Jim O'Brien and Marc Becker, co-chairs
for the HAW Steering Committee
As historically-minded activists, scholars, students, and teachers, we stand opposed to wars of aggression, military occupations of foreign lands, and imperial efforts by the United States and other powerful nations to dominate the internal life of other countries.
In particular, we continue to demand a speedy end to US military involvement in Iraq, and we insist on the withdrawal, not the expansion, of US and NATO military forces in Afghanistan. We also call for a sharp reduction of US military bases overseas, and an end to US financial and military support of regimes that repress their people, or that occupy the territories of other peoples. We favor as well a drastic redirection of national resources away from military spending and towards urgently needed domestic programs.
We deplore the secrecy, deception, and distortion of history, the repeated violation of international law, and the attack on civil liberties domestically that accompanies the present U.S. foreign policy of war and militarism—a foreign policy that became especially belligerent in the aftermath of September 11.
We fear that the current, rapidly escalating crisis of global capitalism, which is creating suffering worldwide, will lead to escalating wars abroad and intensifying repression at home. We support solutions to this crisis that seek to enrich the lives and increase the power of working peoples globally, and protect their fundamental human rights. We are unalterably opposed to any attempts to solve the crisis at their expense.
We are aware that, in the words of the late historian William Appleman Williams,"empire as a way of life" has characterized the United States since its foundation and is not easily changed. However, we are mindful as well that the current conjunction of international and domestic crises offers an opportunity to alter longstanding destructive patterns. As historians, we believe that we can and must make a contribution to the broad, international movements for peace, democracy, and social justice. In pursuing our objectives, we look toward building and joining alliances with a wide variety of intellectual and activist groups that share our concerns.
SOURCE: American Historical Review (2-1-09)
SOURCE: Published letter to the editor of the NYT (3-5-09)
“Vatican Calls the Apology of a Bishop Insufficient” (news article, Feb. 28) reports that the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson has consulted with David Irving. Mr. Irving is a fitting partner for him.
Strangely, Mr. Irving is described in the article as a “historian.” When he sued me for libel for calling him a Holocaust denier, the court ruled that his “falsification of the historical record was deliberate” and motivated by “ideological beliefs,” including anti-Semitism and racism.
The judge called Mr. Irving’s writings on the Holocaust “misleading,” “unjustified,” a “travesty” and “unreal.” He “perverts” and “distorts.” This is not the description of a historian. It is the description of a denier.
Deborah E. Lipstadt
Washington, Feb. 28, 2009
The writer is a professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (3-4-09)
Sherifa D. Zuhur, a research professor of Islamic and regional studies in the college's Strategic Studies Institute, was suspended without pay for 10 days, effective Monday, from the Army college, in Pennsylvania, which trains both military leaders and civilians. The institute's director, Douglas C. Lovelace Jr., had notified her of her suspension in a letter last week affirming the recommendation of the institute's deputy director, Col. Louis H. Jordan Jr., that the college take disciplinary action against her.
Among the alleged misconduct Mr. Lovelace cited in his letter was a January 23 e-mail from Ms. Zuhur to Colonel Jordan, her supervisor, threatening to relay her complaints against the college—as well as letters to the college by the scholars' association and a Muslim American advocacy group—to an Arab-American newspaper, the Arab Times....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (3-4-09)
The history in my book, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, is inconvenient to the current regime in Russia.
It draws on several hundred family archives and thousands of interviews with survivors of the Stalinist regime which I conducted with Memorial, a human rights and historical research centre which has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize.
On 4 December a group of masked men from the investigative committee of the Russian general prosecutor's office forced their way into the St Petersburg offices of Memorial. After a search the men confiscated hard drives containing the entire archive of Memorial in St Petersburg: databases with biographical information on victims of repression; details about burial sites in the St Petersburg area; family archives; sound recordings and transcripts of interviews.
All the materials I collected with Memorial in St Petersburg (about one third of the sources used in The Whisperers) were also confiscated. The raid was part of a broader ideological struggle over the control of history publications and teaching in Russia that may have influenced the decision of Atticus to cancel my contract.
The Kremlin has been actively for the rehabilitation of Stalin. Its aim is not to deny Stalin's crimes but to emphasise his achievements as the builder of the country's"glorious Soviet past". It wants Russians to take pride in their Soviet past and not to be burdened with a paralysing sense of guilt about the repressions of the Stalin period....
SOURCE: Press Release--American Heritage (3-4-09)
“Allen is a great addition to our Board,” said Chairman Robert Breeden. “He brings great depth to the Board, not only as a noted author and educator of American history, but also as an advisor to many national and international government, educational, and civic bodies.”
“American Heritage is a national treasure,” said Dr. Weinstein. “We must keep it lively and vigorous and as widely read as we have always known it. I will help Edwin Grosvenor and his team in any way I can.”
