Bias in the History Profession


Mr. Johnson is Professor of History, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Following is the statement of Mr. Johnson before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee. The committee, chaired by Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, is holding hearings on Intellectual Diversity. The statement was delivered on October 29, 2003.

Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee:

My name is Robert David Johnson. I am a professor of history at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where I teach courses in U.S. political, diplomatic, and constitutional history.

As a historian of the Senate, I am particularly honored to appear before the committee. I have written books on the interwar Senate and on former Alaska senator Ernest Gruening, both published by Harvard University Press. I am now completing a study of Congress and the Cold War, which Cambridge University Press will publish.

I survived an attempt by Brooklyn College of the City University of New York to deny me tenure on the basis of my ideas and academic values, an attempt amounting to an attack on the principle of intellectual diversity on campus, and as such, perhaps, of interest to this body. Though conceding that my accomplishments as a scholar and a teacher were first-rate, the college based its case on a handful of senior colleagues’ secret letters, which came to be labeled the "Shadow File." CUNY chancellor Matthew Goldstein ultimately overturned Brooklyn’s decision.

The "Shadow File" letters, which attacked not only me but also several other untenured professors, condemned me for three violations of prevailing campus orthodoxy. First, I was deemed uncollegial for having objected, along with other, but tenured, professors that a college post-9/11 forum was unbalanced because none of its speakers supported either U.S. or Israeli foreign policy. The provost had termed the forum an educational event and allowed professors to dismiss their classes to attend it; I argued only that the college should not label a one-sided event educational.

Second, I drew criticism for the standards that I employed in a search for a new professor in European history, when I joined several colleagues in urging the department to base its choice on the candidates’ demonstrated records as researchers and teachers. My critics instead advocated granting a disproportionate role to subjective comments on the candidates’ personalities and to gender considerations, despite the college affirmative action officer’s having cautioned that the department’s existing gender diversity would make such an approach violative of federal law.

Third, the significance of my scholarship and teaching was downgraded because of the kind of history that I teach. Scholars perceived as politically conservative, or even those who taught fields perceived as conservative—such as political, diplomatic, or constitutional history—were to face a huge disadvantage in personnel decisions at Brooklyn College.

In some ways, my case represented an anomaly in the academic world. Those who want to fire someone because of his beliefs or academic specialty rarely put their opinions in writing, as did the "Shadow File" professors. Because of my credentials, I attracted support from dozens of national political and diplomatic historians, of varying ideological persuasions. I benefited from all but perfect legal representation. Finally, CUNY, rather than Brooklyn, possessed the final say on my tenure. I can only wonder what happens to job applicants or untenured faculty from my fields who are rejected for reasons similar to those offered by Brooklyn, but who lack the advantages that I possessed.

These events attracted unusually widespread media attention because they illustrated troubling patterns within the academy as a whole, such as how considerations relating to departmental or campus politics can arbitrarily override merit in the tenure process; or how some professors impose ideological litmus tests as preconditions for hiring and promotion.

Within the historical community, some also saw Brooklyn’s action as part of a broader assault on the fields of political and diplomatic history. Jonathan Zasloff, a professor at UCLA Law School who also holds a Ph.D. in diplomatic history from Harvard, noted that the controversy highlighted "the decline of the history of American foreign policy as a subject of academic study—not because it isn’t still critically important, but rather because it is simplistically dismissed as studying dead white men. The ‘new social history’ that focuses on studying the working class, unemployed people, minorities, women and gays is critically important as well-but the academy, in its quest for novelty, has really thrown the baby out with the bathwater." Ironically, this dismissal has come at a time when the study of diplomatic history has never been more intellectually diverse, ranging from the multitude of recent studies that have considered factors like race and gender in the history of American foreign relations to the exemplary Cold War International History Project, a truly multicultural intellectual enterprise if ever there was one.

The contents of the "Shadow File" confirmed Zasloff’s observations. One of the file’s contributors, a specialist in women’s history, denigrated my teaching and scholarship on the grounds that I taught courses dealing with "political history, focused on figures in power." Such an "old-fashioned approach to our field," this professor mused, attracted only "a certain type of student, almost always a young white male," whose interest in such "narrow" topics implied limited intellectual abilities. The former department chairman, who has since been reassigned, termed this document the "reasoned consideration" of a senior colleague.

Since the early 1960s, the academy has witnessed an explosion of interest in race, class, and gender in U.S. history. These developments have produced more nuanced views of American history as a whole. They have, however, come with a cost. Marc Trachtenberg, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has lamented how many adherents of this "new social history" have seemed "interested in pushing fields like diplomatic history—and to a certain extent even political history as a whole, not to mention a whole series of other fields—to the margins of the profession." As a result, vast areas of U.S. history addressing our core values—democracy, foreign policy, the law—have been deemed unworthy of instruction.

That my colleague was willing to commit to paper her comment that a professor teaching about "figures in power" constituted grounds for condemnation testifies to just how certain she and others have become of support for these views among the professoriate. In the academy as reflected by Brooklyn College, someone like me, whose first two books studied left-wing congressional dissenters and who wore a Hillary Clinton button during the 2000 Senate campaign, was deemed holding views too "conservative" to be tolerated. We now have a culture to which many academics conform without giving much thought to the absurdity of some of the culture’s central tenets. Indeed, of the current Members of Congress, perhaps only Maxine Waters would not fall under the definition of "conservative" as offered by academics who see the study of "figures in power" as somehow catering to sexism or racism.

These patterns certainly are not confined to Brooklyn College. Again to quote Trachtenberg, advocates of the new social history "talked a lot about ‘diversity,’ but in practice they certainly did not embrace a live-and-let-live philosophy." An outside observer might have expected that departments would add faculty positions in social history fields as a complement to pre-existing positions in political, diplomatic, or constitutional history. Instead, these newer topics too frequently have taken the place of more "traditional" approaches, as a representative sample of history departments—from 30 large state universities around the country—suggests. If anything, such a sample would seem likely to reveal a disproportionately high percentage of political and diplomatic historians, both because of the size of these departments and because these schools get much of their funding from the government, and thus would seem less likely to avoid entirely topics that most in the country consider crucial for students to learn. Instead, a majority of full-time U.S. history professors in only three of the sampled departments (Ohio State, Virginia, and Alabama) have research interests that deal with politics, foreign policy, the law, or the military in any way. At 20 of these schools, less than a quarter of the Americanists address such topics in any aspect of their scholarly work. The University of Michigan has 25 full-time department members teaching U.S. history: only one publishes on political history, as opposed to 11 professors examining race in America and seven specialists in U.S. women’s history. Of the 11 Americanists in the University of Washington’s history department, only one studies politics, the law, or foreign policy—and he specializes in American socialism and communism.

