What Clayton Cramer Saw and (Nearly) Everyone Else Missed





Mr. Cramer is a software engineer and historian. His last book was Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic: Dueling, Southern Violence, and Moral Reform (Praeger Press, 1999). His web site is http://www.claytoncramer.com.

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Michael A. Bellesiles’s Bancroft Prize for Arming America has been revoked—the first time that a Bancroft Prize has ever been taken away from an author.[1] He has also resigned from Emory University after a blistering criticism by a blue-ribbon panel.[2] Is this embarrassing moment for the history profession a fluke, or indicative of deeper problems?

I fear that it isn’t a fluke. Arming America reveals that there are some very serious problems in the history professorate, and they are not confined to just one history professor’s demonstration of hubris. Before I launch into a discussion of these problems, let me tell you why I am writing this article.

My Involvement With the Bellesiles Scandal

I have been described in some articles covering this scandal as Michael Bellesiles’s most persistent critic, and I suppose that this is a fair statement. Bellesiles first presented his rather astonishing claims about gun scarcity in early America in a 1996 Journal of American History paper. At the time, I was a history graduate student, working on my MA thesis at Sonoma State University in California. My thesis examined the development of concealed weapon laws in the early Republic, and what I found completely contradicted Bellesiles’s claim that the early Republic had few guns, and few hunters.

I was so taken aback by Bellesiles’s claims—and in a prestigious journal like the JAH—that I spent a month or two trying to figure out if his claims might be the reason why and where America’s first concealed weapon laws appeared. Fortunately, I knew that in a direct conflict between a professor’s scholarly interpretation of the past, and primary sources, primary sources always win. I chalked up Bellesiles’s claims to zeal and bad luck: picking an atypical set of sources, and attempting to find a useable past—useable for the political purposes that were only thinly veiled in that JAH article. I thought he was wrong, but it did not occur to me that he would actually make anything up, or alter quotes to prove his point.

There’s nothing wrong with an historian having a political goal. It would be a curious matter indeed for any historian to devote years of life to the study of a historical problem, and hold no opinions about its relevance to today’s questions. Ideally, however, the research should direct the opinions, not the other way around.

When the book length version of Bellesiles’s claims, Arming America, appeared in 2000, I received a review copy. My first reaction after reading the first few chapters was a mixture of “There’s a logical flaw here” and “What? Could this possibly be true?” When I reached chapters that covered periods that I knew well—the early Republic—my incredulity increased. Then I started to find Bellesiles using quotations from travel accounts that I had read—and the quotations didn’t match either my memory of them, or the texts, when I re-read them.

I sat down with a list of bizarre, amazing claims that Bellesiles had made, and started chasing down the citations at Sonoma State University’s library. I found quotations of out of context that completely reversed the author’s original intent. I found dates changed. I found the text of statutes changed—and the changes completely reversed the meaning of the law. It took me twelve hours of hunting before I found a citation that was completely correct. In the intervening two years, I have spent thousands of hours chasing down Bellesiles’s citations, and I have found many hundreds of shockingly gross falsifications.

Critical Thinking & History

If Arming America had been a book written by some crank, or even a “popular” historian, I suppose that I would have been disappointed by it, but that was all. But this was not a book by some tinfoil-hat revisionist. Michael Bellesiles was a respected historian at a highly regarded research university. His book won wildly enthusiastic reviews from prominent historians. The dust jacket of Arming America has laudatory remarks by a Who’s Who of American historians. Arming America won the Bancroft Prize—an indicator for the enduring value of a book about American history.

What made this especially disturbing was the reaction of historians, when I first brought to the attention of the scholarly community, through various email lists, that Arming America was not just wrong, but deceptive. My first shot across the bow of Arming America was to point out that Bellesiles had altered the text of the Militia Act of 1792. The text included the words: “every citizen so enrolled and notified, shall within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock.”[3] Bellesiles changed the passage to read: “every citizen so enrolled, shall...be constantly provided with a good musket or firelock….”[4] This was not a trivial change; it was evidence that Bellesiles used to demonstrate that guns were rare in America, because, “Congress took upon itself the responsibility of providing those guns….”[5]

This was not a question of a historian being blindsided by a bad source. Bellesiles cited a number of works for his version of the statute: “Militia Laws; 8-10, 13; U.S. Statutes 1:271-74 (reenacted 2 February 1813, 2:797); Debates and Proceedings in the Congress 3:1392-95; Kohn, Eagle and Sword, 128-35.” Had Bellesiles cited only secondary works, such as Militia Laws, or Eagle and Sword, he might have been able to claim that he had been misled. But Bellesiles cited the federal statute in U.S. Statutes (Statutes at Large is the title usually used by legal historians) and Debates and Proceedings in the Congress. Both of these primary sources are in agreement about the text of the statute; they just aren’t in agreement with Bellesiles’s “quote.”

What astounded me was the reaction of historians. In October of 2000, I sent my complaint (which I will admit was more strongly worded than was politic) to several professional historian email lists. At least two of these list moderators allowed Bellesiles to say that he had made no mistake at all, that I didn’t know what I was talking about, and then shut off any further discussion of the question. I told those moderators, in about two minutes, how they could visit the Library of Congress’s web site, and see the pages in question themselves. It appears that they either couldn’t spend two minutes finding out if a major scandal was brewing, or didn’t consider academic fraud an important matter.

I finally concluded that the only way to establish my credibility was to begin scanning in pages that Bellesiles cited, so that historians could click on a web page address, and see the falsification. (See http://www.claytoncramer.com/columbia.18apr01.htm and http://www.claytoncramer.com/primary.html#MilitiaLaws for a number of examples.) This, plus Professor James Lindgren’s involvement in the question of probate record falsification, finally caused historians to regard this matter as a serious question of scholarly integrity. In the mean time, the credibility of the historical profession fell dramatically among those laypersons who followed the Bellesiles scandal.

How did Bellesiles get away with this? Why did historians take so long to pick up the ball, and run with it? Remember, it was largely because of the efforts of James Lindgren, a law professor, not an historian, and myself, a software engineer who writes history books, that Emory and Columbia University decided to clean up this embarrassment. (In case you are wondering, I write software because I have a family to support, and can’t take the vow of poverty that goes with teaching.)

First and foremost, what Eric Foner said about Columbia and the Bancroft Prize applies to academic historians generally:"The Bancroft judges operate on a basis of trust…. We assume a book published by a reputable press has gone through a process where people have checked the facts. Members of prize committees cannot be responsible for that."[6]

I hope that this won’t be a surprise to the reader, but a whole generation has grown up in which lying, deception, and manipulation are just part of the game; a generation where too many people think that responding to a question with, “That depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is” under oath is a sign of cleverness.

Maybe it is just because I am a hopeless cynic, but I have learned over the years that if something sounds too good to be true, it is usually is too good to be true. I have also learned from my research that it is a relatively rare event for all of the evidence to stack up neatly on one side of an argument. Even if historians hadn’t bothered to check Bellesiles’s citations, they should have been a little skeptical that the evidence he used was so overwhelmingly in support of his thesis, and contrary to conventional wisdom. The only initial review of Arming America that was not positively glowing was that written by Rutgers History Professor John Chambers II. While Chambers apparently did not check Bellesiles’s citations, his review made it clear that he was suspicious of how overwhelmingly Bellesiles’s evidence was in support of his thesis.[7] This ability to use critical thinking skills, unfortunately, seems to have been lacking in many other historians who were taken in..

It would also have helped if historians knew enough about math, and showed enough common sense, to wonder about the internal contradictions of Arming America. As an example, on p. 181, Bellesiles claims that just before the Revolution, “Massachusetts conducted a very thorough census of arms, finding that there were 21,549 guns in the province of some 250,000 people.”[8] He is clearly saying that this was a count of all guns, both publicly and privately owned or held. Two pages later, Bellesiles claims at the start of the Revolution, “The American colonies began the Revolution with more weapons than they had possessed at any time in their history. Most of the guns in private and public hands came from the twenty thousand Brown Besses supplied by the British government during the Seven Years’ War.”[9]

“Most of the guns” means that the 20,000 Brown Besses were a majority of the guns in the colonies. This means that Bellesiles claimed that there could not be more than 39,999 guns in the American colonies. Yet, somehow, Massachusetts had 21,549 guns—or more than half of all the guns in all the American colonies. At a minimum, this sort of amazing math should have caused an historian to say, “Wait a minute! What are the chances that more than half of the guns—perhaps way more than half of the guns—were in one colony?” It’s possible, but unlikely, that this could have been the case. A little skepticism, however, would have led historians to check the citations for these claims—and that would have shown that the cited documents don’t make the claims that Bellesiles says they do.[10]

Fact Checking vs. Peer Review

Unfortunately, one of the problems with history journals like JAH and Law & History Review, which published a 1998 article by Bellesiles that made false claims about colonial gun regulation (i.e., Bellesiles claimed that colonial governments required nearly all guns to be kept centrally stored, except during militia musters or war),[11] is that they rely on peer review. By comparison, law reviews rely on fact checking. What’s the difference?

At least the law reviews with which I have experience rely on small armies of law students to verify that quotes and citations are accurate. If the fact checkers can’t find the document in their library, they will expect you, as author, to copy the pages cited and the title page. (I spent a frustrating few weeks once waiting for an obscure book to be returned to my university’s library, so that I could supply the pages in question for a law review article.)

Why do law reviews fact check articles? To quote Don Kates, a civil rights attorney who did much of the early work in the legal history of gun control, “Law reviews check facts because lawyers lie.” History journals, it would appear, have relied on the integrity of historians. Not just because of the Bellesiles scandal, but other examples that are coming to light as I write these words, make me suspect that the days of trusting historians to tell the truth, are, or should be, over.

Fact checking only gets you so far. All the facts can be correct, and yet the article can still be grossly inaccurate because of logical errors, or because it is selective as to the facts that it uses. This is an area where peer review can be quite valuable—but increasingly, history journals need to start fact checking as part of their process for deciding whether to publish a paper. (Unfortunately, peer review also provides politically motivated reviewers with the opportunity to score points, as my recent experiences attempting to correct some of Bellesiles’s falsehoods demonstrated.)

Obviously, some citations are not amenable to such a process—there is no practical way to check unpublished materials in remote archives. Nonetheless, randomly checking five percent or ten percent of the citations in a paper, or checking the most eyebrow-raising claims, once a paper has been accepted for publication, would catch not only some gross nonsense, such as Bellesiles’s 1998 Law & History Review paper,[12] but would also catch a few historians who suffer from ideological blinders—and we’ll examine the nature of those blinders next.

The Need for Diversity

Over the last thirty years, the academic community in general, and historians in particular, have become quite concerned about the need for diversity: sexual diversity; racial diversity; and ethnic diversity. It does not surprise me that a professorate consisting largely of white males tended to give less importance to the history of women, blacks, and Hispanics in America. This wasn’t because white males were consciously ignoring other groups; it was because it takes a considerable effort to break outside the assumptions with which you have been raised. I think most historians agree that there is merit to having a diversity of voices within the profession.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that the Bellesiles scandal exposed the lack of political diversity within the profession. You see, at least part of why historians swallowed Arming America’s preposterous claims so readily is that it fit into their political worldview so well. I don’t mean that historians consciously decided not to look at Bellesiles’s claims because they were afraid of what they would find; I mean that Arming America said things, and created a system of thought so comfortable for the vast majority of historians, that they didn’t even pause to consider the possibility that something wasn’t right.

At this point, some of readers (perhaps many) may be saying to themselves, “That’s ridiculous! Our department is very diverse politically!” I am a little skeptical. To paraphrase the barkeep in the movie The Blues Brothers, “We’ve got both kinds of politics here! Liberal and progressive!” My experience in college—and that of most history majors that I have ever talked to—was that the range of political opinions in history departments is astonishingly narrow. Even liberal history majors usually recognized that this was the case.

I would challenge the reader to go around his or her department, and ask how many colleagues voted for—or would admit voting for—George W. Bush. Those of you who are now saying, “That’s ridiculous! We’re intelligent people! Why would any of us vote for Bush?” need to think for a second about what that says about the political diversity of university history departments—that you think that half of the American electorate are, or should be, unrepresentative in the teaching of history.

Back to the Bellesiles scandal and political diversity. I do not pretend that my interest in Arming America is entirely passionless. I have been, for a number of years, a political activist concerning restrictive gun control laws. Bellesiles pretends otherwise, though he signed at least one amicus brief in USA v. Emerson (5th Cir. 2001), and helped to create the Violence Studies Program at Emory University—a program that the Henry Frank Guggenheim Foundation criticized because its readings were,"too subjective, full of unexamined assumptions and strikingly unrepresentative of most of these crimes. These choices seem calculated to heighten the emotionalism with which students approach these issues, which can get in the way of rational understanding."[13]

So what did my interest in the question of gun control bring to my analysis of Bellesiles’s work? Pretty obviously, I had an interest in disproving some of his claims, because his work was intended to promote gun control. If this sounds paranoid, consider the remarks on the dust jacket of Arming America:

“Thinking people who deplore Americans’ addiction to gun violence have been waiting a long time for this information. Michael A. Bellesiles has uncovered dramatic historical truths that shatter the ‘ten commandments’ promulgated by the National Rifle Association.” – Stewart Udall, author of The Myths of August and The Quiet Crisis

“Bellesiles contributes significantly to one of our most contentious contemporary debates. Good history, he demonstrates, can expose myth and open new avenues for discussion by scholars and policymakers alike.” – Mary Beth Norton, author of Founding Mothers and Fathers

“This book changes everything. The way we think about guns and violence in America will never be the same. Neither will our notions of manhood, race, the rise of big business, or our national character. Neither will our understanding of the Second Amendment. Michael A. Belleisles is the NRA’s worst nightmare.” – Michael Zuckerman, author of Peaceable Kingdoms

I could quote a few more embarrassing examples of how the reviewers—and the publisher—clearly understood this book to be a knock-out blow—“the NRA’s worst nightmare.” To pretend, as Bellesiles has done over the last year, that Arming America was not intended to promote a particular set of gun control policies is disingenuous.

I was trying to disprove Bellesiles’s claims, and it wasn’t difficult, both because so many of his false claims were in easy-to-find documents, and because Bellesiles kept changing his story. For example, he has given three different explanations for why his text of the Militia Act of 1792 was wrong—all three explanations failing to explain the error, and all three contradicting his other claims. Part of why I was prepared to invest this much time and effort into exposing Arming America’s gross falsification of the history of guns in America is because there are two subjects here that I care about: gun control, and integrity in history. If even ten percent of historians shared my political views (broadly conservative, with a libertarian tinge), Bellesiles would never have gotten away with this for so long. At some point, some professor who cared strongly about the right to keep and bear arms would have said to himself, “Wait a minute! I am both politically irritated with where this is going, and I am going to go check his citations for accuracy.”

Political diversity in your faculty: it’s a good thing. Embrace it, so that the next time a Politically Correct work like Bellesiles’s JAH article gets submitted to a history journal, that there is some possibility that one of the peer reviewers will be sufficiently irritated to check it for accuracy.

[1] Melissa Seckora, “Prize rescinded for 'Arming America' book,” UPI, December 17, 2002, available at http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20021217-114343-7257r

[2] Emory University Press Release, October 25, 2002, “Michael Bellesiles Resigns from Emory Faculty,” available at http://www.emory.edu/central/NEWS/Releases/bellesiles1035563546.html

[3] Statutes at Large, 2nd Cong., sess. 1, Ch. 33 (1792), 1:271-74.

[4] Bellesiles, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), 230.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Hillel Italie, Associated Press, “Columbia Strips Historian of Bancroft Prize,” Washington Post, December 14, 2002, p. C04.

[7] John Whiteclay Chambers II, “Lock and Load,” Washington Post, October 29, 2000, X2.

[8] Bellesiles, Arming America, 181.

[9] Ibid., 183.

[10] Massachusetts Provincial Congress, The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775 (Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1838) (hereinafter cited as J.Mass.Prov.Cong.), 756. Bellesiles’s source for this claim is an inventory of “Warlike Stores in Massachusetts, 1774.” But that inventory, dated April 14, 1775, does not tell us what categories of privately owned firearms were counted. The sources that Bellesiles lists for this “arms census” (a term never used in the sources, and that creates a misleading notion of something as thorough and invasive as a population census) are largely silent as to what categories of firearms were counted, but contain nothing that would indicate that all privately owned firearms were included in that inventory. The only information that described this arms census were directives to a committee gathering the information. One (at J.Mass.Prov.Cong., 98, dated February 13, 1775) directed a committee to inquire “into the state of the militia, their numbers and equipments, and recommending to the selectmen of the several towns and districts in this province, to make return of their town and district stocks of ammunition and warlike stores to this Congress.” The following day, J.Mass.Prov.Cong., 99, the resolve was made more explicit: the inquiry was concerning “the state of the militia” and directed that “an exact state of the their numbers and equipments” be taken—not a comprehensive census of arms of the entire Massachusetts population. Another order on March 22, 1775, J.Mass.Prov.Cong., 109, directed a committee “to receive the returns of the several officers of militia, of their numbers and equipage, and the returns from the several towns of their town stock of ammunition.” This seems to confirm that only military weapons possessed by enrolled militia members and publicly owned weapons were counted.

[11] Michael Bellesiles,"Gun Laws in Early America: The Regulation of Firearms Ownership, 1607-1794," Law & History Review. 16:575 (1998).

[12] Michael Bellesiles,"Gun Laws in Early America: The Regulation of Firearms Ownership, 1607-1794," Law & History Review. 16:575 (1998) makes a very startling claim about colonial governments requiring all guns, including privately owned ones, in central storehouses. None of the cited sources even came close to justifying such a position. Even a quick check would have shown this. Attempts to get Law & History Review to correct this falsehood have been a waste of time.

[13] Annie Murphy Paul, “Smashing Violence,” www.salon.com, January 31, 2000, http://archive.salon.com/books/it/2000/01/31/violent/print.html


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Dave Livingston - 1/2/2004

A female professional historian of acquaintance told me plainly that she could not get tenure at a civilian university because of her unsatisfactory to a search committee response to the litnuis test question, "How would you teach history to White, male conservative students?" She has doubt whatsoever that there is a political test for employment in most university history departments.

In contrast, I was fortunate to have studied history, B.A., 1965, in the 60s at a comparatively conservative school, the Univ. of Kansas. Evidently my satisfaction with education made itself manifest to at least one of my children, my oldest son too was graduated from the Univ. of Kansas with a B.A. in history--thirty years after my being graduated from K.U. The biggest difference in our academic lives was that he was graduated with honors, while his father had not been.


Dave Livingston - 1/2/2004

Ralph,

Why should Blacks be automatically granted 20% of academic positions at any givemn institution when the Black population of the U.S. is perhaps no more than 13%? For a success story for racial integration, look at the armed forces. The armed forces don't care if one is black, brown or purple, as long as one can and will fulfill one's duty assignments efficiently and effectively.
On the battlefield race is beside the point. What count there are being able to trust another soldier's integrity, professionalism and willingness and ability to accomplish the mission & to get as many of his people as possible, whether subordinates or comrades, as the case may be, out of a given sitation with their hides intact.


Dave Livingston - 1/2/2004

The Peter Jackson, & typical of Liberals, rant that Geo. W. was a underachiever makes for tiresome reading. For one thing, Geo. W. evdently was graduated with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School with better grades than "I invented the internet," Gore. And too, Geo. W. operated a successful business in the Texas Oil Patch, he became a qualified fighter pilot, he served two terms as the chief executive of one of the largest states in the Union. Please tell me where does his alledged underachievement fit into that resume. And he is presiding over a booming economy, a soaring securities market and an increasingly successful, think Lybia & North Korea as well as Afghanistan & Iraq, foreign policy. So, Professor Jackson, tell me all about his underachievement, if you will.


Bob Klahn - 12/1/2003


In the thread about What Clayton Cramer saw...

I found the following comment:

Subject: Bush got better grades than Gore in school
Posted By: Steve Johnson
Date Posted: January 7, 2003, 11:17 AM
But most academics voted for Al Gore, who did even worse at Harvard than did George Bush at Yale (source: New York Times, 2000).

Now, I haven't found a complete transcript for Bush or Gore, but what I did find shows Gore with a degree cum laude, and with one year worse than Bush's.

From a history network I would expect some sort of verification of the comment above.

Ok, I just did a search for George w Bush and transcript and found it. Didn't find one for Gore. Bush's was pretty bad, esp considering the advantages he enjoyed. If Gore's was worse than that we need a new system of selecting our candidates.

What we need most is evidence to back up the claims.

Bob


Bryan Murphy - 9/17/2003

Ask them if they are holding John Lott up to the same standards they hold bellesiles. No of course not, they still promot his books, and still employ him at the AEI. Bellesiles books was on HISTORY not on gun control. And no history book survives without some revision. Because lets face it, no author gets theirs facts 100% straight all the time. THE ONLY fabrication, that the Emory board found was in leaving out the 2 years he had ommitted from the table 1 of the book. All offending material(less than a pages worth) could be removed and it would not damage the standing of the thesis of the book. That the NRA, along with Mr. Cramer have only recently invented this myth of an American gun culture to perpetuate the crime that drives the gun industry's profits, and their own personal financial gain. John Lott blatantly invents statistics to jsutify his ENTIRE work, and he gets off. Its clear to see that ALL the pro gun posters on HNN are just blinded by their own self-interest to see the real truth. That Bellesiles was the victim here, just another victim of lies from the American right wing.


David Orland - 2/14/2003

That "someone" was Henry Kissinger.


Ian Eshelman - 2/12/2003

THIS IS TOO LONG!! I CAN'T READ IT ALL. we can't rape the planet today because "Jesus is coming back tomorrow."


Steve H - 1/18/2003

The AHA Program Committee did not test for ideological balance. in the selection of Profs. Squire and Bellesiles to the 2003 session on "Comparative Perspectives on Gun Control".

Jan 17, 2003

Dear Mr. H,

The AHA Program Committee does not test for ideological balance.

Arnita J

[sidebar email exchange with Prof. Hunt concerning my identity, affiliation, and motives omitted]

Jan. 16

To: Ms. Arnita J

Cc: Prof. James McPherson

Prof. Lynn Hunt

Dear Ms. J:

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my inquiry.

Since your response touched on the process elliptically but did not directly answer my question, please permit me to seek a clarification from you by way of making an assertion based on the information you provided and attempting to receive your confirmation of its veracity:

My original question:

Can you please inform me on who if anyone was either appointed or asked to be appointed to help co-chair the discussion and represent the pro Individual Rights ("Standard Model") perspective in the Comparative Perspectives discussion, if anyone, before the session was canceled?

What I understand to be a complete and direct answer, based on logical inference from your initial response and the meeting program description:

The "Comparative Perspectives on Gun Control" session (Session #161) consisted of two people, Michael Bellesiles and Peter Squires, as listed in the Meeting Program agenda. The AHA Program Committee makes decisions on all AHA sessions which are so noted in the Annual Meeting Program. In some cases the Program Committee organizes sessions but for the most part they work in response to our call for proposals. In recent years Program Committees have worked primarily with completed sessions rather than matching single paper proposals. Session #161 was organized--and subsequently cancelled--by the participants in the session. There was no effort made by the AHA to provide ideological balance to Session #161 by seeking participants who represent the alternative "individual right" model of the Second Amendment.

Is there anything in the assertion that I make above based on your response which differs from the facts? If so, what? If not, I hope you will be able to confirm my understanding of the situation. In either case, the favor of a timely reply would be very much appreciated.

[Please note that there is wide acceptance of the notion that there are two competing ideologically disparate views of what the Second Amendment is intended to protect-- see for example American Jurisprudence 2nd (2002), 79, p. 9 "While most courts have held that the right to bear arms does not apply to private citizens as an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, but is a collective right[6], there is authority to the contrary[7]." (Footnote 7 is a reference to U.S. v. Emerson, 270 F.3d 203 (5th Cir. 2001).)]

Sincerely,

Stephen H

-------------------------------------------

On Thu, 16 Jan 2003 22:47:33 -0500 Arnita J wrote:

Dear Mr. H,

I am responding to your inquiry of January 10 concerning the session on "Comparative Legal Perspectives on Gun Control" scheduled for AHA's recent annual meeting. The AHA Program Committee makes decisions on all AHA sessions which are so noted in the Annual Meeting Program. The Program Committee is designated by the AHA Council from among AHA's members. In some cases the Program Committee organizes sessions but for the most part they work in response to our call for proposals. (See the AHA's home page at http://www.theaha.org for the call for papers for the 2004 meeting.) In recent years Program Committees have worked primarily with completed sessions rather than matching single paper proposals. Session #161 was organized--and subsequently cancelled--by the participants in the session.



I am copying Professors McPherson and Hunt on our exchange as you requested.

Sincerely,

Arnita J



To: American Historical Association
Date: Jan. 10, 2003

Dear Sirs:

As an interested citizen and amateur published historian, I am concerned that ideological bias is an ongoing problem at the AHA.

In regards to the 2003 Annual Meeting Session #161 ("Comparative Legal Perspectives on Gun Control"):

Can you please inform me on who if anyone was either appointed or asked to be appointed to help co-chair the discussion and represent the pro Individual Rights ("Standard Model") perspective in the Comparative Perspectives discussion, if anyone, before the session was canceled?

I would appreciate it if you were bring this to the attention of the highest levels of your organization, including the past and current Presidents (Lynn Hunt and James McPherson) since recent gun control decisions at the Circuit Court of Appeals level in my federal district (the 9th) have cited historical research which has since been discredited.

Thank you,

Steve H


At 03:23 PM 1/10/03 -0500, you wrote:

To: American Historical Association
Date: Jan. 10, 2003

Dear Sirs:

As an interested citizen and amateur published historian, I am concerned that ideological bias is an ongoing problem at the AHA.

In regards to the 2003 Annual Meeting Session #161 ("Comparative Legal Perspectives on Gun Control"):

Can you please inform me on who if anyone was either appointed or asked to be appointed to help co-chair the discussion and represent the pro Individual Rights ("Standard Model") perspective in the Comparative Perspectives discussion, if anyone, before the session was canceled?

I would appreciate it if you were bring this to the attention of the highest levels of your organization, including the past and current Presidents (Lynn Hunt and James McPherson) since recent gun control decisions at the Circuit Court of Appeals level in my federal district (the 9th) have cited historical research which has since been discredited.

Thank you,

Steve H


Steve H - 1/17/2003

"...given the moderator list of the now-canceled Jan. 5, 2003 meeting consisted of one recently discredited (and implicitly anti-gun) historian and one other (explicitly admitted) gun control activist historian?"

Correction: upon inquiry to the University of Brighton,
where Prof. Squires teaches, I was informed that his background is a PhD in Criminology with lower degree or degrees in Sociology or Sociology Administration.

That is, his background and occupation is such that he seems more appropriately described as a sociologist or criminologist in contrast to historian, as I had earlier presumed.

So the "comparative perspectives" AHA session participants consisted of one historian and one sociologist/criminologist.

The following is a snapshot of the staff profile at the University of Brighton web site at

http://www.brighton.ac.uk/sass/contact/academicstaff/squires.htm

Dr Peter Squires
Research interests
Politics of law and order
Ideological debates and social change
The media and social policy
Firearms and society
Policing and law and order
Youth offending
Teaching
Criminology
Policing
Crime prevention
Penal policy
Government and social policy
Recent publications
Squires, P. (2000) Gun Culture or Gun Control? Firearms, Violence and Society. London: Routledge.

Squires, P. and Measor, L. (2000) Young People and Community Safety, Aldershot; Ashgate.

Squires, P. (2000) 'Firearms and policy: driven to it', Criminal Justice Matters, No 38, Winter pp.18-19

Squires, P.(1997) 'Reviewing the firearms control debate', British Journal of Criminology, 37(4)

Squires, P.(1997) 'Cops and customers: consumerism and police services. Is the customer always right?' Policing and Society, Autumn 1997



SteveH - 1/14/2003

Since I had taken a look at Prof. Rakove's article it seemed appropriate to do the same with Prof. Finkelman's article and look at how the continuity issue was handled there too.

"A WELL REGULATED MILITIA": THE SECOND AMENDMENT IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE by Paul Finkelman

http://lawreview.kentlaw.edu/Articles/76.1/Final%20Finkelman.pdf

http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/FinkelmanChicago.htm

When I look at the section dealing with modern times, it fast-forwards through history even more cursorily than Rakove's treatment, going directly from an expected pro-collectivist discussion of the ratification debates to the following in section X (MODERN POLICY AND THE SECOND AMENDMENT), which contains the following:

The Second Amendment does not protect the individual right to hunt deer, collect antique weapons, go to the firing range, or even own a licensed pistol. Proponents of the private ownership of hunting rifles, fishing rods, skinning knives or pistols need not fear this analysis of the Second Amendment. Such a constitutional protection was not needed then, and it is not needed today.

Now I look back at the beginning of the paper and see that Finkelman didn't really start with what I could view as an introduction which explicitly set forth the goal of the paper or the object of its main focus. I did catch the reference to "the history of the drafting and adoption of the Second Amendment", which seems to fit the timeframe that most of the paper addresses best, so I assume that frames the discussion that follows. But then, how does Finkelman justify coming out with the conclusion above, given that he's just spent all the previous sections showing that the Second Amendment did not protect an individual right to arms of any kind, even for hunting? And how does one reconcile Finkelman's statement with the modern day restrictive licensing and selective prohibition of guns applicable to hunting (especially handguns, not to mention so-called "assault weapons") in Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, and many other areas of the country-- especially given that discussion of about a two century period is entirely absent from his paper?

The conclusion in X reads as a hastily written, overly broad and ambitious conclusion based on the narrow limitation of the topic defined implicitly at the beginning of the paper.

One more thing, Prof. Finkelstein states that

"Some of the very early state constitutions, written during the Revolution itself, not surprisingly endorsed the right of revolution. However, the framers of 1787 did not endorse such a right."

It's interesting to compare this with historical accounts of the "lost state" of Franklin (roughly Mar. 1785- Nov. 1789) (now part of western Tennessee). Didn't Jefferson and Franklin explicitly favor the formation and recognition of Franklin, which ceded over the express objections of its parent state North Carolina? And there was a record of peaceful co-existence of the state with North Carolina during the time period. Even the two states' militias joined forces to fight the Indian attacks in 1788. Is discussion of Franklin inappropriate for some reason, or did Finkelman just miss or forget about it? There is no mention of Franklin in the paper that I could find. What else in a similar vein is absent from consideration in the paper?

Skipping 200 years of history gives Finkelman, like Rakove, an opportunity to avoid dealing with such problems as a literal interpretation of Miller (including the lack of the collective-rights interpretation in the prosecution arguments of the time). There are many interesting historical questions that are left not just unmentioned, but completely untouched. Why? Ignorance, while theoretically possible, is difficult to believe with scholars of this level of experience. In the "Primer" paper at the Symposium, Bogus leaves out any discussion of Kennedy's lifetime membership in the (vilified) NRA along with his apparent support of the individual-rights view. There seems to be a pattern throughout the Symposium papers; it seems relatively easy to pick up on; but somehow the claims are that the papers and research lack prejudice and can stand on their own. (Oh yes, even if the extensively cited Bellesiles is removed from considerations too.)

In my opinion, unless I am missing something, they don't come close...




Ed Unneland - 1/13/2003

As one of the few liberal arts alumni (BA (Poli. Sci.) '87, MBA (General)'94) of Baruch, I have to say that my experience as a conservative was quite supportive, including my treatment in the History Department. When I read Johnson's _Modern Times_ for a paper in History, the professor's only concern was to make certain I read other books as well. I was treated very decently and respectfully by Edward Pessen (of blessed memory), Selma Berrol and Myrna Chase. (Oddly enough, I didn't have much contact with Carol Ruth Berkin, but her many commentaries on PBS and the History Channel regarding the Revolution and the Founding Period do not indicate the sort of "Blame America First" kind of animus that is, according to the caricature, the especial province of the American academic left.)

The same observations hold true for the Political Science Department. Moreover, there are other indications that Baruch is fairly diverse politically: its President is the former Republican State Comptroller, Ned Regan; a former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, appointed while Newt Gingrich was Speaker, is a professor at Baruch (June O'Neill); a leading academic advocate of privatization, Emanuel Savas, is also on the faculty.

The above is offered with these caveats: it has been some time since I have been an undergraduate at Baruch, life there may now be different; treatment of students is not necessarily indicative of how one navigates the political currents of one's faculty --- I suggest, though, that the latter is a pretty good indicator since few people have, if you will, the psychological energy to maintain one face for one group, and another face for another group, day in and day out for the number of years I was at Baruch.


Steve H - 1/13/2003

"Although I heartily agree with those who have attacked Arming America, its author and the rush by the gun control community to praise this gross deception, I find the concern about the lack of conservative voices in academia to be ridiculous. I suspect you are also one of the many claiming a "liberal" bias in the media despite the overwhelming evidence that the owners of American mass media (and the editors that the owners hire to decide what gets covered and how) are nearly one hundred percent republican. You take History and leap from this discipline lacking in funds and clout to a sweeping generalization about our universities that also isn't borne out by the facts. Who is now using the Arming America scandal for political purposes? The bigger story (although not as "sexy") is the co-option of academia by corporations. Please try to keep a sense of proportion and apply the same rigorous standards to your own claims as you did to Arming America."

As one not directly affiliated with either liberal or conservative organizations, perhaps I can regard myself as fortunate to afford the relative luxury of subscribing to the notion that there is relatively little difference between the two camps you mention at the highest levels of our society (e.g., national government and multinational corporations).

Thus, we see the recurring patterns noted during the early 1970's with "Nixon-shokku"-- conservatives, or perhaps more accurately, conservatives-in-name-only, doing precisely what they otherwise might have attacked liberals for in the progress of gathering support and campaigning for office. Or vice versa, as in the "Missile Gap" of the early 1960s. And so, on back in time. Today, the analogous example might include the passage of the "Patriot Act" in consideration of its further restrictions on civil liberties, which has even many grass roots conservatives up in arms (so to speak :-) with concern.

Over time, a trend in public policy emerges, and that trend is distinctly in favor of taking individual rights and transmogrifying them (shazam!) into revokable priveleges or collective rights. So the phenomenon as I view it is by no means restricted to the relatively narrow example of the Second Amendment (although not to detract from its primary importance within that category, in my opinion), and the political forces involved not restricted to just liberals or conservatives alone. There's a matrix of players, causes, and principles involved, but since it takes time to communicate and convince people of that point of view, it is sometimes convenient to use an admittedly imperfect shorthand form of argument. Words are labels, and in most cases, there will be some definitional problem at some level if one digs deep enough with any term chosen to describe a particular concept or object. The resolution can always be improved, though at the cost of brevity or (in the limit) total loss of audience to tedium of laying terminology groundwork...

Media bias is a wholly different subject but you could probably divine the direction I would take towards that topic by taking what I've written above and applying it to the dominant media. I've read and still have on my shelf Michael Parenti's _Inventing Reality_ and I refer to it often (most recently, a couple of days ago when his name surfaced in a response to a concern expressed by Mr. Luker regarding my example of the integrity, or lack of such, in Gerald Posner's published historical "research"). Prof. Parenti is (I believe most would agree) an academic with well established liberal bona fides. Yet the techniques he describes in his book dealing with tricks of the trade can immediately be recognized as those used by many in the media (e.g. NYT, Time-Warner-AOL, Knight-Ridder, LA Times, Post-Newsweek, all TV except for Fox and C-Span, etc.) in defense of Bill and Hillary Clinton (as examples) during Clinton's years of office. Check for yourself if you like. Your argument makes no headway to those who are affiliated with Republicans; defenders merely make the mistake of assuming (there's that favorite word again) that anyone who dares focus on the issue of potential bias of the profession as a whole *must* *necessarily* *be* from "the other side", imposing a unidimensional bipolar view of what is in reality a politically multivariate, continuous space, and the criticisms fall to the side of their target with us independents and alternative political party types...

And a discipline lacking in clout? First, is it a discipline at all, if they give out prizes for work that has not been evaluated and withstood even the most cursory sanity checks? See my rough cut critique of standards for avoiding future fraud in the "discipline" (if one were in an unpleasant mood, one might substitute "drive-by revisionism") as it currently exists here

http://hnn.us/comments/7100.html

As for clout, why does Bellesiles and several other historians' names surface in the recent, groundbreaking Emerson and Silveira decisions that is on the verge of attracting the attention of the Supreme Court and thus having the prospect to affect Constitutional case law for eternity? These are not arguments, they're excuses, and they've been dealt with extensively by others before me in this board (I now see). What is the point of repeating them again, unless perhaps it's a delaying or diversionary tactic to wait out the clock while other similar "research" might be in the process of being manufactured and laundered even as I type this response? (See for example, Joyce Foundation newsletter, Work In Progress, January 2003

http://www.joycefdn.org/articles/gunarticles/0301rightbalance.html

The essential facts are that the most prestigious history departments have the appearance of exclusively pushing the collective rights interpretation even though the individual rights interpretation has been the prevailing view throughout most of US history (from the founding to approximately 1965 and Katzenbach, with infrequent temporary recision such as after the Reconstruction). Even if that is not what they are involved in doing, the appearance of intellectual impropriety is definitely there-- smoke, fire and all that. Are you reading the other posts in the thread?? Repeating the same arguments over and over again without listening and responding to the counterarguments lends to the impression of not listening and is daunting to those with goodwill and the expectation of making some forward progress towards developing a consensus or meta-consensus...

The political orientation of the profession's critics is ultimately moot, again as many have stated before in these threads. The profession must have as a goal sufficient self discipline such that its work, its research, can withstand any intellectually rigorous critical attack from any political orientation, if the word "discipline" is to impart any connotion of quality or value at all in this regard.

This means *dropping* excuses and assumptions (historians *are* aware of the street version of the etymology of "assume", I hope? I would avoid overusing that word in interviews myself...), taking the *best* of opposing points of view instead of omitting and cherry-picking as the apparent allowed minimum standard level, and making certain that the analysis and theories advanced can withstand devil's argument attacks *before* publication, rather than forcing others *outside* the profession to have to invest time and effort to conduct mop up operations and assist in forcing consideration of alternative (or reconsideration of formerly conventional, as the case may be) viewpoints. And applying Sagan's dictum to new ideas. These are all no-brainers, at least in the real world...

The individual rights point of view is that Bellesiles is like the first stage of a multistage rocket. His research looks OK at first pass, the quantitative lending a patina of the impression of checking and reproduceability enjoyed in research in the hard sciences by their nature. When the checking and reproduction fails, Bellesiles is jettisoned, but the second stage (references in other papers) has already occurred. The third stage is Constitutional case law, where the damaged goods park in orbit with other space garbage whizzing around at random, tumbling out of control. The question now is whether the errant satellite will hit something of real consequence-- right at this moment, a Supreme Court half stacked with "living document" proponents is now (unfortunately) all that stands between the last vestiges of what was once a commonplace individual rights view of the Amendment, and the confusion, doubt and loss of respect for interpretation of law that conceivably would be the *minimum* consequences of a SC decision based in transitive manner on revisionist fraud.

Sorry if this is too strongly worded for some. The response is meant in a constructive way and should not be taken otherwise.






Thomas Smith - 1/13/2003

Although I heartily agree with those who have attacked Arming America, its author and the rush by the gun control community to praise this gross deception, I find the concern about the lack of conservative voices in academia to be ridiculous. I suspect you are also one of the many claiming a "liberal" bias in the media despite the overwhelming evidence that the owners of American mass media (and the editors that the owners hire to decide what gets covered and how) are nearly one hundred percent republican. You take History and leap from this discipline lacking in funds and clout to a sweeping generalization about our universities that also isn't borne out by the facts. Who is now using the Arming America scandal for political purposes? The bigger story (although not as "sexy") is the co-option of academia by corporations. Please try to keep a sense of proportion and apply the same rigorous standards to your own claims as you did to Arming America.


Josh Greenland - 1/12/2003

" I should mention that I was on a recent American Society of Criminology conference concerning the Bellesiles controversy. The chair of the panel tried VERY hard to get ANYONE to come and defend Bellesiles. It was impossible. Obviously, Squires and Bellesiles couldn't have tried hard at all."