Dr. Weinstein was sworn in as the 9th Archivist of the United States in 2005, supervising the 3,000 employees of the National Archives and Records Administration and its affiliated organization until his retirement December 31, 2008. In that capacity, he also supervised 13 Presidential libraries that form part of the National Archive system ranging from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush.
“Allen is unusual in being both a noted historian and a respected leader of organizations,” commented Edwin S. Grosvenor, President of American Heritage. “We greatly value his advice and support for our efforts.”
Before serving at NARA, Weinstein was president of The Center of Democracy, a foundation he created in 1985 to encourage the democratic process. Previously, he was a professor at Boston University, Georgetown University, and Smith College.
In 1986, Weinstein was the recipient of the United Nations Peace Medal for “efforts to promote peace, dialogue, and free elections in several critical parts of the world.”
Dr. Weinstein’s books include: The Story of America (DK Publishers, 2002), The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—The Stalin Era (Random House, 1999; Modern Library paperback, 2000); Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case (Knopf: Vintage paperback; Hutchinsons Ltd.; revised ed., Random House paperback, 1997), which received several citations including an American Book Award nomination; Freedom and Crisis: An American History (Random House, 3 eds.); Between the Wars: American Foreign Policy from Versailles to Pearl Harbor (Berkley paperback); Prelude to Populism (Yale University Press); and among edited collections, Conflict in America (Voice of America); American Negro Slavery (4th ed., Oxford University Press); American Themes: Essays in Historiography (Oxford); and Truman and the American Commitment to Israel (Hebrew University/Magnes Press).
Dr. Weinstein’s articles and essays have appeared in The American Scholar, The American Historical Review, The Business History Review, Commentary, Encounter, Esquire, The Journal of American History, The Journal of American Studies, The New Republic, New York, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.
His television credits include that of historical consultant on two History Channel programs on Soviet espionage (1998-1999), the 1988-89 PBS series Face-to Face: Conversations on the U.S.-Soviet Summitry (Co-Host, Editor, and Writer), The Salvadoran Debate (Moderator and Producer, 1984), and Inside Washington (Host and Creator), and a 1981 PBS public affairs series. He has been a frequent commentator on CNN, C-SPAN, and other networks.
About American Heritage:
American Heritage magazine was founded in 1949. Under the leadership of Editor Bruce Catton, who won a Pulitzer Prize for A Stillness at Appomattox, the founders believed that the American story was one of great value and endless fascination, and sought to apply the techniques of journalism to the discipline of history. In 1985 Forbes Inc. bought the company, and under its stewardship the circulation rose to 340,000. American Heritage founded a sister publication, Invention & Technology, which continues to flourish. Over the years American Heritage has won many honors, including the National Magazine Award. Today it is the largest and best-known history magazine in the world, carrying forward the mission the founders spelled out more than 50 years ago: “We believe in good storytelling; that interesting writers can interpret history and restore it to the place it once occupied as the noblest branch of literature.”
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (3-6-09)
Holder of the Edward Said Chair in Modern Arab Studies at Columbia — named for the prominent Palestinian literary critic and public intellectual — Khalidi is a lean, compact man with a narrow face, sharp features, and a graying, tightly clipped beard. Clearly indignant about the subject, he chops the air with his right hand for emphasis. The moment is classic Khalidi: gruff, passionate, a bit sermonic.
His views and style place the respected scholar, and his field of Middle Eastern studies, at the center of increasingly acrimonious debates about the direction of American foreign policy, the meaning of academic freedom, and the future of his discipline. Khalidi has been embroiled in nasty disputes about anti-Israel bias on campus and been barred from participating in a teacher-education program in New York City's public schools. As a commentator for The New York Times, The Nation, and the London Review of Books, as well as on PBS's Charlie Rose Show and National Public Radio, he has earned both scorn and admiration for his harsh indictments of America and Israel. The Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin denounced him as a "radical professor"; The Washington Post once described his demeanor as that of "a good doctor with a lousy bedside manner"; The New York Sun called him "the professor of hate."
But academe's assessment is far different; many of his peers insist that he is no provocateur or rabble-rouser. As evidence, scholars point to Khalidi's longstanding support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — unlike the views of Said, who by the end of his life was advocating one state for both peoples, which would undermine Israel's Jewish identity. "The fact that someone like Rashid Khalidi can be characterized as a radical tells you how skewed the parameters of the discourse are in this country," says Zachary Lockman, a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at New York University....
SOURCE: http://www.bookslut.com (3-1-09)
Greenberg has also written a short study of our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge (2006), and a longer study of various groups’ perceptions of Richard Nixon, Nixon’s Shadow: the History of an Image (2003). At the moment he is working on book that he calls a history of spin.
Greenberg is 40. He grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. His father is a philosophy professor at Brandeis and his mother is a psychologist. His wife Suzanne Nossel, who works at Human Rights Watch, was featured recently in a piece Hendrik Hertzberg wrote for the New Yorker. (She coined “Smart Power,” a term now employed by Hillary Clinton). He has two small children and lives in an apartment on Central Park North, a few long blocks away from Columbia where he received his Ph.D. in 2001. At the moment he teaches at Rutgers. We met at his place on Feb. 11 to discuss how history informs the current moment when America faces a new Great Depression and an African-American now serves as its president.