The situation can be even more depressing at lower-profile public institutions, since some administrations tolerate students receiving U.S. political history only through a distorted lens. This is particularly true at schools promoting the agenda of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Though a national organization to which dozens of colleges belong, the AAC&U’s curricular program is dominated by a handful of members committed to using banal rhetoric of diversity and inclusion to defend curricula that present one-sided viewpoints on controversial political issues.

Washington’s Evergreen College, for example, features two courses on 20th century U.S. political history: "Dissent, Injustice, and the Making of America," and "Inherently Unequal." The latter course, which addresses U.S. history since 1950, holds as an indisputable premise that in the 1990s, "racist opposition to African American progress and the resurgence of conservatism in all branches of government barricaded the road to desegregation." California State University-Monterey Bay, another AAC&U-oriented school, likewise presents students with only two, clearly biased, courses examining the history of American government institutions. Those wanting more U.S. political history are invited to take such classes as "History According to the Movies," "California at the Crossroads," and "Multicultural History in the New Media Classroom."

The historical profession needs balance, not intolerance. No one denies that students should have the opportunity to sample such offerings from the new social history as "History According to the Movies." But courses in American political, diplomatic, and legal history are at least as important. Groups such as The Historical Society, which has brought together historians of all viewpoints to champion a return to a discipline based on reasoned appeals to evidence rather than promotion of an ideological agenda, have resisted the exclusion of whole fields from college history departments. In addition, the Miller Center for Public Affairs, housed at the University of Virginia, has launched an ambitious project to promote and fund innovative new scholarship in the history of American political development. Still, historians seem unlikely to create an intellectually diverse profession on their own. As recently noted by University of Pennsylvania professor Erin O’Connor, publisher of the weblog Critical Mass, since "scholarship—centered on questions of identity, oppression, and power relations—is in turn a sign of a particular political commitment," faculty diversity will "only be pursued insofar as it ensures and perpetuates ideological uniformity."

With faculty unwilling or unable to create an intellectually diverse campus, administrators and trustees must step forward, as my case suggested. Chancellor Goldstein used my case to affirm his previously stated commitment to improving standards and promoting intellectual diversity. Several trustees likewise used the matter to articulate the basic principles under which CUNY personnel policy would operate. In the contemporary climate, responsible administrators and trustees should require careful accountings of hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions coming from academic departments. These same administrators and trustees should be ready and willing to act when such decisions prove to have been made to satisfy personal ideological wish lists rather than educational and scholarly needs.

Simply paying lip service to the principle of teaching students about American democracy will not suffice. An unfortunate example of this trend comes in a federally funded grant, distributed to 12 colleges through the AAC&U, with an apparently non-controversial name ("The Arts of Democracy") and mission (promoting "a deeper understanding of, debate about, and practice of democracy"). Brooklyn’s "Arts of Democracy" program promises to produce students who will understand the heritage of American civic ideals; be able to resolve moral dilemmas posed by U.S. foreign policy; and comprehend the fundamental premises of U.S. democracy.

Despite these promising claims, the program contains not even one political science, history, economics, or philosophy course exploring American government or international relations. Instead, "Arts of Democracy" students learn that democracy entails support for a multicultural political agenda and what the college terms a "community of diversity," by taking courses such as "Literature and Cultural Diversity," "Introduction to Global Cinema," and "Peoples of the United States."

By underwriting "The Arts of Democracy," the federal government itself is not only undermining the teaching of political and diplomatic history, but providing for a program that views the entire modern liberal democratic project, from its inception in 17th century England and the 18th century European Enlightenment to the present, as a sustained effort to suppress and marginalize one group or another in the interests of maintaining power, privilege, and profits. Even taking the stated goals of the "Arts of Democracy" at face value, one wonders how American students, as citizens of a country that for nearly a century has possessed unprecedented global power, could be expected to resolve the ethical dilemmas associated with that power if the students lack a well-rounded understanding of its past uses as well as abuses.

In the end, restoring intellectual diversity on campus requires support from the outside—from alumni, trustees, and government. As a historian of the U.S. Congress, I know as well as anyone how the lessons of the McCarthy era suggest the dangers of Washington excessively involving itself in college instruction. But Congress possesses an array of powers through which it could encourage intellectual freedom on today’s campuses, without the risk of heavy-handed intervention.

Hearings such as this one can help frame the issue for public discussion and force colleges to adopt transparent standards in personnel and curricular matters. Doing so would indirectly stimulate intellectual diversity. No institution can publicly admit that its promotion and tenure process is weighted against professors who teach about American politics or foreign policy, or that it wants to indoctrinate students through politically one-sided course offerings.

In addition, specifically targeted federal grants to promote the study and teaching of American politics, foreign policy, and the law are very much needed. In this regard, I especially commend Senator Gregg for his sponsorship of SR1515, the Higher Education for Freedom Act, which would create a targeted grant program aimed at reviving postsecondary teaching and research about our political institutions and the philosophical and cultural background out of which they emerged. This legislation will complement the Teaching American History Grant Program authored by Senator Byrd, which focused on the elementary, middle, and high school levels of American education. The emphasis on grants for new program creation is especially well-conceived, since the development of new programs is probably the best way of ensuring that there will be faculty lines in existence, and graduate training available, for future historians and other scholars who wish to make careers studying subjects related to political and constitutional institutions.

Four decades ago, William Fulbright theorized that the Senate’s "primary obligation" to political life came in contributing "to the establishment of a national consensus" through educating the public. This function remains vitally important for the Senate. I commend the committee’s efforts to educate the public on the need for campus intellectual diversity, and I thank you for your consideration.

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Sarah Lynn Baker - 6/22/2005

The FBI Uniform Crime Report (also available at the FBI site listed above) makes a number of disturbing points: In 1995, Blacks accounted for 13% of the population; Amerinds for 2%, and Mexicans, Whites and all others (the FBI even includes Arabs as Whites) 85%. If the races were equal in their criminal behavior, then it could reasonably be expected that for any given category of crime, 85% of those arrested would be White and 13% of those arrested would be Black.