Especially with Joyce Lee Malcolm around and willing to speak on the issue. She has written a book comparing the US and Britain/England on guns laws and violence. Her work opposite Peter Squires' would have been a very interesting discussion! Here's a review of her book on the subject:

http://www.thepublicinterest.com/previous/article3.html

And here is a URL to an essay Squires did on gun laws and violence in the US and UK in the mid-1990s:

http://www.britsoccrim.org/bccsp/vol01/VOL01_16.HTM


james winterer - 1/12/2003

Schwartz writes:

"And yes, I do object to the labeling of the three divisions as working, middle, and upper -- not to the divisions themselves. That allows a built-in bias that is both unnecessary and untrue. My father proudly held himself out to be a blue collar, unionized working class man but we were solidly in the middle class.

I am certainly not on the left spectrum, and you may or may not be. I do know that in both academics and politics we often are suckered into using leftist buzzwords and labels as common communication building blocks. I prefer not to do so, and try to point out when others are doing so."

Mr. Schwartz, this is a truly puzzling complaint! So your father was a union man who achieved a middle class standard of living? Well, you can thank "the left"--Democrats from FDR to LBJ, for protecting the rights of unions and enhancing their power to bargain collectively! It was "the left" that made it possible for your father to be both working class and middle class. Tragically, it is "the right"--especially in the Reagan years and after, that have so effectively kneecapped labor, and made men like your father an endangered species. There aren't many mechanics and factory workers left who still earn middle class wages, and their numbers are dropping rapidly. Please read your history!


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/12/2003

'Been hoping for such a question--and sincerely, thanks.

First, I do not accept the issue is as you pose it. In other words, I do not often find soi disant conservatives to be reasonable at all. That's why I have so much fun taunting them on lists such as this one when I'm home with the flu. They are such wonderful targets and are always ready, in squadrons, to howl. Now, I will readily admit I have met "unreasonable" folks in academe, but they are or have been seldom "liberals." Indeed, they eschew liberalism and tend to take inspiration from sundry theorists who draw on 19th century reaction. They are horrified, usually, when the implications of this are pointed out to them. To a degree not appreciated enough, conservative elites and also elite "progressives" in the US have been far more cosmopolitan and well ahead of the acolytes of the "linguistic turn," and our failure to reaslize this is mostly a product of parochial US sensibilties generally.

By the way, I don't think we are in an era that requires brownshirts, just as I think "we" or "history" reified by whatever recipe will no longer sustain or won't much longer "need" Hitlers, Maos, Stalins and lesser fry except those on the margins--these critters, too, if you take a longish view, are products of the 19th century and its collapse in WW1. Heck, that hero of postmodernists, Foucault, has declared man dead, others celebrate consumption as somehow "liberation," and eschew even the value of privacy, so I'm told. But they, too, are the legatees of 19th century reaction.

But my larger point: I have trouble finding a way to distinguish structurally--rhetoric is superficial--between them and the US Right. There arrived in my mail today a splendid glossy catalog from Liberty Fund Books, which lists various works by Jacob Burckhardt. That a conservative publishing house would feature the writing of a Swiss elitist who thought liberalism was carrying civilization to hell in a handbasket and only the will-to-power of the Renaissance despot could save it from disorder, which is to say, an extreme epistemological skeptic and pessimist--and a very sloppy scholar, like Foucault later?--I thought was very telling. But you can see his influence, too, in every art museum and in the public buildings of many US cities--politics as aethetics (to borrow from Benjamin) is old hat--z.B. my review essay, "Moral Spaces in the Burckhardtian City," Journal of Urban History 28(November 2001)81-97, to be immodest.

I'll go further just for kicks: Universities aren'r run by flaming radicals. The sorts of accommodations made by university administrations to diversity that seem to alarm the Right, and I might add the functional bureaucratization of the learned professions, actually resemble the corporate culture that seems to pervade the larger society--I suspect the upper echelons of American conservatism know this quite well, but you gotta throw chum to the troops.

I think we need more genuine "liberals" in the academy, not fewer, which is why I asked you what a "conservative historian" was. As a very old-fashioned kinda guy--an ethical Realist and one of those Neanderthal foundationalists (the glossy catalog also features Hume, of all people, just because he was a Tory so ashamed of his "backward" Scots heritage he changed his name?) I think we need a genuine conservatism to argue against modernity, or postmodernity, or whatever--I just don't know what other folks mean and they generally dance around the question. References to 19th century liberalism, for instance, don't cut it, though I'll save why--unless it's obvious as it should be-- for later!

Now for some Theraflu and in a few minutes Andromeda--I like Arthurian romance on a starship!


Peter Jackson - 1/12/2003

Mr. Sternstein makes some very interesting points regarding discrimination, affirmative action and its possible application to conservatives (or lack of them) in the history profession. This debate becomes all the more interesting now that there are rumors that the Bush administration is considering injecting itself into the case against the University of Michigan law school. It is interesting, I think, for two reasons: first, George W. himself was undeniably the beneficiary of preferential admissions into the Ivys. But it is also the fact that as Governor of Texas, Bush introduced one of the more novel "solutions" to achieving diversity--automatically admitting into the University of Texas the top ten percent (or is it five percent?) of every Texas High school graduating class. This achieves diversity because in Texas, as in almost every other state in the Union, there are high schools that are overwhelmingly Black, over whelmingly Hispanic, and overwhelmingly White.

But in the conversations on this thread regarding the application of affirmative action, it seems that a possibly important distinction is being overlooked. Arguments for making preferences in admissions/hiring seem to be mostly of two types. One argument identifies groups that have faced historic discrimination, and sees preference as a way to overcome historic wrongs. The other argument (which I think is central to the University of Michigan case) is that diversity is beneficial to the learning process. Cramer seems to be making an argument similar to the latter case--that political diversity will have real benefits for the profession. If this is the crux of the case, than Cramer's argument should be put in the context of "history departments should have the right to consider a person's politics in hiring," rather than "history departments should be compelled to consider a person's politics in hiring." The "should be compelled" argument, it seems to me, is applies more to the case of historic discrimination.

Here, I think, the argument for affirmative action for conservatives have a little bit higher hill to climb. Are "conservatives" an identifiable class who have faced historic discrimination? Maybe, if we look narrowly at history departments. Across the academy (most notably in the more highly paid disciplines) conservatives seem to be far more abundant--in the slightly more well paid Political Science departments, the mix of conservatives and liberals appears to me to be much more balanced. In the much more well-paid Economics departments, conservatives prevail. So, if conservative face discrimination in academia, it seems, they face it mostly in the the lowest paid fields.

It seems to me that in arguing for affirmative action for conservatives in history departments, the diversity argument is more persuasive than the discrimination argument. If so, then the Cramer and others have made a better case for "history departments should have the right to consider a person's politics" than they have for "history departments should be compelled to."

If conservatives want to make the latter case, they are opening the door for a whole lot of interesting arguments: Should Christian colleges be compelled to hire Buddhists and atheists to increase diversity of perspective? Should they be compelled to hire homosexuals? Should Mormon schools be compelled to hire scholars whose work suggests that the Book of Mormon is a fraud?


Adrianne Truett - 1/11/2003

I may be missing something here, but it seems to me that those claiming to advocate for the presence of a reasonable amount of conservatives in academia are advocating for the presence of a reasonable amount of conservatives in academia, not for a uniformly conservative academia. Their problem is with what they see as a nearly-uniformly liberal academia. I (and, I assume, many others here) would also have problems with a nearly-uniformly conservative academia. Why does "there should be more conservatives in academia" come across to you as "there should be only conservatives in academia"? You seem to be presenting some false options here (either almost all liberals, or may as well ask the brownshirts in).


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/11/2003

You'd have to ask Levinson and Tribe!

But seriously, and I write as someone who fresh out of the military actively opposed both the draft and ROTC long ago, I changed my mind about both--and long before Rangel. My position way back when was that the ROTC did not reflect the values ("liberal" however you want to use the word?) of the university; I now think it--the university--could not only benefit but also contribute to a healthy leavening of our officer corps.

As for the draft, well, I find the high-tech rationales for our current recruitment--as offered by Rummy--unconvincing on two but related levels. The first, is that they reflect an elitism that can shade into political reaction (I have heard a Marine Corps commandant claim that when his recruits go home on boot leave, they feel "morally superior") and second, that it so far "works" in highly restricted tactical operations on the ground (and by the way, I do not regard Afghanistan as a success)or against much weaker adversaries--such as Iraq. My hunch is, too, that the horizon of technical superiority is restricted both in time and space, but maybe that's for another discussion.

On the other hand, I don't totally buy the Rangel argument for reviving the draft, and find it rather crimped. I think any society with pretensions to republican values should have claims on its citizens (I am not a "liberal," by the way), one of which is to repay it for the privileges it has given them. A "liberal" society tends to encourage self-selection out of those obligations, the military being only one--hey! recipients of trust-fund money, lawyers, MBAs, PhDs in English or history, let'em serve in the infantry! Let'em be prepared to pay correspondingly for the remarkable privileges they will enjoy.

But I also think Rangel is correct about the policy implications; indeed he's not far from the post-Viet Nam reliance on reserves we have today (a very heavy armored vehicle is named after an advocate of that rationale!) which was originally intended in part to make policy more responsive to the public. It wasn't all that long ago, however, that the military was being touted as a meritocratic model--to my horror--for civilian society incorporating racial diversity! My hope for an equitable draft is that it might offer a common civic experience and a bit of discipline--a few decdes ago, judges gave young miscreants a choice: the military or jail. Maybe if larval yups and street kids had to share a barracks or a battle, or if the system wouldn't allow a bright kid who became President to avoid service and another, a whole lot less bright but class-privileged, to go AWOL with no consequences, this would be a better place?




Steve H - 1/11/2003

For convenience I pulled some apparently germane comments on interlineation from the "main" Bellesiles discussion (courtesy of Messrs. Morgan and Gunn):

http://hnn.us/comments/7040.html

Subject: RE: Non-Kudos, Mr Luker
Posted By: Richard Henry Morgan
Date Posted: January 11, 2003, 12:59 AM
When Madison delivered to Congress his proposals for constitutional change that eventually became known as the Bill of Rights, he originally proposed that they be inserted between lines in the Constitution. Thus, he bundled together those proposals that dealt with individual rights (including what became the Second Amendment), and actually specified the exact place in the Constitution where they should be inserted -- and that place was in the area of the Constitution devoted to individual rights. Proposed structural changes were similarly bundled, and were to be inserted in that portion of the Constitution devoted to structural matters (for exact details, I suggest you check out The Complete Bill of Rights, by Neil H. Cogan, published by Oxford University Press).

This obviously presents a problem to the collectivist view, which is dealt with in several ways. The first and most popular way to deal with the problem (on the part of collectivists) is simply to ignore it. Why bring it up if you don't have a good counterargument?

A second way is to posit some significant change in the meaning arising from some changes in Madison's language between his original proposal, and the final form as ratified (problematic, because there is no congressional record of committee deliberations at the time, and the change in language need not entail a change in interpretation, though it might -- an argument is needed stronger than a continuity of meaning argument).

A third way is to simply deny that the lumping was of individual rights. The usual move is to point to the right to assemble, note that one can't assemble individually, and presto, declare it a collective right -- ergo, what became the Second Amendment could also therefore be a collective right. Unfortunately for the collectivists, the right to assemble, like other individual liberties, and like the Second Amendment, is stated in a form reserved for individual liberties -- in terms of something that Congress can't make a law "abridging" (in the case of the right of assembly), or something that can't be "infringed" (as in the case of the Second Amendment). This also has implications for yet another argument to be addressed in the next paragraph. Suffice it to say, the right to assemble can be abridged unlawfully, and can thereby be the cause of legal action by an individual as an individual (the individual does not have to bring the action in the name of a collectivity or the people). The collectivist interpretation of the right to assembly conflates the collective character of the activity with the right-bearer -- they claim that if the activity is collective, ergo the right-bearer is collective. Obviously, I think this is the kind of analysis one would expect from a dim undergraduate, not a professor.

The last tactic is simply to state that the Second Amendment(despite the language of individual civil liberty -- here's where we refer back to the previous paragraph, and the reference to civil liberty cue-words such as "abridging", etc.) really doesn't refer to a right as we know it today. This is the sophisticated argument of Rakove. In other works he has detailed the transition to a "subjectivist" rights-oriented interpretive tradition that occurred around the time of the Bill of Rights, only completely carried out (it is alleged) well into the 19th century. This dispenses with the nearly unanimous 19th century jurisprudence declaring the Second an individual right (in other words, according to Rakove, all them guys in the 19th century were wrong, were operating with an individual-rights ideology that distorted the meaning of the Second, but we, especially Rakove, are smarter than that today, so we can simply dispense with all those inconvenient 19th century precedents that declared the Second an individual right).

This creates a problem. Rakove is certainly right that many state bills of rights (that preceded the US Bill of Rights by a generation), included broad political principles stated as rights. For instance, Adams' Massachusetts Constitution stated that the people had a right to demand that their church be financed by the government. But you'll note that this, obviously not an individual right, and not in the language of individual civil liberties, is a right to demand -- essentially it says that if the legislature passes such a finance bill, there will be no constitutional impediment to it. On top of the language problem, we have the uniqueness problem. To quote Rakove (in Bogus' The Second Amendment in Law and History, p.77): "...the Second Amendment is arguably the one provision that partook most of the principle-enunciating attributes of the early state declarations of rights." What to make of this? Note the use of "arguably". That the Second enunciates a principle obviously is not worn on its face -- the language problem asserts itself, as well as the term "arguably". One must construct an argument to the effect of principle-enunciating that is not declared on its face, and flies in the face of its language, and demands that the Second therefore becomes the unique vestige of earlier concepts of rights to survive into the Bill of Rights. I don't think so.

and from

http://hnn.us/comments/7054.html

Subject: R.H. Morgan, fly in the ointment
Posted By: Thomas Gunn
Date Posted: January 11, 2003, 11:03 AM

01-11-2003 ~1000

Professor Morgan certainly provides food for thought. And is the cause of no end consternation to the collectivists and so-called sophisticated collectivists.

For your further enjoyment, see:

[http://www.guncite.com/journals/vandhist.html ].

You can get to the pertinent passage by using find 'interlineation', if you choose not to read the cite in its entirety.

And another:

[http://www.guncite.com/journals/lp-gwords.html ]

Finally:

[http://members.ll.net/chiliast/GGGH/assault.html ]

There's a lot more available.


thomas


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/11/2003

I'm well aware of the correlation with Continental liberalism--that's my point. Conservatives aren't "conservative," and I would suggest that the heritage of 19th century liberal thought has been fast-abandoned by our Right. I ain't confused, just bringing you up to date.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/11/2003


"I find more troubling the political culture of our officer corps--deeply rightist, and not above indoctrinating its enlisted ranks in the Gospel of Limbaugh. Would you endorse measures to politically and socially diversify our military, or would you--oh, here the German example recurs--be satisfied with a reactionary officer class?"


Do you think that a similar concern, engendered by a self-selecting conservative volunteer standing army, helped Sanford Levinson and Laurence Tribe to see the benefit of an armed citizenry as a moral check on a standing army?


Steve H - 1/11/2003

"Steve, I think "Comparative Legal Perspectives" was supposed to be a comparison of British and American laws and legal traditions, not a comparison of Bellesiles' and Peter Squires' views. I believe this because Squires has done already a comparison between the US and UK on gun violence issues as a gun control activist (in one of those URLs I put in an earlier message in this thread). I'm sure there is no real difference in MB's and PS's views on guns, which is why I have no trouble believing Ralph when he says the two authors probably suggested the panel to AHA."

Thanks, I just got an aha! moment on that...

Here's the full title of the discussion again:

"Comparative Legal Perspectives on Gun Control."

I notice that (a) we're talking about the *American* Historical Association here; and (b) the title does not mention specifically anything about American versus British
perspectives... I believe Joyce Malcolm has written in this area. Was Joyce Malcolm going to be in attendance? If not, one wonders who on the panel would have represented her point of view?

"The title of the panel is misleading, and I think that was intentional, along the lines you suggest above."

Well, at least it had me confused based on what you've presented concerning it. I confess I'm just a casual observer, not intimately familiar with how AHA operates internally.

"I wonder if AHA normally just lets any historians set up any panels or presentations they want to, titled anything they want?"

Hmm... Here's a consideration in their favor-- perhaps they are operating on the honor system and would regard their time as valuable and more appropriately devoted to reading and critiqueing papers themselves rather than critiqueing the titles of panel discussions. Still, it is rankling to me as a member of the public that the AHA might get some credit or cover from the misleading title, a title that just happens to leave the leadership off the hook if interpreted (as I did) at face value while apparently allowing the panel to proceed with a one sided discussion or presentation with the full prestige of the Association as a formal sponsor.

Hopefully an authoritative response from the AHA would and will dispel all such niggling concerns (?)




Steve H - 1/11/2003

Mr. Luker at least tries to respond. I think he deserves considerable credit for that alone...


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/11/2003

I should mention that I was on a recent American Society of Criminology conference concerning the Bellesiles controversy. The chair of the panel tried VERY hard to get ANYONE to come and defend Bellesiles. It was impossible. Obviously, Squires and Bellesiles couldn't have tried hard at all.


Josh Greenland - 1/11/2003

"So . . what's Freud say about people who are *obsessed* with weapons?

"Really, I promise. I don't wanna grab your gun."

Freud said only a little about people's feelings about weapons, but here's a recent article by a female commentator on this subject:

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/julia/gorin030802.asp


Josh Greenland - 1/11/2003

"The panel session title included the phrase "Comparative". The hypothetical situation you describe is hypothetical. But labeling a panel "comparative" would ordinarily (at least, prior to today's discussion thread) lead me to believe that a comparative presentation would indeed occur, with balance given to each side of a controversy. If the general case does not provide comparative perspectives, if the sympathies expressed in the papers all resided on one side or the other, then I would not view that panel as "comparative" and that is regardless of the subject."

Steve, I think "Comparative Legal Perspectives" was supposed to be a comparison of British and American laws and legal traditions, not a comparison of Bellesiles' and Peter Squires' views. I believe this because Squires has done already a comparison between the US and UK on gun violence issues as a gun control activist (in one of those URLs I put in an earlier message in this thread). I'm sure there is no real difference in MB's and PS's views on guns, which is why I have no trouble believing Ralph when he says the two authors probably suggested the panel to AHA.

The title of the panel is misleading, and I think that was intentional, along the lines you suggest above. I wonder if AHA normally just lets any historians set up any panels or presentations they want to, titled anything they want?


Josh Greenland - 1/11/2003

"I imagine that one of the reasons that you are so concerned about what you see as a lack of balance in this panel which never happened is that you think of the public policy implications of the issue as being of foremost concern. This sort of fixation on balance often never bothers program committees because public policy is not the foremost consideration."

Ralph, paralleling the public policy debate is a historical debate about gun ownership and use. Does it seem altogether fair or right to you that AHA should hold a panel, or whatever it is, with only two guys on it, who are both hardcore gun control activists, whose history is aimed at delegitimizing citizen gun ownership? This panel would have crossed the line from historical presentation to political advocacy of a viewpoint that seems very popular among historians, a viewpoint in favor of which historical professional organizations and history departments seem to be run these days.

Ralph, is this the way you think things should be?


Josh Greenland - 1/11/2003

"It is likely that Bellesiles and Squires had jointly proposed this session of two papers (that isn't a panel discussion) [...]"

So the HNN article was in error about it being a panel?

"[...]to the AHA program committee in December 2001 and that the program committee acted on the proposal in January 2002."

Just as most academics who subscribed to it had gotten their William & Mary Quarterlys in hand with the anti-Bellesiles criticisms, and month before Emory put him "on leave," and more months before they gave him the boot. Do you mean that if this had been proposed after Bellesiles had been put on leave, or fired, or even after historians had had time to read and think about the Jan 2002 Wm&M Q, AHA would not have approved the panel?

"We still don't know from what you say who the chairperson of the session was to have been or who the commentator or commentators were to have been. They would have been other qualified historians."

I don't know who they would have been.

What roles do the chairperson and commentators normally play in such events?

"Are there any gun hugging ph.d.s out there?"

No, because a policy of discrimination by anti-rights professors has successfully kept us out of academia.
:)


LUKER JUST RANTS AND RANTS. - 1/11/2003

LUKER JUST RANTS AND RANTS. WHAT A DOPE.


John Jenkins - 1/11/2003

You're definitely confused. The modern American conservative is far more similar to the continental liberal than he or she is to the continental conservative in much the same way as the modern American liberal is similar to the continental conservative.

Modern conservatism believes in the Lockean, bottom-up approach to government power and intrusion (i.e. individuals best govern themselves and know what's best for themselves) , and is especially concerned with government intervention in the free market. The modern liberal is more Hobbesian in that he believes in the top-down government model (i.e. the elite know what's best for everyone else, irrespective of their own opinions.) and believes it to be the natural order that government intervenes in markets at will to balance inequities.

Don't make the mistake of confusing Republican with conservative or Democrat with liberal. The problem on campuses is that they are domintated by statists without any counterbalancing opinion from those with other opinions. I think the problem in political science is actually worse than in history. One can go through the entire program here and never read anything by Burke, Friedman, or Hayek as if they had never existed. It's one thing to believe someone to be wrong. It's another to dismiss them out of hand because their opinions are not to your liking, and to not allow dissenting views to be presented. Such a position indicates, at least to me, a lack of confidence in one's own principles, if one does not believe that they can be defended against one's ideological opponents. That debate is what is missing on college campuses. I certainly wouldn't want Marx, Rousseau, and Foucault not to be taught because if you don't learn about their ideas, you can't refute them. To characterize the desire for more conservatives as a desire for exculsive conservative hegemony is unfair, inaccurate, and dishonest.


Steve H - 1/11/2003

"I imagine that one of the reasons that you are so concerned about what you see as a lack of balance in this panel which never happened is that you think of the public policy implications of the issue as being of foremost concern. This sort of fixation on balance often never bothers program committees because public policy is not the foremost consideration."

Then I guess it must have been my imagination that Bellesiles flew out to Stanford a year or so ago to address a "public policy" forum on the Second Amendment, and seems to have attended and contributed to another Chicago-Kent "public policy" symposium a year before that, and was either associated with or attended goodness knows how many "public policy" forums in between and before even that. If that's the case then I would imagine it is someone's obligation to take notice of all that "public policy" activity? Or is this yet another case where historians get yet another get-out-of-jail free card due to being so wrapped up in an academic fog that their brains somehow shut down functioning when the object of attention is not absolutely limited to history? As in Bellesiles' department doesn't get brownie points for citations of his previous (and very publicly visible) work? LOL! or, maybe this is where we pull out the old dead-guy-musta-did-it routine, blame it all on dearly departed Bellesiles and shove the larger mess under the rug again so that business as usual can be conducted?

Or perhaps you are speaking of the higher level AHA, which on occasion is apparently too busy misreading Miller to pay attention to these lower order "public policy" related teapot tempests?

Excuses, excuses, so many choices... :-)


Steve H - 1/11/2003

"Sorry, Steve, but my point is that it isn't expected that a panel on, say, Reconstruction would include someone in favor of it and someone opposed. If three papers were presented and all three were basically sympathetic to efforts at Reconstruction in the South, it isn't likely that anyone would charge that the session was some Yankee conspiracy."

The panel session title included the phrase "Comparative". The hypothetical situation you describe is hypothetical. But labeling a panel "comparative" would ordinarily (at least, prior to today's discussion thread) lead me to believe that a comparative presentation would indeed occur, with balance given to each side of a controversy. If the general case does not provide comparative perspectives, if the sympathies expressed in the papers all resided on one side or the other, then I would not view that panel as "comparative" and that is regardless of the subject. (BTW I've observed a similar baiting line of questioning used on other pro-Bill-of-Rights advocates before. Are you preparing to play the racist-redneck gun nut card or something? Can't you liberals get a clue and come up with something a bit more original for a change? :-) Do you actually prefer having one jurisdictional standard for one Amendment and a different standard for the others? Just wondering.)

"It would be interesting to know what it is that causes you to be hostile to the history department at UCLA. You began with an attack on one of three co-authors of a text. One of them came from the UCLA department. Why not attack the departments at Columbia and Princeton? Then, you shift to attacking another member of the history department at UCLA. You live in LA?"

I live in California. My tax dollars go to UCLA. Friends and/or extended family may attend there in the future. So I confess to having a special interest not just in UCLA but in the manner in which any school in California operates. But I am not picking on UCLA, I just noted that it comes up frequently in my own observation of institutional bias. Do you think my concern for UCLA is without adequate justification? You think I am involved in some secret right-wing conspiracy to dump on LA (fat chance)? If not, are you suggesting that I should consider moving there? Where do you live since you ask and you are so demonstrably concerned and defensive about UCLA's reputation one way or another? And what does any of this have to do with the price of tea in China? :-)

I'd pick on Princeton and Columbia as well but I just encountered this forum a couple of days ago and I am just getting warmed up :-) Anyway, I don't think they get as much of my tax dollars as UCLA does, and in any case their own problems are somewhat hanging out there for all who have the inclination to look, to see if they wish, with or without my assistance...

As long as we're being nice, I wonder what happened to you in the Posner discussion. You haven't reviewed or read his famous work _Case Closed_, or don't think the controversies surrounding Posner's research in that book are relevant to his credibility?




Ralph E. Luker - 1/11/2003

I imagine that one of the reasons that you are so concerned about what you see as a lack of balance in this panel which never happened is that you think of the public policy implications of the issue as being of foremost concern. This sort of fixation on balance often never bothers program committees because public policy is not the foremost consideration.


Steve H - 1/10/2003

"It is likely that Bellesiles and Squires had jointly proposed this session of two papers (that isn't a panel discussion) to the AHA program committee in December 2001 and that the program committee acted on the proposal in January 2002. We still don't know from what you say who the chairperson of the session was to have been or who the commentator or commentators were to have been. They would have been other qualified historians..."

Yes, good idea. I've already sent my letter to them inquiring about the details before you posted. Then, I'm not a member so I don't know how seriously and with what priority they will handle my inquiry.

How about you?



Steve H - 1/10/2003

Responding to Josh Greenland's post of January 10, 2003, 5:51 PM:

If the "Comparative" panel session was comprised entirely of historians and papers of the gun-grabber kind, it makes one wonder if the AHA is already aware of the problem to the degree that they *intentionally* labeled the panel in such a way as to conceal the ideological bias from the casual examination by the riffraff public eye, while permitting the AHA to dissemble that they are ideologically unbiased at the higher levels of organization (permitting the convenient plausible deniability that Mr. Luker, by illustration, would like to bestow on the AHA leadership). If they have two pro-collective-rights authors and two pro-collective-rights papers and zero pro-Standard-Model papers and papers, then it's definitely not a "comparative" perspective, it's a "collective rights model" perspective. IMHO...


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/10/2003

I do not confuse them at all--German and American conservatism;I think US "conservatives" are confused about the meaning of the term. Secondly, I mentioned the pre-war Germans because sincerely believe on the basis of what I have read on this list alone that the US right would be quite happy, thank you very much, to establish both a de jure and de facto civic orthodoxy in classrooms, and perhaps you are too young to recall the days of loyalty oaths, blacklists, "liberal" professors being attacked as "pinks," and so on. I do very well. In any event, if you want more "conservatives" on campus, what exactly do you mean by the term, I ask again? Obviously, I view the contemporary US right as authoritarian and exclusivist: After all, how does one support diversity if you belong to a movement whose leaders have claimed "liberals" are not "true Americans," who challenge the patriotism and integrity of those who disagree with them, whose leading spokesmen refer to others as "environmental wackos," "feminazis," etc, and who built an electoral base in our South by appealing to racial antagonism?

I am also deeply suspicious of the right's embrace of "diversity" because of a long history both here and abroad--with closer intellectual ties than you might imagine--of hostility to the very idea. And why confine the claim to just universities? (Which, mostly run by conservative boards, may have regimes more "American" and "conservative" than our obsolete political taxonomy suggests? I find more troubling the political culture of our officer corps--deeply rightist, and not above indoctrinating its enlisted ranks in the Gospel of Limbaugh. Would you endorse measures to politically and socially diversify our military, or would you--oh, here the German example recurs--be satisfied with a reactionary officer class?

Anyway, you maybe can un-confuse me if you just respond to my question: Just what is a "conservative historian" anyhow?


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

It is likely that Bellesiles and Squires had jointly proposed this session of two papers (that isn't a panel discussion) to the AHA program committee in December 2001 and that the program committee acted on the proposal in January 2002. We still don't know from what you say who the chairperson of the session was to have been or who the commentator or commentators were to have been. They would have been other qualified historians. Are there any gun hugging ph.d.s out there?


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

Sorry, Steve, but my point is that it isn't expected that a panel on, say, Reconstruction would include someone in favor of it and someone opposed. If three papers were presented and all three were basically sympathetic to efforts at Reconstruction in the South, it isn't likely that anyone would charge that the session was some Yankee conspiracy.
It would be interesting to know what it is that causes you to be hostile to the history department at UCLA. You began with an attack on one of three co-authors of a text. One of them came from the UCLA department. Why not attack the departments at Columbia and Princeton? Then, you shift to attacking another member of the history department at UCLA. You live in LA?


Josh Greenland - 1/10/2003

"Steve, The session to which you refer was not a panel discussion or a chat room."

Ralph, article 691 describes the event as a panel:
"At the end of December, however, the panel was abruptly cancelled. Jones told HNN: "The participants decided to cancel and notified us.""

Later you wrote, "I threw out my AHA program book, so I don't know who the other participants were to be."

He was Peter Squires of the University of Brighton, in Britain. He is a gun control who specializes in comparing the gun controlled UK with the gun rights afflicted USA:
http://www.gun-control-network.org/PSGaurdLtrs.htm
http://www.gun-control-network.org/Gun%20Culture%20or%20Gun%20Control.htm
http://www.britsoccrim.org/bccsp/vol01/VOL01_16.HTM

"It would not ordinarily be required that there be 1 Democrat and 1 Republican presenting papers or 1 male and 1 female or 1 duck and 1 chicken. Why are you outraged that a cancelled session would have included papers by two scholars who may or may not have been sympathetic to gun control?"

It's even worse than you say. Both are known gun control activists. Both have very negative views on U.S. gun rights. Gee, what did you think this panel was going to be like with the American Tweedledee and British Tweedledum of gun control on it?

As to your question to Steve, does it seem perfectly alright to you that the AHA or other historical bodies should have completely biased panels, pushing one single political line, on controversial issues which have numerous rational partisans and facts on the other side? Why shouldn't a reasonable person be outraged if this is the status quo within historical organizations?


SteveH - 1/10/2003

"Steve, The session to which you refer was not a panel discussion or a chat room. It was a regular convention program session in which Bellesiles and the other fellow were to have presented papers. Someone else was to chair it and another person or other persons were to serve as critics of the papers. So Bellesiles and the other fellow weren't to co-chair the session. I threw out my AHA program book, so I don't know who the other participants were to be. It would not ordinarily be required that there be 1 Democrat and 1 Republican presenting papers or 1 male and 1 female or 1 duck and 1 chicken. Why are you outraged that a cancelled session would have included papers by two scholars who may or may not have been sympathetic to gun control?"

Panel, co-chair versus invited papers, whatever. The principle, or lack thereof, is not affected.

The operative adjective employed in describing the meeting was "Comparative". I would hope that someone took that phrase seriously enough to arrange papers from both sides to appear.
What were the titles of those papers, and who were the authors? You haven't provided any specific evidence to refute that the headcount was 2-0 in favor of the collective rights perspective. And if there were more than two, then I would find it difficult to believe that a large number of invited-paper attendees suddenly and coincidentally all decided to cancel out due to lack of ability to attend. What you did provide was a variant of the old, and familiar, flood-ate-my-notes trick in its place. Been there, done that :-) Show me the money and I'll go away on this one, otherwise there's no solid reason not to continue to protest the appearance of bias in the scheduling and preparation, even if the actual session was canceled at the last moment. Your go.

"What ideological litmus test do you want to impose on the academy?"

How about a test in which fraudulent historical research papers and books don't end up cited in Bill of Rights cases sitting in the Supreme Court docket, for a starter, well after the papers and books have been shown to be fraudulent enough to merit the dismissal of one of the authors involved from his teaching and research post?

"In another discussion, you will be berating equal employment opportunity requirements for its "quotas.""

This adds nothing of value except to demonstrate to me that you do not know me well enough to make accurate predictions. Where's the civility? What have I done to you to merit such patronizing and insulting treatment, starting from your very first response to me ("One scarcely knows where to begin...")? I am really disappointed in the level in which you conduct discourse. You're not doing yourself a favor either since our exchanges are public. Don't expect me to reply to your insults and patronizing attitude indefinitely.



Steve H - 1/10/2003

Responding to Don, I followed his link to his June 20, 2002 quote of Prof. Rakove's quote:

In his May 23 post, Mr. Rakove says: "Three points are salient here. The
first (as noted in my WMQ piece) is that Arming America has very little to
say about the adoption of the 2d Amendment or its interpretation...."

I then verified that the May 23, 2002 post by Prof. Rakove shows up in the log as quoted.

http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-OIEAHC&month=0205&week=d&msg=kH8LPSl0BMyu3epYujtM%2bg&user=&pw=

I wonder if Prof. Rakove would care to re-affirm his assertion now that the 9th Circuit Court has used his 2000 Chicago-Kent Law Review article (which as I contended elsewhere above used citations of Bellesiles _Arming America_ to help finesse a chronological gap and mask his avoidance of performing a continuity sanity check between allegedly pro collective rights views of the Founding Fathers and decidedly pro individual rights views of the early and mid 19th century jurists and commentators) to hold that the collective right represents the original intent?

Prof. Rakove is basically arguing that research fraud is less serious if the consequences are minimal-- the historical researcher's equivalent of moral relativism. What I don't understand is that consequences are not predictable, or at least never as predictable as some would apparently prefer to believe. I live in California (as presumeably does Prof. Rakove himself at Stanford), and now both of us are legally bound by the 9th Circuit Court decision which is based on Bellesiles by the transitive property through Prof. Rakove's article, to some degree which would be known (though perhaps not admitted) by the 9th Circuit Court judges themselves and not Rakove, and certainly not six months before the decision came out. At least until it is overturned by the Supremes.

Now I don't have a fancy Stanford history or law department title but that seems fairly straightforward to me...

I suspect that the real reason Prof. Rakove didn't get back to you in public is that he may be coming to the realization that he perhaps has overstepped the bounds of prudent scholarship at a minimum (I am deliberately avoiding the use of a stronger term here), and the less that he further commits to writing, the longer it takes for others to realize that he has at least in some sense hung himself by his own petard...


Josh Greenland - 1/10/2003

"Sorry, Steve, but since you keep going on about a panel which was cancelled, I think you've managed to reduce this exchange to a conversation about nothing."

Ralph, as the person who originally discovered and mentioned the bias in the canceled AHA panel, I wouldn't have posted my remark if I thought it was about nothing. I see a problem with bias in the AHA, otherwise a one-sided panel on such a controversial issue would not have been planned in the first place.

Oh, and speaking of bias, didn't AHA pass one of those witless resolutions supporting Bellesiles against the terrible gun nut threats that he never bothered to go to the police about, and that he claimed to have moved out of Atlanta because of, even though his move was arranged before the supposed threats?


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

Steve, The session to which you refer was not a panel discussion or a chat room. It was a regular convention program session in which Bellesiles and the other fellow were to have presented papers. Someone else was to chair it and another person or other persons were to serve as critics of the papers. So Bellesiles and the other fellow weren't to co-chair the session. I threw out my AHA program book, so I don't know who the other participants were to be. It would not ordinarily be required that there be 1 Democrat and 1 Republican presenting papers or 1 male and 1 female or 1 duck and 1 chicken. Why are you outraged that a cancelled session would have included papers by two scholars who may or may not have been sympathetic to gun control? What ideological litmus test do you want to impose on the academy? In another discussion, you will be berating equal employment opportunity requirements for its "quotas."


Don Williams - 1/10/2003

the links I gave in the above message don't work apparently.
Try these instead:

a) First, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lx&list=h-oieahc&user=&pw=&month=0205 . My post pointing to the HNN article "Bellesiles and Supreme Court Case " is
on 5/22. (What's hilarious is RB Bernstein's post on the same day scoffing at my earlier suggestion that historians might be trying to influence the legal process) Again, my user name is "Vze2t297@verizon.net" )

b) On the same page, Jack Rakove's response " Relying on Arming America " was posted on 5/23

c) Next, going to this page: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lx&list=h-oieahc&user=&pw=&month=0206
my comments re errors in Rakove's Chicago Kent article was posted on 6/3 as "Reply to Rakove" . Receiving no response from Rakove, I posted again on 6/21 --"Re: Reply to Rakove " and " Arming America and the Second Amendment ". In those posts, I noted that Rakove's claim --that Arming America said little about the Second Amendment -- was questionable.


Steve Head - 1/10/2003

"Sorry, Steve, but since you keep going on about a panel which was cancelled, I think you've managed to reduce this exchange to a conversation about nothing."

Well, I think you are missing the point. The cancellation is moot, since the AHA did not claim the cancellation was due to overt ideological bias of the co chairs, but because of some attendence-related problems. You are not claiming either that the AHA is aware of its bias or is taking any steps to change its processes in order to try to prevent such bias from surfacing in the future. You seem to be straining valiantly to preserve the honor of the historical profession. But you're all defense, and selective at that. What's your explanation and perspective of the alleged problem as it is illustrated by the unidirectional ideological orientation of the originally scheduled co chairs, if it differs from the "Sergeant Shultz" copout :-)?


Don Williams - 1/10/2003

In May 2002, HNN published my article re how a group of prominent historians, including Jack Rakove, were mounting a concerted campaign against the Second Amendment. In my article, I noted how those historians were making heavy use of Bellesiles' questionable history. ( See http://historynewsnetwork.org/articles/article.html?id=741 )

I posted notice of my article on the historian's H-OIEAHC list.
Mr Rakove responded to my article here: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-oieahc&month=0205&week=d&msg=kH8LPSl0BMyu3epYujtM%2bg&user=&pw=

In response, I posted some comments re Mr Rakove's Chicago Kent article --and what I saw as some errors -- here: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-oieahc&month=0206&week=a&msg=aN/jQb0GM4%2bsreh2LgfPNQ&user=&pw=

Unfortunately, the Great One was not accepting questions from the unwashed rabble that day and did not respond to my comments.
(see http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lx&list=h-oieahc&user=&pw=&month=0206 -- my userid is "vze2t297@verizon.net" )


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

Sorry, Steve, but since you keep going on about a panel which was cancelled, I think you've managed to reduce this exchange to a conversation about nothing.


Steve H - 1/10/2003

"Get a grip, O anonymous witch-hunter. You're complaining about a session that was cancelled; and the President of the AHA doesn't schedule program panels. A program committee does that."

I'm sure it does. However, my original (and hopefully obvious, but I hereby declare it explicitly now for the benefit of all) concern was for the makeup of the discussion panel, not about the cancellation itself.

The top is ultimately responsible for any bias that creeps into the annual meeting agenda, would you not agree? Two out of two pro-collective-rights interpretation co-chairs for a "comparative perspectives" discussion does seem to smell a bit, at least if you stand downwind, would you not concur? The top (either last year's AHA President Lynn Hunt of UCLA or this year's apparent incoming President James McPherson of Princeton, and ideally, both) should be concerned whenever any evidence of ideological bias arises in the organization of the annual meeting. Or so I would presume (standard disclaimers apply).

It may be true that this is not the most pressing issue in history department bias today. But it still seems as if it serves as an indicator of a more widespread pattern, which seems very relevant to the current discussion topic. It is ultimately the responsibility of the top to ensure that processes are put in place to weed out bias, including ideological bias. If I am a "witch-hunter" as the response claims, where exactly is the flaw in reasoning in the above?

Detractors of Mr. Cramer's contention of bias will and should demand hard specifics when confronted with charges of bias as a preliminary to establishing an institutional patter. But when given such specifics, the complaint suddenly switches by implication to charges of pettiness and isolated, unconnected occurences. But in my opinion I don't think one has the option to have it both ways, and employ each defense in rotating sequence as the discussion progresses. At least, not with any degree of integrity...


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/10/2003

The URL was working when I sent the article to the editor in late December.


Josh Greenland - 1/10/2003

"So . . what's Freud say about people who are *obsessed* with weapons?"

From what I understand, no one has been able to find ANYthing in Freud about people *obsessed* with weapons. Steve H's quote was the only one found that was at all relevant.