I remember a long piece you wrote for Slate some time ago in which you compared popular history to academic history. And you made a point that popular history tends to follow the “great man” view of history. So Joseph Ellis writes a book about George Washington and we all have to read it. Why should we discount the “great man” view of history? Almost everyone agrees that the history of the world in the last eight years would have been very different had the 2000 election turned out differently. And almost everyone agrees the situation we’ve had these last few weeks are very different because Barack Obama, not John McCain, is president. And you yourself have written two books that center on “great men.”
Right. And I don’t discount it. That piece was trying to lay out the landscape and identify the different camps and arguments that go on implicitly or explicitly between popular and academic history. But let me give you the case against “great man” [history] which I subscribe to [to] a limited extent. I guess Tolstoy makes it most famously in War and Peace [when he writes of] the idea [that] whoever is at the top of the pyramid is ultimately having to respond to these greater forces: rivalries between nations, changes in demographics, famines, changes in the nature of our social life. And so in the academy, social history and other kinds of longer-term history was seen as a way of getting at deeper forces shaping history [where] the person at the top is kind of the froth on the wave.
A couple of years ago, I remember Bill Bradley of all people -- who normally hasn’t impressed me terribly as an intellect -- wrote this very good op-ed that a number of people were talking about, about the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. And he says the Republican Party is based on this conservative movement that has clear ideologies, certain things they want in a president. It almost doesn’t matter who they put in the top because they get the same outcome. The Democrats are constantly searching around for the right leader who might somehow give them that vision. They were at sea during these years, Bradley argued, because they didn’t have the understructure. They kept hoping for individual people to deliver them....
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (March/April issue) (3-1-09)
Huntington passed away on December 24, grandly and rightly praised as one of the world’s most influential thinkers. His long career as an intellectual impresario was less well known: With his fertile mind and boundless energy, Huntington produced not only groundbreaking books and articles but also an amazing array of academic and editorial initiatives, of which this magazine is only one example.
To mark this legacy, we could think of no better way to pay homage to this intellectual giant than to discuss his ideas. We asked a group of respected scholars—some his former students, some his sparring partners—to share their thoughts on the man and his lasting work. In keeping with Huntington’s own tradition of free-wheeling intellectual debate, we asked them to highlight both those ideas of his they admired and also those with which they disagreed. We’ve included their tributes—with the full text here.
As many of our colleagues have noted, Huntington was at heart a contrarian whose first instinct was to be deeply suspicious of the conventional wisdom. His great skill was in showing how such wisdom was often wrong, and at times even dangerous. We at FP have tried to continue this tradition. For showing us the way—and for his many other contributions—this magazine is one of the many grateful institutions that will miss him....
SOURCE: LAT (3-2-09)
H.W. Brands, A Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Doubleday)
Ernest Freeberg, Democracy's Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent (Harvard University Press)
Paula J. Giddings, Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching (Amistad/HarperCollins)
Jon Meacham, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House (Random House)
Jackie Wullschlager, Chagall: A Biography (Alfred A. Knopf)
Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (Alfred A. Knopf)
Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Alfred A. Knopf)
Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe(The Penguin Press)
Thomas J. Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (Random House)
Rick Wartzman, Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (PublicAffairs)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (3-2-09)
Hobsbawm is 91 and a Companion of Honour, an award given to only 45 Britons for outstanding achievements and whose motto is "In Action Faithful and in Honour Clear". He has been told by MI5 he is not entitled to see the file, for which he applied under the Data Protection Act.
Ministers face the potentially embarrassing task of having to explain to parliament why Hobsbawm, who joined the now defunct British Communist party in 1936 and is widely regarded as one of the world's leading Marxist historians, is worthy of receiving such an exclusive distinction from the Queen but is not trusted to see his own security file.
"To the best of my knowledge I have never been involved in anything of security interest," Hobsbawm said yesterday. "I think the only reason can be that the security people don't want to give away who snitched on me to the authorities."...
SOURCE: DPA (2-28-09)
Irving, contacted by Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa yesterday, said he had offered Williamson to stay with him at his home in Windsor, near London, following his expulsion from Argentina this week. But the bishop had not been in touch since his return to Britain on Wednesday, and had presumably found shelter with the British branch of the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X, of which he is member.
Earlier yesterday, the society’s British website published a statement from 68-year-old Williamson in which he apologizes for his remarks, denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers.
“I suppose the Pius Brothers will have urged him to do that, but it will not help him,” Irving said. He had met Williamson at a garden party last October and given him “advice” during the recent controversy, Irving said.
SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle (2-28-09)
The varied crew, featuring actors Kerry Washington, Josh Brolin, Diane Lane and Benjamin Bratt; hip-hop artist Boots Riley; activist Clarence Thomas; civil rights attorney Renee Maria Saucedo; musicians the Stairwell Sisters; and historian Anthony Arnove, read and sang selections from "Voices of a People's History," the companion volume of first-person accounts plucked from Zinn's 1980 best-seller "A People's History of the United States."
It was a very San Francisco affair, from a woman outside hawking a socialist newspaper to the long line of activist booths hugging the hallways, no leftist group was left behind.
"I got a ticket, but I'm giving it away," said Matt Kline, who was in the midst of discussing immigrant-rights-rally T-shirt sales with two comrades before the show started. "I can read the book."
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (3-6-09)
Actually there's a lot that isn't on the Internet. And once you fly across the ocean in a cramped economy seat, arrive in Paris with your luggage and research notes, locate your rented apartment, renew your pass at the archives, secure a numbered spot in the crowded manuscripts room, find your documents in the catalogs, carefully write the shelf marks (call numbers) on the neat little forms provided for that purpose, and stand in line to hand your requests to the harried or indifferent clerk at the call desk — your work has only begun.
As you wait for your documents to arrive at the desk, or to be delivered to your table from a metal cart rolled noisily through the room, you hope and pray that the precious records are available and that the curatorial staff can find them. If so, you have been liberated — or doomed — to spend days or even weeks copying faded, nearly illegible texts and deciphering them from medieval Latin, French, or the like. Many archives forbid photography, and you often have only ambient light, so a magnifying glass comes in handy. It's time-consuming, eye-straining detective work, punctuated by the occasional thrill of an unanticipated revelation.
Several years ago I was trying to find an elusive document that I felt might help me solve the mystery of a story I was researching. The story culminated in a celebrated trial by combat — a duel to the death — fought before the French king in 1386 by two Norman nobles, Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris. The fellow courtiers had once been close friends, until Le Gris acquired a piece of land that Carrouges coveted. Their falling-out led to accusations and even lawsuits, until finally Carrouges charged that Le Gris had raped his beautiful young wife, Marguerite. The case deadlocked in the Parlement of Paris, the nation's high court, which eventually authorized a judicial duel — something it had not done for 30 years and would never do again....
SOURCE: Campus Watch (3-2-09)
The event attracted a large crowd of students and members of the Philadelphia community, with many sitting on the floor and standing for the entire event, which lasted over two hours. The doors to the outside remained open to provide ventilation for the overcrowded room; not only did passing sirens blare, but a dog wandered into the room off the street, lending the event a fleeting hilarity in light of the topic being discussed.
The first speaker, history professor Lawrence Davidson of West Chester University, charged—without citing any supporting evidence—that Israel's military actions in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009 were planned in mid-2007 in order to "[destroy] the Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) militant rivals there [i.e. Hamas], and eventually bring it under the a PNA cooperating with Israel."
After Israel had installed its PNA "proxy" in Gaza, Davidson asserted that it "might [re-introduce]…its colonists" to the area. He continued with a conspiratorial reading of Israel's 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, which involved the complete withdrawal of military force and forced removal of settler communities: "It seemed wise to get the colonists who were there out of the area, as their evacuation would allow the entire strip to be turned into a free fire zone."
Staying the course, Davidson blamed Israel for Palestinian violence: "Whatever Palestinian violence Israel suffers is the reaction…to conditions that…the Israelis themselves have created." Utterly ignoring Israel's efforts at negotiating a peace settlement over the past 20 years, Davidson blamed Israel for the failure of the peace process: "Since 1988 the PLO has been seeking to negotiate a two state solution…but the Israelis never intend to allow any of these sorts of compromises. To do so means abandoning their colonization projects, which are worth more to them than peace."
In a discussion of the Israeli air and sea blockade of Gaza, Davidson trivialized the murder of 10 Israelis (9 of whom were civilians) in 2008 by Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza: "Hamas responded to this situation by increasing the number of…rockets fired into Israel….These did little damage but were symbolic acts of resistance."
When a student critical of Davidson asked a question and commented, "Every death, I feel…doesn't matter Israeli or Palestinian, every death is terrible and it pains me when I read about it," Davidson interrupted the student and yelled, "How seriously?" This outburst drew even the ire of his fellow panelists, who turned to Davidson with looks of shock on their faces....
Preparing transcripts of the Nixon tapes is a difficult task. My staff at the National Archives and I did a number of them. With experience we got our transcription time down from 400 hours per hour of conversation to 100 hours. The results were good, but not perfect. In addition to the relatively poor quality of most of the recordings, we were faced with rendering “natural conversation,” with its repetitions, stuttering, and slurred words. The key phrase in one transcript was “ . . . so Harlow didn’st shustem/shust ’sim (rendered phonetically).” Everyone who listened heard that meaningless word/phrase. The participants had a shared knowledge of the subject, and no one questioned the speaker about what he meant.