But that is not what is found in the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Under the crime of burglary, 30.4% of those arrested are Black and 67.8% are White. The Black burglary rate 30.4 over 13, divided by the White burglary rate of 67.8 over 85, gives a figure of 2.93.

If these arrest records accurately record the commission of burglaries, that means that Blacks commit burglary at almost 3 times the rate of Whites.

Using the same methodology, the figures other crimes can also be broken down:

Weapons violations are committed by Blacks at nearly 5 times the rate for Whites;
Blacks are caught receiving or buying stolen property at nearly 5 times the rate for Whites;
Blacks are involved in prostitution at almost 4 times the rate for Whites;
Blacks are arrested for drug crimes at over 4 times the rate for Whites;
Blacks are more than three times as likely as Whites to be caught at forgery, counterfeiting, and fraud, and almost three times as likely to be caught at embezzlement;
Blacks are more than 3 times as likely to be thieves as Whites;
Blacks are more than 4 times as likely to commit assault as Whites;
Blacks are almost 4.5 times as likely to steal a motor vehicle;
Blacks are more than 5 times as likely to commit forcible rape as Whites;
Blacks are over 8 times as likely to commit murder as Whites;
Blacks are more than 10 times as likely to commit robbery as Whites;
Nearly 25% of all Black males between the ages of 20 and 29 are in jail or on probation - this does not include those wanted or awaiting trial;
For all violent crimes considered together, Blacks are almost 5.5 times more likely to commit violent criminal acts than Whites; all this according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Derek Catsam - 11/10/2003

Er, you've not heard of Charlestown, Massachusetts? It's right nexty to a little place called Boston and is where the Bunker Hill monument is? I spelled it as I meant it. That you don't know the difference is your fault, and one need not go too far in Boston to find African Americans who would be loath to wander through much of Charlestown.

In any case, no one has yet shown any evidence about racial motivation when it comes to murder. We know that lynchings dyuring Jim crow and other murders to maintain whiote supremacy were motivated by race. I've yet to see any evidence that this is the case in the current situation. I'll assume my detractors have none, which is why they are so quick to resort to the ad hominem.

F.H. Thomas - 11/10/2003

Of course.

Hydraulic recoil permitted the Germans to save 4-5 minutes between rounds versus their French counterparts, with heavy (210mm) artillery peices. The French weapons would always lose their "lay" or aim, since they skidded voilently backwards with each firing, and had to be dragged back again and reaimed.

Great treatment of this in Moser's "The Myth of the Great War".

John Althouse - 11/6/2003

Mr. Thomas is correct that many younger Americans do not share in the hysterical anti-white ideals of many modern 'intellectuals.' I found this comment particularly amusing:

" I guess you've never been to Charlestown "

Presumably, he's referring to Charleston, SC (admittedly, it was known as 'Charlestown' some 250 years ago, so I guess that dates Mr. Catsam). Whether or not he has been there since is open to debate. I challenge him to name a neighborhood where blacks would be "afraid" to go. Or perhaps deliver some evidence that there has been an anti-black murder in Charleston any time in recent history. In fairness, fewer "tough" neighborhoods are populated by whites, so I suppose he could claim that as a cause.

His statistics are quite correct. What he leaves out is that blacks commit an overwhelming number of murders; yes, most crime is intraracial, but almost all interracial crimes are black-on-white. Many of those are racially motivated.

John Althouse - 11/6/2003

Hilarious: "Mr. Thomas, where do you get these numbers"

60 million is an almost laughably low total. The only real argument Neo-Marxists and Communist apologists have is that Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. would have ruled anyway- and that's not very convincing.

If you consider the fact that Communism allowed Hitler to gain power (after all, moderate Germans only came to the Nazis because their main competition was the Communists), among other things, the derivations of Marxism are responsible for well over 100 million deaths (all in the 20th century).

Funnier is the claim that "Stalin et al. were not Marxist." Well, that's rather irrelevant. Marxism, when applied to actual human society, produces nasty results. Consequently, Neo-Marxism is an anti-human ideology. Anyone who adheres to such thinking is immediately morally bankrupt; that such people not only teach, but determine who else does, is fairly tragic.

John Althouse - 11/6/2003

Marx also described 'Das Kapital' as "pure excretement," but that doesn't stop many professors from assigning it.

Neo-Marxists are obviously insane (in that their ideology knowingly denies empirical truth), but that really is not the issue. Their exclusion of "conservatives" (aka non-Marxists) far, far exceeds any restrictions imposed by the other side. If the best Neo-Marxists can do is whine about one speaker a school didn't want...well, that's pretty telling.

Josh Greenland - 11/6/2003

I hope that someday HNN has an article about the history of technology so perhaps we could have a discussion about hydraulic recoil buffering there.

John Moser - 11/6/2003

Having gone back over Josh Greenland's post, I see that I misinterpreted his words. He was saying that it's easy to understand why conservatives might be attracted to military history, not that military history is "easy." I apologize to Josh for my misunderstanding and overreaction.

As for Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, I do not believe that gender historians count her among their ranks, although I'm willing to be proven wrong on this. My understanding is that while she is a respected social historian, and historian of women, these are not the same thing as saying that she is a gender historian, since she is an "essentialist" when it comes to gender differences.

Ralph E. Luker - 11/6/2003

John, I think you are being over sensitive. No one said military history is "easy." Excellent military history if very difficult and is as engaging as history can be. Nor do I think that you are exactly correct about women's history. There are very thoughtful historians, such as Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, who have made extra-ordinarily important contributions to the field, but who are also regarded as conservative.

Derek Catsam - 11/5/2003

Wow. What a list of ad hominem attacks. I am not so bright. Really? You'll have to ask my colleagues in the profession about that, I suppose. I may be lots of things. "Not bright" is not one of them.
A coward? I don't know. Again, let's let other people judge that. Earlier in the year I spent time doing some antiterror stuff in Israel. I've spent a good hunk of time in Northern Ireland doing work in neighborhoods that I'd say put me in some harm's way. I've lived and worked and traveled in Africa in places that I'd place next to your name dropping Bed-Stuy. But since you know me so well, I'll defer to your expertise on my cowardice.