My experiences with strongly pro-gun rights and pro-gun control people suggest that the bulk of the psychological problems are NOT on the pro-gun side!

"Really, I promise. I don't wanna grab your gun."

You know it's too much for YOU to handle.
:)


Josh Greenland - 1/10/2003

My references to meetings and communications was not clear. I meant those meetings and communications Knopf, Random House and Vintage needed in order to decide what to do about Arming America AFTER it was clear the book was a fraud. Someone had to meet and decide to put out the phony spin about "corrections" that Jerry Sternstein debunked, and then again to decide to stop publishing the book. The meetings would have been "hushed" in order to keep internal news about their problem child from becoming media news before they wanted it to.

As to the imminence of gun rights being taken away in the U.S., I believe abolition of the 2nd Amendment has been proposed in Congress, and sweeping, confiscatory legislation is introduced year after year in state legislatures across the U.S. Most of it doesn't pass because gun rights supporters take seriously the threat and fight it.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

Get a grip, O anonymous witch-hunter. You're complaining about a session that was cancelled; and the President of the AHA doesn't schedule program panels. A program committee does that.


Thomas Gunn - 1/10/2003


01-10-2003 ~1400

Hi Ralph,

Lots going on here! I'm not caught up on all the posts yet. I'm sad that you turned down the chance to chair the chat. I understand your reasons but . . .

I wouldn't want to be either of the scholars that will chair the chat 'Michael Bellesiles". The "hot seat" at HNN will feel like a lazyboy recliner in comparison.



thomas


Steve H - 1/10/2003

"The problem that most people have with the "magic bullet" theory comes from a lack of experience with medium weight, round nose, medium velocity, full metal case bullets. I'm a 25 year law enforcement officer with decades of hand loading and firearms experience. I tell you that these types of spent bullets can be recovered frequently with little or no deformation or loss of mass. The experience that most hunters have is with soft point ammo which is a completely different animal."

From here

http://www.jfk-info.com/fragment.htm

it is demonstrated that the Warren Commission's own expert testimony refuted the Warren Commission's (and Posner's) conclusions concerning CE399 (the so-called "magic bullet"):

Governor Connally's Wrist Wound and CE-399


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is a test. Please take your time.

This article offers high-resolution government photographs of the bullet that that Warren Commission says caused all of Governor Connally's wounds.

You are then shown bullet fragments that the Warren Commission says came from that bullet. And you are also given sworn testimony from attending emergency room personnel telling you that there are even more fragments left in the Governor's body.

Your mission: To pinpoint exactly where on this bullet all these fragments came from. The Warren Commission concluded that all these fragments came from CE-399. Their whole case is based on the "single bullet theory."

If you can see where the fragments came from, then you prove the Warren Commission's case.

But if you cannot see defects in CE-399 to account for the fragments shown and testified to, then you have just destroyed the Warren Commission's findings in their Report.



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Introduction
I haven't seen a comparison of...

photographs of the "pristine bullet" (WC Exhibit CE-399)
the fragments remaining in Governor Connally's wrist
Warren Commission expert testimony
...side-by-side anywhere. This article offers seven high-resolution photographs of CE-399, as well as portions of testimony given by Warren Commission expert witnesses.

Although I, as a lay person and not acquainted with the medical profession, cannot see enough imperfections in CE-399 to account for all the fragments described by experts, I see that I am not alone in my belief that CE-399 could not have caused all of the Governor's wounds.

My personal thanks to JFK Lancer's Debra Conway for publishing this dry, lengthy article in the current issue of Assassination Chronicles magazine.

Please take your time to read the testimony offered ... and make sure you 'click' on each of the seven pictures of CE-399 to see the high-resolution copies.


Private, email comments welcome.
Visit our Announcements / Discussion Board.



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The Warren Commission (formally known as "Hearings Before the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy") concluded that:


The Governor had been hit by a bullet which entered at the extreme right side of his back at a point below his right armpit. The bullet traveled through his chest in a downward and forward direction, exited below his right nipple, passed through his right wrist which had been in his lap, and then caused a wound to his left thigh.
The Commission's Report later elaborated:


...Ballistics experiments and medical findings established that the missile which passed through the Governor's wrist and penetrated his thigh had first traversed his chest...
...The ballistics experts learned the exact nature of the Governor's wrist wound by examining Parkland Hospital records and X-rays and conferring with Dr. Gregory. The C2766 Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found in the Depository was fired with bullets of the same type as the bullet found on the Governor's stretcher and the fragments found in the Presidential limousine...

...All the evidence indicated that the bullet found on the Governor's stretcher could have caused all his wounds. The weight of the whole bullet prior to firing was approximately 160-161 grains and that of the recovered bullet was 158. grains. An X-ray of the Governor's wrist showed very minute metallic fragments, and two or three of these fragments were removed from his wrist. All these fragments were sufficiently small and light so that the nearly whole bullet found on the stretcher could have deposited those pieces of metal as it tumbled through his wrist. In their testimony, the three doctors who attended Governor Connally at Parkland Hospital expressed independently their opinion that a single bullet had passed through his chest; tumbled through his wrist with very little exit velocity, leaving small metallic fragments from the rear portion of the bullet; punctured his left thigh after the bullet had lost virtually all of its velocity; and had fallen out of the thigh wound.

I cannot understand the above conclusion. The Warren Commission singled out Dr. Gregory and his testimony for the "exact nature of the Governor's wrist wound" in their findings. Here is Dr. Gregory's testimony. If you can find in it any instance of the Commission asking Dr. Gregory if a bullet in the condition of CE-399 could have caused the Governor's chest, wrist, and thigh wounds, then you're a better reader than I.

And when the Warren Commission states that "All the evidence indicated that the bullet found on the Governor's stretcher could have caused all his wounds," I guess they had forgotten the following expert witness testimony they solicited.


- Clint Bradford, 08/99


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Commander Humes, Medical Corps, United States Navy.
Humes' undergraduate training was at St. Joseph's College at Villanova University in Philadelphia. He received his medical degree in 1948 from the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia. He received his internship and postgraduate training in Pathology at various Naval hospitals, and at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed in Washington, D.C. At the time of his Warren Commission testimony, Humes' title was Director of Laboratories of the Naval Medical School at Naval Medical Center at Bethesda. He was charged with the responsibility of the overall supervision of all of the laboratory operations in the Naval medical center, including the field of anatomic pathology (examining surgical specimens and postmortem examinations) and clinical pathology (examination of the blood and various body fluids). He was certified both in anatomic pathology and in clinical pathology by the American Board of Pathology.


Mr. SPECTER. Now looking at that bullet, Exhibit 399, Doctor Humes, could that bullet have gone through or been any part of the fragment passing through President Kennedy's head in Exhibit No. 388?
Commander HUMES. I do not believe so, sir.

Mr. SPECTER. And could that missile have made the wound on Governor Connally's right wrist?

Commander HUMES. I think that that is most unlikely ... The reason I believe it most unlikely that this missile could have inflicted either of these wounds is that this missile is basically intact; its jacket appears to me to be intact, and I do not understand how it could possibly have left fragments in either of these locations.

Mr. SPECTER. Dr. Humes, under your opinion which you have just given us, what effect, if any, would that have on whether this bullet, 399, could have been the one to lodge in Governor Connally's thigh?

Commander HUMES. I think that extremely unlikely. The reports, again Exhibit 392 from Parkland, tell of an entrance wound on the lower midthigh of the Governor, and X-rays taken there are described as showing metallic fragments in the bone, which apparently by this report were not removed and are still present in Governor Connally's thigh. I can't conceive of where they came from this missile.

Representative FORD. The missile identified as Exhibit 399.

Commander HUMES. 399, sir.

Colonel Finck was a lieutenant colonel in the Army Medical Corps. He obtained his medical degree at the University of Geneva Medical School in Switzerland in 1948. He experienced 4 years of training in pathology after his internship, 2 years, including 2 years of pathology at the University Institute of Pathology in Geneva, Switzerland, and 2 years at the University of Tennessee Institute of Pathology in Memphis, Tenn. He was in the Army since 1955. From 1955 to 1958, he performed approximately 200 autopsies, many of them pertaining to trauma, including missile wounds, while stationed at Frankfort, Germany as pathologist of the United States Army Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. He was Chief of the Wound Ballistics Pathology Branch of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, personally reviewing all the cases forwarded by the Armed Forces, and some civilian cases from the United States and forces overseas, totalling approximately 400 cases. Finck was certified in pathology anatomy by the American Board of Pathology in 1956, and by the same American Board of Pathology in the field of forensic pathology in 1961.


Mr. SPECTER. And could it [CE 399] have been the bullet which inflicted the wound on Governor Connally's right wrist?
Colonel FINCK. No; for the reason that there are too many fragments described in that wrist.

From Mr. Frazier, FBI firearms expert:


Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Frazier, did you determine the weight of the exhibit-that is, 399?
Mr. FRAZIER. Yes, sir. Exhibit 399 weighs 158.6 grains.

Mr. EISENBERG. How much weight loss does that show from the original bullet weight?

Mr. FRAZIER. We measured several standard bullets, and their weights varied, which is a normal situation, a portion of a grain, or two grains, from 161 grains--that is, they were all in the vicinity of 161 grains. One weighed--- 160.85, 161.5, 161.1 grains.

Mr. EISENBERG. In your opinion, was there any weight loss?

Mr. FRAZIER. There did not necessarily have to be any weight loss to the bullet. There may be a slight amount of lead missing from the base of the bullet, since it is exposed at the base, and the bullet is slightly flattened; there could be a slight weight loss from the end of the bullet, but it would not amount to more than 4 grains, because 158.6 is only a grain and a half less than the normal weight, and at least a 2 grain variation would be allowed. So it would be approximately 3 or 4 grains.

. . .

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. Frazier, is it possible for the fragments identified in Commission Exhibit 840 to have come from the whole bullet heretofore identified as Commission Exhibit 399?

Mr. FRAZIER. I would say that based on weight it would be highly improbable that that much weight could have come from the base of that bullet since its present weight is--its weight when I first received it was 158.6 grains.

Mr. SPECTER. Referring now to 399.

Mr. FRAZIER. Exhibit 399, and its original normal weight would be 160 to 161 grains, and those three metal fragments had a total of 2.1 grains as I recall--2.3 grains. So it is possible but not likely since there is only a very small part of the core of the bullet 399 missing.

Dr. Shaw is a physician and surgeon who received his B.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1927, and M.D. degree from the same institution in 1933. He then served 2 years at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York City in training in general surgery. He then experienced 2 years of training in thoracic surgery at the University Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He entered private practice in 1938 in Dallas, Texas, limiting his practice to thoracic [chest] surgery. He remained at his private practice except from June, 1942, until December 1945, when he was a member of the Medical Corps of the Army of the United States, serving principally in the European theater of operations. He was away again from December, 1961, until June, 1963, when he was head of the MEDICO team and performed surgery at Avicenna Hospital in Kabul, Pakistan. He returned to Dallas and on September 1, 1963, started working full time with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School as professor of thoracic surgery and chairman of the division of thoracic surgery. He was also chief of thoracic surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, which is the chief hospital from the standpoint of the medical facilities of the school. He was certified by the Board of Thoracic Surgery since 1948. He had civilian experience with bullet wounds in his work at Parkland Hospital. His had more experience with bullet wounds during the Second World War when he was serving as chief of the thoracic surgery center in Paris, France. During this particular experience, he admitted over 900 patients with chest wounds of various kinds. His best estimate as to the total number of bullet wounds he experienced? "It would be approximately 1000, considering the large number of admissions we had in Paris."


Mr. SPECTER: What is your opinion as to whether bullet 399 could have inflicted all of the wounds on the Governor, then, without respect at this point to the wound of the President's neck?
Dr. SHAW. I feel that there would be some difficulty in explaining all of the wounds as being inflicted by bullet Exhibit 399 without causing more in the way of loss of substance to the bullet or deformation of the bullet. (Discussion off the record.)

Dr. Shaw's testimony is interrupted at this point, and "off the record" discussions take place. Later...


Dr. SHAW: All right. As far as the wounds of the chest are concerned, I feel that this bullet could have inflicted those wounds. But the examination of the wrist both by X-ray and at the time of surgery showed some fragments of metal that make it difficult to believe that the same missle could have caused these two wounds. There seems to be more that three grains of metal missing as far as the--I mean in the wrist.
Mr. SPECTOR: Does that bullet appear to you to have any of its metal flaked off?

Dr. SHAW: I have been told that the one point on the nose of this bullet that is deformed was cut off for purposes of examination. With that information, I would have to say that this bullet has lost literally none of its substance.

Dr. Oliver shot the wrists of cadavers for the Commission. Olivier was a supervisory research veterinarian who worked for the Department of the Army at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. His primary duties consisted of "investigating the wound ballistics of various bullets and other military missiles."


Mr. SPECTER. I now hand you a photograph marked as Commission Exhibit 855 and ask you what that represents?
Dr. OLIVIER. This is a photograph taken from the X-ray, Commission Exhibit 854.

Mr. SPECTER. Will you describe for the record the details of the injuries shown on 854 and 855, please?

Dr. OLIVIER. This is a comminuted fracture of the distal end of the radius. It was struck directly by the bullet. It passed through, not directly through but through at an oblique angle so that it entered more proximal on the dorsal side of the wrist and distal on the volar aspect.

Mr. SPECTER. How does the entry and exit compare with the wound on Governor Connally which you observed on the X- rays?

Dr. OLIVIER. In this particular instance to the best of my memory from looking at the X-rays, it is very close. It is about one of the best ones that we obtained.

Mr. SPECTER. Is there any definable difference at all?

Dr. OLIVIER. I couldn't determine any.

Mr. SPECTER. It is close, you say?

Dr. OLIVIER. Yes. If I had both X-rays in front of me if there was a difference I could determine it, but from memory I would say it was for all purposes identical.

Mr. SPECTER. I now hand you a bullet in a case marked Commission Exhibit 856 and ask if you have ever seen that before?

Dr. OLIVIER. Yes. This is the bullet that caused the damage shown in Commission Exhibits Nos. 854 and 855.

Mr. SPECTER. Would you describe that bullet for the record, please?

Dr. OLIVIER. The nose of the bullet is quite flattened from striking the radius.

Mr. SPECTER. How does it compare, for example, with Commission Exhibit 399?

Dr. OLIVIER. It is not like it at all. I mean, Commission Exhibit 399 is not flattened on the end. This one is very severely flattened on the end.

Mr. SPECTER. What was the velocity of the missile at the time it struck the wrist depicted in 854 and 855?

Dr. OLIVIER. The average striking velocity was 1,858 feet per second.

Mr. SPECTER. Do you have the precise striking velocity of that one?

Dr. OLIVIER. No; I don't. We could not put velocity screen in front of the individual shots because it would have interfered with the gunner's view. So we took five shots and got an average striking velocity.

Mr. SPECTER. When you say five shots with an average striking velocity, those were at the delineated distance without striking anything on those particular shots?

Dr. OLIVIER. Right, and after establishing that velocity, then we went on to shoot the various arms.

Mr. SPECTER. And what was the exit velocity?

Dr. OLIVIER. On this particular one?

Mr. SPECTER. If you have it?

Dr. OLIVIER. Yes. Well, I don't know if I have that or not. We didn't get them in all because some of these things deflect. No, I have no exit velocity on this particular one.

Mr. SPECTER. What exit velocity did you get on the average?

Dr. OLIVIER. Average exit velocity was 1,776 feet per second. This was for an average of seven. We did 10. We obtained velocity on seven.

Mr. SPECTER. Would the average reduction be approximately the same, in your professional opinion, as to the bullet exiting from the wrist depicted in 854 and 855?

Dr. OLIVIER. Somewhat. Let me give you the extremes of our velocities. The highest one was 1,866 and the lowest was 1,664, so there was a 202-feet-per-second difference in the thing. Some of the cases bone was missed, in other cases glancing blows. But I would say it is a close approximation to what the exit velocity was on that particular one.

Mr. SPECTER. And what would the close approximation be, the average?

Dr. OLIVIER. The average.

Mr. SPECTER. Would you compare the damage, which was done to Governor Connally's wrist, as contrasted with the damage to the wrist depicted in 854 and 855?

Dr. OLIVIER. The damage in the wrist that you see in the X-ray on 854 and 855, the damage is greater than was done to the Governor's wrist. There is more severe comminution here.

Mr. SPECTER. How much more severe is the comminution?

Dr. OLIVIER. Considerably more. If I remember correctly in the X-rays of the Governor's wrist, I think there were only two or three fragments, if that many. Here we have many, many small fragments.

Mr. SPECTER. In your opinion, based on the tests which you have performed, was the damage inflicted on Governor Connally's wrist caused by a pristine bullet, a bullet fired from the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle 6.5 missile which did not hit anything before it struck the Governor's wrist?

Dr. OLIVIER. I don't believe so. I don't believe his wrist was struck by a pristine bullet.

Mr. SPECTER. What is the reason for your conclusion on that?

Dr. OLIVIER. In this case I go by the size of the entrance wound and exit wound on the Governor's wrist. The entrance wound was on the dorsal surface, it was described by the surgeon as being much larger than the exit wound. He said he almost overlooked that on the volar aspect of the wrist.

In every instance we had a larger exit wound than an entrance wound firing with a pristine bullet apparently at the same angle at which it entered and exited the Governor's wrist. Also, and I don't believe they were mixed up on which was entrance and exit. For one thing the clothing, you know, the surgeon found pieces of clothing and the other thing the human anatomy is such that I don't believe it would enter through the volar aspect and out the top.

So I am pretty sure that the Governor's wrist was not hit by a pristine or a stable bullet.

Mr. SPECTER. What is there, in and of the nature of the smaller wound of exit and larger wound of entrance in the Governor's wrist as contrasted with a smaller wound of entrance and larger wound of exit in 854 and 855, which leads you to conclude that the Governor's wrist was not struck by a pristine bullet?

Dr. OLIVIER. Do you want to repeat that question again?

Mr. SPECTER. What is there about the wound of entry or exit which led you to think that the Governor's wrist wasn't struck by a pristine bullet?

Dr. OLIVIER. Well, he would have had a larger exit wound than entrance wound, which he did not.

Mr. SPECTER. And if the velocity of the missile is decreased, how does that effect the nature of the wounds of entry and exit?

Dr. OLIVIER. If the velocity is decreased, if the bullet is still stable, he still should have a larger exit wound than an entrance.

Now, on the other hand, to get a larger entrance wound and a smaller exit wound, this indicates the bullet probably hit with very much of a yaw. I mean, as this hole appeared in the velocity screen the bullet either tumbling or striking sideways, this would have made a larger entrance wound, lose considerable of its velocity in fracturing the bone, and coming out at a very low velocity, made a smaller hole.

Mr SPECTER. So the crucial factor would be the analysis that the bullet was characterized with yaw at the time it struck?

Dr. OLIVIER. Yes.

Mr. SPECTER. Causing a larger wound of entry and a smaller wound of exit?

Dr. OLIVIER. Yes.

Mr. SPECTER. Now is there anything in the----

Dr. OLIVIER. Also at a reduced velocity because if it struck at considerable yaw at a high velocity as it could do if it hit something and deflected, it would have, it could make a larger wound of exit but it would have been even a more severe wound than we had here. It would have been very severe, could even amputate the wrist hitting at high velocity sideways. We have to say this bullet was characterized by an extreme amount of yaw and reduced velocity. How much reduced, I don't know, but considerably reduced.

Mr. SPECTER. Does the greater damage, inflicted on the wrist in 854 and 855 than that which was inflicted on Governor Connally's wrist, have any value as indicating whether Governor Connally's wrist was struck by a pristine bullet?

Dr. OLIVIER. No; because holding the velocity the same or similar the damage would be greater with a tumbling bullet than a pristine.

I think it reflects both instability and reduced velocity. You have to show the two. I mean, the size of the entrance and exit are very important. This shows that the thing was used when it struck. The fact that there was no more damage than was done by a tumbling bullet indicates the bullet at a reduced velocity. You have to put these two things together.

Mr. SPECTER. Had Governor Connally's wrist been struck with a pristine bullet without yaw, would more damage have been inflicted----

Dr. OLIVIER. Yes.

Mr. SPECTER. Than was inflicted on the Governor's wrist?

Dr. OLIVIER. Yes.

Mr. SPECTER. So then the lesser damage on the Governor's wrist in and of itself indicates in your opinion----

Dr. OLIVIER. That it wasn't struck by a pristine bullet; yes.

Dr. Frederick W. Light, Jr. conducted tests at the Edgewood Arsenal. He was a physician specializing in pathology. Light earned his A.B. from Lafayette in 1926, M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1930, and Ph.D. from Hopkins in 1948. He began working at Edgewood Arsenal in 1951, primarily studying the pathology of wounding. He sat in on the previous session of testimony given by Dr. Olivier.


Dr. LIGHT. I think that is possible; yes. I might say I think perhaps the best, the most likely thing is what everyone else has said so far, that the bullet did go through the President's neck and then through the chest and then through the wrist and then into the thigh.
[To whom is Light referring when he states, "What everyone else has said so far?"]

Mr. SPECTER. You think that is the most likely possibility?

Dr. LIGHT. I think that is probably the most likely, but I base that not entirely on the anatomical findings but as much on the circumstances.

Mr. SPECTER. What are the circumstances which lead you to that conclusion?

Dr. LIGHT. The relative positions in the automobile of the President and the Governor.

Mr. SPECTER. Are there any other circumstances which contribute to that conclusion, other than the anatomical findings?

Dr. LIGHT. And the appearance of the bullet that was found and the place it was found, presumably, the bullet was the one which wounded the Governor.

Mr. SPECTER. The whole bullet?

Dr. LIGHT. The whole bullet.

Mr. SPECTER. Identified as Commission Exhibit No. 399?

Dr. LIGHT. Yes.

Mr. SPECTER. And what about that whole bullet leads you to believe that the one bullet caused the President's neck wound and all of the wounds on Governor Connally?

Dr. LIGHT. Nothing about that bullet. Mainly the position in which they are seated in the automobile.

Mr. SPECTER. So in addition to the----

Dr. LIGHT. And the fact that the bullet that passed through the President's body lost very little velocity since it passed through soft tissue, so that it would strike the Governor, if it did, with a velocity only, what was it, 100 feet per second, very little lower than it would have if it hadn't struck anything else first. I am not sure, I didn't see, of course, none of us saw the wounds in the Governor in the fresh state or any other time, and I am not too convinced from the measurements and the descriptions that were given in the surgical reports and so on that the actual holes through the skin were unusually large.

When Governor Connally was told of the "single bullet theory," he tried to re-create his wounds for the Commission:


I ... wound up the next day realizing I was hit in three places, and I was not conscious of having been hit but by one bullet, so I tried to reconstruct how I could have been hit in three places by the same bullet, and I merely, I know it penetrated from the back through the chest first. I assumed that I had turned as I described a moment ago, placing my right hand on my left leg, that it hit my wrist, went out the center of the wrist, the underside, and then into my leg, but it might not have happened that way at all. [emphasis added]
Here are seven views of Commission Exhibit CE-399, the "magic" bullet. You may click on each for a higher-resolution copy. Then press "BACK" in your browser to return to this page.


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From the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), I offer a few selections of testimony from expert witnesses as they viewed photographs of CE-399:


Dr. WECHT: Commission exhibit 399...a side view...shows the copper jacket to be completely intact, unscathed with no deformity, mutilation or markings...
The small defect at the tip is where a piece of metal was properly taken by the FBI for spectographic analysis...

...the nose, the penetrating portion of the missile which is completely unmarked and without any scathing at all...

...the base of the bullet which is the only area of deformity, what I would refer to as some flattening with indentation of the metallic rim and focal extrusion of the inner lead core. That is the only deformity.



HSCA/JFK Exhibit F-294

Dr. WECHT: This exhibit, F-294, is a composite photo that I believe clearly, dramatically and most succinctly demonstrates the absurdity, the scientific untenability of the single bullet theory. This is Commission exhibit 399. I will not engage in semantical quibbling with my friend and collegue, Dr. Baden, whether you can be near pristine or fully pristine. It is a near pristine bullet, again, with the only deformity being demonstrated at the base...
Mr. PURDY: Dr. Wecht, is it your opinion that no bullet could have caused all of the wounds to President Kennedy and Governor Connally or the Commission exhibit 399 could not have caused all of the wounds to both men?

Dr. WECHT: Based upon the findings in this case, it is my opinion that no bullet could have caused all these wounds, not only 399 but no other bullet that we know about or any fragment of any bullet that we know about in this case.



Back to HSCA testimony...


Dr. BADEN: [After asking for and receiving the above wrist X-ray of Governor Connally] The wrist was explored and operated on, and recovered from the wrist was some cloth fabric which matched the jacket of Connally. Thank you. And the largest of those metal fragments, I think there are three fragments that are visible from this distance, overlay the distal radius near the wrist - the largest of those three fragments was removed by the surgeons in the course of their operation and preserved, kept at the Archives and made available to the committee many years later.
Mr. FITHIAN: The other fragments were not removed?

Dr. BADEN: The other fragments were not removed and are still present as demonstrated on subsequent X-rays available to the committee when the Governor's arm was healing.

Wait a moment...besides the fragments removed from the Governor's wrist - shown below in Commission Exhibit CE842...



...there are additional fragments left in Connally's wrist? Are there enough "defects" in the "magic bullet" to account for all these fragments?


Where did they come from?

Dr. SHAW: All right. As far as the wounds of the chest are concerned, I feel that this bullet could have inflicted those wounds. But the examination of the wrist both by X-ray and at the time of surgery showed some fragments of metal that make it difficult to believe that the same missle could have caused these two wounds. There seems to be more that three grains of metal missing as far as the - I mean in the wrist.

The Warren Commission ignored their own expert witnesses when they concluded that "All the evidence indicated that the bullet found on the Governor's stretcher could have caused all his wounds."

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Photographs courtesy of FOIA and Special Access Records (NWCTF), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/10/2003

There are at least two distinct and valid versions: the one printed in the Chicago-Kent Law Review, and that printed in Bogus' book-length collection (I think the book even contains one not presented at the Symposium).

As for the Mason remark, I agree. If you check prior commentators, even Rakove, you'll find they say that the Antifederalists' interpretations and objections to the Constitution border on paranoia, and aren't illustrative of its real meaning, then they turn around and cite them when convenient to prove a substantive point. I suggest the best overall interpretation of Antifederalist definitional concerns with 'militia', is that they (rightly we now see) were fearful of later statutory restriction (via say, a restrictive stipulative definition). Interestingly, almost without exception, the collectivists don't even address the question whether 'militia' had a common law meaning, much less dispense with it. If you check out the Knox militia plans of 1790 and just after, you'll see that he explicitly contrasts it with the British system (which was a selective militia at that point). Knox's plan has an annual meeting (which has shades of Harringtonian influence) and he divides his into a marching force (the youngest cohort), a main force, and a home garrison (the eldest cohort) -- again reminding one of distinctions that Harrington traces back to Rome. Incredibly, Bellesiles calls this Knox plan a select militia plan.

There are indeed snide comments throughout the collectivist literature -- compare Wills, Bogus, Herz, and Rakove to Reynolds, Tribe, Levinson, and Van Alstyne, and you'll see whence the snottiness comes. When I see that type of rhetoric in the literature, it's a good guess that their arguments can't stand up to scrutiny.


Steve H - 1/10/2003

I'm not sure exactly where the appropriate place to collect and record all these concerns that just seem to pop up wherever one looks nowadays are, but as a start I'll place this particular concern here.

Josh Greenberg wrote as a comment to the "main" Bellesiles forum

http://hnn.us/comments/6480.html

Subject: AHA's canceled panel was to be anti-gun ownership
Posted By: Josh Greenland
Date Posted: January 2, 2003, 12:29 AM
We know Michael Bellesiles was to be in the just-canceled American Historical Association's January 5 panel, Comparative Legal Perspectives on Gun Control. But what of the other participant, Peter Squires of the University of Brighton?

UB is in Britain and Peter Squires is a gun control activist. He takes a particular interest in comparing the United States and Britain in gun laws, "culture" and violence. Here are a few links that make this all clear. In the first short item, he admits that he's worked with the Gun Control Network, an anti-gun ownership British group...

I note from the AHA website

http://www.theaha.org/info/committees.htm

that Prof. Lynn Hunt of UCLA is the current president of the AHA. Now there were those who claimed that the earlier concern I expressed regarding the alleged political bias of the UCLA History Department

http://hnn.us/comments/6769.html

was over-reaction. I would welcome comments on how I was over-reacting given this new bit of collaborative evidence. Can UCLA Prof. Hunt as the chief executive of the AHA be viewed as not responsible for overseeing the impartiality of hosting discussion forums at their annual meeting given the moderator list of the now-canceled Jan. 5, 2003 meeting consisted of one recently discredited (and implicitly anti-gun) historian and one other (explicitly admitted) gun control activist historian? Is the AHA meeting or a portion of it intended as a surreptitious answer to or roundabout means of support in cause for the similarly exclusive 2000 Chicago-Kent Law Review Symposium?

To be sure, there may be occasional conservatives here and there who have managed to avoid faculty anti-conservative pogroms that have swept academia in the last 20 years. But where is the balance or even explicit recognition to what is apparently the prevailing institutional bias that evidently is creeping into the meetings, journals, reviews, and professional organization forums?

The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that it exists. Despite the accumulated weight of evidence in the complicity of contemporary historians in supporting one side of the gun rights controversy, are these historians in denial over the sheer magnitude of the problem and its pervasive side effects?




Steve H - 1/10/2003

1. Regarding variations of the Prof. Rakove's article ("The Second Amendment: the Highest Stage of Originalism") on the net

I used Mr. Williams' link which led me to the saf.org version of the article. A very cursory check of that version versus the version at the Chicago-Kent site did not turn up any huge differences that would have made a difference to my original argument. In any case, the point made is well taken and I resolve to be more careful in the future.

2. Regarding the integrity and veracity of Prof. Rakove's writing in his article

I do agree that his level of scholarship appears to be moderately high (at least by the standards set by Bellesiles). I do note however that he displays a remarkable level of sophistry in his style-- for example, the backhanded manner in which he simultaneously refers to the manner in which Reconstruction era politicians interpreted the Second Amendment and dismisses it via a slur on contemporary Standard Model advocates, attempting to link them to the segregationists of the 1950's:

... To be sure, full deployment of the individual right interpretation relies on another doctrine that some originalists are loath to endorse, for converting the Second Amendment into an effective shield against firearms regulations that would emanate primarily from state and local governments requires invoking the incorporation doctrine of the [Page 107] Fourteenth Amendment.[16]

And I note he entirely omits discussion of the years between the passage of the Bill of Rights and the Reconstruction, neglecting in the process to consider such points as the individual rights interpretation of the Supreme Court in the (admittedly flawed, but nonetheless relevant in a different way to the issue at hand) Dred Scott decision. With the exception of citing Bellesiles and _Arming America_, he does not seem to address to any satisfactory degree why the next two or so generations of jurists and commentators interpret the Amendment to protect an individual right, conflicting with his thesis that the Founders intended to protect only a collective right. I would think that the contradiction is important because of the continuity of thought would surely have been passed down through the next generation from the Fathers, or else would have sparked a widespread discussion and reversal of opinion, which itself would have left some form of written record. So Prof. Rakove himself appears to be guilty of the charges of omission that he levels at gun rights advocates and authors. Furthermore, his motives for taking a special interest and role in Bellesiles' academic and research career become suspect in the light of his paper's apparent exclusive use of Bellesiles and his work to fill this logical and historical gap. [*]

For all Prof. Rakove's intellectual abilities and persuasiveness in writing, I think he seems to use a rather long and involved argument to come to the conclusion that when the Founding Fathers wrote "the people" in the Second Amendment, it does not really mean "the people" as it would undoubtedly be understood by almost all of the citizens in the country at the time. Why should I or anyone else should give him credibility if the process by which he receives his ability to reach a mass audience demonstrably excludes checks and balances of the nature required to weed out fraud and help ensure that opposing viewpoints are represented and successfully parried in argument?

Nevertheless it would be interesting to see a comprehensive Standard Model based refutation of Rakove's paper in print sometime. It would be interesting to learn if there is someone in the historical research community who is contemplating or actively in the process of coming up with an alternative view for publication.

Disclaimer- I am not a historian, nor do I play one on TV :-)

-Steve

-----

[*] At least some of the charges Prof. Rakove makes concerning omissions are in my mind somewhat suspect. For example, I do not see the irrepairable harm of taking Mason's quote ("Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.") as standalone, excluding the later sentence that Prof. Rakove goes on to quote ("But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table [the Constitution] gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor; but may be confined to the lower and middle classes of the people, granting exclusion to the higher classes of the people."). Prof. Rakove apparently prefers to regard the second quote as evidence that Congress was granted discretion in determining who was a part of the militia referred to in the Second Amendment, but it looks more to me like the discretion Mason had in mind worked in the opposite direction from the intent that the current generation of collective model advocates and gun grabbers would prefer (that is, in favor of the lower classes and against the elite, priveleged, and/or licensed, in contrast to current trends in restrictive gun control laws which generally tend to have effect in the opposite direction) and is in any case a very hypothetically flavored statement to begin with.





Josh Greenland - 1/10/2003

Lets see, a "medium weight, round nose, medium velocity, full metal case bullet," supposedly 6.35mm, not a particularly sturdy round, goes all the way through Kennedy, all the way through Connolly's torso, through one of Connolly's limbs, and supposedly lodges loosely in another limb, and falls out easily to be supposedly found stuck in a stretcher that had been put aside, having rifling marks and NO sign of ANY damage after going fully through 3 parts and into one part of two men, HITTING BONE on the way, that's the scenario Warren Commission and Posner were pushing, right? Come on!

If Posner is pushing the Warren fabrication, I knew about it before he wrote his book. It's as bogus as Bellesiles' case against the 2nd Amendment guaranteeing an individual right.


Steve H - 1/10/2003

Don, if I'm not mistaken, just for clarity's sake I think you are pointing us towards the following article, titled "How the Bellesiles Story Developed" as the "main Bellesiles thread":

http://hnn.us/articles/691.html

and your comment (titled "Non-Kudos, Mr Luker By Don Williams (January 10, 2003, 12:58 AM)"):

http://hnn.us/comments/6958.html

You bring up Finkelman's "A well-Regulated Militia: the Second Amendment in Historical Perspective", which you note also appears in Chicago-Kent Law Review 76-1, references Bellesiles _Arming America_ and other Bellesiles works in several places, and which I note in turn is also referenced along with Rakove's Chicago-Kent Law Review 76-1 article in the 9th Circuit's Silveira v Lockyer.

In addition to this, the 9th Circuit does not seem to hint anywhere that the Chicago-Kent Law Review volume records the works of an invited Symposium whose attendees were explicitly screened for their advocacy of the collective rights view of the Second Amendment over the Standard Model.

As a citizen of the State of California, whose rights under law have been impacted by the 9th Circuit's Silveira, I wish to state that I feel the general situation is well established to be beyond a simple case of historical research fraud by a single historian, and I strongly protest the actions of the OAH, its members and the historical research community in general if the situation is permitted to continue and historians do not unite and *explicitly* and *immediately* disavow and and all use of Bellesiles' discredited work in subsequent legal publications such as Rakove's and Finkelstein's Chicago-Kent Law Review 76-1 articles *and* the incorporation of those articles into Constitutional Case law in the 9th Circuit's Silveira v. Lockyer.

I also hope this consideration would add weight to the side of considering hearing Silveira by the Supreme Court to review the issue of incorporating laundered historical research fraud into the 9th's decision.







Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

Thomas, I figured you were lurking out there somewhere, but you'd been unusually quiet.


Jerry Sternstein - 1/10/2003

Caroline Ward may be right when she says that the lack of conservatives on campus is largely a result of career choices by conservatives rather than any form of discrimination practiced against them. And she derides Cramer for not presenting any evidence except two cases, one which I know well, to back up his contention that such discrimination exists. Yet statistical imbalances of the sort that she claims is a result of "professional choices" are now almost regularly regarded by the EEOC and the courts as prima facie evidence of discrimination, and virtually all civil and womens’ rights groups, including NOW, argue discrimination based on such statistical anomalies.

One famous case that I’m sure Prof. Ward is familiar with is EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck and Co. (1986) in which the EEOC and NOW as well as numerous other feminist organizations conducted an intensive national search for women who had supposedly been discriminated against in well-paying jobs that were based on commissions, such as installing heating systems. Almost all such jobs were filled by males, and the EEOC and NOW claimed that women were deliberately excluded by Sears from taking those positions. The fact that after the massive search for a woman victim of Sears’s purported discrimination none could be found did not in the least dissuade the EEOC or NOW from pursuing the case. The gender imbalance in those commission jobs had to be the result of deliberate discrimination. After all, what else could explain it? Certainly not job choices, so said the EEOC and the feminist historians who were the EEOC’s expert witnesses. The very existence of a statistical imbalance was proof enough of Sears’s guilt, they argued.

In the end the EEOC and NOW lost the case but the arguments they brought forth based on nothing more than statistics have lived on -- except, of course, if I’m to believe Prof. Ward, when it comes to the lack of conservative voices on campus. There, "professional choices" are the only rational explanation to explain why liberals predominate. After all, didn’t a conservative student of hers get an interview about a possible job? By the way, did her student tell the person who did the interviewing that he was a conservative? I’ll bet not. Nor should he have, even if he was asked. And did he get the job? If not, I know of a brilliant conservative historian now teaching in Turkey whose politics got in the way of a possible appointment at Brooklyn College and Baruch College who might know of a position there.


Thomas Gunn - 1/10/2003

;-o)

thomas


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

Jokes aside, Ms. Shropshire's point is very well made. I have resolved never to cite anything from the web unless a) I have printed out a copy of it; and b) my citation to the web includes a date at which I last accessed it there.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

Don, Your copying from my "Where Do We Go From Here?" piece is highly selective, deleting what followed it, which acknowledged that gun-rights advocates often made telling contributions to the discussion. The copy function on your computer is getting overheated. Your relentless attacks do threaten to make you the Benny Smith of the gun-rights camp. You are a member of the OAH. Come to the convention. Come to the chat room discussion. There's no conspiracy here.


Don Williams - 1/10/2003

A) HNN has a new article on the main Bellesiles thread, noting that "The OAH, it was disclosed in early January 2003, arranged for Jon Wiener, the long-time defender of Michael Bellesiles, to host a "chat room" concerning the Bellesiles scandal at the annual meeting of the organization in Memphis....On the afternoon of January 8, 2003 the OAH asked Paul Finkelman, Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tulsa College of Law, to join Jon Wiener as co-host of the Bellesiles chat room. Finkelman promptly agreed"
The article also notes that Mr Finkelman was made co-host after Ralph Luker refused the job.

B) Re the appointment of Jon Weiner as host, the ignorance and partisan bias of Jon Wiener's Nation article --a defense of Bellesiles -- has already been discussed here at HNN (See links on main Bellesiles thread.)

C) Here is a cross-post of my comments re the Finkelman appointment --from a post on the main Bellesiles thread:

*******************
Mr Paul Finkelman was one of the authors of the infamous Chicago Kent Law Review articles -- the articles created to undermine the Second Amendment by promoting a "collective right" interpretation that allows gun control and confiscations. See http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/FinkelmanChicago.htm .

2) Recall how Carl T Bogus explicitly explained WHY the pro-gun control Joyce Foundation invited Mr Finkelman and others to their Symposium:

"With generous support from the Joyce Foundation, the Chicago-Kent Law Review sponsored this Symposium to take a fresh look at the Second Amendment and, particularly, the collective right theory. This is not, therefore, a balanced symposium. No effort was made to include the individual right point of view. Full and robust public debate is not always best served by having all viewpoints represented in every symposium."

3) Consider this short excerpt from Mr Finkelman's Chicago-Kent article:

"As Michael Bellesiles has shown, the militias at this time were often poorly armed, most white American men did not own arms, and [Page 235] there was great resistance among the people to having to arm themselves.[190] Bellesiles has exposed and undermined the myth that most Americans owned a firearm. "

4) If you search Mr Finkelman's article for "Bellesiles",you will see numerous citations to Bellesiles to support Mr Finkelman's gun control arguments. For example, Mr Finkelman cites Bellesiles when arguing that Shay's Rebellion influenced the Founders to arrange for the militia to suppress rebellions, not support them. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals , in its recent decision overturning the Second Amendment, likewise cited Bellesiles and the "Shay's Rebellion " argument.

