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Are Historians Biased?

Following is a list of articles and press releases appearing on HNN that concern bias in the teaching and writing of history. Articles are listed in reverse chronological order.

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Dale B. Light - 10/20/2007

What a ridiculous question! Of course we are -- all of us. There is no such thing as a disinterested authority. The best we can hope for is that historians will be frank about their biases and fair to their sources and subjects.

Unfortunately that is often too much to hope for.

Anita L Wills - 6/10/2004

I wrote and released a book titled, Notes And Documents of Free Persons of Color, in October of 2003. It is a the true saga of a group labled, "fpc", or Free Persons of Color, by the Fredericksburg Free Negro Registry. It is African American History, Non Fiction, and contains an appendix, bibliography, endnotes, and Index. I often refer to it as the story of, Virginia's own Creole population.

The book has received great reviews, from librarians, Newspapers, and other authors. However, I am surprised that those who ignore my book, are primarily African Americans. In fact when I went on tour in Pennsylvania, most of those who showed up were whites. Even though I went out of my way to inform the African American Community I would be in the area.

In the book I detail the lives of my ancestors, who were part of the Free Mulatto community. One of the famous figures that is prominent in my book is George Washington. George Washingtons father, Augustine Senior received a thirty year indenture on my ancestor, Mary Bowden. Although she was born free, her mixed raced status put her under Colonial Virginia's raced based laws (Henings Statutes at Large).

In fact, I found a connection to the Washingtons through my Mulatto ancestor, Charles Lewis. His father was, John Lewis, who was related to the Washingtons through Mildred Warner Lewis, the wife of Lawrence Washington, Georges' Great Grandfather. Charles and Ambrose Lewis served in the Revolutionary War, in a ship built by George Washingtons brother-in-Law, Fielding Lewis. In fact several white Lewis family members assisted me in tracing my ancestry to Breconshire Wales. I took a Maternal Line DNA Test last year, which also traced my straight maternal line to Breconshire Wales. This means that my ancestor, Charles Lewis, and his wife (who would be my female DNA line), had a common female ancestor.

Anyway, the book has quite a bit of historical tidbits, and information that is not commonly known. I sent a message to one prominent black person, who is an eduator in Virginia, about my book. He actually responded that his specialty was the Civil War, and not Colonial Virginia. Yet, he sits on the Board of Monticello, which decides which black folks, are & are not related to Thomas Jefferson. One of those who gave my book an excellent review was, Henry Weincek, the author of, The Hairstons, and An Imperfect God.

My book sales, are picking up, and African Americans are interested in my book, once they hear about it. It is too bad that those who hold themselves in a position of authority, are anything but authorities.

Jen Shroder - 1/19/2004

Thank you so much for reposting these posts. I have already offered many examples of abuse of what is being taught regarding Islam in public school at blessedcause, but now liberalism gone malicious. Thank you so much for reminding all of us that this is wrong and needs to be addressed.

Bush Bashing Disguised as Philosophy Class
with permission by R. Lindquist

As I sat at my local Borders bookstore reading Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity, I overheard a college student talking about her "philosophy class" to a friend. She was shocked that the instructor began the course with "If you like Bush or Rush Limbaugh, LEAVE NOW!"

This student was more than willing to talk with me about it. She stated that at Cuesta College, Calif., teacher Jacqueline Marcus is forcing her students to read anti-Bush rhetoric to pass an "Introduction to Philosophy" class.

She stated that students are to retrieve their required reading homework assignments, which were highly "anti-Bush" from Marcus's website (see copy at http://www.blessedcause.org/Persecution/Bush-Bashing%20Philosophy%20Class.htm
Many of the students immediately dropped the course according to this student.

As of 12/10/03, the student's statements were confirmed. With a logo of Cuesta College at the top, the website links students to four required reading assignments at "Mother Jones," a radical Bush-bashing site. Students are referred to sites such as "Move-On." Also included is a large picture of Howard Dean campaigning before a crowd and slogans of "Howard Dean for President 2004!"

"I could not believe this was presented as a 'philosophy' class," the student stated. She didn’t agree with what was being hammered at her.

Within 24 hours of posting this article, forphilosophy.com has been changed, it's much more subtle, yet as of 12/11, one can still find Bush-bashing while campaigning for Dean.
Currently posted on Jacqueline Marcus's website is a definition of a liberal:

Liberal: 1a. Open-minded; tolerant. b. Favoring civil and political liberties, democratic reforms, and protection from arbitrary authority.

How duplicitous! To bask as a liberal described so, and yet MANDATE students to read anti-Bush websites and use a state funded college position to campaign for Dean! Her new website states, "I make no apologies for my criticisms of the Bush administration's policies...[followed with more criticism of Bush].

Protests to Cuesta College appear to have resulted in a statement on Marcus's website that Cuesta College does not pay for the website, yet students clearly are still directed to this blatant Dean campaign, Bush bashing site for homework. Is ANYONE naieve enough to believe this teacher is presenting a balanced, "liberally tolerant" class???