A conformist? Based on what knowledge? I'd hardly say that my views on Israel make me a conformist with the leftist that you assume that I am.
A liar? You still have not given one scintilla of evidence. Not one. Name one lie, and I'll at least begin to listen. That is, name one thing that I have said that I knew not to be true. Just one. Otherwise I guess we'll see who the liar is.

You have not cited one source that actually says that RACIALLY MOTIVATED crime of blacks against whites is all prevalent. You certainly are distorting Horowitz if you say that he says so. In any case, give an actual citation -- with dates, location, and facts. otherwise do shut up.

But here's one for you to chew on, because it fully refutes your argumenmts about black crimes against whites:
from the Bureau of Justice Statitics:
86% of white victims were killed by whites
94% of black victims were killed by blacks
In other words, the masses if whites killed by blacks simply does not hold up once we get past your brave strolls through the mean streets.

No one avoids white neighborhoods out of fear of racial violence? Really? I guess you've never been to Charlestown or South Boston. That you do not know that such places exist does not reveal their absence, but rather your ignorance.

Meanwhile I have until now avoided your utterly stupid and pointless how I walk to work or where I travel in cities, but I'll take the bait now to reveal you to be the fraud that you are -- for you know nothing about me whatsoever. I lived in a rather notorious neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina in the mid 1990s. I was the only white person in my apartment complex. The kid across the street was in a gang, went to one of the most notorious high schools in the city, and probably kept me safe out of a sense of loyalty, because I used to help his mom with groceries and the like when the family struggled even though at the time I was a grade student making squat. I also used to give him rides to West Charlotte high school, also overwhelmingly black, for Friday night football games so that he could see his girlfriend. The park I used to play ball at was notorious for gangs and drugs. And yes, after a while I did stop playing there, because yes, it proved to be a hassle, but I also got lots of props for being a guy in the neighborhood and taking people at face value and knowing when it was about ball and when it was personal. So enough of your noise about knowing where to go and how on the mean streets of Jersey City, because I could give a damn.

But you want more? OK, I've also lived in the DC area. My neighborhood was government controlled low income housing. I was one of two white guys who lived there until one died of heart failure my second year there. The neighborhood was fairly mixed beyond that, mostly Hispanic and Vietnamese, though also with African Americans and a sizeable Muslim population. I spent a good deal of time in DC's black neighborhoods, as much of my research was based up near Howard, which while not a horrible neighborhood itself is near some pretty sketchy places. Again, I realize that you are the only one who knows how to handle himself on the mean streets, but somehow I got by, managed to know a few of the locals, and I guess just got lucky. Again, DC may not be mighty Jersey City, but somehow I think it serves as a passable example.
Not enough? I've also lived in Boston and have spent a great deal of time in a range of other cities. I won't even get into my township experiences in South Africa. You're the only one who knows how to handle himself, and so I'll let you maintain your tough guy affectations all to yourself. Absurd.

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

Won't be visiting this site again. Enjoyed fighting with you. It's gone a little too far. Don't want to go any further.

Best of luck to both of you, Mr. Catsam and Mr. Greenland.

Sometimes I forget that my role in this life is to make people happy. You see, I really am a musician. That's what I'm meant to spend my time doing.

Maybe in another episode, I will perform my appropriate role in life and make you happy. Best wishes in your professional careers and your lives. I really do mean it.

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

Check out the prison population, Mr. Catsam.

Black men are, what, 6% of the populace? What percentage of the prison populace do black men comprise?

You've got a tortuous explanation for this as well, I know. I've heard the full pig swill of rationalization.

Will send you to sites and sources, if you like, but what the hell good would that do? I know all the tactics. In a nutshell, you've defined racist black violence as simple criminal violence. It's the standard trick. The other sleight of hand that seems to appeal to nitwits like you is to redefine racist black violence as retribution for past injustice.

I'd suggest that you find a job suitable to your intellect, except that the corrupted humanities are probably the best place for you. You probably do as little harm there as you would any other place. Sensible people regard you and your comrades as contemptible fools.

And, what about that wager? Do you have the balls, or is it all just posturing? I'll be in Harlem later tonight. You probably don't even have the guts to go there. And, as is normal with nitwits like you, you just don't get it. I sleep with black women. I play music with black musicians. You are a very silly little boy.

Setphen Thomas - 11/5/2003

Mr. Catsam, you are the problem.

As I've said, white men who hold your attitudes don't just pose a deadly threat to whites, you do also to blacks.

The statistical evidence is out there. Mr. Horowitz has cited it extensively. I suggest a trip to the many sources which have analyzed crime statistics by race. Racially motivated crime by black men against whites is from 10 to 20 times more common that white crime against blacks, and this has been the case for decades. This is really also just a matter of common sense. Nobody avoids white neighborhoods out of fear of racial violence. (Really, Mr. Catsam, they don't. It is, however, your job as the normal academic nitwit to repeat the party line. Please do.)

And, yes, you are quite the liar. Your professional career is a lie. Conformist. Coward. These all describe you.

You exist in the corrupt world of the humanities because you will lie in this way. It is the base line requirement of your profession.

And, I notice you haven't answered my question, my lying friend. You do choose where you live with an eye to avoiding black racist violence. You do choose your route to work to avoid same. The awareness of this is just the fabric of life in any major city. You name the wager. Remember, I will take you to Bed-Stuy in broad daylight. I know how to defend myself. Do you?

And, I've noticed as is usual among whites who identify themselves with black racists (a common feature of the disgraced humanities), that the attempted murder of my wife by black racists doesn't even elicit a comment from you. Typical. Had she been murdered, you would have an excuse for the racist blacks who attacked. Predictable.

Mr. Catsam, you are an not a bright man. The academy is now riddled with incompetents and fools like you. That is because your lies are enforced with a vengeance. The good news is that the kids (below 20) find your puffery ridiculous. I meet them quite often in my work as a musician. The idiocy that you purview will not survive the next 20 years. Decent black folks have had enough of fools like you.

Derek Catsam - 11/5/2003

So what if you lived among blacks? Does that make you an authority? I've lived among blacks as well. And I disagree with you. So there we go. Now how about actually citing facts rather than basing your argument on your experience? You have yet to show any numbers about racially motivated violence that matches that under lynch law or during race riots, not to mention slavery. You have yet to cite much of anything beyond your own fulminations and vituperations. polemics are fine if one writes well enough to carry them out. They can even be entertaining. Yours do not reach even the minimum level.