On another occasion we had prepared a transcript for Judge Gesell to review in camera. I took the transcript and a copy of the tape to his chambers to play for the Government lawyers and for Nixon’ss counsel, R. Stan Mortenson. At one point Stan interrupted the proceeding and said he had an alternate rendering of one of the sentences: same cadence, different words, different meaning. The Government’ss lawyers agreed, only to have Stan say that this incident proved the suggestibility to the written word of people listening to the tapes. In fact, he said, that was not at all what he had heard and he presented a third version: same cadence, different words, different meaning. It was then that I realized that transcriptions of the Nixon tapes never would be wholly acceptable to men of good willsomeone always would hear some word or phrase differently. These criticisms would cast a pall over the entire transcription and, therefore, I decided against producing a Governmentsponsored set of transcripts.
With this background I approach with sympathy anyone attempting to produce generally acceptable transcripts of the Nixon tapes, such as Dr. Kutler. In his editorial note he stated that he removed extraneous wordsthe repetitions, stutters, etc. He notes also that some may disagree with particular renderings of words. I have no problem with his work on any of these issues. My fundamental disagreement lies with the conflation of portions of two transcripts from two different tapes (Oval Office and WH Telephone), recorded hours apart.
Preparation of a transcript is done by working from the tape logs — the topic outlines of every conversation prepared by the Archives staff. The logs note the conversation number (the tape number plus the position of the conversation on the tape, such as 881-03), the participants, and the start and stop times of the conversation. As in all historical research, context is important; the times listed on the logs provide the sequence for the conversations. Once a conversation, or a portion thereof, has been identified for transcription, someone listens to the tape and produces a rough transcript. Sheer mental fatigue precludes effective transcription more than about 4 or 5 hours per day, so others review the transcript until there is general agreement. The typed document would retain its tape identification information and its pages numbered in sequence. Each transcript is integral.
To conflate 2 transcripts would require literal or electronic cutting and pasting. This is a deliberate act. Of course, one could imagine a scenario in which the physical pages of more than one transcript (say, those for March 16) were scattered on a desk and accidentally merged, despite the conversation identifiers and page numbering. However, I assume that the court reporters who prepared the transcripts provided them in both electronic and physical format, so that a diligent author could check his work with the physical transcripts against the electronic form. This “accident” scenario implies a level of sloppiness on the part of the researcher/author that casts a pall not only over the publication in question but over the entire corpus of his work. I choose not to believe that of Dr. Kutler. He states in his forward that he is “ . . . aware of my responsibility for accuracy” and that “ . . . there is no distortion of the thrust or intent of the passages. “ The conflation of the two transcripts demonstrates that he failed in that responsibility.
By choosing to publish only portions of the Nixon/Dean conversations Dr. Kutler asks us to trust his historical judgment on relative importance. Obviously, the physical constraints of publishing a book of standard length preclude publishing the entire corpus of transcripts, although a CD-ROM could have been includedas Bob Haldeman did with his diaries. The danger here is one of lack of context. To understand Nixon and his actions with regard to Watergate, these conversations should be seen in the context of other conversations he had on these topics, including those which Dr. Kutler chose not to include, such as March 13. A portion selected for publication is torn from the context of the rest of the conversation. This is a problem inherent with such a “highlights of Watergate“ book: the selections could be seen as agenda-driven.
The Watergate tapes are available on-line at nixontapes.org. Researchers should use this site as their primary source rather than relying on the flawed Kutler book.
HNN Hot Topics: The Watergate Transcript Controversy
SOURCE: NYT (2-28-09)
Just before the noon bell tolled at Trinity Church, a horse-drawn cart pulled up near J. P. Morgan’s headquarters at Broad and Wall Streets. The driver quickly dismounted and melted into the crowd. The wagon, laden with dynamite and iron sash weights, exploded, sending flames into the sky and a fusillade of shrapnel into the heart of the nation’s financial district.
Thirty-eight people were killed in the blast, and 143 more were maimed. It was the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil, and so it would remain until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
Yet today, as Beverly Gage laments in “The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror” (Oxford University Press), the only evidence of this frightening moment in American history is a perfunctory tourist sign and a dozen or so scars on the north wall of the old Morgan bank.
This was a moment that Wall Street clearly wanted to forget. Laborers worked through the night to repair the damage. The next morning, the New York Stock Exchange miraculously opened for business. The market continued its rally — aided no doubt by free-spending private bankers who wished to restore the public’s confidence. They succeeded. Soon, America was swept up in the great stock market boom of the Roaring Twenties. Terror seemed so passé.
Not anymore. As Ms. Gage, a Yale history professor, argues convincingly in her book, the events of that Sept. 16 are more relevant than ever after terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Of course, this second atrocity inspired former President George W. Bush to proclaim a war on terror. Most people would now agree that this war has been less than a resounding success. But then, neither was the first.
In short, there are parallels to be drawn between these two days — and lessons to be learned. The most obvious is that it is perilous to forget the past. “Terrorism is not a form of violence restricted to one time or place,” Ms. Gage writes. “It has a history.”...