What Mr Finkelman, Bellesiles, and the Ninth Court all suppressed is that Congress had equal reason to fear the federal army -- as shown by the Newburgh Conspiracy (Continental Army officer corps plan to overthrow Congress in a coup) and by Congress's appeal to the Princeton, New Jersey militia for protection when a Continental unit surrounded Constitution Hall.
By concealing this part of history, Finkelman et. al. can conceal the fact that the Founders saw the militias as Congress' protection against a military coup.

4) BOTTOM LINE: In my opinion, the OAH Executive Board wants to cover up the past actions by OAH (via the Journal of American History),Ad Hoc Group ,and Chicago Kent historians. In my opinion, OAH Executive wants to conceal the extent to which those groups promoted Arming American and gave it credibility to the courts hearing a precedent-setting Second Amendment case.

I don't see how Paul Finkelman can support an open airing of Arming America without making himself look either dishonest or like a horse's ass.

Hence, I think Mr Finkelman has an inherent conflict of interest in co-chairing the Bellesiles discussion. The partisan nature and ignorance of Mr Weiner's Nation article has already been discussed here.


Personally, I do not see how OAH Executive Director Formwalt could have devised a more partisan, rigged kangaroo court --devised to conceal the truth --than one run by Jon Weiner and Paul Finkelman.

Mr Luker, when I recently asked you to stand up for the honesty and integrity of the Historical profession, I had not really understood the extent to which I was wasting my breath.
******************

D) It's unfortunate that the OAH Executive Director is taking this tack -- instead of asking Clayton Cramer to co-host the discussion. The OAH, via it's Journal of American History, has direct responsibility for having promoted Bellesiles' work and for having gived it credibility, as I've explained in a recent post to Ralph Luker:

**********************
Subject: Still averting your eyes, Mr Luker??
Posted By: Don Williams
Date Posted: January 4, 2003, 12:00 PM
In the post above, you argue: "The Organization of American Historians has no inherent obligation to arbitrate what is true and what is not true (we cannot both complain about pc monitors and concurrently demand that their judgments be imposed on us). Your accusation that "the profession" or the OAH is guilty of collusion in prejudicing legal judgments is ludicrous "

My accusation is not ludicrous -- you yourself acknowledge that the Emory's "process" has reached a very negative judgement about Bellesiles' approach to scholarship.

Yet You seem to deliberately ignore my points above re how the
Organization of American Historians (OAH) was directly responsible for ensuring that Bellesiles' questionable history was deeply interwoven into the legal argument in US vs Emerson (Fifth Circuit) and Silveira v. Lockyer (Ninth Circuit).

Again, it was the OAH which gave Bellesiles' narrative it's initial credibility by choosing to publish it in the 1996 OAH's Journal of American History(JAH). My understanding is that it was the OAH which then allegedly suppressed Clayton Cramer's rebuttal of Bellesiles' article (by not publishing it in JAH) and which gave Bellesiles' article the Binkley-Stephenson Award (see
http://www.oah.org/activities/awards/binkleystephenson/winners.html )

These events led to Bellesiles' receiving the prestigious fellowship to Stanford's Humanities Center --where he wrote Arming America. When Arming America was released , the OAH chose Roger Lane to review it (whose only qualification seems to me to have been an inclination to favor a fellow colleague in "Violence Studies" discipline) OAH then published what I consider Lanes' glowing puff piece in the JAH. (See http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-oieahc&month=0206&week=c&msg=umI0VTNGvF%2bhn4r/TG2NJA&user=&pw= )

I think the above led to Bellesiles' becoming gun control's darling -- to his invitations to present talks at Handgun Control's Symposium, to do a Constitutional Commentary article, to do an article for the Chicago-Kent Symposium, and to extensive citations of his works by others in articles which are the primary gun-control arguments in the Fifth and Ninth Circuit cases. See again my HNN article at http://historynewsnetwork.org/articles/article.html?id=741 .

Finally, the OAH published Bellesiles' letter to his critics in
its November 2001 newsletter. Both the letter and the associated OAH resolution supporting Bellesiles were, in my opinion, a smear on gun rights advocates. Did OAH even check to see if Bellesiles' claims of harrassment were substantiated --e.g., by seeing if he had filed a report to the police?? See
http://www.oah.org/pubs/nl/2001nov/bellesiles.html )

Your suggestion that I petition the OAH seems hilarious --given the reception that Clayton Cramer received, what can I expect?
In your OAH newsletter article, how did you characterize me and other interlocutors here at HNN to OAH members?

"Early on, I told friends that the quality of the debate was not high, ranging somewhere between a dreary faculty meeting and the Jerry Springer Show. " (http://www.oah.org/pubs/nl/2002aug/luker.html )

On the other hand, you yourself have standing in the historical profession and within OAH. If you took my defense and criticisms of Bellesiles -- and my explanation of OAH's responsibility to clear the historical record -- to the OAH membership, then they
would certainly give YOU a fair hearing.

If you yourself don't feel that Bellesiles deserves a fair trial -- and that OAH has a responsibility to Timothy Emerson to clear up the truth of the history in the Ninth and Fifth Circuit's case files -- then why should I expect any other professional historian to care?

***********************


Susan Shropshire - 1/10/2003

Well, he could have checked one last time before posting the article to make sure the link was working. My real point, however, was that there are good reasons for professors not to trust Web sources that don't necessarily stem from a geriatric mistrust of technology. Student shrugs and says, 'It was on the Web.' How can it be verified?

The date on the original citation is October 25, 2002. Four short months later, the press release is gone, archived or withdrawn or whatever Emory U has done with it.

I wrote a short article on this several years ago ("How Do You Cite a Web Site?") and the Web/informatics expert I interviewed stated it was the author's responsibility to make sure the links were solid. If not, then the source shouldn't be cited unless it can be referred to as a paper version.

New technology imposes new requirements. Maybe the Library of Congress will start issuing an ISBN-like number to 'published' web sites too, and keep a permanent archive.

But in the same way that ancient accounts depend on personal papers and letters that were never published or catalogued, future historians will almost certainly depend on personal home pages and blogs and the like. Maybe it'll all wind up as just so much lost detail.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

It was a joke, Thomas.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/10/2003

"Adrienne, perhaps you'd have been delighted by the German professoriat (goverment employees, by the way) from Wilhelmine days to 1945? I'm told they were quite conservative, on the whole."

What I have been arguing for is political diversity in history departments. You seem to see this as evidence of support for nothing but conservatives in history departments (and even then, you confuse American conservativism with German conservativism--a quite different beast).


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/10/2003

1. Not Dr. Cramer. Just an MA.

2. Conservatives are certainly capable of making the mistake of not examining carefully scholarship with which they agree. The point of my article was that because there are so few conservatives in history departments, the mistakes that tickle liberal fancies aren't getting caught.


Caroline Ward - 1/10/2003

oh, please, Mr. Cramer. . .an English prof possibly discriminated against years ago? an admittedly non-conservative historian who is having trouble with his dept over inter-departmental relationships which may or may not involve general political issues?
This is all the evidence you have to offer? Neither case, even if accurately presented, replies to my request for evidence of discrimination against political conservatives in the hiring process by history departments.
I rest my case. You have supported my analysis of the situation as have other posts.
The lack of conservatives on history faculties has to do with professional choices made by conservatives, not with hiring decisions made by historians.
Incidentally, a former undergrad at my institution, who both worked closely with me (a liberal!) and was a staffer on the undergrad conservative paper, is now on the job market, having completed his PhD, and tells me he had many interviews at the AHA convention. I certainly detect no discrimination there.


William Hammond - 1/10/2003

Dr. Cramer lays out some serious points to ponder. The author lays the problems he addresses at the door of the liberals in our universities. That's fine. What he fails to say is that the conservatives among us are just as capable of making the same mistakes. He also fails to give credit where it is due. A heck of a lot of the historians I know -- both liberals and conservatives -- work very hard to tell the story straight. Whatever the case, the article sounds a cautionary note that can be of benefit to us all.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/10/2003

You should check out the Chicago-Kent version of Rakove's presentation versus the version in Carl Bogus' (ed.) The Second Amendment in Law and History. The latter, directed to a general audience rather than the religious revival audience at the Symposium, has decidely less heightened language and fewer snarky comments.

I do give Rakove credit for one thing: he's one of the few collectivists with the intellectual integrity to address the interlineation problem. His arguments against the usual implication drawn (the individualist one) are twofold. One, that previous constitutions contained broad political principles stated as rights (an argument that suffers from the uniqueness problem -- the Second, under his interpretation, would be the only such right in the Constitution). Two, that like the right to assembly, it is a collective right. This represents an immediate leap to a "collective right" whenever the right is to a collective action. Surely, the people have a collective right to select their representatives, though that does not entail that each individual gets his selection into office (therefore it is a collective right). Just as surely, a single individual can bring a cause of action qua individual should he be denied the right to assemble. Lastly, Rakove does not address the fact that the Second is stated not as a broad principle (generally they are stated as positive rights) but in the language of a civil individual liberty -- as something that cannot be infringed, denied, etc.

I'm afraid this sort of thing is too common (argument by omission). Not too long back Nadine Stroessen, President of the ACLU, appearing on C-SPAN, was asked by a caller why the ACLU didn't defend the rights of gunowners. She responded that they did in a public housing case. Of course, that case was a search and seizure case. The ACLU has a position on the Second Amendment -- they deny that there is an unqualified right to own a weapon (as though any right were unqualified) -- without asserting that there is a qualified right. An institution takes it lead from its leaders. In the case of the ACLU and Stroessen, that means disingenuousness itself.


Steve H - 1/10/2003

While Mr. Cramer ably challenges the educational establishment to be more politically diverse in its selection of faculty and researchers, I am still concerned by the lasting permanent effects of permitting fraudulent research to pass from the manuscript through supposed peer review into published form.

Following one of the links Don Williams recently posted in a response:

http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/RakoveChicago.htm

I note that Prof. Jack Rakove of Stanford University (History Department published an article in the Chicago Kent Law Review:

The Second Amendment: the Highest Stage of Originalism,
Chicago-Kent Law Review 76-1 103-124 (2000)

This article advocated the collective-rights view of the Second Amendment, and references Bellesiles and/or his _Arming America_ in a critical area of his article:

Probing beyond the hackneyed paeans to American sharpshooting that occur both in the primary sources (some of them clearly contrived for European eyes)[143] and in later writings, Bellesiles is evidently the first historian to examine the actual use of firearms in the colonial, Revolutionary, and post-Revolutionary eras.[144] What he discovers, among other things, is that many, perhaps the majority of American households, did not possess firearms; that Americans imported virtually all of their firearms; that the weapons they had were likely to deteriorate rapidly, firearms being delicate mechanisms, prone to rust and disrepair; that gunsmiths were few, far between, and not especially skilled; that the militia were poorly armed and trained, their occasional drilling days an occasion for carousing rather than acquiring the military art; that Americans had little use for hunting, it being much more efficient to slaughter your favorite mammal grazing in the neighboring pasture or foraging in nearby woods than to take the time to track some attractive haunch of venison with a weapon that would be difficult to load, aim, and fire before the fleshy object of your desire went bounding off for greener pastures. (Trapping was much more efficient than hunting, and hunting was a leisure activity for the elite.)[145] All of these considerations make plausible and explicable the concerns we have already noted in describing the Virginia ratification debate of mid-June 1788: that without a national government firmly committed to the support of the militia, the institution would wither away from inefficiency, indifference, and neglect (which is pretty much what happened in any case, for reasons both Federalists and Antifederalists readily foresaw). Americans of all political persuasions could pay rhetorical lip service to the value of an armed citizenry, because that [Page 155] sentiment was embedded in the traditions that the individual right interpretation celebrates; but the reality was quite otherwise.[146]

Bellesiles's findings, coupled with the evidence that militia reform was indeed the object of debate, thus illustrate a fundamental problem that all originalist inquiries must address.

(pp. 154-155)

The Rakove article, in turn, appears in a footnote in a recent 9th Circuit Court case, Silviera v. Lockyer, 01-15098 (9th Cir. 2002) (p. 22). In the case, the 9th Circuit Court reiterated its support for the collective rights interpretation of the Second Amendment and applied it in restricting (and ultimately denying) the right of California citizens to keep and bear so-called assault weapons.

While it is difficult to say with certainty that the 9th Circuit Court would have come to a different conclusion had the Rakove article not been published referring to _Arming America_ as it did, I do not believe historians can claim that the downside legacy of lack of self-discipline in their peer review publication process is completely academic and should be immune to criticism from outside the tenure track and funded scholar level of the historical research community.

How many other fraudulent and inadequately verified articles have been referenced or cited at face value as (implicitly or explicitly) noteworthy in support of an argument by law review articles and then incorporated into decisions that directly affect ordinary citizens' everyday lives and perhaps wrongly infringe on their Constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms?

If Mr. Cramer and others are correct in asserting that there is a liberal political bias in history departments, one result that we may expect to see is a liberal political bias in Constitutional case law, which will be applicable to all citizens, liberal, conservative, or libertarian. And with ideologically lopsided case law binding on all citizens of every ideological stripe, the unintended consequences are that respect for the law itself is undermined in the estimation of the public at large. And I presume we all are cognizant enough to know where bad law ultimately leads.

Is a legacy of laundering fraud to be subsequently used as the basis of significant Constitutional case law a notion that the historical research community can feel complacent about?

It seems to me that such situations underscore the ethical obligation the historical researcher has to society at large, not only to admit a problem exists but to take corrective steps to fix problems uncovered and put into place processes that act, as much as practical, to minimize such problems in the future.



Thomas Gunn - 1/10/2003


01-10-03 ~0050

Ralph,

You aren't really holding Clayton responsible for a link that has gone dead are you?

You can read Michael's resignation at this link:

[http://www.emory.edu/central/NEWS/Releases/B_statement.pdf ]

I can make no guarantees this link will last.


thomas


Steve Broce - 1/10/2003

The problem that most people have with the "magic bullet" theory comes from a lack of experience with medium weight, round nose, medium velocity, full metal case bullets. I'm a 25 year law enforcement officer with decades of hand loading and firearms experience. I tell you that these types of spent bullets can be recovered frequently with little or no deformation or loss of mass. The experience that most hunters have is with soft point ammo which is a completely different animal.

At least read the book before you reject it.


Todd Galle - 1/10/2003

Regarding math and history majors ... Indeed, my small south central PA college had no math requirement for graduation, and after suffering and struggling through public school math, the promise of never seeing it again was heaven indeed. Naturally, I worked in architecture for a spell after graduation. I worked on some pricey (as in I'll never live there type pricey) places until the boss heard my boast that I gave up math in the 6th grade. This sent me off the the NPS and Park Rangerhood, and eventually to a state historical museum. Judging by some of what I have seen there, the math requirement may have been rescinded long before I arrived at college, let alone graduated.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/10/2003

Maybe Clayton's endnote #2 got lost in the San Francisco earthquake.


Andy Freeman - 1/10/2003

> Well, I don't really have time for debates with people too cowardly to take a clear position, and let it guide their actions.

Huh? I do let my position guide my actions. However, we're not discussing my actions, we're discussing Jackson's choices and rationalizations.

Jackson believes, and I agree, that diversity in subject areas is important. I believe that diversity in viewpoints is also important. Our disagreement comes from my assumption that Jackson also values viewpoint diversity and the fact that Jackson's methods have had the effect of excluding certain viewpoints. And, it's not just Jackson, it's virtually his entire field.

Jackson doesn't argue that those viewpoints should be excluded. Instead, he argues that there's no problem because "no one" intentionally excludes those viewpoints.
However, that excuse has been explicitly rejected in every other case. Why should it be accepted now?

So far, Jackson's argument hasn't distinguished the excludable viewpoints from the not excludable ones. That only makes sense if Jackson does not believe in viewpoint diversity, but I doubt that that's the case. Of course, I could be wrong; Jackson hasn't explicitly taken a position either way.

Instead, we get false choices and, when that's pointed out, personal attacks. (Note that I didn't point out that Jackson's example could be taken as suggesting that women, gays, or AAs can't be competent outside of modern US history.)


Rick Schwartz - 1/10/2003

James...

I objected to your seeming formula, A = B, B = C, therefore A = C, with A being the poor, B being Vietnam era soldiers, and C being working class.

What ~is~ leftist thinking, and what your formula indicates, is that the poor and the working class are the same. If that is not what you intended that is fine... but it ~is~ what you posted. I did indicate that I was boxcaring two of your posts together but I feel I was fair to do so.

And yes, I do object to the labeling of the three divisions as working, middle, and upper -- not to the divisions themselves. That allows a built-in bias that is both unnecessary and untrue. My father proudly held himself out to be a blue collar, unionized working class man but we were solidly in the middle class.

I am certainly not on the left spectrum, and you may or may not be. I do know that in both academics and politics we often are suckered into using leftist buzzwords and labels as common communication building blocks. I prefer not to do so, and try to point out when others are doing so.


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/10/2003

Messers. Colliton, Guenet, and even Cramer seem to not know when they've been suckered.

Gosh, I quit teaching years ago to "sling steel" out on the Mississippi River with all those other academic snobs--you prob'ly think they're ridgerunners. And never looked back. 'Still managed to read when off watch

What amazes me--besides the usual ad hominem snottiness of many right-wing postings--is ignorance of their own conservative tradition. Any of you warrior he-men read, though you eschew reading, it seems, for instance a conservative classic, Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis of Culture?

As for the "wiley brown brothers" crack--no officer who failed to teach his men respect for the enemy would've gotten mine, and it seems the old bad attitudes that helped lose a war have carried over into some ex-officers' contemporary political ideas. That mentality echoes the fascism of defeated officer corps after the First Big One. If you have to brag about soldiering, you learnt nothing from it, by the way.

And that brings me around to the subject of this thread: Such intolerant and even racist sentiments are the very proof anyone needs for genuine diversity--not an authoritarian right-wing regime--in our classrooms. As a wrote earlier--when not baiting nut-cases--we ought to be concerned about genuine diversity of thought and expression on a societal, not institutional level, and no matter what questions we might legitimately raise about academic fashion (and I have many, some of which have been raised in scholarly print)right now universities are playing a vital role in preserving what little we genuinely have left.


Jerry Sternstein - 1/9/2003

My friend Mike Wreszin and I have been agreeing to disagree over matters political for a long time, over forty years or so. I think our first major disagreement was over whether Fidel Castro was a Communist or an agrarian reformer, which was how the New York Times reporter, Herbert Matthews, sought to portray him in a famous interview early in the Cuban Revolution. I said I believed he was a Communist ideologue, though one with a Spanish accent, and Mike said he wasn’t. Well, I think events have proven that I was correct on that one. On occasion, however, Mike Wreszin’s understanding of things political was on the money. Early on, he was far more discerning than I was about American involvement in Vietnam, correctly foreseeing the disastrous consequences of that conflict and its impact on American society. I came to that realization later than he did.

But as much as I admire Mike Wreszin’s intellect and commitment to the social democratic ideals he’s long held, I think he’s completely wrong about the current state of academia, especially in the liberal arts and history. He believes there “are no liberal leftist forces to speak of” on campus, and people who believe otherwise, especially conservatives who have always viewed themselves “as a beleaguered minority oppressed by the ‘academic terrorists’” are deluded. After all, he says, aren’t the “right-wingers. . . running the country,” so how could the “liberal leftist forces” be dominating the academy?

But this is just the point that Clayton Cramer -- and David Horowitz -- and other critics of academia are making today. While the nation, or at least half of it, is voting for conservatives in Washington and many State Houses, the academy is overwhelmingly liberal-left, an imbalance that can only be explained either by an innocent, almost automatic self-selecting process among academics to hire people of their own political persuasion, or a deliberate attempt to exclude conservatives which, say people like Horowitz, can only be overcome with some sort of affirmative action policy to bring more conservatives on campus.

Mike Wreszin, however, feels that the academy is not left-liberal enough, at least not enough according to his skewed reading of who is left on the left today. And, I guess, if you consider an old fashioned liberal of the Hubert Humphrey kind, which I have long considered myself (though others might disagree with that self-appraisal), a conservative, as Mike undoubtedly views me and anybody else of that stripe, then your view of academia today and its political orientation is going to be severely distorted, as I think Wreszin’s is.

Mike Wreszin also claims that ideology has always played a powerful role in the writing of history and sometimes in the appointment and tenuring of history faculty. And he points to the case of Ronald Radosh, and the trials he faced getting promoted and appointed to the CUNY Graduate Faculty, as an example of how conservatives wielded their power, though I don’t believe that those who opposed him were necessarily “conservatives” in the normative sense. There is no doubt, however, that some historians at CUNY were against Radosh’s appointment because of his radical politics at the time. But Radosh was not denied tenure at Queensborough College, nor did the faculty union drag its feet in defending his interests.

Today, however, KC Johnson, whose scholarly and teaching credentials are extraordinary, was not even granted promotion or tenure and was pressured to resign (before he was grudgingly reappointed for one more year by an obviously pressured Brooklyn College president) because he ruffled the feathers of the current crop of leftist ideologues in the Brooklyn College history department allied with a vengeful chairman and co-chair. Moreover, while the faculty union at the time was not in tune with Radosh’s then radical politics, he praises its role in seeing to it that justice was accorded him.

Today, however, the same cannot be said of the faculty union under its present leftist leadership. Indeed, members of the union’s Executive Board at Brooklyn College worked openly and privately to deny him his rights. One important official of the Executive Board was the historian of the Middle East who, with another Executive Board member, the assistant chair of the college union, organized the post 9/11 teach-in that Johnson criticized. And they both publicly attacked Johnson and privately worked to whip up support against his tenure application and reappointment. Officials in the union chapter even went so far as to pass information to intermediaries to tell Johnson that the union believed he had a losing case against Brooklyn College and he should therefore drop his contractual rights to bring a grievance against the school and resign rather than risk further humiliation.

I relate this because I do not think what Radosh endured at the hands of a few possible conservatives at the CUNY Graduate Center was at all comparable to what KC Johnson is now experiencing at Brooklyn College. And this, I think, speaks to the nature of the politicization that is taking place on some campuses today. Those who dominate the present intellectual climate are far more authoritarian and rigid in what they view as ideologically acceptable than any doctrinal group in the four decades or so Mike Wreszin and I have been teaching. I’m sure he’ll disagree with this. And, again, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I just wish all people of his political persuasion were as open to divergent views as he is.


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/9/2003

Adrienne, perhaps you'd have been delighted by the German professoriat (goverment employees, by the way) from Wilhelmine days to 1945? I'm told they were quite conservative, on the whole. There are historical precedents for what you yearn to have.

Then again, after so much heat's been expended on this topic, just what is a "conservative historian" anyway?


Susan Shropshire - 1/9/2003

It isn't entirely a Luddite impulse. For example, the Emory press release cited as ref. 2 in the Cramer article no longer exists at the given URL. If you click on the link you'll get a 404.

The Web is ephemeral. Things move to archive, sites and links get updated and referring links break. I work for a print journal (informatics) and we require authors to provide a 'last accessed' date for Web sources, the closer to publication date the better.

I've often wondered how future generations (especially historians) will read documents kept electronically in file formats that are no longer backwards-compatible.

Paper: the universal medium!


Ted Landreau - 1/9/2003

Yeah, Bill Gates is pretty typical of most college dropouts. Most of them do become multimillionaires or billionaires. The ones who make it through college, but get mostly Cs, they typically become President, or at least Presidential candidates for major parties. Heck, I don't even know why someone would want to bother to learn to read! It seems the less education you get, the better!


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/9/2003

What does Freud say about people who are *obsessed* with weapons? Probably what he said to women who suffered from hysteria -- that they could be cured by nasal surgery of the turbinate. Or perhaps it was the same cure he offered to heroin addicts -- ample use of cocaine. Maybe I'm mixing things up here. There is some slight possibility that Freud didn't have anything stupid to say about weapons obsession, though that's pretty unlikely.


Peter Jackson - 1/9/2003

"That's intentional, as it's irrelevant whether or not I do. AA advocates won, so the only question along those lines is whether the benefits also go to people who opposed it."

Well, I don't really have time for debates with people too cowardly to take a clear position, and let it guide their actions. It seems a bit more productive to debate the issue with actual, not virtual people, who have to learn to live with the decisions they make. Non-academics often like to sneer about how academics don't live in "the real world." But struggling with the real moral issues involved in hiring or not hiring someone and living with the consequences, seems much more real than the convenient, non-commital intellectual positions you enjoy playing with. Perhaps some day you will have to make a hiring decision in your workplace. Will your views then be "irrelevant?" If so, the decision you make will most certainly be a morally bankrupt one.


Richard Dyke - 1/9/2003

Don, your points are partly well taken. It certainly does not take a formal university history education to write good, interesting, and accurate history. Bruce Catton's histories on the Civil War are some of the best ever for the general reader, and he was a journalist, not a trained historian. Examples could be cited over and over.

Graduate work may be partly useless, if one does not get a job, but at least one of the examples you cite of having made it without college--Bill Gates--is not a very good one. Wasn't Bill Gates' father a multi-millionaire? It seems to me that Bill had the luxury of the safety net (whether he realized it or not) to try and fail. His ascension to the top in business probably could not have been accomplished without the upbringing and connections (and advice and protection) that he enjoyed from the cradle. Was Michael Dell well born? For another example, it should be hardly surprising that the children of actors often become actors themselves. There are "family hierarchies" that could be cited, such as the Douglases, the Clooneys, the Barrymores, etc., but my point is that while all of the "descendants" probably have to prove themselves in some way, they are well-placed to do so. Of course, the dark side of the equation is where some of them end up in the dumpster or or drugs, so I do not press the label on too heavily.

Moving from my last paragraph, striking out on one's own is not easy without family and other kinds of connections/supports. The story of naive kids coming to Hollywood to be "discovered" is still going on; many end up with pimps or on drugs. A young person may think they have a great idea for an invention or a book, but without the critical supports they are usually bound for frustration and failure. For every story of a business success, it can be shown how naive or "unprotected" business entrepreneurs are strong-armed or muscled aside by the unscrupulous. Once people enter the "workaday world," they mostly just end up trying to make a living. And in the workplace, very often the connections or lack thereof once again determine or disengage one's opportunities for advancement. My overall take on success from a reality standpoint is that "it is better to look good than to feel good," (an old Hollywood adage from Mae West?) and I would add, generally it is better to be good-looking, street-wise, and sociable than to be bright. I have witnessed many more career successes based on social rather than intellectual success. A recent series of "tests" conducted by Dateline staff suggests that "looking good" can affect the outcome of criminal trials for defendants and determine whether someone gets a job or other consideration in the real world. Why am I not surprised?

There IS something good about a university education. It allows a good amount of "quiet" and "uninterrupted" time for study and reflection. Although it can be done outside the classroom, most people won't do it or can't seem to find the time to do it once they leave the Ivory Towers. It's sort of like getting people to save money for their future. Without a mandatory program or some kind of incentive, they usually won't, although they may want to and think it is a good thing. And for the lucky few (as in almost all endeavors), the connections they perhaps create at the university may benefit them the rest of their lives. They did for me. Although I did not get the university teaching position I had hoped for, I did get opportunities that I otherwise would not have had, and they directly affected my life work and income.

As for the alleged lying and deception by politicians, I think your position is a bit overstated. As in all walks of life, politicians often over-react. After 9/11, it is hard to see how politicians would NOT over-react to some issues and incidents. They are keenly aware that politics is a "blame game," and they do not want to be blamed for something they can do something about. It was clear to me from the outset that the Reagan budgets were top-heavy on defense, but the Cold War was still raging, with talk about the USSR as "the Evil Empire" (Reagan's term) and the need to push "democracy" movements as in Poland. Reagan's strategy did seem to work. The USSR came apart at the seams from a plethora of pressures (internal and external) and was gone by the early 1990s, one of the most profound political developments of our times. But its demise did not, of course, solve all problems and end all conflict. To some extent, the War on Terrorism is the replacement to fill the vacuum wrought by the end of the Cold War. And politicians are just as serious about it as they were about communism, whether justifiably in everyone's eyes or not.

As for politics


george lewis - 1/9/2003

So . . what's Freud say about people who are *obsessed* with weapons?

Really, I promise. I don't wanna grab your gun.


james winterer - 1/9/2003

Perhaps "poor and powerless" is a bit overdone. Yes, America has a very large middle class. What's most interesting is that in terms of culture, values and identity, almost every American from the very rich to the very poor, consider themselves "middle class." (The richer sort tend to prefer "upper middle-class" rather than "upper-class.") This desire to emulate the values of the middle (thrift, hard work, self-sufficiency) has been strong since at least Franklin's time, who might be seen as the prophet of the middle class. Mr. Schwartz seems to equate my suggestion that a working class exists with leftist thinking, but much in my previous post can be read as a pretty damning account of the new left that emerged in the sixties.
American society is remarkably unified in its core values (which can be defined as middle class). But it doesn't change the fact that it is also a society with vast differences in wealth and power, CEOs often making 400 times as much as their workers. If you are not comfortable dividing this spectrum of wealth into the conventional three categories (working, middle, and upper) than pick six or ten or twelve. It makes no difference to me. Is it now part of the conservative orthodoxy to pretend their are no differences in wealth and power? No one informed me it was no longer okay to refer to a working class unless you want to be tarred with the "left" label.


Don Williams - 1/9/2003

1) For example, a Nov 20 Chicago Tribune article quoted Jack Rakove of Stanford as follows: "It's clear now that his [Bellesiles] scholarship is less than acceptable," Rakove said. "There are cautionary lessons for historians here."

I found Mr Rakove's comments hysterically funny given that Michael Bellesiles made the following acknowledgment in the
2000 edition of Arming America:

"Jack Rakove kindly went through the second draft with a keen eye and improved every page he read" (Arming America, page 582).

I seem to recall that
Bellesiles wrote Arming America during a one year fellowship at
Stanford's Humanities Center in 1998-99 (See http://shc.stanford.edu/shc/1998-1999/98-99fellows.html#f1 )

As I recall, Bellesiles met the fellowship requirement that he become a member of the Stanford intellectual community by
giving the keynote address at a Symposium on the Second Amendment sponsored at Stanford by Jack Rakove -- see http://www.rkba.org/research/stanford-law-conference.txt .

I wonder how one of the most prominent members of the Historical Profession failed the recognize the errors in Arming America that were so obvious to non-historians??

Recall also that Jack Rakove was one of 11 historians hired by pro-gun control Joyce Foundation to develop the gun control interpretation of the Second Amendment at the Chicago Kent Symposium. Recall that the articles from that Symposium, published in the Chicago Kent Law Review, were cited by the Fifth Circuit Court as defining the gun control interpretation. Recall that Rakove and the other historians at that Symposium cited Bellesiles' work extensively in their arguments/ chains of reasoning. (See http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/RakoveChicago.htm , http://historynewsnetwork.org/articles/article.html?id=741 ,
http://www.potowmack.org/resource.html#chikent )

For some reason, Jon Weiner failed to note the above when he was quoting Jack Rakove in a recent Nation article.
---------

NOTE: In my HNN article (second to last citation) I pointed to the copy of the Chicago Kent articles maintained by the pro-gun Control Potowmack Institute. That link is now broken, for some reason.


Richard Dyke - 1/9/2003

Greenwood Press (and its successor, the Greenwood Publishing Group) appears to be very effective in marketing to institutions rather than the public. My first book (revision of my dissertation on California Congressman Chet Holifield, "Mr. Atomic Energy") was published by them, and I was very pleased with their attention to editorial detail. But, unfortunately, the book did not sell very well. I think they must make their money on sheer volume of academic books published and sold.


derekcatsam - 1/9/2003

Why is it that those who claim that the print media is dominated by the left always point to the New York Times and Washington Post and yet conveniently forget to include the newspaper witht he largest circulation in the US, the Wall Street Journal? Furthermore, I'm sitting here in DC where there is both the Post and the washington Times. Funny how conservatives love the free market and yet seem to be at a loss when in that free market more people choose to read the Washington Post than the Washington Times. Furthermore, in a country where the Electoral College is the rule, the fact that the Pine Grove Weekly supports a particular candidate might in fact be as important in that state as if the New York Times does.


Rick Schwartz - 1/9/2003

"the only folks who went to war in Vietnam were the poor, the powerless,"

"members of the working class (white, black, and other) were more likely to serve and to see combat"

My apologies in advance for running quotes from two posts together but it certainly points out the thinking of many on the left side of the spectrum. They consistently refuse to admit that there is a great "middle-class" of families who are neither poor nor rich. To them, you've somehow managed to either steal your way to a fortune (usually from the poor people) or else you're living on the edge of poverty, needing the hand of the government to provide your very survival.

Leaving aside for the moment the novel concept that those who have truckloads of money usually owe it to working 80 hours a week, the "working class" families in Northwest Indiana would certainly be amused/insulted to find themselves described as poor and powerless.


Michael Wreszin - 1/9/2003

It would appear from my friend and former colleague, Jerome Sternstein, that the the conservatives have won every battle in the real world, the political world, but have lost the campuses. He believes that ideological loyalties, particulary those of the left have invaded the academy and now rule. He does admit at one point that he doesn't know how extensive this situation is but certainly the contemporary evidence of conservative writers is that politicization has taken over, left politicization that is. Well as a scholar that admittedly identifies with the left, I only wish that were true- since in my 35 years of teaching at various institutions I always felt that ideological loyalties played a strong role in writing of history and on occaision in the hiring of faculty. As Sternstein admits in Ronald Radosh's case it was the conservatives that kept him off the faculty at the Graduate Center. I know that is true because I wrote letters in Radosh's behalf. But conservatives always see them selves as a beleaguered minority oppressed by the "academic terrorists." Even today at a time when there really are no liberal leftist forces to speak of and "conservatives", really right wingers are running the country.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/9/2003

The Michael Barnes you quote is the former Congressman from Maryland. When running in the Democratic primary for Senate, he and his opponent, Barbara Mikulski, were given a five-question quiz on current events by NPR -- they both failed to answer a single question correctly (as opposed to the Republican primary candidates, who were both five for five). Those cruel, right-wing NPR folks!!

Next time I saw him he was appearing as head of Handgun Control, testifying before Congress. As usual, he led off with the quote from Warren Burger, but of course he didn't mention where it was published -- in Parade Magazine, that Sunday insert with horoscopes and celebrity news. It apparently didn't trouble Barnes that Burger had never actually done any research on the Second Amendment -- Barnes, an airhead political hack to the end.


John G. Fought - 1/9/2003

I agree with all of your points. However, as I noted some time ago here, in the acknowledgements section of his dissertation,
Bellesiles thanked several professors for "converting him from
mathematics". Presumably, then, he considered majoring in it for a time. Of course, we must consider the source.
All that aside, you are quite right in underscoring the importance of a foundation in math, including statistics.


Andy Freeman - 1/9/2003

> Re-reading your posts, I am still unclear on whether you support affirmative action for conservative candidates, and whether or not you also support it on race and gender grounds.

That's intentional, as it's irrelevant whether or not I do. AA advocates won, so the only question along those lines is whether the benefits also go to people who opposed it. I've assumed that everyone agrees that opponents are just as entitled to the benefits of such decisions. Am I wrong?
Besides, it isn't the opponents who are making the "anti-diversity" decisions in this case. It is the advocates of AA who are doing so.

My point is that the better arguments for AA on race and gender grounds also apply to politics. Interestingly enough, the advocates for race and gender but oppose politics don't make arguments that distinguish these cases.

> In terms of serving our students, I think they would be better served, say, by having five liberal white males with expertise in Ancient World, Modern Europe, Early U.S., Modern U.S and Asia, than having five twentieth century U.S. historians one of whom is African-American, one who is gay, one who is a conservative, one who is Lutheran, one who is a woman.

Ah, the false choice. Surely there are AAs, gays, conservatives, Lutherans, and women with expertise outside 20th century US history.

And, it's not clear that Clarkson has made the right choice anyway. Does he really think that looking at everything from the same point of view is vastly better than looking at one thing from different points of view?

Me - I'd like to think that Clarkson would prefer looking at lots of things from lots of different points of view. I realize that small departments don't have the luxury of having two people in the same area (which would let them go for diversity of viewpoint), but I find it interesting that in choosing area of interest diversity, they rarely manage to achieve viewpoint diversity as well.

Or rather, they'll happily do so for AAs, gays, and women viewpoints, but "conservative thought" simply doesn't make the cut.


Steve H - 1/9/2003

"As for castration complexes, Freud hasn't aged all that well under the scrutiny of Crews, Cioffi, Grunbaum, Swales, and Sulloway, but he apparently survives in certain schools of rhetoric."

The gun grabber crowd can't even employ Freud successfully:

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and
emotional maturity." Sigmond Freud, General Introduction to
Psychoanalysis


Steve H - 1/9/2003

"Whatever your views on gun control, a clear-minded person can surely see their is no real threat to American gun owners. I suppose for those who use guns as a substitute penis, gun control talk brings on fears of castration. It seems to me the only way to explain why in a country with so many guns, that members of the gun rights crowd harbor such an irrational fear that they might lose their guns."

Gun grabbers have gotten and continue to get a lot of mileage from tomes of questionable veracity such as Bellesiles. (Don't patronize or belittle the gun rights people-- they are not the ones being pilloried by their own kind for coming out with a book that doesn't pass muster, even if it favors their cause.)

Look at Handgun Control / Brady Center website and you'll see that the most recent treatment of _Arming America_ (April 18, 2001) is still laudatory and documents the high hopes of the gun grabber crowd that this book will cause considerable havoc to the cause of gun rights:

http://www.handguncontrol.org/press/release.asp?Record=283

Pulled 1-9-2003 from the above address:

HCI/CPHV Congratulate Michael Bellesiles for Receiving The Bancroft Prize

Emory Professor Honored for His Groundbreaking Book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture

Washington, D.C. -- Tonight, Emory University History Professor Michael A. Bellesiles will be awarded a prestigious Bancroft Prize for his critically acclaimed book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. Handgun Control and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence congratulate Professor Bellesiles for this richly deserved honor.

Arming America has drawn national attention ever since its publication in September 2000. It refutes conventional ideas about historical gun ownership in this country by showing that, contrary to popular belief, guns were neither necessary nor widespread in 18th and early 19th century America. Bellesiles’ meticulous research into census, military and probate records and other historical documents debunks the mythology propagated by the gun lobby that guns were essential for survival in the early history of this nation. Arming America also documents the fact that gun regulation was commonplace during this time period.

“This award is well-earned,” said Michael Barnes, President of Handgun Control and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence. “Professor Bellesiles has produced a work of unquestionable historical and societal merit. The National Rifle Association and its allies rely on a mythology about guns and the Second Amendment because they have few legitimate, rational arguments. By exposing the truth about gun ownership in early America, Michael Bellesiles has removed one more weapon in the gun lobby’s arsenal of fallacies against common-sense gun laws.”

In February 2000, Professor Bellesiles was featured along with other prominent scholars of American History in a symposium on the history and true meaning of the Second Amendment, sponsored by the Legal Action Project of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence and the American Bar Association. To read a transcript of the proceedings and to learn more about the Second Amendment, visit the Legal Action Project’s website at http://www.gunlawsuits.org.

The Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy is one of the most distinguished awards in the field of history. It is presented annually by the Columbia University History Department and Libraries to the authors of books of exceptional merit and distinction in the fields of American history and biography.


Adrianne Truett - 1/9/2003

Sorry I didn't see your post as being tongue-in-cheek; I hear it seriously meant often enough!


Adrianne Truett - 1/9/2003

As for hushed meetings, Mr. Lewis, Michael Moore claimed that there were hushed meetings about and media conspiracies against his book & movie; Whatever the truth of the matter, it certainly can't be simply the product of pro-gun castration complexes in both cases!


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/9/2003

There may be no hushed meetings, etc., but I think it would be a little too facile to appeal to the publishers' nature as capitalists as decisive in publishing decisions. Major publishing firms refused to publish Gary Aldrich and Bernard Goldberg (and many others) and thereby passed up beaucoup bucks, leaving it to a distinctively politically conservative publisher to reap the benefits. Publishers regularly put out loss leaders and "prestige books", not to mention "political favor" books, knowing full well they will take a bath on them. Why would they not similarly serve ideology in that manner too. I remember well, some years back, the defunct Shakespeare & Co. kept David Brock's best-selling book on Anita Hill behind the counter rather than on display, though ostensibly they were in business to sell books. Perhaps they felt they were performing a public service thereby.