Derek catsam - 11/5/2003

So is libel Mr. Thomas, and since you claimed that I am a liar based on professional imperative a while earlier,and that libel is actionable (it may be wise to learn the difference between slander and libel before you get all litigious) let's just say that at least now we know that you are also a hypocrite. That may not be actionable, but it lets us all see where you are coming from.

Derek Catsam - 11/5/2003

Where have I lied about anything? I see your namecalling hasn't waned, but then again, you are the one who dated the civil rights era as covering 1963-1973, so I'll simply chalk your libel up to your obvious ignorance and will remind you that facts must be backed by evidence. I could give a damn that you lived in a city near black folk -- the "I have black friends" argument of those who want to warp crime statistics. The fact remains -- the overwheling number of victims of crime by blacks are other blacks. So show me my lies -- show me that there have been thousands of crimes against whites by blacks that were motivated by race. I have the numbers on lynchings. Your smear attacks and vacuous anecdotes do not even make for good reading. And calling me a liar without actually exposing any lies makes you . . . well, we'll let other readers decide what they make you.

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

Mr. Greenland, slander is actionable.

I will consult a lawyer and serve you unless you cease and desist.

Watch your mouth.

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

I live among blacks, you idiot.

I've lived in black communities in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York.

And, no that is not the only source of those comments.

There are a wide range of people who have addressed the problem of black racist violence. You just don't want to be bothered to know who they are. I'll name one. Larry Elder. Is he a member of the Nazi party?

Your ignorance and viciousness are about what you'd expect of a nitwit SF leftist. Still waiting for the revolution and you're 20 years out of college. Pretty asinine.

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

Jersey City, where I currently live is about equal parts white, Asian and black. We don't suffer the constant racially motivated violence of black gangs. Here's why.

Asians, primarily Filipino and Vietnamese, don't buy the puerile garbage people like Mr. Catsam want us to believe. They aren't afraid of blacks and they will fight back. (Part of the dilemma is the physical and moral cowardice of most white men. They are too weak and cowardly to fight back.) This keeps black gangs in check. They know they will have to answer to the Filipino and Vietnamese. And, so, we have a kind of peace.

This creates a better environment for everybody. Believe me, the decent black folks in Jersey City are happy with this, too. They've elected an ex-Marine black to mayor.

We are fast approaching the time when white liberals must answer for their callous refusal to address black gangsterism. Obviously, those white liberals don't give a damn about the white victims of that racial violence. It's a sin to even acknowledge it. Blacks are fed up with it, and increasingly they will do something about it.

Mr. Catsam, you are no friend of black people. The tired garbage you have to offer is a big part of the problem of black racist violence. Morons like you are always there to offer an excuse. Either stop excusing it or shut up.

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

Yes, Mr. Catsam, lying is a professional requirement for you.

You must lie about black on white violence or you won't be in the history profession. As we all must, you've learned to believe that lie. It's a professional qualification.

And it's one of the ways in which your profession vets all job candidates. You must believe the lies about black on white violence or you must get out.

And, somewhere deep inside your mind you still remember that you are lying. At one time you thought that lying like this could be separated from the rest of your work. It cannot. All your work is a lie, because it is based on this one bedrock lie.

John Moser - 11/5/2003

I reject the premise of this question, particularly the insulting suggestion that conservatives are attracted to military history because it is "easy." Not only is this a slur against conservatives, but against all practitioners of military history.

What political, diplomatic, and military history have in common (as do other so-called "traditional" areas such as economic and intellectual history) is that one need not bring any particular ideology to their study. All one must have is a belief that the particular field is worth studying. Therefore one can be a conservative, a liberal, a Marxist, or even, I suppose, a post-modernist and still work within these areas.

On the other hand, consider gender and class history (I know less about race history, so I won't comment on that). Could one even be considered a historian of gender without accepting gender theory--i.e., that there are no essential differences between men and women, that all difference is "socially constructed? Could one even be admitted into the guild of labor historians without accepting fundamental Marxist premises about the structure of society and the persistence of class struggle? In both cases, few if any conservatives would be willing to accept those ideas, and hence they could never do serious works in those fields.

This is not to say that conservatives could not do work on the history of women, or on the history of laborers. My claim is that whatever they did would not be treated as gender or labor history.

David Kingman - 11/5/2003

Hear hear, Mr. Thomas. I live in Philadelphia, which has the same problems you described. We have plenty of the "liberal-who-has-been-mugged" conservatives here, as well as the Ivory Tower liberals who ask that you do as they say, not as they do.

My story is almost the same....my old neighborhood went from all Irish Catholic to nearly all Afro-American within a 10 year period, 1985-95. By the time I finally left in 1995, my black "neighbors" had no problem telling me to get out, vandalizing my home and car, and threatening my family with assault. The police told me "suck it up". The mayor apolgized through a form letter. Philadelhia continued on the path to Detroit-hood with it's re-election of a man who is under federal investigation yesterday. 98 percent of the blacks voted for the black candiadte (racial pride). 76 percent of whites voted for the white candidate (closet Klansmen?) It's enough to make me want to live in Wyoming, with NO neighbors of any sort.

David Kingmsn - 11/5/2003

Hear hear, Mr. Thomas. I live in Philadelphia, which has the same problems you described. We have plenty of the "liberal-who-has-been-mugged" conservatives here, as well as the Ivory Tower liberals who ask that you do as they say, not as they do.

My story is almost the same....my old neighborhood went from all Irish Catholic to nearly all Afro-American within a 10 year period, 1985-95. By the time I finally left in 1995, my black "neighbors" had no problem telling me to get out, vandalizing my home and car, and threatening my family with assault. The police told me "suck it up". The mayor apolgized through a form letter. Philadelhia continued on the path to Detroit-hood with it's re-election of a man who is under federal investigation yesterday. 98 percent of the blacks voted for the black candiadte (racial pride). 76 percent of whites voted for the white candidate (closet Klansmen?) It's enough to make me want to live in Wyoming, with NO neighbors of any sort.

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

Lived in San Francisco at one point in my life.

SF is proof of my thesis. Far left liberals love to live there, and one of the reasons is that SF doesn't have the overwhelming problems of black gangsterism. That's Oakland and the flatlands of Berkeley. Think of all the jokes and jibes at those who live outside SF. Part of the meaning of those jokes and jibes is that those outside of SF are too stupid to avoid that black gangsterism.