SOURCE: NYT (2-28-09)
THIS recession, which began in December 2007, has already lasted longer than the average postwar recession. If it turns out to be as bad as the most protracted of the postwar downturns, we will touch bottom next month.
But my strong suspicion is that we are now in something more like a Great Recession. It won’t produce as steep a fall in American output as the Depression did, but it may prove to be as prolonged.
The depression that began in August 1929 did not hit its nadir until 43 months later. The one that started in October 1873 was shallower but lasted 65 months. If the economy were to keep shrinking for that long, we wouldn’t start coming out of this until after May 2013.
Is that possible? This is a crisis of excessive debt, the end of the Age of Leverage. It will take longer than a few more months to resolve bank and household insolvency, especially with asset prices continuing to fall so rapidly. Even with zero interest rates and huge deficits, Japan suffered a “lost decade” in the 1990s — and that was when the rest of the world was doing well. This recession is taking place as the rest of the world is doing even worse than the United States. The collapse of trade as measured by East Asian export data is petrifying.
So far in this recession, remember, we have had only two consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product. At the moment, I find it quite easy to imagine two consecutive years of contraction. And I don’t rule out two more lean years after that.
SOURCE: Doug Ireland at the website of Gay City News (2-20-09)
Now, a forthcoming book by a leading Iranian scholar in exile, which details both the long history of homosexuality in that nation and the origins of the campaign to erase its traces, not only provides a superlative reply to Ahmadinejad, but demonstrates forcefully that political homophobia was a Western import to a culture in which same-sex relations were widely tolerated and frequently celebrated for well over a thousand years.
"Sexual Politics in Modern Iran," to be published at the end of next month by Cambridge University Press, is a stunningly researched history and analysis of the evolution of gender and sexuality that will provide a transcendent tool both to the vibrant Iranian women's movement today fighting the repression of the ayatollahs and to Iranian same-sexers hoping for liberation from a theocracy that condemns them to torture and death.
Its author, Janet Afary, president of the International Society of Iranian Scholars, is a professor of history and women's studies at Purdue University who has already published several authoritative works on Iranian sexual politics, notably the revealing and award-winning "Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islam" (2005), in which she already demonstrated a remarkable sympathy for gay and lesbian people.
In her new book, Afary's extensive section on pre-modern Iran, documented by a close reading of ancient texts, portrays the dominant form of same-sex relations as a highly-codified "status-defined homosexuality," in which an older man - presumably the active partner in sex - acquired a younger partner, or amrad.
Afary demonstrates how, in this period, "male homoerotic relations in Iran were bound by rules of courtship such as the bestowal of presents, the teaching of literary texts, bodybuilding and military training, mentorship, and the development of social contacts that would help the junior partner's career. Sometimes men exchanged vows, known as brotherhood sigehs [a form of contractual temporary marriage, lasting from a few hours to 99 years, common among heterosexuals] with homosocial or homosexual overtones.
"These relationships were not only about sex, but also about cultivating affection between the partners, placing certain responsibilities on the man with regard to the future of the boy. Sisterhood sigehs involving lesbian practices were also common in Iran. A long courtship was important in these relations. The couple traded gifts, traveled together to shrines, and occasionally spent the night together. Sigeh sisters might exchange vows on the last few days of the year, a time when the world 'turned upside down,' and women were granted certain powers over men."
Examples of the codes governing same-sex relations were to be found in the "Mirror for Princes genre of literature (andarz nameh) [which] refers to both homosexual and heterosexual relations. Often written by fathers for sons, or viziers for sultans, these books contained separate chapter headings on the treatment of male companions and of wives."
One such was the Qabus Nameh (1082-1083), in which a father advises a son: "As between women and youths, do not confine your inclinations to either sex; thus you may find enjoyment from both kinds without either of the two becoming inimical to you... During the summer let your desires incline toward youths, and during the winter towards women."
Afary dissects how "classical Persian literature (twelfth to fifteenth centuries)...overflowed with same-sex themes (such as passionate homoerotic allusions, symbolism, and even explicit references to beautiful young boys.)" This was true not only of the Sufi masters of this classical period but of "the poems of the great twentieth-century poet Iraj Mirza (1874-1926)... Classical poets also celebrated homosexual relationships between kings and their pages."
Afary also writes that "homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were embraced in numerous other public spaces beyond the royal court, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, gymnasiums, bathhouses, and coffeehouses... Until the mid-seventeenth century, male houses of prostitution (amrad khaneh) were recognized, tax-paying establishments."
While Afary explores the important role of class in same-sex relations, she also illuminates how "Persian Sufi poetry, which is consciously erotic as well as mystical, also celebrated courtship rituals between [men] of more or less equal status... The bond between lover and beloved was... based on a form of chivalry (javan mardi). Love led one to higher ethical ideals, but love also constituted a contract, wherein the lover and the beloved had specific obligations and responsibilities to one another, and the love that bound them both... Sufi men were encouraged to use homoerotic relations as a pathway to spiritual love."