This teacher is abusing her position to bash Bush, yet she claims the Bushites are out to crucify her. This is beyond shameful. And Cuesta College, with full knowledge of what she is doing, continues to allow her to "teach".

State funding should not be used so that predatory teachers can attempt to sway the presidential election 2004! Teachers should not mandate liberal left rhetoric under the pretense of philosophy! This is an example of why we need legislative protection for conservative students.

This left agenda at colleges and universities is nationwide. In Ohio, a class about Vietnam is taught by a professor who, "turned out to be a '60s leftist who regarded America as an imperialist monster and the Vietnam War an expression of America's inherent racism and capitalist greed," reported David Horowitz.

A student, a member of the ROTC, tried to drop the Vietnam class but was denied by the professor. "The student completed the course, but received a failing grade from the professor because he chose to be in the armed forces," Horowitz says.

David Horowitz has begun a movement for the "Academic Bill of Rights" which calls for intellectual diversity, balanced reading lists, a ban on political bias by professors, equalized funding for student groups and on-campus guest speakers, and a non-hostile environment for conservative students. Contact "Students for Academic Freedom" to find out how you can get involved. http://studentsforacademicfreedom.org/

It is shocking that our tax dollars are funding the left’s hatred of President Bush, campaigning for Dean and consistently promotes hatred of America through college and high school courses. Something MUST be done about the unbalanced liberal left agenda in public schools even as our elementary schools are becoming ever more similar to Nazi Germany schools:

"When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side', I calmly say 'Your child belongs to us already. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'"

- Adolf Hitler, 1939

There are evil principalities under new names at work in America that are out to destroy this once great nation and the freedom afforded it by our Judeo-Christian heritage. Give me liberty or give me death, God save us from the liberal left!

- R. Lindquist

Tina - 2/13/2003

I worked in business for about 20 years, and I'm very familiar with assessment. What I observed may be instructive.

Assessment is the product of a marriage between marketing and the self-help racket, and it often functions like an addictive drug. The drain on productivity can spark a search for more assessment, to find out why productivity is declining. This, of course, means more productivity and more profit for the assessors, though not necessarily for the assessed.

In business--well, you know--time is money and money is time. I have seen at least one company assessed to death. It was marginally profitable when Dr. Assessor first showed up, and may or may not have survived on its own. But after several rounds of bloodletting, it didn't stand a chance.

The people who invited the assessors into this now defunct company never saw the disruption they unleashed, and never understood our complaints. They had spent their working lives in the executive suite, like their daddies before them (but not their mommies), and their grandpa, the founder. They had never done the kind of dirty work the rest of us did, and probably couldn't have done it if they'd had to. Assessment was not the first ridiculous cure-all they had squandered capital on.

This brings me to a very troubling matter--surely, those who run the accrediting agencies could not be stupid enough to fall for the kind of marketing ploys that suckered in my former employers. Could the assault be deliberate? The "productivity" of a history department, the research, writing, and teaching of history, is vital to the health of a civilized society. That vision of society is now under attack, from people who consider it an obstacle to their profit.

As a newcomer to academe, I don't know much about accrediting agencies--who they are, or who they answer to. But if they are connected to corporate business and pro-business politics, or to the conservative "foundations," you can bet they are more interested in shutting historians up than in helping us to do our work more effectively.

Karl A. Schleunes - 2/13/2003

Would you please try to avoid having the pop-up adds obliterate the first few sentences of each article. It is extremely irritating.

Jay Hatheway - 2/11/2003

I am an associate prof and chair, Department of History at Edgewood College,Madison, WI. For quite some time now, our college has been inundated with activities surrounding assessment. These activities are in response to North Central's demand that we be accountable and that we assess our work--to me, at least, the process seems rather more one which keeps faculty so constantly busy assessing that they neither write history, think history, nor teach history except that which can be made to conform with standardized "rubrics" and which thus produces a rather bland standardized classroom. In short, I see this intense emphasis with assessment as a not so stealthy attempt to curb academic freedomes by 1) forcing professors to do more assessing than research--and assessment has itself become the subject of our "approved" research, and 2) by threatening institutions which do not assess with loss of accreditation. To be sure, assessment has now become so intrusive that faculty across the disciplines are encouraged to enroll in a one semester course that will meet once a week to do nothing but discuss "rubrics" and the like to improve and research assessment. For the likes of me, I do not understand why more faculty do not see the implications to academic freedom of this insidious process of what is now becoming a process to standardize classes, and withdraw controversial subject elements, in so far as students are now being drawn into this process in a way where their evaluations count for whether a class is assessed as successful or not and accrediting is maintained. Can your institution do a study on assessment with an eyeout for its "real" intensions and or consequences? Thanks, Jay Hatheway