Also, read Thomas Sowell on how anti-development forces, which dominate SF, have driven blacks out of SF.

White liberals know all too well the reality of black racial violence against whites. They just try to live where they don't have to confront it, so that they can lecture those who must confront it. It's win-win. You get to wear a halo, and others must bear the brunt of reality.

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

I'll bet a wager of your choosing, if you can prove to me that you don't do any of the following (this assumes you live in a major city with a large black population):

1. You chose where you live with one of the qualifications being to secure yourself against black violence.

2. You choose your route to work and home (particularly at night) with an awareness that you cannot enter certain black neighborhoods.

If you don't do these things, you are a fool. Take it from somebody who has spent his adult life in integrated black/white and now black/white/Asian neighborhoods.

And this has been going on throughout my life, and my dad said it was true all his life as well.


Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

Read my previous post. Multiply by many thousands.

The left, and particularly the academic and literary left have always considered black gang violence rather glamorous, and have always worked very hard to find a justification for it.

I'm not saying that the incidents of white violence against blacks you've listed didn't occur. I'm telling you the story isn't one sided. And I know this by the experience of living in black neighborhoods.

The people who get hurt the most by the romanticization of black gangsterism are... blacks. Since it is an academic truism that we can't give a damn about white victims of black racial violence, I'll take this tactic since your mind can absorb it.

I was able to get my family out of Ft. Greene and away from the constant black racist attacks. The black people who stayed there had to continue to endure the black gangs. And, idiot white liberals continue to this day to condone that black gangsterism, thus making it more difficult to summon the political will to police black communities.

So, you don't give a damn about white victims of racial violence. Can you cry a tear about black victims of black gangsterism? Does that fit inside your rather constricted, pre-scripted brain?

Scott Rosenthal - 11/5/2003

Yes, that is precisely what was meant... By buffering recoil, the artillery pieces could be fired more rapidly and more accurately, thus substantially increasing the amount of damage that they could do.

I am not sure that I agree with Thomas' suggestion that this made WWI so ghastly, but surely that is the basis for another thread...

Stephen Thomas - 11/5/2003

That's the answer.

So, here's the story.

First moved to NYC in 1976, to Ft. Green Park, which was at that time a mostly black neighborhood. My family was literally driven out of that neighborhood by black gangs within a period of 3-1/2 years. Their motive was racial. We are white.

At the same time, a quite famous incident in Bay Ridge involved an Italian neighborhood which drove out a black family that was integrating the neighborhood.

The difference... the press played out that story on the front pages for month. No interest in the near murder of my wife by black thugs, the constant racial harassment, etc. The cops told me I should either move or arm myself.

The reason for this is pretty simple. The press considers white on black violence newsworthy. It doesn't consider black on white violence newsworthy, for the simple reason that it is too common to comment upon.

And, I'll challenge you to the test. A black man can walk down the street in just about any city without fear. If you want to take the chance, I'll take you on a walk through some streets in Bed-Stuy where a white man is risking his life at high noon.

Liberals know this. It's why white liberals who talk the racial rhetoric live in the Village in NYC. They don't want to face the reality of black on white violence in the boroughs. They do, however, want to lecture those who live in the boroughs on the importance of perfect justice.

More of the same. Silly posturing, Mr. Catsam. I already know how sainted you are. You aren't shy about telling us.

Derek Catsam - 11/5/2003

Josh --
Are you surprised by that? I'm not even sure why we respond to Mr. Thomas. We're gluttons for punishment, I suppose.

Josh Greenland - 11/5/2003

That sounds like a good idea.

Josh Greenland - 11/5/2003

"Blacks have committed far more racially motivated violence against whites than vice versa."

The only public figure I know who's openly asserted this is the recently deceased Dr. William Luther Pierce, who headed the National Alliance, successor to the American Nazi Party.

Josh Greenland - 11/5/2003

"I did say that the 60 million murders were done "in the name of Marx", which they surely were."

Mr. Thomas, where do you get these numbers, and do you know approximately who they break down between perpetrating countries?

Josh Greenland - 11/5/2003

"I can still be fascinated by the evolution of hydraulic artillery in the 1890's, which made WW I so ghastly, and wish that it had never happened."

Do you mean artillery pieces that use hydraulics to buffer recoil?

Derek Catsam - 11/4/2003

The Civil Rights Era ran from 1963 to 1973? Really? Someone really does need to read a book. Remind me when the Montgomery Bus Boycott was? The Freedom Rides? the Journey of Reconciliation? The sit ins? The formation of CORE, SCLC and SNCC? You say there were no major street battles. Really? Are you unfamiliar with Selma and Birmingham? How about the riots in the bus terminals in Montgomery? Violence in Danville, Virginia? I guess by "street battles" you don't mean "whites assaulting civil rights activists."

Blacks have committed far more racially motivated violence against whites than vice versa? Are you kidding me? Let's just start with lynchings. And let's expand from there to the fact that prior to the 1960s "race riots" were always riots in which whtes went off against blacks. And oh yeah, slavery? Meanwhile, show me "racially motivated" violence of blacks on whites. Name prominent historical exaples -- keeping in mind that in the realm of violent crime, the overwhelming number of victims of black perpetrators are themselves black.
You may have been an academic at one point, but I weep for both your former students and for whatever discipline had to deal with your shoddiness.

F.H. Thomas - 11/4/2003

..and I thank you for that.

But I would rejoin that it is an hypothesis which is difficult to maintain in a complex world.

Some would call me rightest. The more discerning would note that I despise all governments equally, and wish the least possible interference in people's lives. I can still be fascinated by the evolution of hydraulic artillery in the 1890's, which made WW I so ghastly, and wish that it had never happened. I do place some stock in the axiom that "those who do not know history...". I remember Clausewitz, "the only unjust war is a long war", and Plato, "only the dead have seen the end of war".

However, wars are very easy, relatively speaking, to understand. While I have a good knowledge of military matters, having been forced to learn it, my interest is the history of culture, and economics, from which all else flows. I can assure you that I have more facination in the paradigm art shift from graphics and sculpture to violin music, in the early Baroque, than I do in the raids of the Visconti dukes who almost made it impossible. Who really knows who the Visconti were? OK, maybe you and me. But everyone knows about Vivaldi and Bach taking this new toy and immediately making the most gorgeous music with it.