Unmistakably lesbian sigeh courtship rituals, which continued from the classical period into the twentieth century, were also codified: "Tradition dictated that one [woman] who sought another as 'sister' approached a love broker to negotiate the matter. The broker took a tray of sweets to the prospective beloved. In the middle of the tray was a carefully placed dildo or doll made of wax or leather. If the beloved agreed to the proposal, she threw a sequined white scarf (akin to a wedding veil) over the tray... If she was not interested, she threw a black scarf on the tray before sending it back."
As late as the last half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, "Iranian society remained accepting of many male and female homoerotic practices... Consensual and semi-open pederastic relations between adult men and amrads were common within various sectors of society." What Afary terms a "romantic bisexuality" born in the classical period remained prevalent at court and among elite men and women, and "a form of serial love ('eshq-e mosalsal) was commonly practiced [in which] their love could shift back and forth from girl to boy and back to girl."
In the court of Naser al-Din Shah, who ruled Persia from 1848 to 1896, keeping boy concubines was still an acceptable practice, and the shah himself (in addition to his wives and harem) had a young male lover, Malijak, whom he "loved more than anyone else." In his memoirs, Malijak recalled proudly, "the king's love for me reached the point where it is impossible for me to write about it... [He] held me in his arms and kissed me as if he were kissing one of his great beloveds."
In a lengthy section of her book entitled "Toward a Westernized Modernity," Afary demonstrates how the trend toward modernization which emerged during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and which gave the Persian monarchy its first parliament was heavily influenced by concepts harvested from the West.
One of her most stunning revelations is how an Azeri-language newspaper edited and published in the Russian Caucuses, Molla Nasreddin (or MN, which appeared from 1906 to 1931) influenced this Iranian Revolution with a "significant new discourse on gender and sexuality," sharing Marx's well-documented contempt for homosexuals. With an editorial board that embraced Russian social democratic concepts, including women's rights, MN was also "the first paper in the Shi'i Muslim world to endorse normative heterosexuality," echoing Marx's well-documented contempt for homosexuality. Afary writes that "this illustrated satirical paper, which circulated among Iranian intellectuals and ordinary people alike, was enormously popular in the region because of its graphic cartoons."
MN conflated homosexuality and pedophilia, and attacked clerical teachers and leaders for "molesting young boys," played upon feelings of "contempt" for passive homosexuals, suggested that elite men who kept amrad concubines "had a vested interested in maintaining the (male) homosocial public spaces where semi-covert pederasty was tolerated," and "mocked the rites of exchanging brotherhood vows before a mollah and compared it to a wedding ceremony." It was in this way that a discourse of political homophobia developed in Europe, which insisted that only heterosexuality could be the norm, was introduced into Iran.
MN's attacks on homosexuality "would shape Iranian debates on sexuality for the next century," and it "became a model for several Iranian newspapers of the era," which echoed its attacks on the conservative clergy and leadership for homosexual practices. In the years that followed, "Iranian revolutionaries commonly berated major political figures for their sexual transgressions," and "revolutionary leaflets accused adult men of having homosexual sex with other adult men, 'of thirty-year-olds propositioning fifty-year-olds and twenty-year-olds propositioning forty-year-olds, right in front of the Shah.' Some leaflets repeated the old allegation that major political figures had been amrads in their youth."
Subsequently, "leading constitutionalists enthusiastically joined the campaign against homosexuality," writes Afary, noting that "the influential journal Kaveh (1916-1921), published in exile in Berlin and edited by the famous constitutionalist Hasan Taqizadeh, had led the movement of opinion against homosexuality... Their notion of modernization now included the normalization of heterosexual eros and the abandonment of all homosexual practices and even inclinations."
When Reza Kahn overthrew the monarchy's Qajar dynasty and made himself shah in 1925, he ushered in a new wave of reforms and modernization that included attempts to outlaw homosexuality entirely and a ferocious - ultimately successful - assault on classical Persian poetry. Iraj Mirza, previously known for his homoerotic poems, "joined other leading political figures of this period in encouraging compulsory heterosexuality." These politicians and intellectuals insisted that "true patriotism required switching one's sexual orientation from boys to women... Other intellectuals and educators pressed for the elimination of poems with homosexual themes from school textbooks."
Leading this crusade was a famous historian and prolific journalist, Ahmad Kasravi, "who helped shape many cultural and educational policies during the 1930s and 1940s." Kasravi founded a nationalist movement, Pak Dini (Purity of Religion), which developed a broad following. An admirer of MN, Kasravi preached that "homosexuality was a measure of cultural backwardness," that Sufi poets of homoeroticism led "parasitic" lives, and that their queer poetry "was dangerous and had to be eliminated."