As for castration complexes, Freud hasn't aged all that well under the scrutiny of Crews, Cioffi, Grunbaum, Swales, and Sulloway, but he apparently survives in certain schools of rhetoric.


george lewis - 1/9/2003

"I'm not sure they did more than break even, considering that they printed only in the low tens of thousands of books, and the paperback, a 600 page book, was only priced at $16. I can't imagine they would have expected to really make much if any profit on a relatively small seller (no economies of scale with small print runs) with so many pages priced this low. Again, it seems to be that someone at Random House or Knopf really wanted this book out there, and they were willing to make a marginal profit or break even to disseminate it.

Then, with all the management communications up and down the subsidiary-owning company chain and all the urgent, hushed meetings of people with decision-making power, Arming America possibly became an economic liability. And, there was finally the matter of losing prestige, all to push gun control and make almost no money."


Oh come now. Random House and Knopf are run by capitalists, who want to turn a profit. It takes a truly conspiratorial mindset to imagine "hushed meetings" and a secret plan to use Bellesile's book to take away your gun.

Whatever your views on gun control, a clear-minded person can surely see their is no real threat to American gun owners. I suppose for those who use guns as a substitute penis, gun control talk brings on fears of castration. It seems to me the only way to explain why in a country with so many guns, that members of the gun rights crowd harbor such an irrational fear that they might lose their guns.


William R. Clay - 1/9/2003

Bravo! What a masterful work recapping a truly sad story. There are three points I would present. The first involves math and agreement with Mr. Cramer. I believe, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, that more historians take up this profession due to poor math abilities than any other reason. That being said, an operating base knowledge in math, and in particular statistics, should be requirement of every praticing historian.

As to being "too good to be true", I could not agree more. Whenever anything looks perfectly polished, with everything stacked exactly "the right way", I start to run in the opposite direction. It has proved a valuable tool of self-preservation.

Lastly, there does need to be more diversity in the typical (if there could be such a thing) university history department. However, I think this diversity should step even further from the labels of conservative vs. liberal thoughts. Diversity should also include disciplines. History departments should contain instructors with backgrounds that overlap and support. I strongly feel that it simply is not enough to be a history major to be employed. Departments should consider hiring instructors with other degree backgrounds, as long as their historic teaching/researching abilities are up to snuff.

Again, Bravo! to Mr. Cramer for exposing the closed dark halls of historical writing to a well deserved airing out.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/9/2003

I already the first book on early American gun ownership and hunting written; I am perhaps 70% done on the second book, about gun manufacturing and gunsmithing in early America. All that is required is a publisher.


james winterer - 1/9/2003

Sounds to me that you fall into the third category (those who went by choice). James Fallows wrote a self-confessional piece years ago about how he (then a Harvard student) avoided service--starving himself down to a weight at which he would fail the physical. He noted how very few of his Harvard classmate went to war in Vietnam, but how high the participation rate was for young men from South Boston. But if you go back to WWII, you see a very startling difference--Harvard students were over-represented significantly in terms of military service and combat duty.

In the Vietnam era, people of means had many more options and resources available to them and were more inclined to use them--college deferments, letters from family physicians that helped them get 4f status, etc. They could avoid service altogether or get advice that enabled them to find safer (but honorable) ways to serve--e.g. the National Guard.

That racial minorities were disproportionately represented among combat troops (and deaths) in Vietnam is false over the length of the war--although it was a trend in the early years of the war that was "corrected" in the later years.

By the late 60s, the government was concerned enough about race to pay attention to this issue. But they were less concerned with a more difficult distinction to count--class. But there are mountains of less quantifiable evidence that suggest members of the working class (white, black, and other) were more likely to serve and to see combat than those from the more privileged classes.


Josh Greenland - 1/9/2003

"I suspect they actually earned more money (however preciously little) on a book of notoriety than on a mundane one, however, so perhaps the lesson will be otherwise."

I'm not sure they did more than break even, considering that they printed only in the low tens of thousands of books, and the paperback, a 600 page book, was only priced at $16. I can't imagine they would have expected to really make much if any profit on a relatively small seller (no economies of scale with small print runs) with so many pages priced this low. Again, it seems to be that someone at Random House or Knopf really wanted this book out there, and they were willing to make a marginal profit or break even to disseminate it.

Then, with all the management communications up and down the subsidiary-owning company chain and all the urgent, hushed meetings of people with decision-making power, Arming America possibly became an economic liability. And, there was finally the matter of losing prestige, all to push gun control and make almost no money.


Josh Greenland - 1/9/2003

"My review of Posner's book is available on the net. Despite your silly accusation that that I am "blandly refusing to provide actual evidence on either side himself," it and a subsequent exchange of letters in the _Journal of American History_ cites the evidence for my judgment of Posner's book and that his critics were, quite simply, liars. Is that bland enough for you?"

Yep, it's enough. You're a lone nut thesis partisan.

I haven't read Posner's _Case Closed_ or your review, but I've seen other adulatory treatments of it in the commercial news media, and have seem criticisms of it from other JFK assassination researchers. In particular I recall a number of such criticisms pulled together by author Michael Parenti. He had a number of authors, each with his or her or special area of study in the JFK assassination, say that s/he had caught Posner fudging and/or lying about JFK evidence. JFK researchers are generally a thorny bunch who don't necessarily like each other much, so I found the criticism from this group pointing in one direction to be VERY interesting.

If Posner made the same case for shots and wounds that the Warren Commission did, then _Case Closed_ is complete bunk. Like with Bellesiles' book, this is one times that it REALLY helps to know something about guns to spot assertions that are false on their face. There is just no way that "magic bullet" could have gone through Kennedy AND Connolly the way the Warren Report and its supporters claim it did, hitting AND BREAKING bone multiple (maybe 5) times, coming out of all this having lost VIRTUALLY NO MATERIAL from factory condition, other than what came out of the rifling marks! If Posner is asserting the "magic bullet theory," then I don't know need anything more about his book to be certain of what to think of it.

And then there is the blasted out back of JFK's skull. You're telling me THAT is an ENTRY wound??? Gimme a break. And what did Jackie jump out onto the back deck of the limo to grab (in the Zapruder film)? It sure looked like she was going for a piece of her husband's head, but that would be an odd direction for the pieces to fly if the bullet came from behind.

Ralph, you were also a believer in Bellesiles for a while, weren't you?

I'm not a liberal arts guy or an ivory tower type. My father is a mechanical engineer and I'm a computer technician. I'm not so isolated from physical reality that I can't recognize the workings of simple Newtonian physics.

If Posner's _Case Closed_ doesn't vary in any important way from the Warren Commission conclusions, then I'd say you just got took AGAIN.


Steve H - 1/9/2003

"An annotated edition of Arming America with full explanatory text of every error must remain in print and become the foundation of a discussion of how Academia misuses the trust placed in it by the public."

Or, Knopf should be pressured to take the profits derived from the sales of Bellesiles' book, along with matching funds from the non-profits which also were attracted enough to fund Bellesiles work, and fund an honest study of gun ownership rates in pre-Civil War America. The fund should be granted to any of several researchers who did the initial spade work involved in exposing the fraud in Bellesiles' works.

I could add that first dibs could go to Mr. Cramer, if he were so inclined to perform the research and suitable terms could be worked out, providing he can get a leave of absence from his current employer. I couldn't care less if he doesn't have a suitable degree since he has bested the best in this particular area of scholarly endeavor and deserves all due recognition for that.

This would be fair, in my opinion. Bellesiles' book is sitting on library and home bookshelves across the nation, luring many unsuspecting readers into a politically motivated trap. This is not right.






Steve H - 1/9/2003

"I have not read Posner's book on the murder of Doctor King, but I have read his book on the murder of President Kennedy. I think its the best book out there. I am old enough to remember that murder and still have somewhere my copy of the Warren Commission report. I have defied many people who support one or another conspiracy theories (which, of course, contradict one another). Few have been willing to read the book even though it is in the local libraries. The ones who have read it feel it is accurate and have dropped there favorite theory."

Very well, this won't go away (sigh). Please see
EAN #1 (_Case Closed_, or Posner Exposed?) at

http://www.assassinationweb.com/issue1.htm

Both Posner and initially Bellesiles had extensive and fiercely loyal defenders in academia, the mass media, and publishers. Both published controversial historical theories. Both tended to become quickly discredited in the perception of the public at large. There seems to be a recurring pattern. From the black box perspective, could there be a common thread between these authors which would help explain the similarities?

[Note to defenders of Posner's other works. With the extent of problems put forward by the 30 or more articles and at least one book exclusively devoted to _Case Closed_ below... why bother?]


Summary

Our first issue takes a look at Gerald Posner and his 1993 book Case Closed. Mr. Posner and his book were embraced by the media and received enormous positive coverage and very little criticism in the mainstream press. Case Closed was a slick, lawyerly presentation of the lone assassin theory in the death of JFK. This is perhaps one of the worst JFK assassination books ever produced. It overflows with mistakes, distortions, selective presentation of evidence and surprising misrepresentations.

An entire book titled Case Open was written by the prolific assassination author Harold Weisberg which challenged many of the outrageous assertions of Case Closed. Several people Mr. Posner claimed to have interviewed say they never spoke to him. Evidence pointing to conspiracy was ignored or attacked with dubious arguments. Even arguments discredited by the Warren Commission were resurrected and presented as proof of Oswald's guilt. Read these articles and read Posner's book and judge for yourself if it is honest opinion or political propaganda.

Posner Lies To Congress: The Proof! J. Thornton Boswell Exposes Gerald Posner's Lies and Errors in a Phone Conversation with Dr. Gary Aguilar Gary Aguilarhave added sound files concerning the issue of Gerald Posner's testimony to congress regarding the views of the JFK autopsy doctor J. Thornton Boswell. See how Posner Deceives Congress by listening to sound samples of a surprising conversation Boswell had with researcher Dr. Gary Aguilar concerning Gerald Posner.

The list of articles in this issue will grow over time as we get the okay from the authors. Although most of these articles have been published previously, we are interested in any new writings that may be of interest on this topic. If you have written anything related to Mr. Posner, either pro or con, please send it to us and we will consider it for inclusion in our collection. We are interested in any feedback you may have on this issue, so, please e-mail us.




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Table of Contents
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POSNER 1999
by David Starks

It's been about six years since Gerald Posner's lone nut JFK assassination bible, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK was first published. Here's an update on what everybody's favorite single assassination theorist the "Poz" has been up to since Case Closed was released in 1993.

TRAGEDY IN REPORTING: POSNER, GERLICH AND THE JFK ASSASSINATION
by Scott Pearson

Scott Pearson gives us his observations concerning a recent issue of Skeptic magazine. Two articles served as cover stories for this issue of Skeptic Magazine, one, by Arther and Margaret Snyder arguing probable conspiracy and one by Nick Gerlich, advocating the lone-nut solution. It seems Mr. Gerlich has unfortunately fallen under the influence of Gerald Posner. Scott provides an interesting evaluation the accuracy of some of the statements in the Gerlich article.

DR. LATTIMER AND THE GREAT THORBURN HOAX
by Wallace Milam

Wallace, once and for all, dismisses the absurd concept, advanced by lone assassin theorist Dr. John Lattimer, concerning the position of JFK's arms at a point in time allegedly just following the passing of the magic bullet through JFK's neck. This argument, (embraced by Case Closed author, Gerald Posner) which supposedly adds credence the lone assassin scenario, is shown to be completely false.

THE ART OF MISREPRESENTING EVIDENCE
by Stewart Galanor

Stewart Galanor takes Gerald Posner to task for his blatant twisting of the evidence concerning smoke that was seen on the grassy knoll area by several witnesses at the time of the assassination of JFK. Stewart is the author of an outanding new book called Cover-up exposing the lone assassin cover story presented by our own government and the major news media. This book can be ordered from this site for a discounted price of $20.00. Visit our Electronic Assassinations Bookstore for ordering information.

GERALD POSNER'S ALLEGED SECRET SERVICE "INTERVIEWS"
Vincent Palamara

Assassination researcher Vince Palamara gives us still another example of the quality and reliability of author Gerald Posner's research methods and sources as exemplified in his anti-conspiracy minded JFK Assassination book, Case Closed. Vince, who has done extensive work on the Secret Service and other topics, shows us a typical tactic employed by Posner in his futile attempt to "close" the case.
CASE CLOSED?
by Russ Paielli

We are adding this article to our list to give our visitors a more basic introduction which provides a brief overview of the case and how Gerald Posner has distorted some of the issues that are central to understanding the assassination. While other articles on this Web site may go into more detail on specific examples, we feel Russ adds a valuable simple and direct take on Posner and his book, Case Closed.
POSNER AND WITNESS TESTIMONY: A FEW EXAMPLES
by Barb Junkkarinen

This is a new addition from Barb Junkkarinen, one of the JFK internet news groups' most prolific contributors. Barb gives us a taste of Gerald Posner's talent for misrepresentation of witness testimony, by showing how Posner butchered the words of Marina Oswald and Wesley Frazier. She also tells us the real story behind the unusual death of Mary Sherman. Posner,in his haste to ridicule the possibility of Mary Sherman's death being suspicious, gets practically the whole thing wrong.
The Posner Follies Part One - CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN THE OBSERVATIONS OF CERTAIN PARKLAND DOCTORS AS REPORTED IN THE OFFICIAL RECORD AND AS REPORTED BY GERALD POSNER IN "CASE CLOSED"
by Wallace Milam
This is the beginning of a new series of articles on the inaccuracies of Gerald Posner in his now infamous book Case Closed. This is part one of six articles that we have received permission to post from assassination researcher Wallace Milam. The first of the series explores key Parkland hospital doctor's statements as they were in 1963-64 as opposed to what they supposedly told Gerald Posner in interviews for Case Closed. The difference is shocking!
The Posner Follies Part Two - LEE HARVEY OSWALD AND GUY BANISTER: THE REAL STORY
by Wallace Milam
Here is part two in our new series of articles from Wallace concerning the "journalistic integrity" of Gerald Posner. In this article we see how Posner tries to fool his readers into thinking there was no relationship between Lee Harvey Oswald and the ultra right-wing, intelligence-connected Guy Bannister. This article exposes Posner's weak attempt to detach Oswald from being connected with one of many US intelligence assets. Why was Lee Harvey Oswald associated with so many of these kinds of characters when Oswald was supposed to be a Marxist, leftist political animal? Why can't we find Oswald associating with any persons of his own, alleged political beliefs? Does this suggest that Lee Harvey Oswald was some type of spy, or at least a pawn, used in some way by elements of US intelligence?
The Posner Follies Part Three - WHAT GERALD POSNER DECIDED TO TELL READERS--AND KEEP FROM THEM--IN THE TESTIMONY OF RICHARD WORRELL, AMOS EUINS, AND HOWARD BRENNAN
by Wallace Milam
Posner really bungles the presentation of the Dealey plaza witnesses. But it's more than bungling. The endless mistakes he makes, all in support of his shaky lone assassin story, undermine the credibility of all the rest of his information presented in his book, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK . Wallace deals with some dirty tricks Posner employed to spin the Oswald-did-it-by-himself fantasy. .
The Posner Follies Part Four - THE ROSE CHERAMIE INCIDENT
by Wallace Milam
Posner wants to debunk all of thes mysterious deaths that are rumored to have occurred over the years since JFK was murdered. Posner wants to discredit the story of Rose Cheramie, who really did predict the assassination of JFK. Posner misrepresents the question of whether she really did predict the murder. Wallace shows how Posner is dead wrong about Cheramie's warning that the President would be killed.
The Posner Follies Part Five - FAST AND LOOSE WITH THE WITNESSES
by Wallace Milam
Posner sure can twist the testimony to suit his need to prove the lone assassin theory's plausibility. Wallace gives us some examples of Posner's talent in distorting the facts to fit his unlikely theories. Reading the actual testimony and comparing it with what Gerald Posner says about can be shocking.
THE POSNER REPORT: A Study In Propaganda: One Hundred Errors in Gerald Posner's Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK
by David Starks
This is a summary of the documented errors in Case Closed as detailed in the following articles or found by our own research. This by no means a complete list, and we may be adding more articles dealing with other items that are incorrect in Mr. Posner's book.
One Dozen "Posnerisms"
by David Starks
This is a shorter version of the preceding article, with twelve of the most outrageous examples of errors in Case Closed and a listing of some of the techniques that Posner uses to mislead his readers.
New Information on the Autopsy Findings, The Autopsy Photographic Record and Statements of Gerald Posner on JFK's Pathologists
by Gary L. Aguilar, M.D.
Dr. Aguilar is a San Francisco area M.D. who specializes in the medical evidence and particularly the JFK autopsy materials. This piece is a paper presented at the 1994 Coalition On Political Assassinations conference. Gary examines Mr. Posner's misrepresentations concerning the autopsy doctors' descriptions of JFK's head wounds.
An Open Letter to Gerald Posner
by Gary L. Aguilar, M.D.
Dr. Aguilar challenges Gerald Posner's assertions that two of the JFK autopsy doctors recently told Posner that they've suddenly changed their opinion on the location of JFK's fatal head wound (by four inches). Mr. Posner claims to have audio tapes of his interviews with the doctors but refuses to produce them.
Letter to House Subcommittee on Legislation
by Gary L. Aguilar, M.D.
After Gerald Posner's testimony to the House of Representatives on November 17, 1993, researchers were shocked to discover the claim, by Posner, that the autopsy doctors had supposedly changed their longstanding descriptions of the location of the wound on the head of the President from low to high on the head to fit the lone assassin theory. As proof of this, Posner has recently released phone records which seem to indicate that calls were made to Boswell and Humes, the autopsy doctors. Even if we assume that Posner has indeed spoken to both men, this still leaves unproven his claim that they have changed their opinion on the wound locations. This article is reprinted from the Congressional Record.
Questioning of Dr. Robertson at hearing of Legislation and National Security Subcommitee, November 17, 1993
As Dr. Robertson was being questioned by Chairman John Conyers, Jr., Posner jumped into the questioning to say that the statement "should not be allowed." Posner then makes his incredible claim to have done new interviews with the autopsy doctors, in which they supposedly admit that their sworn report on the President's head wounds was grossly in error. Both men deny ever saying this to Posner, and he has refused for more than three years to allow anyone to hear the tapes he claims to have made of the interviews. Note that Posner tells the committee he would be happy to donate the tapes to the National Archives. Note also that he becomes flustered and is caught in a lie; he claims that he is hearing of Dr. Robertson's work for the first time but a few sentences later he knows about Robertson's submission of it to the journal Radiology. This article is reprinted from the Congressional Record.
Letter by Randolph H. Robertson, M.D. to Chairman John Conyers, Jr.
by Randolph H. Robertson, M.D
Dr. Robertson followed his testimony with this December 27, 1993 letter to Congressman Conyers. In it he cites additional eyewitness testimony to bolster his theory and calls on Gerald Posner to donate his interview tapes to the National Archives, as he told Congress he would, in order to resolve the crucial conflict in the record as to the autopsy doctors' recollection of the President's head wounds. Posner has still not come forward with these tapes to prove his contentions about his interviews with the doctors. This article is reprinted from the Congressional Record.
Prepared Statement to the House of Representatives, November 17, 1993
by Randolph H. Robertson, M.D.
Dr. Robertson presented a study of the medical evidence which concludes that JFK was killed by 2 shots to the head, one from the rear and one from the front. It brilliantly reconciles the X ray evidence of a "high" shot with the autopsy doctors' unwavering testimony that they saw and measured a "low" wound on the President's head, near the hairline in the right rear of the skull. Posner made his controversial claim to have conducted new interviews with two of the autopsy doctors in an attempt to rebut this statement as Dr. Robertson presented it to the Legislation and National Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations. Dr. Robertson also gave testimony on his statement to the Committee on the same day. This article is reprinted from the Congressional Record.
Statement to the House of Representatives by Gerald Posner, November 17, 1993
by Gerald Posner
There is an interesting contrast in the warm reception that Conyers extends to Gerald Posner and the challenging tone he uses with Dr. Robertson. This article is reprinted from the Congressional Record.
A review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK
by Peter Dale Scott, Ph.D.
Dr. Scott examines Posner's treatment of Jack Ruby's organized crime links and Oswald's whereabouts at the time of the shooting, among other issues. He is the author of Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (University of California Press, 1993) and Deep Politics II: Essays on Oswald, Mexico & Cuba.
Gerald Posner Closes the Case
by James R. Folliard
Is Case Closed the definitive history of the Kennedy assassination or just another contribution to the mountain of bad writing on that event? Folliard carefully examines Posner's methodology in three critical areas; the testimony concerning the bag in which Oswald allegedly transported the gun, the location of the wound in JFK's back, and the "psychological" profile of Lee Harvey Oswald. He concludes that Case Closed is a "fatally flawed, intellectually dishonest effort," unworthy of the praise that was heaped on it by the major media. This article was originally published in the November, 1993 issue of The Fourth Decade. (See below under the Dr. Rose article description for subscription information.)
Letter to the Editor of Federal Bar News and Journal
by Gary L. Aguilar, M.D.
In response to George Costello's review of Case Closed in the March-April 1994 Federal Bar News and Journal Dr. Aguilar wrote this letter, which contains new information on key witness James Tague, whose face was cut by a bullet or fragment which struck a nearby curb. Tague claims that Posner misrepresented his opinion on which shot struck him, and does not recall talking to Mr. Posner at all.
Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner: A Preliminary Critique - Part 1
by Martin Shackelford
The Investigator devoted the entire August-September 1993 issue to Shackeleford's cover-to-cover notes. Through exhaustive footnotes, he demonstrates how Posner simply ignores any and all evidence in the record which contradicts his "findings." We present the entire special issue in four parts.

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner: A Preliminary Critique - Part 2
by Martin Shackelford

Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner: A Preliminary Critique - Part 3
by Martin Shackelford
Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner: A Preliminary Critique - Part 4
by Martin Shackelford
What a (small) Difference a Year Makes: The "corrected" paperback edition of Case Closed
A followup by Martin Shackelford
One year after the publication of Case Closed, Random House issued the "revised and updated" paperback version. Those who expected Posner to address or correct the many documented errors in his original were in for a disappointment. This article originally appeared int the August-September 1994 issue of The Investigator
WIND and GUNSMOKE (A Deception in Gerald Posner's "Case Closed")
by Michael M. Dworetsky
The smell of gunsmoke on Elm Street immediately after the shots was an important confirmation that at least some of the shooting came from the western end of Dealey Plaza. Michael Dworetsky of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, University College, London, details Posner's extremely dubious use of testimony to try to make it appear that the smoke could have come from the Texas School Book Depository. In fact, the evidence is conclusive that the wind direction, from the west/southwest, rules out the TSBD as the source of the smoke.
The Deadly Smirk and Other Inventions
by Jerry D. Rose, Ph.D.
Dr. Jerry Rose has a Ph.D. in sociology and produces The Fourth Decade research journal on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This article and others we will be posting were originally published in The Fourth Decade. You can subscribe to this scholarly publication for $25 per year, $45 for two years or $65 for three years. Send to The Fourth Decade, State University College, Fredonia, New York 14063. Also you can obtain the Proceedings of the Research Conference of the Fourth Decade in book form, (342 pages), for $20. This article was originally published in the November, 1993 issue.
Affidavit of Roger McCarthy, CEO of Failure Analysis Associates
by Roger McCarthy
Gerald Posner leaves readers of Case Closed with the false impression (without actually stating) it that Failure Analysis Associates did 3D computer graphic studies of the assassination for his book. He did nothing to correct this in either his U.S. News and World Report article or in his promotional activities at the time his book was released. He also does not mention that there were studies done for the defense in the American Bar Association's mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald in 1992 or that there was a split verdict of 7 jurors to convict and 5 to acquit. Here is Roger McCarthy's sworn statement to clarify this issue.
The Wandering Wounds
by Millicent Cranor
On the crucial issue of the Parkland doctors' descriptions of JFK's head wounds, Posner misrepresents the medical evidence. Originally published in The Fourth Decade, March 1994. (See the Dr. Rose article description for subscription information.) This article was revised November of 1996.
Case Closed Opens Old Wounds
by William E. Kelly
Posner did get a few things right. Kelly discusses the new leads in Case Closed. This article was originally published in the March, 1994 issue of The Fourth Decade. (See the Dr. Rose article description for subscription information.)
Posner in New Orleans... Gerry in Wonderland
by James DiEugenio
An early article critical of Case Closed, by the author of Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba & the Garrison Case. Jim is also the Chairman of Citizens for Truth about the Kennedy Assassination. Mr. DiEugenio explores Posner's analysis of the New Orleans aspects of the assassination of JFK. Originally published in the assassination magazine Dateline Dallas.
You Can't Close A Case If You Can't Count
by Walt Brown
Brown, the author of The People v. Lee Harvey Oswald, demonstrates just how little time the Warren Commissioners actually put into their task. This article was originally published in the July, 1994 issue of The Fourth Decade. (See the Dr. Rose article description for subscription information.)



Steve H - 1/9/2003

"...As you know, I don't speak or presume to speak for all professional historians. If you bothered to read the post which offended poor anonymous "Steve H," all I did was to ask for evidence. Clayton Cramer offered evidence. Jim Lindgren offered evidence. I read their evidence and was persuaded. I am not persuaded by ad hominem remarks, whether Jon Wiener's about Lindgren, yours about me, or "Steve H"'s about Posner. My review of Posner's book is available on the net. Despite your silly accusation that that I am "blandly refusing to provide actual evidence on either side himself," it and a subsequent exchange of letters in the _Journal of American History_ cites the evidence for my judgment of Posner's book and that his critics were, quite simply, liars. Is that bland enough for you?"

First, regarding anonymity: my son is still attending public school in the same school district in which he was first exposed to the questionable academic material I ran across in _American Journey_. I don't want to cause him any unnecessary discomfort at the hands of local academics, claims of lack of political bias notwithstanding. This is not the first time my son has encountered politically related problems with teachers in public school. Our past and immediate personal experience has been that some public school teachers have no reservations about being vindictive when it comes to grades and reminding our son's class peers just whose parents it was who dared question the teacher's curriculum, texts, and classroom instruction fairness.

As to your review of a Posner book, I am not sure exactly which review and which book you are referring to. When I wrote of Posner I must confess I had _Case Closed_ in mind more than anything else. Posner's critics may have their flawed perspectives, but they do seem to register if not prevail in at least some areas in the public perception, and that should count for something. Posner is commonly regarded as not having any significant effect on public skepticism (80-90 percent, not ordinarily challenged even by Posner's defenders) for the theory he espouses in _Case Closed_, even several years after its publication. I thought that that at least could be counted upon as being relatively non-controversial and a matter of public record. (I note that Posner's critics of the unnamed book mentioned in this forum seem to be vociferous enough to merit the accusation of being branded as "liars" -- interestingly, without any direct supporting references or citations). Can I say that without wading into the gory details? If not, then I will retract Posner as an example simply because it's late and I don't want to spend the energy to go down that particular rat hole at this time. Posner's critics are in my opinion extremely well armed (pardon the pun again) with supporting arguments and numerous enough that any web search will turn up several dozen names, each with his or her own brief stuffed with factual contradictions in the public record with which to dispute Posner's work. In fact there is so much that I do believe that it would be an extraordinarily industrious and ambitious individual who would set off to try to come up with an comprehensive and complete refutation of all of Posner's work.
One hardly knows even where to begin...

But I do find it somewhat amusing that the mere mention of Posner immediately brings out, shall we say, some of the more colorful and emphatic here from that subset among the historian community at large which has tuned in to this particular forum. In a roundabout way, that appears to confirm in a very graphic manner my original point, that battle lines seem to be being drawn along ideological (not random) boundaries... and that that should be a cause for considerable concern and justifies careful use of the highest possible standards of peer review in the historian community, that's all... Again thanks for the responses...


Van L. Hayhow - 1/9/2003

I have not read Posner's book on the murder of Doctor King, but I have read his book on the murder of President Kennedy. I think its the best book out there. I am old enough to remember that murder and still have somewhere my copy of the Warren Commission report. I have defied many people who support one or another conspiracy theories (which, of course, contradict one another). Few have been willing to read the book even though it is in the local libraries. The ones who have read it feel it is accurate and have dropped there favorite theory.


John Jenkins - 1/9/2003

It's ok with me when liberals think conservatives are stupid. It makes winning all the more fun. Think about it. If they win, they think they were supposed to win so they don't enjoy it. If they lose, they can't believe they lost to someone stupid so they lose their minds over it (see Dowd, Maureen).


John Jenkins - 1/9/2003

"What is an obstacle, however, is the perception that there is no place for a conservative academic, and this is likely to be a problem at the undergraduate level, when the decision comes up: do I want to go to grad school, and starve for many years, or get a decent paying job?"

I agree. In fact, that's pretty much how I decided to go to law school instead of graduate school in political science.


Lynda Leitner - 1/9/2003

Ah, come on Adrianne. Where's your sense of humour?

PS. Don't assume.


John Jenkins - 1/9/2003

Thank you, Mr. Diamond.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/9/2003

"Since the majority of professors are liberal, there are not enough conservative mentors available to graduate students who might wish to study with one."

I don't think this is necessarily a hopeless obstacle. My professors were, of course, all liberal to socialist, if there was any identifiable political ideology. (To their credit, most of my professors managed to teach history without bringing their political beliefs or desires into the classroom; those with whom I took several classes I generally grew close enough to learn their politics.) This was not an obstacle; they respected scholarship enough to encourage me.

What is an obstacle, however, is the perception that there is no place for a conservative academic, and this is likely to be a problem at the undergraduate level, when the decision comes up: do I want to go to grad school, and starve for many years, or get a decent paying job?

This is the precise reason that the absence of black professors was for so long a concern, not just because of the need for there to be black professors to give diversity to the intellectual process, but because role models with whom a black undergrad could identify were important. ESPECIALLY if you feel that you are likely to be an outsider, the role model matters.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/9/2003

John, As you know, I don't speak or presume to speak for all professional historians. If you bothered to read the post which offended poor anonymous "Steve H," all I did was to ask for evidence. Clayton Cramer offered evidence. Jim Lindgren offered evidence. I read their evidence and was persuaded. I am not persuaded by ad hominem remarks, whether Jon Wiener's about Lindgren, yours about me, or "Steve H"'s about Posner. My review of Posner's book is available on the net. Despite your silly accusation that that I am "blandly refusing to provide actual evidence on either side himself," it and a subsequent exchange of letters in the _Journal of American History_ cites the evidence for my judgment of Posner's book and that his critics were, quite simply, liars. Is that bland enough for you?


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/9/2003

"Are there some arrogant and obnoxious academics who believe this and behave accordingly? Yes."

I tend to think of it as a behavior characteristic of grad students who aren't very secure--the sorts who think masses of jargon are a replacement for clear writing and good organization. It seems also to be popular with professors who are still insecure about their abilities.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/9/2003

I guess it says something good about Greenwood Publishing Group. I sometimes whine in private about their inability to sell books to the general public, but I find that almost every university library I enter has at least one of my books they published on the shelf; the better ones have all of my books on the shelf.


Robert Schwartz - 1/9/2003

The ur-text that explains academic lefitism as a residue of the intellectual and social processes of the academy is Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy by Joseph A. Schumpeter . Nozic does not seem to mention Schumpeter. I could trace a connection between intellectuals and a certain type of politics that goes back to Plato. However, there is at least a vigorus school of conservative Platonism that has been represented by figures such as Leo Strauss, Harvey Mansfield and George Will. The linkage between philosophy and left wing polotics must there for be sought amongst the accidents of history.

I trace academic leftisim to the French Enlightenment and Revolution. With the collapse of revolutionary movements at the end of the 20th century, the linkage may be broken and will disolve over the next couple of generations.


Adrianne - 1/9/2003

And people wonder why conservative students get discouraged from entering academia, when their classmates, people such as Lynda, and many members of the intellectual elites constantly tell them that only idiots could possibly be conservative? (Facts here are, of course, irrelevant. You can be top of your class and conservative and she'll still say you're an idiot; and of course, although as discussed elsewhere on this page all the main 2000 candidates got roughly the same grades, the "Gentleman's C" is awarded to conservatives who deserved to fail, while, one must then assume, the others deserved much better than the Cs they got.)


John Jenkins - 1/9/2003

I don't know if it's happened to her, but it's happened to me. Just to give a broad view of the department within which I am a student we have a range of views from liberal democrat to marxist. There is not one professor who even hints at anything slightly to the right of center. If you're an undergraduate who is a conservative and you see all of these professors and not one conservative, why would you want to join the profession? First, you probably won't get hired. Second, if you do get hired, you probably won't receive tenure. Third, even assuming you manage to get hired and achieve tenure, you're going to be a pariah among your peers.

It's not a great leap of faith for a conservative to become jaded about the academic profession because of this. At least it wasn't for me, even though some of my professors did encourage me to do it, one of them explicitly because he said there weren't enough conservative scholars in the field. That leads to another point. The dearth of conservative professors is self-perpetuating. The graduate student-professor relationship is very important, especially for the student. Who you study with has great effect upon your potential employment prospects. Since the majority of professors are liberal, there are not enough conservative mentors available to graduate students who might wish to study with one. Whether or not this is repairable, I don't know. I do know that it is a problem and I think that anyone who believes in the marketplace of ideas has to agree with that.


Lynda Leitner - 1/9/2003

Ah, gentlemen, gentlemen. Does it occur to any of you that there may be some reason (other than economic) that there may be fewer conservative historians? You know, the kind who prefer history made by the men with the Gentleman's C.
Examine your Cicero: 'Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child--If no use if made of the labours of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge'. Most historians prefer to learn and grow into the future armed with knowledge. Ergo, fewer conservative historians.


John G. Fought - 1/9/2003

Mr. H., you need not accept Mr. Luker as a spokesman for American history or for the academic profession at large. If you consider the traffic on this site, it will be clear that very, very few academics have taken an active interest in these cases and the issues they raise. The overwhelming majority of historians are not posting here, and nobody can tell what they would write. Those who do have not all made a good impression. Luker's special and self-assigned task here has been to demand utterly complete and irrefutable proof, as if on behalf of the profession, of any claim made against a published historian, while blandly refusing to provide actual evidence on either side himself. In the absence of stronger representation from the discipline here, this leaves an unfortunate impression of special pleading which may or may not be justified as a sample.


John Jenkins - 1/9/2003

I don't know what you read, but that's not what I meant (or said). Maybe you should read it again. Note the phrase "merit-based hiring". The problem in the academy, with respect to hiring is that they consider a leftward-lean to be a merit and a rightward lean to be a demerit." As I thought I had said quite clearly, I think that political views should be excluded. The question should not be, "do I agree with his scholarship?' as it seems to be now.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/9/2003

Here's the money quote from US v. Miller that collectivists go to great lengths to ignore:

"The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. 'A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.' And further, that ordinarily, when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time."

Following Story's bedrock principle that common law terms take on their customary meaning, the Court has laid down the law concerning the meaning of 'militia'. How, from this, can one derive a state's right to have and arm their own militia? Just incredible.

Moreover, once you read Wills' bit on Miller, you understand that ignorance of law is not necessarily a barrier to Wills (or other collectivists) commenting on Miller. The case is US v. Miller -- the US government is the appellant. Why? Because Miller had entered a demurrer at the district level, and the district court had sustained the demurrer and quashed the indictment before trial. Thus, there was no evidentiary record. When the Court wrote "In the absence of any evidence..." they were not asserting there could be no such evidence, but that there was no evidentiary record upon which to decide whether the shotgun was a militia weapon or not. Thus the SC Court refuses, in the absence of an evidentiary record, to substitute its own uninformed opinion on the matter via judicial notice. The Miller decision then remands the case back to the district court to decide the issue, and in so doing provide the sort of evidentiary record needed should the Supreme Court again be asked to review the case. This implies that the scope of the Second applies to the type of weapon. Rather than deciding (as Wills would have it) "that a sawed-off shotgun is not a militia weapon", the Court is instructing the district court to decide the issue. This ain't rocket science, but it isn't always something that can be appreciated by a casual reading either. If you go into the interpretive enterprise unarmed, convinced that legal knowledge is irrelevant, and/or with your mind made up, it is no surprise that you come out with the wrong conclusion.



Dave Livingston - 1/9/2003

This is to offer an exception to Ronald Karr's equating conservatism with worship of the dollar. There is a differnt sort of conservatism. Some of us instead are social conservatives seeking to preserve our social heritage.

In 1965 offered an assistantship upon being graduated from the the Univ. of Kansas I turned it down to accept instead a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army, which promised overseas adventure, Viet-Nam just then heating up. The Ivory Tower was very attractive, but the lure of exotic Indochina was more so. Money was not a determining factor in my carrer choice, a Second Lieutenant even more poorly paid than virtually all academics. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten the most sensible definition of adventure I've seen, "Adventure is someone else far away having a very tough go of things."


Peter Jackson - 1/9/2003

"The presumption among academics is that a book education is the only sort of education of value, no?"

This is a terrible stereotype. Are there some arrogant and obnoxious academics who believe this and behave accordingly? Yes. Is it a fair characterization of academics as a whole? No. It is a caricature promoted by movies and TV. I have learned much from books. I have also learned much from working on a farm, from walks in the woods, and time spent in conversation with coal miners and steel workers. One of the wisest men I know is my father, who never had the opportunity to go to college.


Richard Dyke - 1/9/2003

Mr. H. needs to cast his net on the possibilities about the roles of historians a little wider. Sometimes they are keepers of the national myths, sometimes singers about great victories, heros or villains, and at other times they are "unwitting revisionist enablers," social critics, cranks, defenders of the status quo, pure theorists, and all sorts of other things, depending on who you are reading. (History is a massive field.) A major characteristic of history is that it contains both the artful and the scientific, so that praise and defense of it is often a mixed bag--which helps to explain why some undeserved reputations are made and others are undone. It appears that Bellesiles went through both processes, both the building and then the undoing. Others have been luckier. If the powers that be say it's a Picasso, the decision usually stands, unless the result is undone, as with Bellesiles, due to "technical difficulties" beyond political control. Fact checking had probably better become a more important feature of the book-making process. Correct me if I am inaccurate, but many history books in the past were read and evaluated by a few readers/experts in the field and then rejected or amended prior to going to press (academic press). Of course, in Bellesiles' case, the press was commercial, but perhaps maybe those presses need to learn a lesson, too. I suspect they actually earned more money (however preciously little) on a book of notoriety than on a mundane one, however, so perhaps the lesson will be otherwise.


Dave Livingston - 1/9/2003

Have I found a kindred spirit in Worth Colliton? The presumption among academics is that a book education is the only sort of education of value, no? Is this truly so? The reason I ask: U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, Liberia, 1962-4, Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 1st Infantry Division, Viet-Nam, 1966-7; Captain, U.S. Army, 101st Airborne, Viet-Nam, 1969-70.

an Reference to the unwashed is fair. In exotic Indochina when infantry unit returned to base camp from an extended operation chasing wiley Little Brown Brother ordinarily the troops were by platoon sprayed with delousing (& other assorted varimits)powder, their uniforms dumped in a pile were burned, then they were permitted to shower, usually crude but reasonably effective makeshift showers and then issued new uniforms.

Most Americans are so soft & pampered it is astounding in comparison to what some of our boys occasionally endure fighting to protect this society.


Steve H - 1/9/2003

I had originally intended to restate my contention for the benefit of those who were apparently confused by my original statement. However, I realized that I really don't need to belabor how much or little credibility Posner has earned in the public arena. That, for better or otherwise, has already been determined to a large degree by public discussion in progress.

And it is the subject for a separate discussion in some other forum.

It is however apparent to me that some in this forum will go to almost any lengths to defend the status quo that they are most familiar and comfortable with. I too long for a secure job which affords status and influence, but in which practitioners are shielded from the "rush to judgement" (an interesting choice of words) concerning the consequences of their work output while simultaneously offering a "collegiality" and a "tolerance for a variety of viewpoints" when any controversy arises. Apparently these qualities are dispensed to those who know the secret handshake and are implicitly forbidden to those like Mr. Cramer, doing yeoman's work out in the distant fields where the output of historical research is actually compared to primary sources. The common folk with straightforward concerns seem at times to be curtly informed that they are either too early, or too late, to the party (or both); that their interpretation of the work is too broad, or perhaps, too narrow (or both), if not totally inaccurate; or that they should be more tolerant and/or less impatient with the rhythyms of scholarly toils in the world of academia; and so on.