But, generally, what you say is often true, and I cannot explain it. Perhaps I am the exception.

David Salmanson - 11/4/2003

I am not sure what method KC Johnson used to count political historians at UofM but as an alum, the numbers didn't sound right. Indeed, I found three historians whose primary interest was politics. (Terry McDonald, Sidney Fine (emeritus), and a new guy who was hired since I left that is an Assistant Professor.) But that is an undercount. It doesn't include Mills Thorton whose dissertation provided much of the info for Holt's Political Crisis of the 1850s and whose first book was on secession in Alabama and led to Lacy Ford's Origin's of Southern Radicalism. Mills' specialty is listed as US South. Likewise Maria Montoya (listed specialty US West) wrote a history of the Maxwell land grant that paid a lot of attention to legal and political history. There is also David Hancock whose expertise is listed as economic history who writes on the wine trade in the Atlantic world and whose work is full of political and diplomatic history. Just because people no longer say they write political history does not mean they do not do it. KC how did you come up with your numbers?

KC Johnson - 11/3/2003

I'm glad to see my remarks triggered some commentary, and thought that I would take the chance to respond a bit.

I tried to be as careful as possible in my testimony (which was, by necessity, shorter than I would have preferred) to distinguish between research interests and courses that we teach. For instance, in any of my courses--especially my US surveys and my course on US constitutional history--deal with topics associated with race, class, and gender. The courses would be woefully incomplete if I did not. At the same time, however, it seems to me a basic principle of the academy that new research creates knowledge, and that, especially regarding electives, we're more likely than not to offer courses that in some way touch upon our research specialties. And so departments with sizable contingents of Americanists that have only one or two people whose research deals with political/diplomatic/military history strikes me as rather low. (Also, in the survey, I stayed with departments that had at least 12 Americanists, since only with departments of this size could a good case could be made that the department had made a conscious choice to hire in a particular, and more specialized, field.)

I also fully accept Jonathan Rees' point that many works in social history deal in some way with politics or political activity. I think that one way political and diplomatic history have changed for the positive over the last two decades has come in their ability to speak to other sub-disciplines. Still, it seems to me that these distinctions are worthwhile. For instance, my own research has focused on congressional dissenters in the foreign policy, figures that frequently cooperated with grassroots peace activists. So, I would submit, my work deals with topics that have been illuminated by social history's efforts over the last 20 or 30 years. Nonetheless, I wouldn't consider social history my primary area of focus, even though the topics upon which I deal in some ways intersect with social history.

Thirdly, I wanted to say a bit more about Cal St-Monterey Bay and Evergreen. It's easy for conservative critics of the academy to pick out absurd-sounding courses to mock. That was not what I was trying to do with these institutions, and others that follow the AAC&U model. The courses I chose were fully representative of their overall curricula--indeed, in many ways, these courses represented the closest things to balance in the History curricula of these institutions.

Finally, I think that if my case established nothing else, it's that Brooklyn College is not typical! But my fear is that it represents in extreme form disturbing patterns prevalent mostly at non-elite institutions that are worth thinking about.

Josh Greenland - 11/3/2003

So you're saying that military, political and diplomatic history have the appearance of being conservative choices, but that isn't necessarily the reality?

Stephen Thomas - 11/3/2003

An interesting, if crude and perhaps cruel yardstick, Mr. Catsam.

How many people were executed by the Soviet Union?

How many people died as a result of racial violence in the era from 1963 to 1973, which is roughly the civil rights era?

You get the idea. The civil rights era was remarkably non-violent. There were no major street battles.

I used to work in academia. Left because the caricature of it is pretty much true. Still work in a business related to academia. The humanities are having a tough time catching up with the rest of society. Pretty much lost in the past. So heavily indebted to the notion that Americans are savagely racist that they cannot thank Americans for making the right decisions, and integrating with remarkably little bloodshed or violence.

And, Mr. Catsam, it's time to start telling the truth. Blacks have committed far more racially motivated violence against whites than vice versa.

Derek Catsam - 11/3/2003

I will promise you that more people suffered under Jim Crow than "suffered" under laws intended to ferret out corruption in Ohio. You have a bizarre conceptioon of what is "real" and what is not, of what is legitimate and what is not. Most sophisticated historians of civil rights or any of these other topics do not simply divide the world up into good or evil categories, except in the abstract -- racism is evil, fighting it was good, but telling that story breaks down along far more complex lines. That you do not know this about the work that is being done indicates to me that you are criticizing folks whose work you have not read. Besides, most of us who care about race,class, gender also care about lots of other things. I find it odd that you would not see that. Your caricature of academics might make yourself feel better about fatuous generalizations, but it does not accurately portray the real fleash and blood professors and graduate students I've known.

Stephen Thomas - 11/3/2003

It's an obsession because it is the critical theory of Marxism.

To answer those who ask what the difference is between Marxism and Christianity, Marxism is a religion of revenge and Christianity is a religion of forgiveness. This is true in the ideal sense, of course, if often not true in reality.

As the Soviet Union fell and Marxism was discreditted around the globe, our humanities departments became more and more entranced with this religion of revenge. About the only place Marxism is taken seriously is in colleges.

Why a dying, criminal ideology continues to exert such an influence on our intellectual class I do not know. Seems absurd and demonic on the surface. Would make an interesting psychological study.

Ralph E. Luker - 11/3/2003

Josh, It is primarily that military, political, and diplomatic history are simply very traditional areas of historical inquiry. Studies of race, class, and gender were not so common, were marginal to the historical enterprize through the first half of the twentieth century. They have subsequently become much more common. As they have done so, the more traditional fields have often seemed to be conservative choices and, as Johnson says, have been marginalized in some history departments.

Josh Greenland - 11/3/2003

If it is true that political, diplomatic and military historians are disproportionately conservative, does anyone have any idea why that might be? Maybe the military specialty is easy, because military people tend to be more conservative, but what's with the other two?

Dan Johnson - 11/1/2003

Very well point. I'm also a historian trained in labor history and social history in general, but I'm highly conscious of the need to address "traditional" political and economic themes. Indeed, I would argue that it's fundamentally impossible to really discuss social history WITHOUT a firm grounding in these later areas.

F.H. Thomas - 11/1/2003

Please see my response to the previous post.