Kasravi's Pak Dini movement "went so far as to institute a festival of book burning, held on winter solstice. Books deemed harmful and amoral were thrown into a bonfire in an event that seemed to echo the Nazi and Soviet-style notions of eliminating 'degenerate' art." Eventually, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jam, who held office from 1935 to 1939, acceded to Kasravi's demand that homoerotic poems be banned entirely from daily newspapers.
Kasravi "based his opposition to the homoeroticism of classical poetry on several assumptions. He expected the young generation to study Western sciences in order to rebuild the nation, and he regarded Sufi poetry as a dangerous diversion. As preposterous as it might sound, Kasravi also argued that the revival of Persian poetry was a grand conspiracy concocted by British and German Orientalists to divert the nation's youth from the revolutionary legacy of the Constitutional Revolution and to encourage... immoral pursuits."
Afary adds sorrowfully that "most supporters of women's rights sympathized with Kasravi's project because he encouraged the cultivation of monogamous, heterosexual love in marriage... In this period, neither Kasravi nor feminists distinguished between rape or molestation of boys and consensual same-sex relations between adults."
The expansion of radio, television, and print media in the 1940s - including a widely read daily, Parcham, published from 1941 by Kasravi's Pak Dini movement - resulted in a nationwide discussion about the evils of pederasty and, ultimately, in significant official censorship of literature. References to same-sex love and the love of boys were eliminated in textbooks and even in new editions of classical poetry. "Classical poems were now illustrated by miniature paintings celebrating heterosexual, rather than homosexual, love and students were led to believe that the love object was always a woman, even when the text directly contradicted that assumption," Arafy writes.
In the context of a triumphant censorship that erased from the popular collective memory the enormous literary and cultural heritage of what Afary terms "the ethics of male love" in the classical Persian period, it is hardly surprising as Afary earlier noted in "Foucault and the Iranian Revolution" that the virulence of the current Iranian regime's anti-homosexual repression stems in part from the role homosexuality played in the 1979 revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers to power.
In that earlier work, she and her co-author, Kevin B. Anderson, wrote: "There is... a long tradition in nationalist movements of consolidating power through narratives that affirm patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, attributing sexual abnormality and immorality to a corrupt ruling elite that is about to be overthrown and/or is complicit with foreign imperialism. Not all the accusations leveled against the [the deposed shah of Iran, and his] Pahlevi family and their wealthy supporters stemmed from political and economic grievances. A significant portion of the public anger was aimed at their 'immoral' lifestyle. There were rumors that a gay lifestyle was rampant at the court. The shah's prime minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, was said to have been a homosexual. The satirical press routinely lampooned him for his meticulous attire, the purple orchid in his lapel, and his supposed marriage of convenience. The shah himself was rumored to be bisexual. There were reports that a close male friend of the shah from Switzerland, a man who knew him from their student days in that country, routinely visited him.
"But the greatest public outrage was aimed at two young, elite men with ties to the court who held a mock wedding ceremony. Especially to the highly religious, this was public confirmation that the Pahlevi house was corrupted with the worst kinds of sexual transgressions, that the shah was no longer master of his own house. These rumors contributed to public anger, to a sense of shame and outrage, and ultimately were used by the Islamists in their calls for a revolution."
Soon after coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini established the death penalty for homosexuality.
In "Sexual Politics in Modern Iran," Afary sums up the situation for homosexuals under the Ahmadinejad regime in this way: "While the shari'a [Islamic law] requires either the actual confession of the accused or four witnesses who observed them in flagrante delicto, today's authorities look only for medical evidence of penetration in homosexual relationships. Upon finding such evidence, they pronounce the death sentence. Because execution of men on charges of homosexuality has prompted international outrage, the state has tended to compound these charges with others, such as rape and pedophilia. Continual use of these tactics has undermined the status of Iran's gay community and attenuated public sympathy for them. Meanwhile, many Iranians believe that pedophilia is rampant in the religious cities of Qum and Mashad, including in the seminaries, where temporary marriage and prostitution are also pervasive practices." (Full disclosure: in her section on gays in today's Iran, Afary cites my reporting several times and thanks me in the book's acknowledgements for sharing materials and insights with her.)
In this necessarily truncated summary of some of Afary's most significant and nuanced findings and revelations with respect to homosexuality, it is impossible to do justice to the full sweep and scope of "Sexual Politics in Iran," the larger part of which is devoted to the role of Iranian women, and to their struggles for freedom which began in the 19th century. But as Afary herself writes, "[F]or a very long time even talking about the pervasive homoeroticism of the region's premodern culture had been labeled 'Orientalism'... [but] increasingly I found that one could not simply talk about gender and women's rights, particularly rights within marriage, without addressing the subject of same-sex relations."
This she has done with uncommon sensitivity, intellectual rigor, engagement, subtlety, and skill.
And for that, both Iranian lesbians and gays and feminists in that nation owe Afary an enormous debt of gratitude, as do all of us concerned with sexual liberation for everyone worldwide.