Alas, I doubt that the vast majority of the public will readily understand these considerations. Perhaps it has something to do with the need to live and work in the so-called "real world", where commonplace people are held accountable for their actions in near real time, and decisions are not based on the need to protect some (possibly less than fully exercised) sense of academic freedom, but are grounded on a much more mundane level, a level which places emphasis on qualities such as basic competence, value to the consumer, return on investment, and timely response to concerns that may arise.

I hereby acknowledge learning my "lesson" for the day, and henceforth will attempt to restrain myself to responding only to those who demonstrate as their primary motivation the cause of enlightenment to the facts at hand and an accurate, rigorous and auditworthy analysis of the facts pointing towards useful conclusions which merit attention in a timely manner. If this excludes some in the academic community, then so be it. I do however thank those who have courteously responded to date on my comments for their time and attention.





Richard Dyke - 1/9/2003

I hate to say I don't remember the source, but someone in the publishing field told me these days that academic authors can COUNT ON (for sure) only about 400 or so institutions to buy their book, failing any unusual demand for the book. So Mr. Cramer's "thousands" and a third printing is impressive indeed.


Joseph Guenet - 1/9/2003

Worth
Best comment of the group. At last someone who understands why many of us watch the "Academic" discussions with disdain.


Peter Jackson - 1/9/2003

Freeman: Sorry if my attempt to summarize your viewpoint misrepresented your charge against me. Re-reading your posts, I am still unclear on whether you support affirmative action for conservative candidates, and whether or not you also support it on race and gender grounds. Thanks, by the way, for giving me ilk ("Jackson and his ilk . . .") I've never had ilk before. What should I feed them?

Wrigley: I suppose I'm not a very good liberal. The best I can do is to tell you that I recognize the value of all kinds of diversity, but my heart won't let me consciously choose one job candidate over another because of their race, religion, gender or politics. I'd rather make my judgement based on things like experience, qualifications, etc. Beyond that, if you are ever in the actual, not just theoretical position of making a hire to a five member department, there might seem to be some more fundamental things to consider--like making sure you make hires in a way that give you the broadest expertise. In terms of serving our students, I think they would be better served, say, by having five liberal white males with expertise in Ancient World, Modern Europe, Early U.S., Modern U.S and Asia, than having five twentieth century U.S. historians one of whom is African-American, one who is gay, one who is a conservative, one who is Lutheran, one who is a woman.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/9/2003

Sorry, Mr. H., but your analogy between Bellesiles and Posner is undocumented. You mistake mere suspicion for evidence. Posner does not have his Cramer or Lindgren. Until he does, his is the best work yet done on the King assassination.


Oscar Shadle - 1/9/2003

I am not an historian, just an old retired physician, but your comments are refreshing and well thought out.


Rick Schwartz - 1/9/2003

"With some exceptions, the only folks who went to war in Vietnam were the poor, the powerless, and people who did so by choice"

This myth ranks right up there with the one that teaches that minorities did the lion's share of fighting and dying in VN. Both are bogus.

Unlike our previous poster who hadn't yet achieved embryo status during the sixties I had the pleasure of serving Uncle during the war (and for 25 years total). While I never made it in country I certainly had many peers who did... and trust me, they certainly never considered themselves poor or powerless.


Timothy Gannon - 1/9/2003

A friend told me about this website so I thought I'd check it out. After reading through all the posts I'm both fascinated and confused by this intriguing little subculture. Conservatives seem to outnumber liberals on the threads by at least three to one. A couple of the liberals are out on the esoteric edge of loony land. And most of the conservatives just seem to be pissed off. Although the discussion is focussed largely on the politics of academia, it is not clear what percentage of the posters are academics, and what exactly it is the others do.

But I just think I might have to tune in again.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/9/2003

"Where, in all the recent comments about problems of academic job-seekers, have been any wails of 'political discrimination' by conservative historians with Ph.D's?"

You might ask the National Association of Scholars for some examples. I recall reading about an English professor at UT Austin several years ago who some faculty members were attempting to get removed from the tenure committee because he was a member of the NAS, and was therefore suspect. KC Johnson's difficulties at Brooklyn College (and he isn't a conservative) seem to have been at least partly because he proposed that the department hire the best, instead of reserving a particular slot for a female.

"I have a couple of suggestions for Mr. Cramer:
"1) start recruiting likely, talented young conservatives in college and persuading them that money isn't everything, that the life of the mind and intellectual freedom to do the research and teaching they like have other rewards."

I suspect that you will find that many simply don't find the academic environment tolerant enough to justify investing the time and energy into a PhD.

"2) Start working to raise historians' salaries to, say, the level of the more conservative business or law professors, so that conservatives might be attracted to the jobs."

I've been arguing for that for some years now, to anyone that would listen. Unfortunately, university administrations are a bit more interested in football coach salaries than professors.


Phil Wrigley - 1/9/2003

Where exactly Prof. Jackson stands on AA is not entirely clear. He's a self-identified liberal, and I thought Affirmative Action was pretty much one of the ten commandments for liberals. But he also stated in another post that search committees he served on did not consider race and gender in making decisions, and that he seems to object to giving preference to a candidate based on their politics--so perhaps their is some consistency here.

Mr. Freeman, on the other hand, just seems to be interested in the debate, and isn't willing to commit to any particular position. Is Mr. Freeman saying that race and gender preference is wrong, but that it is perfectly legitimate to insist on preference for under-represented conservatives? Or that in any case, it is legitimate to give preference to a candidate who is from an under-represented group, be that a race, gender, or political classification? Is Mr. Freeman only in favor of Affirmative Action for groups for which he is a member? Is his position situational, or is there a consistent philosophical position behind these gymnastics?


Suetonius - 1/9/2003

a point of contention: the Mershon Center is at Ohio State, not Ohio University. There's about 90 miles between the two.


Andy Freeman - 1/9/2003

> Freeman and Jenkins assertions that I'm "on the hook" for my department's failure to hire a conservative,

Freeman asserted no such thing. I pointed out that no one would give any credence to Jackson's assertions if we weren't talking about conservatives.

> and that it is my responsibility to explain why there are so few conservatives in History departments suggests that if conservatives were in charge of academia, they'd be just as tyrannical as the liberals.

Actually, it doesn't suggest anything of the sort. Moreover, we can look at how conservatives actually behave in academia; there aren't fields where substantially all of the faculty (across multiple institutions) "just happen" to be conservative. (There are, of course, small departments that are monolithic, but they aren't all left or right. That's what you'd expect if politics didn't make a difference.)

Of course, I'm referring to math, science, and technical departments.

> To suggest one liberal arts college professor is "guilty" of something (bias? prejudice? discrimination?) because the search committees he has served on have failed to achieve political diversity seems no different than accusing me (or any other professor) of being racist, because we failed to hire an African-American, or sexist because we failed to hire a woman

Interestingly enough, that's exactly how the claims of institutional racism/sexism work.

Going out on a limb, I'll guess that Jackson hasn't objected to similar accusations against others in other areas.

Suppose that history departments were as monolithically male....

> But this whole push for affirmative action for conservatives, and putting the onus on hiring committees to prove they didn't discriminate is a pretty bizarre position for conservatives to take.

Not at all. Remember - conservatives LOST that argument. Surely the losers are as entitled to the benefits as the winners.

Now, if Jackson wants to argue that AA in general is wrong, great.

But, if it's just wrong in this case, he should use arguments that don't apply to the cases where he thinks that it is right.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

Until 1961, every state in the Union made sodomy a criminal offense, and there at least 13 states (including Idaho) in which it is still a crime.

In colonial times, it was a capital crime. (Thomas Jefferson, liberal that he was, proposed reducing the penalty in Virginia to castration.) I have found at least one document in Archives of Maryland in which a sheriff asks for 1000 pounds of tobacco for executing someone for the crime of buggery.

Idaho is definitely quite socially conservative. We have a murder rate that compares favorably to any Western European nation. Boise's murder rate these last three years was 0.9/100,000 per year--better than England & Wales, and much better than Scotland. Teenagers are polite; people go out of their way to be helpful. It feels like visiting another planet after living in California.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

The analogy to widespread racial discrimination in the 1960s and 1970s is pretty obvious. I understand that one of the methods by which the federal courts started to examine the problem of racial disparity in capital punishment sentencing was the statistical unlikelihood that this was happening just by chance.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/8/2003

Whew! Bill, I'm glad you got that off your chest. Ralph


Caroline Ward - 1/8/2003

Why are there so few conservatives on history faculties?
I submit that, much like Mr. Cramer, conservatives have been unwilling to take "vows of poverty," even as young people, to go into such an underpaid profession. When a job candidate just out of grad school has few or no publications, how can a dept determine his or her politics, as Mr. Cramer indicates they might be doing? I certainly agree with previous comments that asking questions about candidates' political views would be inappropriate and wrong. I submit that the real issue is one preceding the creation of pools of candidates for history positions. Recently, at least, political conservatives have for the most part chosen to pursue other occupations after college. Where, in all the recent comments about problems of academic job-seekers, have been any wails of "political discrimination" by conservative historians with Ph.D's? I haven't seen any and would be interested in knowing if Mr. Cramer can supply some specific examples--I'd be satisfied with an anecdote or two, not even a scientific sample.
One of the most politically conservative historians in my dept, for example, recently received an outstanding offer from another university. Neither we nor they seemed concerned about poltics.
I have a couple of suggestions for Mr. Cramer:
1) start recruiting likely, talented young conservatives in college and persuading them that money isn't everything, that the life of the mind and intellectual freedom to do the research and teaching they like have other rewards.
2) Start working to raise historians' salaries to, say, the level of the more conservative business or law professors, so that conservatives might be attracted to the jobs.


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

Yes, Mr. Cramer has done very well. There was a time not so long ago that every medium to large university library bought a copy of nearly every university press book, but tightening budgets and new technology, have had a deep impact. Now, smaller schools count on internet-enabled interlibrary loan services to make smaller demand books available. If the major university in my state acquires a copy of a book, I can order it from my desktop computer, and pick it up (often in 48 hours) at the front desk of my college's tiny library. Bad for authors. Good for scholars teaching at small, isolated liberal arts colleges.


Van L. Hayhow - 1/8/2003

Thanks to Mr. Jackson for his response to my post. I have no connection to publishing though as a common reader I have some familiarity with academic publishing. Still, I had no idea that the sales numbers are so low. I would have guessed (and it, literally would have been a guess) that the common figures would have been between 3,000 to 5,000. This would have taken into account the number of academic libraries around. Looks like I would have been way off. I think Mr. Cramer has done well to sell the numbers he has mentioned.


larry nelson - 1/8/2003

"Keep in mind that in some states, requiring a university to hire a practicing homosexual would be requiring a university to hire a known felon. Idaho, for example, still makes it a felony to engage in sodomy."

I'm scratching my head, trying to figure out if this fact is more an indictment of WASC, or of the state of Idaho. Never been to Idaho, looks beautiful in picutres, but an acquaintance who once lived there told me there were "only two kinds of crazy white people" living there.


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

"Depending on the field, conservative reluctance to join academia probably starts either during undergrad or during graduate education, as soon as the student notices a trend of professors who are unwilling to accept the possibility of other viewpoints, who are unwilling to give passing grades to nonliberal papers, who call any conservative thought or any criticism of liberal thought "hate speech," etc."

If this has happened to you, it is intolerable. If I were a student, I would not pay Harvard tuition (or any tuition for that matter) to have to endure that.


Steve Geyer - 1/8/2003

Man might not have been living in urban environments for most of his existence, but the comtemporary rural American's lifestyle is no less ahistorical. A single family home out of eyesight of the nearest neighbors is a very modern thing. Taking the long view, men have lived without privacy, clustered together cheek by jowl in modest but crowded communities for most of their existence.

And firearms sure helped Europeans move west, but Old World biota--germs, weeds, livestock--were what really ensured success.


Steve H - 1/8/2003

"My guess is that the textbook assertion was so much an accepted fact to the authors, like gravity or evolution, that there is no source cited in their book which actually says what they assert -- though, as usual, there's a chance I'll be eating crow on that issue."

I did not see any such source in the textbook in question myself (and I looked). Conceivably I missed something but the publisher did not bring it up in his letter, and I would find it hard to imagine that the publisher responded unilaterally without at least a brief consultation with at least one of the authors.

Is it left to the general public to remind academicians and publishers
that the ultimate arbiter of interpretation of the Bill of
Rights is *not* the lower courts, but the Supreme Court itself,
in formal decisions that it has rendered such as the often
referenced, but rarely cited, U.S. v. Miller?

If this is such common knowledge, then I contend that the bar for scrutiny should be much higher, instead of much lower.

The Miller decision is readily available to anyone with access
to a large library, and has been so for at least 50 years.

And it does not excuse the apparent fact that this particular
mistake continues to be made with disarming (pun somewhat
intended) regularity in the mass media and popular press,
despite many eloquently worded responses to the defense
of the individual rights interpretation that probably
fill the wastebaskets of historians, publishers, and newspaper
editors unheeded throughout the country.

I'm sorry, but the fact that so many academics, authors
and editors err on the conclusions of Miller in lockstep
manner is to me a hint of widespread lack of
integrity and innocence in this matter, and historians of the alleged caliber of
a prestigious university such as UCLA are paid to be accurate to begin with, keep up to date
with, and consistently question and review issues of historical controversies, not passively follow conclusions that are reached elsewhere.

At least that has been my impression up to now.

Which role do historians play in this matter? Gatekeepers
of the public trust in matters of historical accuracy, or unwitting revisionist enablers? One can't have it one way some of the time, and a different way the rest of the time. The last time I heard that selective ignorance was a valid excuse was in the movie "Judgement at Nuremburg". I'm not sure historians as a group really want to go there... at least I hope not...



Adrianne - 1/8/2003

Depending on the field, conservative reluctance to join academia probably starts either during undergrad or during graduate education, as soon as the student notices a trend of professors who are unwilling to accept the possibility of other viewpoints, who are unwilling to give passing grades to nonliberal papers, who call any conservative thought or any criticism of liberal thought "hate speech," etc. I must say, it's rather disheartening. It's not spread evenly across the fields, however.


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/8/2003

The collectivist view of the Second Amendment was probably the consensus view 20 years ago, and since historians are generally not up on the latest in legal literature, I would expect an introductory history textbook to lag by a generation on a recondite point not central to the concern of the historians who wrote it.

What I find interesting is the manufacture or fabrication of that prior consensus in the absence of Supreme Court precedent -- the prior consensus view was built up by lower court rulings only, with their limited resources to do the historical spadework. As late as his second edition of his multivolume constitutional law treatise, Laurence Tribe dismissed the Second Amendment with just a sentence or two, relegated (if I remember correctly) to a footnote. After doing actual research on the subject, he became a convert to the individualist view, and devoted several pages to the subject in his third edition. Sanford Levinson has some interesting observations on the lack of case materials on the Second in constitutional casebooks, with the effect that it was simply ignored in most Con Law classes, or given a cursory treatment. In short, the prior consenus was a bloodless victory achieved without scholarship and without explicit Supreme Court precedent.

I myself don't trust any partial quote, or one taken in isolation. I'd like to see the entire context. I would note (I hope, not as an indicator of monomania) that both Brinkley and McPherson were signatories of the impeachment petition, and four years later I'm still waiting for any one of those signatories to provide the quote which establishes their point about "explicitly". This parallels Steve H's letter from McGraw-Hill -- to his query he got a de haut en bas ex cathedra pronouncement, not a citation of evidence. In fact, the Miller decision never explicitly states that it protects the right of states to have militias, it states (to quote exactly): "Clauses intended to insure the possession of arms and ammunition by all who were subject to military service appear in all the important enactments concerning military affairs"; "With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces, the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view" (you can access the Miller decison through the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School website). You will search in vain for a statement within Miller that delegates the right to the states. Passions, especially political passions, make fools of us all -- even the best of historians fall victim to them.

Interestingly, there is one historian who has written much on the Second, and that is Garry Wills. And he has taken a view directly opposite that attributed to one or more of the three authors of the textbook in question. On pp.57-8 of A Necessary Evil, he identifies it as an anti-governmental myth that the Second entrusted states with their own militias. Not surprisingly, since he claims that logic, history and philology are sufficient to understanding the Second Amendment (there's nothing, on his view, that law adds to the equation), Wills botches the gravamen of the Miller decision. He says (p.252, ANE) that the "Court declared that a sawed-off shotgun is not a militia weapon." Instead, the Court said: "In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument." In other words, the Court explicitly (I love that word) contradicts Wills on this point, as it explicitly (there it is again) refuses to say whether it is or is not, in the absence of evidence taken on the question, a militia weapon (in the syllabus, the Court uses the fancy lawyers language of judicial notice -- they say they can't take judicial notice that a sawed-off shotgun is not a militia weapon). Therefore, you can understand why I'm less than impressed by Mr. Luker's (or anybody else's for that matter) vouching that a particular historian is "among the most distinguished of our contemporary American historians." I've been taught to question every authority, track down every quote, etc. In the case of Second Amendment, the results are usually illuminating.

My guess is that the textbook assertion was so much an accepted fact to the authors, like gravity or evolution, that there is no source cited in their book which actually says what they assert -- though, as usual, there's a chance I'll be eating crow on that issue.


Dave Livingston - 1/8/2003

Praise be someone at Knopf has demonstrated the integrity neewded to cease publication of this pack of lies it seemed eager to foist off on an unsuspecting public.


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/8/2003

And who was that famous (conservative) economist who said the stock market had reached, I believe the phrase was, a permently high plateau, just before the '29 crash?

But the mention of economics is interesting: A field dominated by neo-classical orthodoxy, it could be argued that econ departments are also stocked with the ideologically conformist.

My main point though is this: It is probably right on to discuss "market deformations" in the context of academic politics. I would caution, though, that since the distinction between "markets" and "public policy" is historically a specious one and analytically fraught with tautology (undesirable outcomes can always be shunted off to some grim, alms-house-like category holding those deformed by "government," too), we ought to be tentative. Anyway, I suspect one cause of conservative dismay at academic culture, at least in the humanities and social sciences, is the academic overproduction that began in the 60s and was an artifact of the Cold War.

There's one aspect of this which has been unappreciated: The inreased quasi-bureaucratization--Dilbert cites Foucault?--and careerism of learned professions produced by such things as pressure to publish are I suspect the major causes of the fads for theory and placemen-like conformity. I also think--though the case would take some space to make--that such things as horrify "conservatives" like campus multicultural programs and hate-speech codes are mirrors of the corporate society off the campus; they are generated by the same trends that have effected employment and marketing, and I regard them as "conservative" within the larger scheme of things.

Deep down inside, I suspect some "conservative" intellectuals sense this, though indignation at the academy provides fodder for the troops. Though not relevant to the university issue, I think the Trent Lott affair, instigated by a "conservative" columnist, sprung out of something like an epiphany when suddenly the Right's dirty little secret about the GOP fell out of Trent's mouth after years of being generally ignored though lying there for all to see. There might come a time when the usefulness of campus orthodoxy--sustained by university administrations hardly made up of flaming Leftists, last I checked--will be apparent to someone on the Right.


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

Not coincidence--something is at work here. But is it something sinister? High profile cases like the KC Johnson one certainly raise eyebrows and alarm bells. But we have yet to establish that the percentage of conservatives at Columbia is not reflective of the percentage of conservatives in the job pool. Nor have we identified the points along the line when the number of potential conservative historians begins to diminish (and why). Is it high school? During their undergraduate careers? Are they targeted and weeded out in graduate school? Do they face discrimination in hiring? This is all speculation. (And by calling it speculation, I don't mean to dismiss it--widespread discrimination against conservatives may be real--I just don't see it where I am). And if it is real, it is no surprise that the greatest abuses are at larger institutions, particularly in cosmopolitan areas, where liberal scholars can live in a world where they never interact with people with other viewpoints, and therefore easily demonize them. I may be a liberal in a department of five liberals, but I operate in a world of political diversity. I go jogging with my conservative Baptist neighbor and my kids play with other neighborhood kids who live in Republican households. I serve on committees with wealthy members of the College's Board of Trustees who are also significant donors to the Republican party. I am reminded on a daily basis that these conservatives are good folk, even if we disagree on most hot-button political issues. Perhaps the greatest danger of a lack political diversity is that it enables people from the dominant viewpoint to become so sheltered from alternative viewpoints, that they demonize those who hold them. If some of the examples presented are true (for example the person who could not imagine hiring a person who worked for John Kasich), then yes, we have a problem. Maybe a program where we send Brooklyn College professors out to live with farm families in Iowa, or auto-workers in Detroit would help.


Dave Livingston - 1/8/2003

From the beginning of the Bellelies Scandal is was evident to this rustic that had our boy Bellelies been raised in rural America or had lived for any considerable lenght of time in a rural environmental he would have known instictively, as politically correct as his "Arming America" thesis is, it was defective.

It is his misfortune, as it is for most academics, to have lived and worked in an urban environment most of his life.

Man or something very like modern man has lived on this earth for a million to a million and a half years, but he has been silly enough to coop himself up in the unnatural environment of the city for fewer than ten thousand of all those centuries. No wonder urbanites are warpped in their perception of the natural world.

Had Bellesiles been intimately familiar with rural America he could not have avoided a realization that European man could have spread Westwards, as he in fact did without a wide distribution of effective firearms. If he hunted but one or two meals a year he would have said to himself, "Uh-huh, no grocery stores, no cafes, then where do I find fresh meat as I travel from Virgina to Kenyucky, Kansas City to Cheyenne & thence to Frisco or from K.C. to Santa Fe?

In 1840 there were not many McDonald's or Taco Bells along the then non-existent East-West U.S. highways.


Worth Colliton - 1/8/2003

The sanctimonious moral preening dripping from Mr. Leckie's screed is the very attribute of the "savior class" that so annoys and repells many among the commonsense great unwashed. It springs from the conviction all too common among the educated that only they, the anointed, can properly instruct the benighted masses on the "meaning of it all," a woeful overestimation of the real uses and benefits of a life spent with one's nose stuck in a book.

"How small, of all that human hearts endure/That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!" Dr. Samuel Johnson


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/8/2003

I'll check my Bartlett's--on another floor of the house--but I've had my fun anyhow!


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/8/2003

I think it was Burke.


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/8/2003

To be frank, with regard to tactics--rhetorical tactics--I see nothing unfair or dishonest about turning the tables on the Right, especially since I make very clear that is what I am doing. Besides, I have made it clear the Right is beyond the Pale anyhow.

As for righteousness: You had better read the previous posting of mine a bit more carefully. And, if you think I find pleasant having to respond to members of a movement I find so crazy, so convinced of its own virtue, you have missed the major subtext of my screeds! If I didn't think the Right was dangerous, I'd ignore it. Was it Lord Acton who said something about tyranny succeeding when nobody did anything? Self-doubt in the face of the enemy is a "liberal" trait, wouldn't you agree?


Steve H - 1/8/2003

To answer your concerns point by point:

1. shared responsibility.

I interpret multiple authorship to denote that each author is jointly and severally responsible for the accuracy of the entire content. I'm defaulting here to legal phrasing for convenience, but also of necessity: in the end, a slander lawsuit based on an inaccurate book would ordinarily name each of several multiple authors along with the publisher as defendants. That is a definitive rule of thumb for me concerning shared responsibility. I am also a little familiar with the way publishing works in the hard sciences, and in the hard sciences at least shared authorship means shared responsiblity for technical accuracy. Are you telling me that the social sciences
should not aspire to the level of responsibility that the hard sciences do, in this regard? If so, why so?

I don't generally care which of three authors made the mistake,
if it is a mistake. I would be concerned that the mistake
slipped by all three authors and the entire review process,
as well as the selection process by whatever school(s) use
the text. The more responsibility that is shared, the more
people should have been awake when they were reviewing the text
to begin with, as far as I am concerned.

More authors and more reviewers, less accuracy?

2. One of the letters I received was a letter from a vice president of McGraw Hill. I quote from the July 21, 2001 letter
I received:

As you are no doubt aware, the interpretation of the Second
Amendment is frequently questioned and is an emotionally
charged issue. Thus, we made the decision to follow the
opinions of the Supreme Court and the United States Department
of Justice.

[Note: this was after Department of Justice Atty. Gen.
John Ashcroft's infamous May 17, 2001 letter emphasizing
his view that "the text and original intent
of the Second Amendment clearly protect the right of
individual to keep and bear arms."]

In 1939, in U.S. v. Miller, the Supreme Court ruled that the
Second Amendment only protects the right of states to have
armed militias...

Note that the McGraw-Hill VP does not quote the Miller decision
itself. (Some fancy gatekeeping work, eh? We don't need
no stinking primary sources.) Please feel free
to verify my letter by submitting your own request to
McGraw-Hill for clarification. And good luck.

3. I am distantly aware of how academia operates. McGraw-Hill
disagrees with your interpretation of the text
that it is intended to be inclusive of alternative points
of view. The point is that I have raised several areas
in which SOMEBODY in academia had the opportunity and means
to raise a red flag-- presumeably via "peer review" if not
at the lunchtime faculty tables or mess halls.
In such cases, however, apparently no red flags were raised.
Or perhaps some flags were raised, but apparently there
were not enough flags to have any effect.

My question to you is: isn't that a terrible state of affairs?

And yeah, firestorm may be appropriate in this case. UCLA
appears in the front of the textbook, next to one author's name,
for parents, teachers, and students to read when they open
the cover. So I contend that*everyone* at UCLA should be both
aware and highly concerned if politically biased *crap* is being
distributed in their name, under the banner of political
neutrality and peer-reviewed "accuracy" that some apparently
have bought into, lock, stock, and barrel. I suppose
some folks' concern for diversity overrides their concern
for accuracy, in which case one is led to question the reason
for existence of institutions of higher learning to begin with.

If we are not concerned for accuracy in such institutions,
then why bother with the expense of providing for such institutions
to begin with? If you teach something with tolerance but
lack of accuracy and precision, then what if anything
have you actually accomplished? Accuracy should be
a primary consideration of universities; there needs to
be in my opinion definitive limitations to the tolerance
of individual viewpoints when inaccuracies creep into
the curriculum and the publications under the general aegis of
an academic institution.








Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

"So conservatives are now complaining that the position 'we hire based on qualifications, and do not consider race, gender, religion, or political affilaition' is not good enough? Has the world gone topsy-turvey? To suggest it is my responsiblity to explain the dearth of conservative job applicants is my responsibility is equally ridiculous."

I think you have misunderstood the complaint. It is equivalent to what would happen if the available supply of mechanical engineers was 8% black, but actual employment was only 3%. A small company might, quite legitimately, not have hired any black mechanical engineers. A company that employed thousands of them and had only 1-2% that were black would have some explaining to do. An industry that only averaged 2-3% black mechanical engineers would have some explaining to do.

One history department of five professors, all of them roughly aligned politically--that could just be coincidence. But across academia for the left to be so overwhelmingly dominant is astonishing. A friend of mine has been checking voter registration for Columbia University professors. For those he can find, 10 Republicans, 1 Libertarian, 28 members of various far left minor parties, and 110 Democrats. Coincidence?


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

"2) The sentence does not, in fact, exclude the possibility of an individual interpretation of the second amendment. It simply affirms a collective interpretation."

This is technically correct, but imagine if an American history textbook included the statement like, "The First Amendment was intended to prevent the federal government from requiring church attendance." It's an accurate statement, but so incomplete (what about the continuous debates about a creche in a public park?) as to be a little misleading.

"For my part, I prefer an academic environment in which there is toleration for a variety of interpretations of matters open to debate."

Me too. A textbook, however, has an obligation to be fair and balanced in its portrayal of any question on which there is legitimate scholarly or popular debate. I would not think of writing a textbook that presented only the "Second Amendment protects an individual right" view, even though I think that is correct. I would explain that there is a vigorous debate on it, and present the arguments each side advances.


Steve H - 1/8/2003

Please allow me to begin by writing that I did not intend to tar
the entire department at UCLA (or any other academic institution) with a single stroke.

My comments were directed in a manner in which it was assumed by me, perhaps in error, that there are almost always outliers to the norm in any endeavor, and especially so in the social sciences.

I am not intimately familiar with all the works of every UCLA historian, and my comments should not be taken as exhaustive and complete on their individual works and teachings. My apologies to all concerned, and thanks to Professor Lindgren for catching my mistake.

Moving on, I do insist on stressing the relevance of the need for factual checking of the type Mr. Cramer refers to for historical texts, and the apparent lack of a sufficient safety net procedure that currently exists in major U.S. universities and
publishers, as evidenced by the example I originally referred to.

I must also stress the extent of the damage that the circulation of such factually inaccurate texts have on the readership, especially if that readership happens to be a captive, highly receptive audience such as past and current junior high school and high school students.

How do I know? I am a parent of one of those students, and furthermore, I am a parent who took the time and effort to bring
the apparent problems with the text in question to the attention of local school officials, local school board, and the publishers.

The few and universally dismissive responses I got were as revealing as the initial highly favorable mass media and academic reviews to "Arming America". The responses were almost always "supported" by references to shallow, secondary sources and incorrect interpretations.

I also would hesitate to believe that "Murder in New York City", whatever its qualities may be (and there may be many), simply does not have the massive impact that an everyday public school
U.S. History course textbook has on molding public opinion in this highly important area (after all, we *are* dealing with
the political disposition and legal interpretation of one item in the Bill of Rights, not just some obscure historical controversy). My kid was practically the only student in his junior high school who had the courage to question the logic of advocating yet *more* gun control laws in this country. Don't believe me-- go to your kids or your local public junior high school
and take a poll for yourself: I would be mildly surprised if you got substantially different results. When a book like "Arming America" is published but not widely recognized as a banner case for the famous Carl Sagan dictum that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" we need to examine very carefully the underlying reasons for that initial acceptance. Was it fortuitous and accidental, or -- more alarmingly-- part of a larger, although less immediately obvious, consideration?

I get the general impression that the Bellesiles issue has hit
academia like a Claymore mine-- totally unexpected and out of the blue. But I think the call to historians of integrity is "what went wrong and what
should we be doing now to fix the damage and avoid other damage in the future"? Am I misreading the situation? Will historians respond instead of passing the buck to a broken process that they are individually powerless to fix? Are they really so powerless (for example, how about submissions that voluntarily raise the bar to the level of legal journals as a start?)

I think historians need to spend a moment reconsidering their role in society and the importance of that role, before "moving on" to other issues themselves, getting back to business as usual, and implicitly dismissing the need for serious self-reflection.

My apologies again if I have overly belabored the concern.



Ralph E. Luker - 1/8/2003

One scarcely knows where to begin with "Steve H"'s vaguely disguised attack on a sentence in _American Journey_ and its supposed author, Joyce Appleby, Professor Emeritus of History at UCLA. But these points for starters:
1) Professor Appleby co-authored the text with professors Alan Brinkley of Columbia University and James McPherson of Princeton University. They are among the most distinguished of our contemporary American historians. Their co-authorship means that Appleby does not alone bear responsibility for the offending sentence, even if she did write it.
2) The sentence does not, in fact, exclude the possibility of an individual interpretation of the second amendment. It simply affirms a collective interpretation.
3) "Steve H" betrays a remarkable misunderstanding of collegiality in academic life if he believes that such a sentence in a textbook should set off a "firestorm" within a department. Here, he seems to demand a standard of political correctness, the penalty for violation of it being a "firestorm"; elsewhere we will, no doubt, read his protest against political correctness of a different sort. For my part, I prefer an academic environment in which there is toleration for a variety of interpretations of matters open to debate. Too many firestorms are all heat, no light.


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

Freeman and Jenkins assertions that I'm "on the hook" for my department's failure to hire a conservative, and that it is my responsibility to explain why there are so few conservatives in History departments suggests that if conservatives were in charge of academia, they'd be just as tyrannical as the liberals. To suggest one liberal arts college professor is "guilty" of something (bias? prejudice? discrimination?) because the search committees he has served on have failed to achieve political diversity seems no different than accusing me (or any other professor) of being racist, because we failed to hire an African-American, or sexist because we failed to hire a woman, or regionalist because we failed to hire a North Dakotan. So conservatives are now complaining that the position "we hire based on qualifications, and do not consider race, gender, religion, or political affilaition" is not good enough? Has the world gone topsy-turvey? To suggest it is my responsiblity to explain the dearth of conservative job applicants is my responsibility is equally ridiculous. I could suggest some possibilities (and no, one would not be "liberals are naturally smarter") but a number of people on this list have already offered a range of reasonable possibilities.

But this whole push for affirmative action for conservatives, and putting the onus on hiring committees to prove they didn't discriminate is a pretty bizarre position for conservatives to take. Just take a few minutes to think of the implications. Among them, would be whispered comments like this one: "No, he wasn't the most qualified candidate, but he was the best conservative we could find, so we settled for him."

Are we suddenly forgetting about conservative complaints that affirmative action stigmatizes the person who received preference, and is "reverse discrimination?"


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

This textbook's claims about the Second Amendment are a traditional view, one often taken in law schools a generation ago. It would be more balanced (something I expect in a textbook) to acknowledge that there is considerable controversy on this subject, with historians and prominent law professors who have argued on both sides of that claim. To pretend that there is no controversy about it shows a disappointing lack of awareness of constitutional law.


James Lindgren - 1/8/2003

People have been critizing UCLA. I wanted to note that UCLA historian Eric Monkkonen, author of "Murder in NYC," was one of the first to raise doubts about Arming America, both privately and in the first mainstream news story on the scandal, the April 2001 Wall Street Journal story by Kim Strassel. He also appeared on a session on how to count guns in early America at the 2001 Social Science History Association meeting, where on a panel moderated by Gordon Wood, he again expressed doubts about the merits of the book (other panelists included Randolph Roth, Ted Cook, Robert Churchill, and myself.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

I guess I should be pleased, then, that all of the books that Greenwood Publishing has published by me have been in the thousands, and _For the Defense of Themselves and the State_ (Praeger Press, 1994) made it into a third printing.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

"I decided some months ago to just deploy the same rhetorical tactics against the Right as it has for so long against its opponents. My view is that dissenters from the Right's well-financed media machine ought to hit back as hard and as ruthlessly as they can instead of suffering from its intimidation--the pickings are pretty easy, besides, as the responses to my posting betrays."

So I take it this means that you believe that you are justified in using tactics that you consider unfair and dishonest?

"The difference between a 'liberal' professor and a right-wing zealot is that the latter participates as a flunky for our national regime--that is, vicariously exerts power for interests with no sense of authentic civic virtue and a presumption of moral entitlement led by a nonentity from a privileged family with a history of questionable business dealings, just for openers. It's time to draw the line."

I hear an enormous dose of self-righteousness.


Rick Tan - 1/8/2003

Oh please. Debate the original point. The one about the defense budget and the President, before moving off into another. You do know that dodging and changing topics is one of the classic ways of shifting the argument when your side is found lacking.

You mention 7% of GDP was spent in defense. How much was spent in defense compared to the rest of the federal budget. With 7 out of 17, I would hope that its at least 40%.

To put this back into the topic of history, I pose these two quotes.

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare,
the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." - James Madison, 1792

"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." -
Thomas Jefferson, 1798
"


Steve H - 1/8/2003

Speaking of UCLA and gun rights related history,
there is one UCLA professor who co-authored a high school
textbook "American Journey: Building a Nation" California Edition,
MGraw-Hill and National Geographic, 2000.

The text contains the explanation that the purpose of the
Second Amendment is "to guarantee states the right to keep
a militia."

Yet the vast and nearly overwhelming preponderance of current
legal scholarship, not to mention the current Attorney General
and most if not all of the Supreme Court rulings
on the Second Amendment, adhere to the view that the
Second Amendment protects (or should protect) an *individual* right.

The respondent claims that the UCLA history department
is relatively free of political bias. That could conceivably
be true.

However, consider that this junior high school textbook
is being used in public schools across California, if not
across the entire country.

Now *that* is clout, if we are talking hardcore
political bias influencing future voting citizens.

I'm therefore skeptical to the point of challenging
this assertion that UCLA History is relatively free
of political bias. If it were so, then how come
the language of the text I refer to apparently does not cause a
firestorm of controversy within the department, or
at least enough controversy to force the author
to revise the text to provide both sides of the issue?

I think UCLA History is a case of orthodoxy blinders,
as a different respondent put it.

Were I a student at UCLA History, I would be hard pressed
not to regard any upfront confession of bias by any professor
not as an indicator of honesty-- an honest and accurate interpretation
of US v. Miller, for example, would have shot down the "collective rights"
interpretation of the Second Amendment that the abovementioned
UCLA author seems comfortable with-- but more of a warning
not to stray from the political reservation.

In the interest of fairness I note that the author in question
is now apparently a professor emeritus, according to her web page. (And we were lamenting that older historians are web challenged?) And yes I am aware of Eugene Volokh's work, but
he isn't in the history department.



Ronald Dale Karr - 1/8/2003

"Do you know WHY the DLC managed to pull the Democratic Party slightly to the center of American politics? It had something to do with the continuing failure of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to win elections. As near as I can tell, the centrist aspects of the DLC were:

1. Support for the death penalty.

2. Unembarrassed support for capitalism (though not laissez faire, by any stretch).

What other aspects can you name? On almost all other issues, the DLC was solidly in the liberal branch of the Democratic Party."

Well, how about welfare reform?


Will J. Richardson - 1/8/2003

FYI

http://famulus.msnbc.com/famulusgen/ap01-07-141653.asp?t=APENT


Andy Freeman - 1/8/2003

> All five of us were hired by committees who did not think our personal politics were relevant to our qualifications.

Yet, this process that supposedly doesn't test for politics consistently selects folks within a fairly narrow political range. We're way past the point where it's a coincidence.

Jackson's inability to identify the "cause" doesn't get him off the hook. At best, that inability argues that he has nothing to contribute to the solution. And, it surely doesn't argue that there's no problem.


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/8/2003

I decided some months ago to just deploy the same rhetorical tactics against the Right as it has for so long against its opponents. My view is that dissenters from the Right's well-financed media machine ought to hit back as hard and as ruthlessly as they can instead of suffering from its intimidation--the pickings are pretty easy, besides, as the responses to my posting betrays.

I might add that I am not a "liberal" by any means, and certainly no longer a man of the Left. A genuine and philosophical conservatism should above all attend to reason and pursue the old Socratic goal of justice in the polis, but also be prepared to give as good or better than it gets. I view public issues from the standpoint of a highly conservative set of epistemological and ethical--and foundational--principles, by which standards the US Right is authoritarian, duplicitous, hostile to questions of justice out of which the entire Western philosophical tradition emerged, and it is also more than a little nuts--the 21st century equivalent of the Athenian demagogues, in other words.

The contempt it shows for any who question it deserves open disdain in return. It has no monopoly on fallibility, certainly, and I can actually sympathize with some of its critiques (alas, I think the state of academe has been mischaracterized by both its defenders and critics, however)--but its presumption, its arrogance, and cliched bluster, are part of what I regard as postmodernish fascism, and are dangerous. The difference between a "liberal" professor and a right-wing zealot is that the latter participates as a flunky for our national regime--that is, vicariously exerts power for interests with no sense of authentic civic virtue and a presumption of moral entitlement led by a nonentity from a privileged family with a history of questionable business dealings, just for openers. It's time to draw the line.

Which is to say, I hold the US Right in contempt, and will do everything I can to irritate its minions--except for those insecure white male working stiffs who've been deluded by the likes of Limbaugh and their own defensive machismo into cheering for the very forces that are screwing the poor devils to the wall. They're its victims, too. The more affluent, supposedly better-educated and articulate who succumb to willful stupidity and righteousness, and support those in power today, whom I regard as corrupt and illegitimate, deserve nothing but scorn, and that's what yore uh-gonna git frum me!


Adrianne - 1/8/2003

Points taken; as I said, I was just offering up the answers I'd heard other people give, because nobody else had come up with an answer yet. Others have, now, so I defer to the more knowledgeable. Paul Johnson's Intellectuals is a great book, BTW.


Walter Hearne - 1/8/2003

While it is true that some observers such as John Patrick Diggins (The Rise and Fall of the American Left) and Russell Jacoby (The Last Intellectuals) have written about the rise of a post-sixties academic left, I can't buy the idea that the academic left was all that was left over when conservative professors rushed off (or were drafted) to fight in Vietnam. There is a tradition of radicalism in the academy that goes back at least as far as the "Old Left" of the 1930s (think Charles Beard) and continuing into the 1950s with thinkers like C. Wright Mills. What I think happened is that the left largely retreated to the academy after the flame-out of the sixties social movements. In other words, the radical students became radical professors, operating under the heavy influence of thinkers like Gramsci and Marcuse. Gramsci told them that they could achieve revolution by subverting the culture, never mind mobilizing the masses; Marcuse taught them the virtues of illiberality (speech codes, etc.).

As it so happens, Andrew Sullivan this morning links an essay by the late libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick, "Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?"

http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/cpr-20n1-1.html

For other works on the general subject of intellectual leftism and alienation, I would recommend:

Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims
Paul Hollander, Anti-Americanism
Allan Levite, Guilt, Blame & Politics
Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History
Paul Johnson, Intellectuals


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

I, too, was surprised by how low the sales figures were, given the noise the controversy has made. Still, university press books (which, in theory, undergo a more rigorous jurying process than trade books) generally have prints runs of 1000 or less, and few go to second printings.


Van L. Hayhow - 1/8/2003

Did you notice the sales figures in the announcement? I would have thought with all the controversy many more copies of the book would have sold; just as people tend to crowd around a car accident.


Phil Wrigley - 1/8/2003

Mr. Salmanson makes an excellent point. The web is perhaps a democratizing force, but it is also scary and hard to trust. Professional historians ignored Cramer, I'd say, for a combination of three reasons: 1)his politics 2)his lack of "credentials" (i.e. no Phd) and 3)his forum--the untrustworthy internet. Of course, Cramer had no other choice than to use the net. The JAH was not likely to publish his work (because of his politics and his lack of standing). The AHA was not likely to accept his paper (same reasons). Historians have to absorb and process enormous amounts of new scholarship, and unless it is precisely germane to their own research, they aren't going to have the time to "check sources." They make judgements about an author's credibility on some fairly superficial grounds--is this person's PhD from an elite institution? Are they employed by an elite institution? It's no accident that those little name tags all historians are required to wear at historical conferences contain only two pieces of information: your name and the name of the institution you are affiliated with. And every historian employed by a non-elite institution has experienced the "name-tag glance" game that goes on at conventions--it is how historians "size each other up."

In the sciences, papers tend to have multiple authors. The real author might be some advanced grad student or assistant professor. But the names of people with more standing appear as authors also, and are usually listed in order of standing in the profession rather than in a way that recognizes who actually did the work. But the names of the scholars of standing appear as co-authors as endorsements--as "seals of approval." I guess the equivalent endorsements for historians are the dust-jacket blurbs. (And those historians who do lend their name to work that proves to be shoddy should be embarrassed by this, and be more careful about what they endorse.)

But many historians--particularly those over 40, still fear and mistrust the net. I have met dozens of history professors who tell their students they cannot use internet sources in their papers, because they can't trust their content. Rather than teach their students (and learn themselves) how to evaluate internet sources, they simply ban their use--a Luddite approach, I suppose.

The interesting question then is, will the net help democratize historical knowledge, and begin to knock the legs out from under the old ways historians evaluate scholarship?


David Salmanson - 1/8/2003

This are departments diverse discussion misses the point. Cramer's first place to raise questions was on internet discussion boards, he pointed people towards web sites, and he began constructing a web site of his own. Perfectly rational for computer literate people but most of the professoriate (especially those who edit journals, that is, those most advanced in age and career) use their computers for little more than word processing. Because of the notorious unreliability of the web, these scholars are hesitant to use it, even things like the Library of Congress web site, for fear of fraud. Most of them have been burned by fowarded e-mail hoaxes and anybody who ever typed whitehouse.com (a porn site) instead of whitehouse.gov knows that the web can easily lead to things you really do not want unless you are conversant. What they expect "serious" scholars to do is form a panel, go to a conference, present findings (with photocopied handouts or overheads perhaps, but powerpoint still blows people away because it is so rarely used), then go to a bigger conference, then publish an article, etc. etc. etc. Once Lindgren starting doing this, the whole affair blew up pretty quick (at least by academic standards). This raises a couple of interesting questions:

Should technology training be mandatory for professors?

Are electronic forums like H-Net and History News Network doing what they are supposed to do? What are they supposed to do?

David Salmanson


ted wilson - 1/8/2003

"Consistently since the polling started the media has voted for the Democrat candidate for President 93% of the time."


93% is such a precise number! Source, please!


james winterer - 1/8/2003

It's kid of funny to think of cadres of patriotic professors marching off to war! No, this thesis is not right. With some exceptions, the only folks who went to war in Vietnam were the poor, the powerless, and people who did so by choice. I don't think there were too many professors among them.


Steve H - 1/8/2003

I think Mr. Cramer is well meaning, and I do entirely with all of his main points, but I think he was possibly being a little understating when he expects that historians before the current generation were for the most part honest brokers of the facts,
and that the reason for the ostracism of conservative and libertarian historians from academia is primarily due to political orientation, having culminated in the Bellesiles affair.

Historians interested in accuracy would (I think) do well to study the JFK (and Robert Kennedy and King) assassination(s),
and the unanswered contradictions between the historically
accepted official accounts (e.g., the Warren Commission Report)
and contraindicating facts and omissions.

In particular, such historians should study closely the parallels
between the approaches of Michael Bellesiles and a certain
Gerald Posner, who has written several books on political assassinations (JFK and MLK).

As with gun control, the stories and theories of JFK's and MLK's assassinations
are fraught with high-powered political implications and motives.
The stakes in the historical account, therefore, are very high. They extend in my opinion well beyond mere individual (correct or incorrect personal political affiliation or outlook) and organizational (academia or corporate) bias.

I do not know whether or not I agree or not with Mr. Cramer on the aspect of the attitude of the entire legal profession taken collectively on gun control, gun history (including legal history) and gun rights. The December 9th Circuit Court decision
on the California Assault Weapons Ban law (Silviera v. Lockyer) cited two Bellesiles
papers *after* Bellesiles had lost his Emory professorship. That tells at least *me* most of what I need to know about how the Bellesiles scandal has impacted the everyday *practice* of law at the street level. I have personally been told by lawyers that they would be happy to argue for concepts such as jury nullification, but cannot and will not due to fear that they would lose their license.

And I shudder when I consider the what I feel are similar, politically motivated revisionist-flavored impacts of Posner and others
(a certain standing US Senator comes to mind, although that is
a subject for a separate discussion) on
assassination investigations of first magnitude importance
to the political direction of this country.

To Mr. Cramer's analysis I would add:

History is classically written by the victors. I should add, those who are politically victorious. People with a logical bent who review historical accounts for accuracy and consistency
have had a difficult row to hoe in the past. Newspapers,
publishers, and politicians were the gatekeepers of access to mass media.

With today's technology, most specifically including the Internet, that gatekeeping function seems to be on the verge of beginning to break down.
Currently our society is functioning under a somewhat schizophrenic dual tier system of historical continuity--
one path for government, law, academia and commerical mass media, and the other path for the interested and gifted but unaffiliated individual. Each of the parties these paths are now competing for popular acceptance. But the unaffiliated individual has
one advantage in an open playing field, and that advantage is
that he or she can can afford to speak his or her mind, and reconcile his or her work with verified historical facts.

The Internet is slowly having an effect towards leveling the playing field of competing for attention in the arena of public opinion.

Mr. Cramer's work in the Bellesiles case is a shining example of what can be accomplished with the media tools currently within reach of an unaffiliated individual to capture a share of public opinion away from the traditional gatekeepers. However, he has yet to receive full credit from those gatekeepers for his efforts. Therefore, one battle is partially won, and others may be in the progress of being won, but a full scale war rages on.

Mr. Cramer has furthermore successfully demonstrated a fatal flaw in how the historian gatekeepers audit their own work, as well as pointed out the necessity to consider that other relevations may be expected as a result of this organizational process flaw.

However, I would contend that the flaw goes well beyond academia and extends to publishers (including Bellesiles' publisher, Knopf), government and much if not most law. And let it be recognized that in dealing with gun control and gun rights, we are implicitly dealing with balancing the fundamental role of government to provide for common defense and preservation of domestic order with the natural right of self defense and the natural instinct of self preservation.

Therefore the importance of this issue is understated. Given the current direction, our society is in for a prolonged period of collective cognitive dissonance between the corporate and the individual views of how society has functioned in the past as a basis for how it should function in the present and future. It serves as a warning to keep up one's intellectual skepticism for conventional, "established" sources of information and opinion. The situation is inherently instable, and therefore one side or the other will ultimately prevail. The bad news is that due to the high stakes involved, the side that will ultimately prevail is not necessarily the side that advocates factual historical accuracy.

Meanwhile, the public should be wary, and not let their guard down on the issue of historical accuracy in academia, and elsewhere.

Or [as gun rights advocates would say] keep your powder dry...





James Tooman - 1/8/2003

I have to take exception to this. As a conservative-leaning moderate (no party afiliation, I voted 75% republican ticket in 2002) history major at a significantly liberal, top-ranked west coast school (UCLA), I have encountered mostly people who are aghast at Bellesiles indiscretion. I believe the reasons peer review does not catch these types of things are not because academie (for the most part) lacks integrity. Rather, this is an honor system.

Think about it. On an historical scale (say several hundred years), significant works of scholarship on contentious issues (such as gun-control in the USA in the late 20th-early 21st century) will CERTAINLY by revisitied with either a foundational or critical bias. Facts will be checked; research repeated. A fraud WILL be caught. Maybe not a fraud from, say, 5th century BCE ancient Athens, but in the year 2000+ with comprehensive digital data storage? Please.

I think that the reason peer review does not catch this stuff (and gun related scholarship in specific) is because the rest of the profession doesn't WANT to check the facts. I mean, hell, Bellesiles probably would not have been caught so quickly if a grad student doing pro-gun research on *the same primary sources* didn't happen to read the journal and the book! Most professors who still care are doing their own research. They assume that "history" will catch out the frauds, so they do not have to.

Further more, in my experience at UCLA, the vast majority of professors state their political biases up front, often with the admonition for the students to watch for bias, and then proceed to present as objective a treatment of the subject matter as they can - some more successfully, some less.

Never the less, after taking many of the top names in the UCLA "liberal" history department (6th ranked in the nation), including Sabean, Piterberg, SarDesai, Rouse, and Geary, I never encountered a professor with an axe to grind. Yes, most were avowedly liberal, but, as (leaning) conservative, I found that the manner in which they wrote their books and in which they presented lecture of solid integrity.

A few bad apples spoil the bunch but MOST college professors (excepting assistants) hold their discipline in far higher regard than Bellesiles.

Sincerely,

James Tooman
tooman@ucla.edu


Bill Magaletta - 1/8/2003

In order to say that the US media are swamped by the Right, you use an "objective" standard of what is Left, by including Europe. The trouble is, it's not objective, and such objectivity as it has is irrelevant. If the media are to the left of the American people, as surely they are, that's what "bias" _means_ in the context of speaking about media bias, just as it would if they were to the right of the people. In fact, if they were not centered around the average view in any respect, e.g., astrology, or gardening, or you name it, that would be bias.


Don Williams - 1/8/2003

to halt the buildup of huge debt --by using his veto. Instead, as his Budget Director noted, the pigs fed at the trough. Sad, considering that when Reagan campaigned he told the US voters that he wanted to balance the budget.

Plus let's not forget the $500 Billion needed to fix the savings and loan mess -- something revealed by George H Bush in late 1988 two weeks AFTER the election. It's hilarious that the US public was so intent on discovering who Gary Hart was screwing -- just as that same public was about to be sodomized big time by the Reagan-Bush Administration.


Ernie De Bella - 1/8/2003

"What bothers me is the tendency of universities to use a vast sea of part-timers to avoid benefits and stability. But at public schools, that is usually because the legislature doesn't see what the university does as particularly valuable."

The Public Universities are competing with K-12 schools and Public Safety/Police and Prisons for funding. The Univisities will lose that battle everytime the budget crunch hits which leads me to believe that most Public Universities would be better off as private institutions.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

"I suppose we could try to engineer a political hire by focussing a particular field. A historian of sexuality, I'm guessing is more likely to be a liberal than a conservative. A military historian is more likely to be conservative. But guess what? Our most recent hire was a military historian, and he turned out to be a liberal. Neither his politics, nor his religion, came up in any of the interviews."

You are correct that hiring for a particular field won't work, or at least won't work very reliably. If a community college around here (if there were any around here) wanted to add a liberal or progressive to their staff, they might be tempted to hire an adjunct professor who specialized in black history. But who would apply? Yours truly, black history being one of my two specialties in grad school, and my second largest area of publication.

There are two actions that a search committee could take:

1. Make it clear that they had a preference to fill the current position with someone who was a conservative or libertarian, but that they would be considering all qualified applicants. ("Qualified conservatives and libertarians especially encouraged to apply," to paraphras language often used in AA recruitment efforts.)

2. Advertise in publications where you are more likely to get the sort of applicants that you want for balance. Now, the National Association of Scholars is NOT conservative--it was actually founded by a couple of old-line liberals who were dismayed by how dropping academic standards and Political Correctness were damaging the ivory tower--but I would guess that you would more likely get conservatives, moderates, and libertarians from such an ad than running it in, say, _The Nation_.

Both of these approaches are exactly how affirmative action programs are supposed to increase the size of the qualified minority pool, without engaging in something as offensive as quotas.

I would also suggest that the sort of nonsense that happened at Brooklyn College with respect to KC Johnson (who wasn't even particularly conservative) suggests that there may be a need to teach quite a few existing professors that there is merit to political diversity. Consider William H. Leckie, Jr.'s remarks elsewhere in this comments section: "My own view is that if university history departments are overwhelmingly 'liberal' (though I am not certain what that means anymore) it is a healthy thing for our public discourse, since our media are swamped by the Right." This does not sound like a professor who is going to welcome political diversity.


Adrianne - 1/8/2003

As far as failing out of Harvard goes... as a Harvard student, I think I'm more capable of answering that than bitter jokesters: it's quite possible to fail out of Harvard. Very few people actually get in who are unable to complete the coursework well enough, but a few (usually people who did not react well to the presence of alcohol and unstructured free time, but occasional misadmitted legacies) do. They are generally asked to withdraw (rare), asked to take indefinite leave (common -- "leave" turns into a de facto withdrawal -- as in, never any chance of readmission -- if you get a degree from another college), or strongly encouraged to transfer (fairly common). Don't spout off at the mouth about something you know nothing about, Mr. Professor Jackson.


Ernie De Bella - 1/8/2003

The TV media is liberal/Democrat. Consistently since the polling started the media has voted for the Democrat candidate for President 93% of the time.

You can't believe that just because you're even further to the left than the media that that makes Dan Rather conservative.


Ernie De Bella - 1/8/2003

Just so you know, the Cato institute is not a right wing outfit. It is a Libertarian think tank.


Adrianne - 1/8/2003

Some people date the founding of the academic left to Vietnam, where anti-war types sequestered themselves in academia and more patriotic professors left to join the forces. When they came back, they were, to put it mildly, less than welcome. I was not quite a person yet then, though, so I can't say for sure if this thesis is right.


TJ Kattermann - 1/8/2003

An annotated edition of Arming America with full explanatory text of every error must remain in print and become the foundation of a discussion of how Academia misuses the trust placed in it by the public.

It is also my humble opinion the word Bellesilesian should be entered into the dictionary as the very definition of academic
fraud.

Best regards to all,


Phil Wrigley - 1/8/2003

Many interesting and thoughtful comments here. It seems clear that the discipline of history is dominated by a fairly narrow liberal political viewpoint these days, and thus has a hard time considering alternative perspectives. The question is, are the discipline's current politics narrower than they have been in the past, or has the discipline always been hampered by blinding orthodoxies? I think back to my historiography course all those years ago, and those 19th century Whig triumphalist histories, or those embarassingly racist old histories of the American West and Reconstruction. Or the simple-minded economic determinism of "Progressive" historians like Beard. Maybe this is just "same story, new orthodoxy." The discipline has produced many great writers, but fewer independent-minded critical thinkers.


David Mercer - 1/8/2003

Peter, you hit the nail on the head as to why conservatives, libertarians and objectivists are opposed to affirmative action.

Change your argument to "student X has the better test scores, grades and extracurriculars compared to student Y, but is a white male and student Y is not, but we have too many white males, so Y gets in."

I attended a math/science magnet school in CA for part of high school that had Federally mandated racial quotas, and a friend of mine who went there too KNEW he was the 'token black', and didn't like it one bit. He had much lower academics, and would have preferred to go to the HS in his neighborhood (which was in the mostly white middle class part of town, while the magnet school was in the mostly black part of town, but none of the parents where they put the school wanted their children to hang out with whitey, so they had to bus the black kid in from the white side of things....very twisted!!!)

I think it's a shame that most here let Mr. Luker re-frame the debate as "oh, so NOW you're in favor of AA!!" when the point is "End the Stealth AA with regard to politics"

As has been pointed out in other forums, Mr. Kings vision was for color-blindness, not the nonsense I described above and witnessed in the 1980's. Shocking how the Left just can't admit to being bigots...ok not really :-)


Ralph E. Luker - 1/8/2003


http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030107/ap_on_en_ot/history_book_canceled_1
Instapundit is also commenting on the story.


Rick Tan - 1/8/2003

>In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan/George H Bush dumped a huge debt on
>Americans by spending 7% of the GDP on defense --whereas
>Germany and Japan were only spending about 3% and 1%
>respectively. Until Kennedy, no one pointed out the grave flaws of
>Reagan's budget.
>
Which part of government is responsible for raising revenue/laying taxes/collecting taxes?
Here is a hint...
"Section 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills. "
"Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"

I do not see President in those two Sections, either. Also, of the 17 'purposes' of taxes in Section 8, fully 7 of them pertain to 'defense' related duties!!!


Rick Tan - 1/8/2003

>My goal is to not to see history departments adopt quotas for political
>ideologies. My goal is to see history departments work in the way that
>AA was originally supposed to work: make sure that you make an
>honest effort to get beyond your prejudices, and if there is really little or
>no difference in qualifications for two applicants, try to maximize
>political diversity of your faculty. (In some departments, this might mean
>hiring some liberals or even a Marxist.)
>
I think that we do not need to start on that road to 'affirmative action' or 'political quotas'. What is clearly needed here, is what is present in the other disciplines such as computer science, engineering, medicine, etc.

In these sciences, bad implementations/theories are subjected to the harshest scrutiny, that is the failure of the product, or death of the patient. In here, the marketplace determines the outcome.

Couldn't historical analysis and texts be subject to the same?


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

No argument here. The profession would benefit from political diversity. But I'm still stuck on how you achieve it, or whether it is ethical to try to achieve it with a particular hire. I just can't imagine saying "Candidate X has the most teaching experience, the lengthiest publication record, and superior teaching evaluations, but he's a liberal, and we have too many of them. Candidate Y is a little less qualified but he's a conservative so he should get the job." When I drive a candidate around town, I show them the various churches, but I don't ask them what church they go to, or who they voted for in the last election. I suppose we could try to engineer a political hire by focussing a particular field. A historian of sexuality, I'm guessing is more likely to be a liberal than a conservative. A military historian is more likely to be conservative. But guess what? Our most recent hire was a military historian, and he turned out to be a liberal. Neither his politics, nor his religion, came up in any of the interviews. He doesn't have "liberal" tattooed on his forehead. It's not apparent in the way he dresses or in the way he talks.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

"Oh, I have a pretty good idea of what the Right is comprised of, sir,..."

A little earlier, you confessed that you weren't sure what liberal means anymore. I think you can see why I might not be very impressed with the accuracy of your understanding of "Right."

"that to identify a "Left" with the Democratic Party reveals a foreshortening of historical memory and a pinched political taxonomy that elides the rightward push in the party by the Clintonian DLC."

Do you know WHY the DLC managed to pull the Democratic Party slightly to the center of American politics? It had something to do with the continuing failure of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to win elections. As near as I can tell, the centrist aspects of the DLC were:

1. Support for the death penalty.

2. Unembarrassed support for capitalism (though not laissez faire, by any stretch).

What other aspects can you name? On almost all other issues, the DLC was solidly in the liberal branch of the Democratic Party: racial identity politics; affirmative action; gay rights; very restrictive gun control; support for teachers unions; more progressive tax rates; environmental restrictions; unrestricted abortion. Whether you think those are good policies or not, they were the Clinton Administration's policies, and they were indistinguishable in broad outline from those of liberal Democrats.

By the way, speaking of historical foreshortening, how many of Clinton's policies in these areas were supported by FDR? By JFK? By LBJ? Many of these policies would have been properly identified as lunatic fringe ideas by FDR, and politically impossible by LBJ.

"Your comment is mostly standard 'conservative' disinformation coupled with right-wing ad hominem.'"

followed by

"Good grief, the inmates now write the DSM!"

What does comparing me to a mental patient constitute if not ad hominem attack?

"As for the print outlets, to conclude, let me remind you that roguhly 2 out of every 3 newspapers in the US endorsed Shrub."

1. How many people read newspapers anymore compared to those that watch ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN?

2. I suspect that you mean "2 out of every 3 newspapers" THAT ENDORSED a presidential candidate. The Los Angeles Times, for example, does not usually endorse presidential candidates, having stopped doing so in 1972. (I remember it well.) Why? Because newspapers don't like to endorse clear losers, and the "respectable" newspapers aren't going to endorse a Republican.

3. I will suspect that "2 out of 3 newspapers" means the vast majority of daily newspapers out there with circulations in the 50-100,000 range--little newspapers with very, very little influence compared to the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

"Oh, I have a pretty good idea of what the Right is comprised of, sir,..."

A little earlier, you confessed that you weren't sure what liberal means anymore. I think you can see why I might not be very impressed with the accuracy of your understanding of "Right."

"that to identify a "Left" with the Democratic Party reveals a foreshortening of historical memory and a pinched political taxonomy that elides the rightward push in the party by the Clintonian DLC."

Do you know WHY the DLC managed to pull the Democratic Party slightly to the center of American politics? It had something to do with the continuing failure of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to win elections. As near as I can tell, the centrist aspects of the DLC were:

1. Support for the death penalty.

2. Unembarrassed support for capitalism (though not laissez faire, by any stretch).

What other aspects can you name? On almost all other issues, the DLC was solidly in the liberal branch of the Democratic Party: racial identity politics; affirmative action; gay rights; very restrictive gun control; support for teachers unions; more progressive tax rates; environmental restrictions; unrestricted abortion. Whether you think those are good policies or not, they were the Clinton Administration's policies, and they were indistinguishable in broad outline from those of liberal Democrats.

By the way, speaking of historical foreshortening, how many of Clinton's policies in these areas were supported by FDR? By JFK? By LBJ? Many of these policies would have been properly identified as lunatic fringe ideas by FDR, and politically impossible by LBJ.

"Your comment is mostly standard 'conservative' disinformation coupled with right-wing ad hominem.'"

followed by

"Good grief, the inmates now write the DSM!"

What does comparing me to a mental patient constitute if not ad hominem attack?

"As for the print outlets, to conclude, let me remind you that roguhly 2 out of every 3 newspapers in the US endorsed Shrub."

1. How many people read newspapers anymore compared to those that watch ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN?

2. I suspect that you mean "2 out of every 3 newspapers" THAT ENDORSED a presidential candidate. The Los Angeles Times, for example, does not usually endorse presidential candidates, having stopped doing so in 1972. (I remember it well.) Why? Because newspapers don't like to endorse clear losers, and the "respectable" newspapers aren't going to endorse a Republican.

3. I will suspect that "2 out of 3 newspapers" means the vast majority of daily newspapers out there with circulations in the 50-100,000 range--little newspapers with very, very little influence compared to the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.


Andy Freeman - 1/8/2003

> As for the print outlets, to conclude, let me remind you that roguhly 2 out of every 3 newspapers in the US endorsed Shrub.

It takes a special person to equate the Pine Grove Weekly with the New York Times.

Yes, the American left isn't all that left by EU standards, but that does not imply that the American press is to the right of the American electorate.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/8/2003

"But the real issue here is the degree of commitment to honesty and integrity. Neither liberals nor conservatives hold a monopoly in this area."

As my essay pointed out, the problem wasn't a lack of integrity in the profession as a whole, but that there was little reason for most historians to look critically at Bellesiles's claims, because they were comfortable with what he had to say.


John Jenkins - 1/8/2003

anything not in conformity with the line du jour is shrilly met with cliched denunciation. George Orwell, where are you when we need you?

Isn't that exactly what you just did? A cliche dismissal of womeone who disagrees with you, who doesn't adhere to your orthodoxy? Where is your argument? Where is your evidence? Or is it simply pure rhetoric.

I actually wish that you were correct in asserting that the country was moving to the right. If you think the Democracts are moving right, perhaps you might want to meet Nancy Pelosi. I don't know who she's to the right of, but I'm glad I haven't met him.


John Jenkins - 1/8/2003

The fact that there are unemployed historians doesn't indicate that salaries are artificially inflated. I'm not sure what economic theory you're referring to, but when the supply of a product outstrips the demand for it, the price of the product goes down, not up.

If your argument is that the artificially high salaries of historians caused the supply to increase faster than the demand, then I don't understand how you reached that conclusion. It would make little sense to hire a historian for $50,000/yr when an equally qualified one could be had for only $35,000/yr. Artificially inflated salaries harms the institutions, not the historians. Why would the hiring school harm itself that way?

The argument about government-run schools keeping salaries low is a good one despite your dismissing it. It's unlikely that teachers' unions are going to get Virginia, for example, to pay teachers $35,000 per year to a teacher who can only get $25,000 per year elsewhere. That would be an incredibly stupid thing to do. Since the spending of various government agencies is legitimately restricted by their budgets and and they don't ever generate a profit, there is no incentive to raise salaries in order to attract the best talent like there is in private enterprise.


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/8/2003

Oh, I have a pretty good idea of what the Right is comprised of, sir, and find that 1.) the range of our public discourse, certainly by European standards, is a pretty narrow band on the center-right, shading into a nut-case fringe overwhelmingly dominant on Fox, talk radio, and the internet; 2.)that to identify a "Left" with the Democratic Party reveals a foreshortening of historical memory and a pinched political taxonomy that elides the rightward push in the party by the Clintonian DLC.

I'm also appalled that a knee-jerk equation of "Left" and "liberal" has poisoned the quality of our political language! And--as someone sympathetic to whatever remains of a Left--I have to say it's downright silly to write that our "mainstream," corporate-dominated network news is "Democrat-sympathetic" and ipso facto a bastion of the "Left."

Your comment is mostly standard "conservative" disinformation coupled with right-wing ad hominem. It is now commonplace to associate retention of any progressivity in our federal tax code with "class warfare." Good grief, the inmates now write the DSM! It'd be a hoot if real people, real lives, were not at stake.

As for the print outlets, to conclude, let me remind you that roguhly 2 out of every 3 newspapers in the US endorsed Shrub. The fantasy of a liberal-dominated press establishment is a creation of right-wing absolutism: anything not in conformity with the line du jour is shrilly met with cliched denunciation. George Orwell, where are you when we need you?


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

I must say I'm finding this whole line of discussion amusing--a conversation being carried on mostly by conservatives about the plight of underpaid history professors. Thanks for the concern--and in the case of Mr. Cramer, I think it is sincerely felt. But this History professor doesn't feel under-appreciated, and has no chip on his shoulder. I get paid to do what I love--read history books, teach, and write history! Sure, I'd love a big raise, but I've got indoor plumbing and wake up each morning eager to go to work! These stereotypes of bitter, alienated, impoverished history professors are just that-stereotypes. I do know many rightfully embittered ABDs, and unemployed history Phds. But among those of us who won the lottery and landed tenure-track jobs, I'd say most of us are pretty happy about where we are and what we're doing. Just call me a blissfully content liberal in Appalachia!


T.A. Pahner - 1/8/2003

"and able to turn such valuable research into economically-sound products."

I believe that this is one of the reasons why the study of economics has Conservatives in relative abundance, and the History profession does not: The accuracy of interpretation cannot be precisely measured in history - at least until the whole society goes off-kilter - but erroneous economic understanding shows up within a few years.

TAP


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

Mr. Speirs is so convinced that liberals are the spawn of satan that he can't believe I'd hire a "qualified conservative Bush voter." Here's a true story, that Mr. Speirs will likely never believe: I recently chaired a search for a History position. When I called the number given to me by one of the finalists, he answered the phone "Republican Party Headquarters." We not only invited him to campus, but were prepared to offer him the job, until a reference check revealed that he had lied about his work experience. We didn't offer him the job, but I will not jump to the conclusion that all Republicans lie on their CVs.


Peter Jackson - 1/8/2003

Your anecdotal evidence is pretty thin. The fact of the matter is there are hundreds of excellent, unemployed historians. It took me three years and over 150 job applications to land one tenure track job, and I know many people who were brighter than myself who never landed one. Your conservative friends who can't land a tenure track job are in a large club--and it is full of liberals as well as conservatives. There are far more History PhDs than tenure track jobs. One of the reasons salaries are low is we are easily replaceable.


Peter Jackson - 1/7/2003

The fact that my department contains five liberals who hold different views about gun regulation makes us a possible home for a future Bellesiles? All five of us were hired by committees who did not think our personal politics were relevant to our qualifications. All five wrote dissertations that could have been written by liberals or conservatives. All five are committed to a professional ethic that asserts academic fraud of any kind (plagiarism; falsification of evidence) is unacceptable. When you assert, Mr. Greenland, that our politics make us a potential source of the next Bellesiles, you are making an assumption that is as unjust as that made by those who dismissed Cramer's work because we was a conservative and opponent of gun control. Perhaps political diversity in history departments would be beneficial, provided it could be achieved without imposing hiring policies that are discriminatory and/or violate people's rights to free expression and free association. But the real issue here is the degree of commitment to honesty and integrity. Neither liberals nor conservatives hold a monopoly in this area.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"My own view is that if university history departments are overwhelmingly "liberal" (though I am not certain what that means anymore) it is a healthy thing for our public discourse, since our media are swamped by the Right."

I'm not certain that you know what "Right" means, either. In the last five years, the Democrat-sympathetic mainstream news media (CBS, NBC, ABC, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN) have suddenly experienced real competition from Fox News, which is noticeably conservative.

"what little remains of a Left in this country": Hmmm. Perhaps I'm influenced by having spent most of my life in California, but the Left sure seems plenty strong. No Republicans hold statewide office in the Golden State anymore, at least partly because multimillionaires are so common there.


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 1/7/2003

I agree with Ralph Luker: If the Right is going to make blanket charges about an entire profession, then its acolytes had better be prepared to name names and produce evidence.

As for the assertion that people lend their names to dust jackets of propaganda, let's please keep in mind that we are also in the bizarre circumstance in which the well-financed ideological products of right-wing think tanks--Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Manhattan Institute--are well-publicized as "scholarship."

My own view is that if university history departments are overwhelmingly "liberal" (though I am not certain what that means anymore) it is a healthy thing for our public discourse, since our media are swamped by the Right. My concern here is societal, not institutional, diversity, and with that in mind I suggest that exposure on campus to what little remains of a Left in this country is a good thing for students.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"The job market for History PhDs is well known --but the market for other graduates is not much better. Could one not argue that anyone who expends $150,000 and six years of their life in acquiring a useless certificate is, by definition, unintelligent?"

Or, perhaps not motivated by the desire to make a decent living. Of course, many academics come from homes where wealth is important, such as David Packard's son, who is (was?) a professor of classics. Money was obviously a controlling influence as to career. I am reminded of the famous saying by John Adams that is often paraphrased as, "I must study war, so that my son may study science, so that his son may study art." Those from independently wealthy homes can afford to pursue an academic career. Others must work for a living. This may also explain liberal dominance in the ivory tower.


Bob Smith - 1/7/2003

Bellesiles is an out-right fraud and liar. However, he is an example of the type of professionals we have in academia today. They allow their personal political agendas influence the truth of their professions.


Henry Bramlet - 1/7/2003

---
"I would call this a market failure, then. I don't say that as an embittered academic, but a person with experience on both sides of that issue. There is a good chance (I would say better than 10%) that either your telephone conversations or your DSL connection to the Internet is carried on a product that I helped to develop. (Alcatel's Litespan-2000 digital loop carrier, or Nokia's DSL access multiplexer.)"
---

Well, last I looked, CompSci is funded much more heavily than History.

And I'll note that there are quite a few more people willing to take those research positions (helped by a great deal more "cheap labor" grad students) than there are people who are willing and able to turn such valuable research into economically-sound products. I don't say this as a jealous, working prole, but as a manager who has worked with brilliant idea-people who are great for research, and brilliant can-do-people that get stuff done on a budget and timeline. The former are, with notable exceptions, much more common than the latter.

Pure research has proven and observed a vast array of broadband connectivity solutions. From DSL, to wireless, to free-space optics, well-researched, scientifically sound ideas are plentiful. However, it is the instantiation of these ideas- the ability to pick the appropriate method and apply it in a manner which society can use most effectively- that remains scarce and highly prized. These are the people who must make-due, who must face bankruptcy when wrong, and who are duly compensated when right. If researchers were the most highly compensated, we wouldn't have any implementers.

-HB


Don Williams - 1/7/2003

Isn't an university education becoming increasingly worthless?

Some of the most successful people --Bill Gates(Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), etc were college dropouts. Michael Dell of Dell Computer spent most of his time in college building his company. Why do we encourage young people to waste years of their lives sitting through tedious courses of little value instead of using their energy and freedom to develop something new? Certainly most university education in technical areas is years out of date.

The job market for History PhDs is well known --but the market for other graduates is not much better. Could one not argue that anyone who expends $150,000 and six years of their life in acquiring a useless certificate is, by definition, unintelligent?

One can argue that the study of history and of the classics is of great value -- I would agree. However, I would also argue that one can do such study on one's own time and with the freedom to apply the lessons to today's world --vice gaming to pass a professor's test and to conform with a professor's political inclinations. Any scholarly benefit one gains from a professor's insight is usually lost because one is guided down a false path by the professor's prejudices.

Much has been made of Bellesiles. I personally think much of Bellesiles history is false and misleading but if he was lying, he was lying about events of 200 years ago.

By contrast, the news media, Congress, and the White House lie in a major way every day --about major issues happening today. The academy is one of the few areas of society with the freedom to expose those lies --yet it largely remains silent.

(The one exception that comes to mind is Paul Kennedy's 1987 book "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers". In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan/George H Bush dumped a huge debt on Americans by spending 7% of the GDP on defense --whereas Germany and Japan were only spending about 3% and 1% respectively. Until Kennedy, no one pointed out the grave flaws of Reagan's budget.)

Today, a liberal education does little but show you how badly the nation is being screwed by Bush -- and how there is nothing you can do about it.


Don Williams - 1/7/2003

Isn't an university education becoming increasingly worthless?

Some of the most successful people --Bill Gates(Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), etc were college dropouts. Michael Dell of Dell Computer spent most of his time in college building his company. Why do we encourage young people to waste years of their lives sitting through tedious courses of little value instead of using their energy and freedom to develop something new? Certainly most university education in technical areas is years out of date.

The job market for History PhDs is well known --but the market for other graduates is not much better. Could one not argue that anyone who expends $150,000 and six years of their life in acquiring a useless certificate is, by definition, unintelligent?

One can argue that the study of history and of the classics is of great value -- I would agree. However, I would also argue that one can do such study on one's own time and with the freedom to apply the lessons to today's world --vice gaming to pass a professor's test and to conform with a professor's political inclinations. Any scholarly benefit one gains from a professor's insight is usually lost because one is guided down a false path by the professor's prejudices.

Much has been made of Bellesiles. I personally think much of Bellesiles history is false and misleading but if he was lying, he was lying about events of 200 years ago.

By contrast, the news media, Congress, and the White House lie in a major way every day --about major issues happening today. The academy is one of the few areas of society with the freedom to expose those lies --yet it largely remains silent. The one exception that comes to mind is Paul Kennedy's 1987 book "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers".

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan/George H Bush dumped a huge debt on Americans by spending 7% of the GDP on defense --whereas Germany and Japan were only spending about 3% and 1% respectively. Until Kennedy, no one pointed out the grave flaws of Reagan's budget.

Today, a liberal education does little but show you how badly you are being screwed by George W Bush -- and how little there is you can do about it.


Henry Bramlet - 1/7/2003

---
"Bramlet is, of course, absolutely correct. Allocating "scarce resources" at Enron got real difficult, I'm told."
---

A good point, Luker.

At Enron, years of government mis-regulation created a distorted economic atmosphere. A few malcontents exploited these inefficiencies while protected by colleagues who didn't realize that, historically, the cyclical nature of markets will always put paid to such schemes. Contrast that with many sectors of Academia, where denial of the economic reality of scholastic professions has created an insular society that actively protects those malcontents who would commit fraud in order to affect social change.

Enron: Historically inept and economically fraudulent
Bellesiles's Academia: Economically inept and historically fraudulent

The parallels in any social construct with distorted market conditions are staggering, don't you think?

-HB


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"I'm not denying the importance of history. I'm just stating that I will spend a good amount of my leisure time watching the Colorado Avalanche, and a lesser amount reading good history books. Likewise, I value the software that enables this discussion higher than I value a comprehensive collection of Civil War Era diaries. The former leverages my effectiveness much better than the latter."

I would call this a market failure, then. I don't say that as an embittered academic, but a person with experience on both sides of that issue. There is a good chance (I would say better than 10%) that either your telephone conversations or your DSL connection to the Internet is carried on a product that I helped to develop. (Alcatel's Litespan-2000 digital loop carrier, or Nokia's DSL access multiplexer.)

History matters, not to the masses as a consumer good, but because of the influence it has over public policy.


Henry Bramlet - 1/7/2003

---
"One of the difficulties with this argument is that the market for college professors (like schoolteachers) is strongly distorted by the fact that the vast majority of "market wages" are set by publicly owned and operated schools. I'm not sure what the market wage for teaching history might be (or even what demand for college education there might be) if the government didn't dominate the profession."
--

Actually, "Public schools" do not set the wages. The wages are set through negotiations between public schools and private individuals (the employees)- or their collective-bargaining representatives (unions). The fact that 50% of history PhD's cannot find work in their field indicates that there is higher supply than demand. Now, by pure economic theory (irregardless of capitalism), this indicates that wages are being artificially inflated. In other words, though there are 2 PhD's willing to work for $50,000 per year, there is only demand for 1 at that price.

In any case, one can see evidence of your same complaints in the private market as well. Private trade schools tend to pay more to teachers who can teach students in demanded professions- such as computer programming. ESPN makes more money than the History Channel, just as college football is prized more than scholastic endeavors.

I'm not denying the importance of history. I'm just stating that I will spend a good amount of my leisure time watching the Colorado Avalanche, and a lesser amount reading good history books. Likewise, I value the software that enables this discussion higher than I value a comprehensive collection of Civil War Era diaries. The former leverages my effectiveness much better than the latter.

Labeling scholars as "unappreciated" ignores the fact that they, though valuable to society, are less valuable than the few who can heal us when sick, provide us with time-saving computers, or even entertain us with athletic feats.

-HB


Josh Greenland - 1/7/2003

"Yes, liberals can have different viewpoints on issues! We have a liberal pro-life Catholic, and two liberal hunters! I suppose from the right our positions would all seem "pro-gun control," but we do have significant differences among us in terms of what kinds of regulations we think are legitimate and useful."

So your department is all liberal and all pro-gun control? Great. And no, there is not much difference between those who want to restrict arms ownership to "sporting use only," and those who want all guns confiscated from civilian hands. Looks like you can point to the pro-lifer and say, "See, we have political diversity!" Your department sounds like a comfortable place for a future undiscovered Bellesiles.

BTW, people of all political viewpoints are pro-gun rights, including people on the left like myself. Your remark ("I suppose from the right") was particularly off-target since there are deeply conservative people who are pro-gun control.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

One of the difficulties with this argument is that the market for college professors (like schoolteachers) is strongly distorted by the fact that the vast majority of "market wages" are set by publicly owned and operated schools. I'm not sure what the market wage for teaching history might be (or even what demand for college education there might be) if the government didn't dominate the profession.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/7/2003

Bramlet is, of course, absolutely correct. Allocating "scarce resources" at Enron got real difficult, I'm told.


Henry Bramlet - 1/7/2003

I'm sorry that History Professors aren't paid enough, but I find this handwringing to be unpersuasive.

What I see is that there is an over-abundance of History PhD's. If your mode of study will give you a 50% chance of landing work, then you do not need to be coddled by market-distorting influences any more than an amateur guitarist who is competing for a spot on the Billboard Top 100. There is inherent risk in pursuing your passion, and working at a job that fulfills you can often involve trade-offs- including monetary compensation.

The problem comes when people bemoan the current "culture" and insist that we shouldn't spend so much money on "management", nor value barbaric sports over what is *really* important. Instead of nurturing a group of professionals pursuing their passions, this encourages a sentiment of persecution. Already convinced that society doesn't value them for what they are *really* worth, is it surprising that they seek to surround themselves with others who not only agree, but also idealize a system where intellectual elitism is prized higher than demonstrable, demanded talent (i.e. Leftist Politics)?

I have a friend who couldn't cut it playing tennis. He doesn't wail about the faults of a capitalistic society which fails to appreciate his unique talents. He doesn't whine about the systemic culture deficiencies that relegate him to teaching at country clubs while CEOs with half his racquet-prowess make millions per year.

The sad fact is that History is not so important to a society so as to support 100% of history majors at their desired fees. Labeling them as "under appreciated" only compounds the problem by swelling the chip on their shoulders and encouraging the "us vs. them" mentality. Sure, we all wish that we could get paid more, but such is not possible in "reality", where individuals have to allocate scarce resources for their own survival and fulfillment. The really sad thing is that I realized this at 21, while Bellesiles (and the supporters who defended his malpractice because he was fighting the good fight) have yet to wise up.

-HB


mojo - 1/7/2003

I voted for Pigasus. Been doing that since '68, I think.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/7/2003

Sorry, Lewis, not just "dark corners of the universe." Try the United States Senate. Try your own unexamined self.


Steven Malynn - 1/7/2003

Prof. Jackson and Mr. Cramer, I'm a conservative Lawyer who loves history. I was a fact checker in law school, and a fact gatherer for my History advisor many years ago. But I have a problem with this stream, no-one is really hitting the nail on the head regarding the idealogical acadamic straight jacket.

As direct evidence, I have only my own anecdotal experience of learning from a liberal administration(UCR in '77-81) and conversations with a couple current PhD acquaintances whose conservative views have prevented them from teaching in liberal arts. That is, they are able to obtain adjunct positions and get rave reviews/teaching evaluations, but no offers of tenure. Twenty-five years and counting in my experience leads me to agree with Mr. Cramer's dispair.

If the History professorate in particular is not actively/purposefully being restricted to one world view by the current gatekeepers (at least by some large portion of the academy) then the absolute imbalance is due to an irrepairable self-deception by the current hiring and tenure committees.

Of course in the legal world of discrimination law, if such an overwhelming imbalance were found in the categories of sexual preference, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, disability or age the academy would be subject to a jury of its' peers -- that is, those registered to vote (even for Bush), not those on the tenure committee. That would be an interesting set of jury awards to contemplate, as juries just don't like arrogance.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

I recall a brief fuss a couple of years back when there were discussions that the WASC "might" refuse to accredit universities that discriminated against homosexuals in employment. Can you imagine any of the regional accreditation associations making similar requirements about political diversity?

Keep in mind that in some states, requiring a university to hire a practicing homosexual would be requiring a university to hire a known felon. Idaho, for example, still makes it a felony to engage in sodomy.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"Were they qualified, then they would be hired. So then why would we need an EOE? Ah, yes, the great "institutional racism" that Luker and his liberal dragon-slayers find lurking in every dark corner of the universe."

1. In the 1960s, there were a LOT of people in hiring positions who did not want black people doing anything more advanced than cleaning toilets. Even in the 1970s, I would see signs of this, and I strongly encouraged one HR gal I knew to contact EEO Compliance concerning her employer, a federal contractor, where the Director of Engineering made statements that demonstrated that he would not hire non-whites or females in his department. (This was interfering with me making a living, so I cared for both moral and pragmatic reasons.) She took action, and so did EEO Compliance.

2. However, this wasn't the only cause of racial discrimination. There was a lot of unintentional discrimination, caused not by institutional racism, and not by intentional racism, but by a subtle collection of, "He's not like us" thinking. This is the same mechanism that results in people to the right of Al Gore not being hired in many history departments.

It isn't that search committees get together and say, "We can't hire Dr. X. He's a conservative." (Though this may happen sometimes.) It is, "I'm not very impressed with his publication history." "I don't think he would work well with the rest of the department." "He seems so dogmatic about his work on the Second Amendment."

None of these are conscious decisions to discriminate; they are the equivalent of what used to happen in industries where white males dominated. A black man would come in for an interview, and afterwards, someone on the hiring committee would say, "He seemed belligerent--he staring me down." (Modes of eye contact were a very real cultural difference between whites and blacks once upon a time in some regions.) "He seemed a bit too militant." "I'm not impressed with the work he has done."


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/7/2003

Prof. Sternstein no doubt has a thicker file of Baruch College follies, but the one that stands out in my mind was the accreditation fiasco there some 13 or more years ago (if I remember corectly). The regional accreditation association, after visiting Baruch for its periodic review, refused to accredit Baruch because it had failed to meet its minority hiring goals -- something almost no college ever achieves. The logic of the argument was such that had Baruch not burdened itself with goals, there would have been no barrier to reaccrediting them. The Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, had to threaten the accreditation association with decertification by the US Department of Education in order to get them to restrict themselves to their portfolio. I had, then, thought I had seen the cake when it comes to ham-handed politics-posing-as-academics, but as usual I was wrong.


Dane Lewis - 1/7/2003

Were they qualified, then they would be hired. So then why would we need an EOE? Ah, yes, the great "institutional racism" that Luker and his liberal dragon-slayers find lurking in every dark corner of the universe.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

I suspect that many of those who put their name on the dust jacket must have developed some suspicions somewhere along the way, but that's a hard thing to prove. In any case, my point stands: the lack of diversity in the history profession means that scandals like this happen.


Dane Lewis - 1/7/2003

Mr. Luker,

You can't be so obtuse as to suggest that academics -- many of whose names are highlighted on the books' jacket -- did not knowingly attach their reputation to a book that was filled with fradulent propaganda. Although,I do not believe they did so knowingly when the book was first published, by allowing their names to be associated with the work long after it had been exposed as a hoax, the deafening silence from that lot was enough to suggest that they were not willing to criticize it specifically because it advocated their political point of view. If this doesn't constitute a tacit, if not knowing, endorsement of a fraud, then I don't know what does. Would you have allowed this to happen, Mr. Luker, had you produced a blurb for everyone to read, calling the work "spectacular," or "the NRAs worst nightmare"? I would hope not.

Go to Clayton's thread and read-up yourself if you don't believe me.


Jerry Sternstein - 1/7/2003

Clayton Cramer’s excellent article does, I think, expose certain fault lines in academia today that probably did account for the way Arming America was initially received among historians. There is a tendency of group thinking about certain issues, particularly gun control, as I know from my personal experience. Until I became involved in the Bellesiles Affair, I don’t believe I ever encountered an historian who wasn’t strongly in favor of it, or if he or she was opposed to gun control, they never expressed an opinion favorable to the NRA’s position in my presence. Still, I have no doubt that many historians who consider themselves liberal Democrats on gun control and a host of other issues would, like Prof. Jackson, be “horrified by the idea” of considering a potential job candidate’s politics when making hiring decisions. But the problem is that many other historians on the far left of the political spectrum, especially those who regard their politics as radical, appear to have no such inhibitions.

What happened to KC Johnson at Brooklyn College is now well known. Despite his sterling qualifications as a scholar and teacher, he was denied promotion and tenure for spurious, invented reasons of “collegiality,” when in reality he was guilty of nothing more than opposing a radical clique of historians anxious to pack the department with like-thinking members, and an insecure chairman anxious to mollify them and preserve his non-teaching position with appointments based on considerations of gender. But Johnson wasn’t the only historian who fell afoul of the department’s “academic terrorists” -- a term initially employed by the chairman himself to describe the radicals opposed to Johnson before the chairman bowed to their wishes -- for ideological reasons.

In the disputed search for a European historian, who the chairman originally wanted to confine to ”some women we can live with, who are not whiners from the word go or who need therapy as much as they need a job” because the radicals demanded a female hire and because the college president, Christoph Kimmich, had signaled the chairman he should pay particular attention to a female candidate an influential CUNY donor had contacted him about, several males stood out for their exemplary scholarship and other credentials. One of those candidates had written, according to Johnson and others, a “brilliant dissertation” on Willy Munzenburg, a Comintern propagandist during the 1920s and 1930s, employing for the first time materials from German and Russian archives which Yale University Press will publish this year. This candidate whose biography of Munzenburg, again according to Johnson, “was a devastating critique of the moral bankruptcy of interior Communism,” was strongly opposed by the “academic terrorists” but he made it into the final eight under consideration. Before he was to be interviewed by telephone, however, the untenured chair of the search committee, a woman who is a bitter opponent of Johnson and close to the “academic terrorists,” sent an e-mail to the search committee members urging them to undertake a “google” search on all the candidates. The reason she did this was that this male finalist was the only candidate who had written articles for a website with a libertarian bent. One article was one of the best reviews I’ve read of Stephane Courtois, et. al., The Black Book of Communism, and others touched critically on issues relating to radical feminism and other hot button topics. One of the “academic terrorists” on the appointments committee, a radical feminist who the chairman once described to Johnson in an e-mail as “an unscrupulous and unprofessional mole,” got the message and brought up this candidate’s non-scholarly postings in the interview and pressed him on them, demanding to know if he would continue such writings if hired. “Are you going to bring your politics in the classroom?,” she asked him. The implication was clear: she didn’t like his politics, since she earlier commended a candidate for publishing in the Radical History Review, and would have found nothing wrong if that candidate’s politics entered the classroom.

Though others in the office while this “interview” was in progress tried to curtail her unseemly interrogation, the chairman, Phil Gallagher, allowed it to proceed unabated.

This candidate, obviously, didn’t get the job at Brooklyn College. Nor was this the first time his political views have come under scrutiny. At a job interview at Baruch College, a CUNY unit specializing in business education, he was told by the department chair there “You better not use THAT word around this department.” And the forbidden word: Conservative. Today, that historian is teaching in Turkey, where I’m informed he is presently quite happy away from the politicized atmosphere he’s faced in the supposedly open-minded American academy committed to academic freedom.

Another instructive incident that highlights the political bias that prevails at Brooklyn College and clearly at other branches of CUNY relates to the male historian who was eventually hired in the disputed search. That historian then held a post-doctoral fellowship at Ohio University’s Merschon Center. Prof. Johnson was at the time in charge of the History Department’s webpage, where he posted the announcement of the new appointment, the exact wording of which he cleared with the appointee. A few days after the posting, however, Johnson received an e-mail from the department’s deputy chairperson, Don Gerardi, accusing Johnson of posting “reprehensible whispers of disinformation alleging [the appointee]. . .with being a right-winger.” And what “disinformation” was it that led the deputy chairperson to reach that conclusion? Well, it appears, that the appointee had once worked for Republican Congressman John Kasich, something apparently which only a despised “right-winger” would have the temerity to do. The deputy chairman then ordered Johnson to change the wording on the webpage and say only that the appointee was an assistant professor at Ohio University [Donald F. Gerardi to KC Johnson, E-mail, 23 Feb. 2001].

Given what Gerardi instructed Johnson to say on the webpage, it appears that he hadn’t read the appointee’s file, for the appointee wasn’t an assistant professor at Ohio University. But more importantly, Gerardi obviously didn’t know that the new hire had worked for Kasich -- and later the Atlantic Institute -- and the clear implication of his e-mail was that had he known that the purported “disinformation” was in fact accurate, the new hire, being obviously a “right-winger,” would probably not have been hired if the deputy chair had his way.

The deputy chair was not alone in reacting with dismay to the news that somebody appointed to the department might be a conservative. After the announcement of the new hire, a junior colleague in the department told a now tenured historian of American history who had supported the appointment, that the appointee had at one time worked for Congressman Kasich. Her reaction was one of horror. Had she known about that fact, she said, she would never have supported him.

Is Brooklyn College’s history department or Baruch’s, for that matter, unique in the highly politicized atmosphere that prevails there or is the reality more like Prof. Jackson’s “small, rural, liberal arts college” where a historians’ politics never come up during the hiring, promotion, and tenure process. I don’t know nor do I think anybody else knows which is the norm. But it is apparent that some historians at some institutions do apply political litmus tests in evaluating candidates for jobs. And those litmus tests are not always conservative/liberal, Democratic/Republican, Libertarian/Marxist. They can be, as in the case of KC Johnson, litmus tests that inher to the whole doctrine of political correctness and diversity and multiculturalism. Those who don’t go along with these prevailing modes of thinking on campus, whether they be Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, Democrats (and KC Johnson regards himself as a “Scoop” Jackson Democrat) can get into serious trouble if they are simply independent thinkers who stray outside of those constraining modes of thought. And this is precisely what happened to him at Brooklyn College. Two faculty members in the History Department there, Profs. Leonard Gordon (recently retired) and Margaret King who know him well and served on committees with him, testified to his independent, perhaps idealistic streak which made him persona non grata, in an (unpublished, I believe) letter to the New York Times, which deserves to be quoted:

To the editor: (12-18-02)

Karen Arenson's article "Star Scholar Fights for his Future at Brooklyn College" (12/18/02) unfairly leaves unchallenged the central criticism against Professor Robert David "KC" Johnson at Brooklyn College: that Johnson is arrogant or uncooperative in dealing with some of his colleagues. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To those of us who have worked on these committees with him and know him well, Professor Johnson is, in fact, exceedingly polite and courteous, and perhaps a bit idealistic, believing that honest debate is what academe and the search for truth is about. His crimes, if that is what they are, are two-fold: he objected as an untenured professor to a Brooklyn College forum on the events of 9/ll because it had no speakers who supported a pro-U.S. or Israeli position; and he insisted that a new faculty hire should be based on merit determined by a careful reading of the candidate's professional file as well as a live presentation. After this, a case against granting him tenure and re-appointment, shot through with procedural violations and factual inaccuracies, was manufactured against him.

In the interest of fairness and accuracy, the Times article should have at least given either Professor Johnson or his numerous supporters at Brooklyn College, who were interviewed, a chance to respond to the main attack on him. As his senior colleagues, we observed many of the discussions that are referred to and only saw Johnson arguing strongly for his point of view, never demeaning or intimidating opponents. Brooklyn College and CUNY need people like Johnson who are not afraid to make the case for their views, even when unpopular, who arouse intense student involvement, and who reach for the highest standards in American higher education.

Leonard Gordon, Professor  of History (Emeritus '02), Brooklyn College
Margaret King, Professor of History, Brooklyn College



Richard Henry Morgan - 1/7/2003

Mr. Luker is right to condemn affirmative action for conservatives as inconsistent with conservative thought. The argument cuts both ways. How do people argue for the benefits of racial and gender diversity, and affirmative action to achieve it, and then stop short of advocating affirmative action for conservatives?

The rush to "diversity" has an unflattering pedigree. It sprang nearly full-grown from the brain of Lee Bollinger, on the heels of the Hopwood decision, where he all but said that Michigan would substitute 'diversity' for 'affirmative action' as a way to get around the Hopwood decision. Since half of patients, roughly, are males, would it not seem that diversity demands half of all nurses be male? Want to make any bets that Michigan hasn't lowered admission standards to nursing schools for males, in order to achieve and enjoy the benefits of diversity? Just wondering.


Charles Slaybaugh - 1/7/2003

To Messers Jackson and Johnson: It seems to me that the intellectual capabilities of our leaders is not as relevent as either of you believe. A couple of examples come to mind; A recent President (and former Rhodes Scholar) who was not even certain of the meaning of the word "is".

Using Prof. Jackson's words "and was as a student hardly the type a professor would have good feelings for--a lazy underachiever...." As my memory serves me, this description very well could have applied to another statesman of another era....Winston Churchill. But hey, why am I getting in the middle of your discussion. I'm no scholar.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

It would be difficult to establish that someone "knowingly tether[ed] their political opinions to fraudulent work," because it is difficult to prove that historians knew that _Arming America_ was a fraud. But it is certainly the case that a lot of historians were making excuses for Bellesiles's poor quality of work far past the point where any rational person would have done so.

See http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-oieahc&month=0205&week=b&msg=YLSxqVhOrlvYTo38k93HQw&user=&pw=, in which Professor Holly Brewer of North Carolina State University claims:

"Although _Arming America_ has problems, its argument that gun ownership was far from universal among adult males is basically sound. Bellesiles' was sloppy in some places, and sometimes overstated his case (e.g. clearly guns could be accurate sometimes and were fearsome weapons). Guns also did appear in more probate records than Bellesiles' calculations indicated,
especially in some areas (as shown, for example, by James Lindgren, Gloria Main). Bellesiles' most egregious quoting problem (here one of my students tracked the George Washington quote that has been emphasized on some internet sites) was to mis-characterize a comment that Washington made about only a few of Virginia militias so that he seemed to be saying it about all (p. 157 of _Arming America_, recent paperback ed.). But
generally, most of his quotes were fine. He did tend to lean towards one kind of interpretation, but many scholars do that."


Peter Ingemi - 1/7/2003

As a history fanatic I think that most people teach history because they love it and want to share that love. However that love usually has a financial cost.

Incidently about those glowing reviews If you go to Amazon.com you will still see a long list of glowing professional reviews (I don't mean customer reviews) that have not been retracted. A monument to their failure.


John Jenkins - 1/7/2003

Indeed it would be. Too bad that no one is making that argument. The argument being made isn't that political viewpoint SHOULD be taken into account (as it obviously is now in hiring and tenure decisions) but rather that it should NOT be taken into account. That position is entirely consistent with merit-based hiring practices.

Unless of course, you are trying to argue that conservatives aren't as smart as liberals so they wouldn't get the jobs anyway. If that's the case, I hope you're an attorney and that we one day will meet in a negotiation of some sort because there is no easier man to beat than the one who thinks he's smarter than you.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

But of course, Professor Lindgren is a law professor, not a history professor. History needs more diversity.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"It is shameless of right-wingers in this discussion to argue, elsewhere, that equal opportunity employment policies are shameful to the minorities and women who are hired because they imply that such hires are otherwise unqualified, and to argue, here, that departments should implement eoe policies for right wingers."

I suggest that Professor Luker has misunderstood the criticism of AA. There is no question that the original intent of Affirmative Action was legitimate. Many employers were not consciously discriminating against blacks, but the tendency of people to hire others that were like themselves meant that the results were hard to distinguish from intentional racial discrimination. AA was supposed to push employers to think a bit more carefully about who they hired, and why.

In practice, because government contractors had to meet the requirements of government bean counters (and I had occasion to deal with some of them on this issue at one time), it was easier to replace the laudable goal of asking employers to review their processes, and make better efforts, with quotas. What percentage of your employees were black? What percentage were Hispanic? What percentage were Asian? (I used to see the reports that one of my employers had to file to continue getting government subcontract work. I also had to deal with an EEO compliance officer when I was a headhunter who simply could not understand that I didn't keep track of the race of applicants, and that I was too greedy to turn down any qualified applicant.)

One consequence of the quota approach was employers who hired tokens. One guy I ran into when I was hunting heads worked for Rockwell. He had, somehow, worked for them full-time, and earned a BS in Chemistry in 1975, an MS in Physics in 1976,
and a PhD in Cosmology in 1979. (Yes, all the degrees were from a diploma mill.) Nor could I find that he did anything for Rockwell, except be one of their black PhDs in charge of appearing on statistical reports. Sad to say, this does not seem to have been an isolated instance; I have met others who had similar experiences with aerospace employers hiring utterly unqualified applicants strictly based on race.

While I was hunting heads, I saw black applicants who were qualified for the jobs that I managed to place them in. Were they the most qualified applicants for those positions? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But they at least could do the job for which they were hired.

My goal is to not to see history departments adopt quotas for political ideologies. My goal is to see history departments work in the way that AA was originally supposed to work: make sure that you make an honest effort to get beyond your prejudices, and if there is really little or no difference in qualifications for two applicants, try to maximize political diversity of your faculty. (In some departments, this might mean hiring some liberals or even a Marxist.)

The reason to do this isn't to make whiny conservatives happy (though it can't hurt any when the legislature is considering university budgets if they hear a few history professors "who sound like us"). The reason to do this is because it enlivens the quality of intellectual debate.


John Jenkins - 1/7/2003

One need look no farther than the recent controversy surrounding the decision to deny tenure to K.C. Johnson at Brooklyn College to find evidence of political litmus tests in the granting of tenure. If the academy is willing to discriminate in tenure, why not in hiring? I don't find that to be such a reach.

I believe Mr. Jackson to be comitting an error in reason with his response. Even if it were true that his university does not discriminate on the basis of political viewpoints, it wouldn't matter because it is not a representative sample of the academy. I'm not trying to question his integrity, since I have no reason to doubt that what he says is true, only to argue that it doesn't affect anything. It's as if someone, to disprove the existance of racism, were to declare, "I am not a racist."

Political diversity isn't about selecting people by their political outlook, it's about not selecting them because of it. As a conservative political science student, I have chosen to eschew graduate school despite the suggestion that I attend from several of my (liberal) professors. Instead, I'll attend law school because I don't feel like spending my adult life being underpaid, underappreciated, and made a pariah by my peers because I don't hold to their political orthodoxy. I think that many talented conservative undergraduates feel the same way. There's certainly not a dearth of talented conservatives.


Andy Freeman - 1/7/2003

> But at public schools, that is usually because the legislature doesn't see what the university does as particularly valuable.

It's not clear that the legislators' evaluation is seriously wrong. I can see how many fields could be valuable, but the actual results count too, and far too often they isn't worth the pittance that those fields get today and there's no reason to believe that more money would change that.

And, the political monoculture also has an effect; academia is not a swing vote.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/7/2003

"ilk"! It is shameless of right-wingers in this discussion to argue, elsewhere, that equal opportunity employment policies are shameful to the minorities and women who are hired because they imply that such hires are otherwise unqualified, and to argue, here, that departments should implement eoe policies for right wingers. Would that imply that they are otherwise unqualified?


Walter Hearne - 1/7/2003

Cramer is quite correct about the political imbalance within academia, its implications for the course of the Bellesiles episode, and the problems it poses for the doctrine of "diversity."

That the academy has an overwhelming liberal-left bent should be an uncontroversial proposition. Some academics and liberals have dismissed this as right-wing propaganda, but objective political scientists such as Seymour Martin Lipset have been repeatedly confirming this for several decades.

Why is the academy tilted left? I agree that some process of self-selection is the likely explanation, but the ones offered tend to be self serving for either liberals ("liberals are by nature smarter") or conservatives ("liberals are adverse to truly productive work"). That modern intellectuals (and pseudo-intellectuals) tend to gravitate toward the left is well-documented, but there do not seem to be any simple explanations for this phenomenon. I would not find the fact itself very disturbing were it not for the tendency of the academy in the last few decades to exhibit the kind of behavior Cramer finds here; it bespeaks of tremendous arrogance, insularity, and ideological blindness.


Tim Gannon - 1/7/2003

Could it be possible that your received the strongest impression from the white male, because he was a white male?


Andy Freeman - 1/7/2003

> Having served on a number of job search committees, I am horrified by the idea that I should be taking someone's politics into account when I evaluate their qualifications for the job.

Yet, those search committees have produced a department that is very narrow politically. If this was an atypical result and there were atypical results going the other way, it would be reasonable to attribute this result to chance.

However, it isn't. In fact, the actual range of results is indistinguishable from the sort of litmus test that Jackson says that he is horrified by.

FWIW, it's isn't up to Cramer to explain why Jackson and his ilk have made the decisions that they've made. It's up to Jackson. How does Jackson explain these results?


Sage McLaughlin - 1/7/2003

"Some of my best friends support gun rights!" That seems to be the thrust of your rationalization for keeping departments as critical as history locked into an intellectual strait-jacket that runs the whole leftist spectrum--from Green to Socialist to Soviet apologist to San Francisco Democrat. The fact that you might have semantic, or even substantive, disagreements over a single issue here or there is a terribly weak defense of the leftist monopoly from which nearly every university in America suffers. The fact that I have not had one conservative professor--not ONE--in six years of higher education, at three different schools, is only negligibly mitigated by the fact that one of them might have been more pro-choice than the other. Would you accept such an explanation of the situation were reversed? Don't even kid yourself.


Ralph E. Luker - 1/7/2003

Mr. Lewis, If you are going to make this charge, "this situation revealed how many in the academic community are willing to knowingly tether their political opinions to fraudulent work that debases history," you should name names and cite your evidence. I cannot think of more than one historian who might legitimately be accused of having done this. "How many?" One.


Dane Lewis - 1/7/2003

Clayton,

It is important to note, I think, that James Lindgren is a liberal. Inasmuch as I appreciate and agree with your view on lack of political diversity in all areas of university study, there is no question that at least some intellectual integrity will trump political activism -- in this case that of James Lindgren. It's just unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate as the case may be) that this situation revealed how many in the academic community are willing to knowingly tether their political opinions to fraudulent work that debases history. Shame on them, but three cheers for James Lindgren.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"I'm guessing your academic friend who lives in poverty must be back in high-priced California."

No, in Idaho. No, no professor is likely to be living in poverty, but it doesn't seem appropriate for a person who is teaching college to be scraping by, hand to mouth.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"Start paying Assistant Professors of History $100K a year and watch how more conservative the profession becomes!"

I've long asserted that the politics of most professors is unsurprising; they don't get paid well enough (at least, until they have been teaching for 15-20 years) to identify with the average taxpayer. It bugs me that teaching pays so poorly, when you consider the amount of time that a professor spends getting a Ph.D., and the significant influence that they have on each rising generation (or would have, if the students were paying that much attention).

From what I have seen, universities aren't short on money. They just spend on something more important than the faculty, such as sports teams, football coaches, and top-heavy administration. One of my wife's professors (English) told her one day that when he started teaching, there were four deans, and they all taught at least one class. "Now, everytime you turn over a rock, you find another dean--and none of them teach!"

I recall vividly one of my professors receiving a note one day in class, and getting very frustrated. He was being asked to reschedule an exam for one of the students who was going to be off defending the university's honor on a football field. "I keep forgetting that that we aren't the big tent here."


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"Liberals tend to take academic jobs because they do not like real work and crave power and intellectual respectability."

In my experience, most professors work very hard for at least
the 9-10 months of the academic year. I had one history
professor that I consider to have retired on the job. The
others worked very hard at what they did, and it showed.

"What real rebel would take an academic job these days? A professor's job is indoctrination. Many conservatives and libertarians and objectivists are repelled by the ideas of tenure and grade inflation and political correctness."

A professor's job is encouraging students to learn about the
past, and how we got where we are today. There are professors who regard their jobs as indoctrination, no doubt. But my experience has been that this is the exception.

Tenure doesn't bother me. What bothers me is the tendency of universities to use a vast sea of part-timers to avoid benefits and stability. But at public schools, that is usually because the legislature doesn't see what the university does as particularly valuable.


Peter Jackson - 1/7/2003

Yes, liberals can have different viewpoints on issues! We have a liberal pro-life Catholic, and two liberal hunters! I suppose from the right our positions would all seem "pro-gun control," but we do have significant differences among us in terms of what kinds of regulations we think are legitimate and useful.

I can understand your need to maintain a high income with kids in college (thank goodness my college has a tuition remission/exchange program), but I'm guessing your academic friend who lives in poverty must be back in high-priced California. I wouldn't turn down a nice raise, but I don't think anyone would look at my home (complete with indoor plumbing!) and say "no one shoudl have to live like that!"


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/7/2003

At least I'm an equal-opportunity speculator, as I speculated on both Cramer's and Jackson's possible views (if only to distinguish between what they explicitly said, and what others may attribute to them) and I clearly deliniate my speculations from from what was said. For instance, Cramer never said in his posting that politics should be a subject of interviewing -- perhaps we all should just stick to what was said, and leave forensic distinctions for each reader to make individually.

As for Mr. Johnson, as rough as you are on Gore, you're still too kind. Gore meets Jackson's criterion of privilege, as he was a beneficiary of "the other affirmative action", being a legacy admission to Vanderbilt, as his mother distinguished herself as one of its first female graduates.


Clayton E. CRamer - 1/7/2003

Trust me, the Corvette is far less of an expense than tuition, room & board for my daughter at college. If I went back to grad school right now to upgrade my MA to a PhD, and managed to secure a teaching position (unlikely, considering the small number of positions available to fresh PhDs), I would be taking a roughly $40,000 to $50,000 a year cut in pay.

When you are 25 to 30, the difference between a teaching salary and private industry isn't so dramatic, and you don't have the expenses that show up when your kids are in college. Starting to teach at my stage in life requires a lot more than just giving up the material items--it requires putting your kids into unrelenting poverty. (I have at least one acquaintance who is my age, with a PhD in the physical sciences, and teaching at a local university. No one should have to live like that.)


Robert Speirs - 1/7/2003

Liberals tend to take academic jobs because they do not like real work and crave power and intellectual respectability. What real rebel would take an academic job these days? A professor's job is indoctrination. Many conservatives and libertarians and objectivists are repelled by the ideas of tenure and grade inflation and political correctness. That said, I don't believe Mr. Jackson, who seems to be saying that if a qualified conservative Bush voter applied for an academic job he would receive the same consideration as anyone else, at most schools. The first whiff of anti-collectivism would finish him.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

"2. I think your comparison of our department's left of center politics with monoculture farming is an imperfect one, and it also implies that we are all in "lock-step" agreement on political issues. We disagree on a range of issues, including abortion, gun control, and the confrontation with Iraq."

I find it interesting that you would consider your department to be "left of center" if there is significant disagreement about abortion and gun control--these being "hot button" issues in politics.

"But by asking me if it is acceptable to consider race and gender in hiring, you are avoiding the real issue: do you really think it is legitimate to take into account a person's politics in hiring? And if so, how would you go about achieving this "political diversity?""

I think that in the same way that many departments focus on sex, race, and ethnicity in hiring (though it sounds like yours isn't one of them), it is legitimate to try and achieve a diversity of political points of view. This doesn't mean that you have to ask probing questions. It does mean that if an applicant has a publication history that makes you uncomfortable because he seems to be out of the mainstream of your department, that shouldn't exclude them from consideration.


Ronald Dale Karr - 1/7/2003

Why are so few academic historians conservatives? Is it the result of liberal conspiracy to keep conservatives out of history departments?

Not all academic departments are dominated by leftists. Some fields, such as economics, have many prominent conservatives. This suggests another possible reason as to why conservatives are underrepresented in history.

By definition, conservatives are champions of free enterprise and the workings of the market. They believe that talent, especially their own talent, should be rewarded. Academia rarely agrees with those assessments. After spending years in graduate school, only half of those with Ph.D.s in history will be able to land a full-time tenure-tract position. And after all this, they'll be lucky to get $40K or $50K a year. Meanwhile, Microsoft hires 22-year-old software engineers at $75K a year, and a new lawyer can make $100K his or her first year. It's much easier for liberals (wracked by guilt!) to accept this state of things than conservatives. What happens? Conservative undergraduate history majors bail out of grad school (or avoid it altogether) for law school, b-school, or like Mr. Cramer himself, computer software.

I've read that conservative judges are much more likely to leave the bench than their liberal colleagues for the same reason. As for the economists, they often can combine poorly-paid academic careers with lucrative consulting.

Start paying Assistant Professors of History $100K a year and watch how more conservative the profession becomes!


Peter Jackson - 1/7/2003

Mr. Morgan sure seems eager to speculate about my viewpoints by focussing on what I did not write, rather than what I did. Frankly, I don't know why liberals are more inclined to become academics than conservatives--perhaps Clayton Cramer has offered us one explanation. He mentions that he was not willing to "take a vow of poverty," and he shows off a corvette he drives on his web page. So perhaps conservatives tend to be more materialistic. I, too, have a family, and make much less than my six brothers and sisters (all non-academics) but by the standards of the Appalachian community where I live, I am a wealthy man.


Steve Johnson - 1/7/2003

I remember seeing Nader talk 30 years ago, when he disclosed his mediocre professional school admission board scores. I don't think that he mentioned his undergraduate grades, but his point was that he wouldn't have come close to getting into a very top professional school if he had applied in the early 1970s. He didn't leave the impression that he had done poorly, just not stellar.


Steve Johnson - 1/7/2003

Thanks for your gracious admission. Nobody's perfect--neither you nor I.


Steve Johnson - 1/7/2003

Here is the original link for the Gore/Unabomber Quiz that I mentioned above.

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/ken_crossman/gorelink.htm


Peter Jackson - 1/7/2003

For the record, I voted for Nader (but I confess I didn't know how poor Gore's academic performance was). Still, no one fails out of Harvard. If you get in, it seems, you are entitled to the degree.


Steve Johnson - 1/7/2003

But most academics voted for Al Gore, who did even worse at Harvard than did George Bush at Yale (source: New York Times, 2000).

Further, Bush went on to graduate from Harvard Business School. Gore attended Vanderbilt Law School, where he did so poorly that he dropped out and went to Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he again did so poorly that he either dropped out or flunked out. To fail academically at Vanderbilt Divinity School in the 1970s is really embarrrassing. Gore was an academic failure; Bush was an academic success, despite being a relatively poor student compared to most students (besides of course really incompetent students such as Gore).

So if you voted for Gore over Bush based on academic records, you certainly voted for the wrong man, because Bush's mediocre performance was exceeded on the downside by Gore's disastrous performance. That you would think otherwise would certainly tend to prove Cramer's point.

Gore was more of a policy wonk, to be sure, but the quality of his policy analysis was so frighteningly bad that it could hardly be reckoned as a plus. If you doubt me, go to this website and take the famous test to see whether you can tell the difference between quotations from Gore's "Earth in the Balance" and the "Unabomber Manifesto," which were widely considered to be the ravings of a lunatic.

http://www.kearney.net/~tclayton/gore_or_unabomber_no_java.html


Peter Jackson - 1/7/2003

1. Would you be horrified at taking into account an applicant's race or gender?

We do not take into account race or gender in our hiring, although I recognize the value that this kind of diversity can bring.
A few years ago, when we invited three finalists for a position to campus (one white male, two Latino female) the male happened to make the strongest impression, and was offered the position, despite the fact that this would make us an all-male department (the person being replaced was a female). Of course there were one or two faculty who told us we "must" hire one of the women, because to be an all-male department was unacceptable. but we ignored this argument, and faced no political consequences for offering the job to the white male (who turned us down.)

2. I think your comparison of our department's left of center politics with monoculture farming is an imperfect one, and it also implies that we are all in "lock-step" agreement on political issues. We disagree on a range of issues, including abortion, gun control, and the confrontation with Iraq.

But by asking me if it is acceptable to consider race and gender in hiring, you are avoiding the real issue: do you really think it is legitimate to take into account a person's politics in hiring? And if so, how would you go about achieving this "political diversity?"


Richard Henry Morgan - 1/7/2003

Mr. Cramer makes some interesting points. It would be folly to think that political passions played no role in the Bellesiles affair -- as silly to think that pro-gun types didn't give it extra attention, as it would be to believe that anti-gun types didn't give it less than necessary attention. Certainly, in the end, the relative lack of diversity in a political sense did Bellesiles no favor -- all it did was set him up for the fall.

Interestingly, though Cramer doesn't specifically call for political interviews (it could be his thesis that the lack of a political dimension to hiring might itself insure diversity), Prof Jackson has trouble with the idea -- as most would. And just as interestingly, Jackson voices no opposition to increased diversity of gender or race. Perhaps he too believes that simple attention to quality will naturally increase such diversity. In any case, had he voiced an opposition to hiring on the basis of race and gender, I suspect he would curtail his professional prospects just as Prof. Johnson at Brooklyn has his. It would be far-fetched to believe that, should the EEOC apply their statistical standards for discrimination to political affiliation, they would give a clean bill of health to academia. Perhaps it is simply Jackson's view that liberals are naturally more intelligent, competent, dedicated, or inclined to academia -- he neither asserts nor denies it -- that could account for the numerical disperity.

The comments about Bush are unfortunate in several ways. Characterizing him as an anti-intellectual (almost fair) who was "admitted to elite programs because of who he was rather than because of what he had done", doesn't really distinguish him all that much from Al Gore, who finished halfway down his class at St. Albans (the distinguishing point being anti-intellectual versus pseudo-intellectual). In fact, according to his contemporaries at Harvard (via Gore's biographers), Gore did little there besides drink beer, smoke pot, and shoot pool (from what I understand, at no point did Bush's semester GPA drop as low as Gore's sophomore year GPA). Who could have guessed that, as a mediocre Government major, Gore would emerge decades later, like a butterfly, as an expert on global warming, deeply steeped in climatology, geophysical fluid dynamics, etc., ? And that was after dropping out of graduate programs in theology and law. In a contest of dullards receiving unearned preferences, I think you have a real horse race on your hands there.


Clayton E. Cramer - 1/7/2003

1. "As a test, they suggest folks count how many of their colleagues voted for George W. Bush. The answer in my department of five--zero. This should come as no surprise as George W. is among the most anti-intellectual presidents we have ever had, and was as a student hardly the type a professor would have good feelings for--a lazy underachiever who was admitted to elite programs because of who he was rather than because of what he had done--a beneficiary of "the other affirmative action"--legacy privilege." Except that this isn't about George W. Bush's intellecutal deficiencies--it's about a diversity of political opinion among your faculty.

2. "Having served on a number of job search committees, I am horrified by the idea that I should be taking someone's politics into account when I evaluate their qualifications for the job." Would you be horrified at taking into account an applicant's race or gender? This was one of the recent issues in the question of KC Johnson's retention at Brooklyn College--he had made a point of saying that they should hire the best, and not yet sex be an issue, and this was apparently held against him.

3. "The five liberals in my department are committed to fostering free thinking and open debate. It is not our desire or goal to brainwash our students into embracing a particular political viewpoint." I'm glad to hear it, and it does not surprise me. I had entirely liberal professors as an undergraduate and graduate student, and they did their jobs in this spirit. But the question I raised is the ability of the history profession to catch both gross error and intentional fraud. This political monoculture of your department is a hazard in the same way that all farmers raising one and only one crop increases the risk that a single disease will destroy the economy of an area.


Peter Jackson - 1/7/2003

Cramer and other conservatives have been complaining on this list that academia is too liberal, and that it lacks political diversity. As a test, they suggest folks count how many of their colleagues voted for George W. Bush. The answer in my department of five--zero. This should come as no surprise as George W. is among the most anti-intellectual presidents we have ever had, and was as a student hardly the type a professor would have good feelings for--a lazy underachiever who was admitted to elite programs because of who he was rather than because of what he had done--a beneficiary of "the other affirmative action"--legacy privilege.

Having served on a number of job search committees, I am horrified by the idea that I should be taking someone's politics into account when I evaluate their qualifications for the job. Frankly, a person's politics or religious beliefs are not my business, and should not affect my evaluation of their qualifications. While the subject or thesis of some scholar's research suggests obvious connections to a current political issue, many (perhaps most?) historical subjects, including my own, have no meaningful political implications.

The students at the small, rural, liberal arts college where I teach are overwhelmingly Republican, and come from gun owning families. (Class attendance on the first day of deer season is always quite low.) Several years ago, I assigned the secondary source reader "Whose Right to Bear Arms?" edited by Saul Cornell in my freshman survey. I had read none of the articles before I assigned it, and was not familiar with Bellesiles' work (this was at least a year before his book came out, and my specialty is in a very different field). Not surprisingly, my students responded to the articles presenting the "collective rights" argument skeptically, and rejected Bellesile's argument as absurd. One of them (then a freshman, now a senior) came to see me recently after reading about the Bellesile's affair. He was understandably delighted to learn that his own critical judgements of that essay's argument had been validated. It nicely reinforced one of the goals of all of my courses--to encourage students to read critically and draw their own conclusions.

The five liberals in my department are committed to fostering free thinking and open debate. It is not our desire or goal to brainwash our students into embracing a particular political viewpoint. If it were our goal, we are absolutely failing to achieve it--the three officers in our local chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (the history honor society) are all active members of the College Republicans. And they are articulate, confident, critical thinkers--perhaps some of these qualities were honed in their history classes.

I like my conservative students and my liberal colleagues. I am horrified by the suggestion that my institution should begin applying any kind of political litmus tests to either its hiring of faculty or its admission of students, to achieve "political diversity."


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