F.H. Thomas - 11/1/2003

..which correctly uses the word "canny"? (Old Norse "kanen", to know, carried into Scots Gaelic as the Norse assimilated, thence into middle English.)

As to your principal issue: I did say that the 60 million murders were done "in the name of Marx", which they surely were. Even Pol Pot had a bust of Marx in his office, as his state murderers killed three million with shovels, after making them did their own graves.

This is different from saying "by Marx", which I believe that you misunderstood it to be.

Thank you for your comments.

F.H. Thomas - 11/1/2003

..of the Palestinian Authority. I not only want her to speak at Colorado, but everywhere else as well. Is that clear enough for you? Of course, much of our media supports Sharon overtly, so itis a little difficult for an eloquent voice such as hers to get any traction here. No problem in Europe, of course.

By the way, please make the distinction between conservative (Horowitz) and libertarian (myself). I support Horowitz when he is for myth-free history, and faculty which teaches rather than propagandizes, but do not support his generally pro-Sharon foreign policy.

We to your right are perhaps more nuanced than you give us credit for.

Thanks for your comments.

Jonathan Rees - 10/31/2003

I was horrified to read about K.C. Johnson's fight for tenure and am delighted that he won in the end.

However, I have a real problem with his Senate testimony. He has taken his experience and tried to make it appear that everywhere else in the country is like Brooklyn College. It's not. Political history is alive and kicking outside NYC.

The most obvious problem with his survey of departments is that he assumes that people's research interests dictate what they teach. In departments like mine where there are only four full-time historians, this is impossible. Sure I bring what I know about labor history to other subjects, but political history runs through every class I teach because, as Johnson suggests, it is too important to ignore.

While Johnson's testimony highlights a few trendy-sounding gut courses that probably treat political history very badly, his methodology would ignore courses that do not have words like "politics" or "democracy" in the title. For example, at Wisconsin, where I went to graduate school during the 1990s, they broke up American history into six chronological upper-level courses that cover one period intensively, like "America, 1914-45." The professor I TAed that course for (who still teaches there now by the way) gave those students more Presidents and diplomats than I'm sure they ever wanted (and I consider that a compliment).

I haven't checked the AHA Department Guide lately, but I know his research interests include politics. Wisconsin didn't make Johnson's list of exceptions because by his criteria a department has to have a majority of faculty claiming an interest in the traditional subjects Johnson is priviliging. Politics is important, but if it's not in the research interests of the majority of the faculty does that make it a bad department? Is 40% enough to satisfy the critics out there? Or are they looking for all politics all the time?

Lastly, Johnson's testimony misses the essential point that race, class and gender all have political dimensions, and I'm not just talking about the 1960s notion that "The personal is political." Just about everything important in this country's history has been the subject of legislation or potential legislation. The scholars who teach the subjects that Johnson derides know this and use it in their work and their teaching. They are not as ignorant as Johnson seems to be suggesting.

Jonathan Rees

Thomas Hagedorn - 10/31/2003

Historians (and others in the humanities) have a strange obsession with race, gender, ethnicity and it crouds out other legitimate concerns. Wasn't that one of KC's points in his testimony? Most "real" people don't view others as either oppressors or victims, we try to understand who they are, not what laudable or deplorable group they may happen to belong to. Academic presses are not exactly flourishing and part of the reason is the lack of relevancy of much of the work published there. Beyond a few hundred grad students and faculty, no one else cares. The constitutional convention was relevant to a state-wide issue that "real" people will vote on Tuesday and historians could have provided answers for voters to make an informed decision. They did not because of their current trendy interests.

Jack - 10/30/2003

Are you serious with this crap? Colorado tries to fight an overwhelming onslaught of PC, and you use that to make an argument along the lines of "well they are doing it to!!" What a lightweight.

Van L. Hayhow - 10/30/2003

Thank you for the prompt response.

Derek catsam - 10/30/2003

What a peculiar blanket indictment of thousands of people, many of whom have done good and even great things. And our litmus test is an 1850-51 Constitutional Convention in Ohio? Forgive me if I say that there have been issues of race, class and gender that trump that in importance and significance. I'm glad we have Mr. Hagedorn to discern for us what is the "real world" and what is not. I was a bit worried that what with my non-real world bills and rent and student loans and such that I was simply too detached from reality. But thank you, Mr. Hagedorn for clarifying for me that what is relevant is not my work on the Freedom Rides, (or my teaching US history to college students) but rather an 1850-51 constitutional convention that is preventing Ohioans from using public monies to lend to private companies. But since you are so bent upon subsidizing private efforts, surely some of that $500 million could go toward an Ohio history text that has such booming market demand. Good luck with that.

Derek Catsam - 10/30/2003

Re: Marx -- I'd seen this in a number of places before -- here is the most "primary" citation. Apparently he had first said it at some gathering where a French intellectual was trying to credit him with a partocular kind of "libaration"of the working class upon which Marx frowned, or at least which disquieted him.

"ce qu'il y a de certain c'est que moi, je ne suis
pas Marxiste"

("What is certain is that myself, I am not marxist")
(Quoted by Engels in a letter to Eduard Bernstein, can be found in Marx and Engels, Werke, Vol. 35. p.388)

Ralph E. Luker - 10/30/2003

The life of the mind never rests in this household. And, by the way, I'd appreciate having that reference also. It means that Karl Barth was only paraphrasing his namesake when he said that he was not a Barthian.

Van L. Hayhow - 10/30/2003

I meant to add a P. S. When exactly does Professor Luker sleep?

Van L Hayhow - 10/30/2003

Karl Marx said, after observing some early Marxists, that I am not a marxist? I hadn't heard that before? Can you tell us where that can be found?
Thank you.

Ralph E. Luker - 10/30/2003

Derek's point is well taken. According to Mr. Thomas's logic, Jesus and Mohammed would of course need to be held responsible for all the killings done in their names by zealous followers and if we value life, then, we must shun both Christianity and Islam.

Derek Catsam - 10/30/2003

Mr. Thomas: If we can slow you down in your bloviations for one minute: Who, exactly, did Karl Marx ever kill? In fact, was it not Marx who, in seeing some of the early manifestations of Marxism, said "I am not a Marxist?" Surely you are capable of separating political philosophers from those who invoke them? Aren't you? Or are you not that canny? Stalin was evil. Lenin too. Mao? No doubt. And of course there have been evil non marxists. But I am not certain that Marx can be termed evil. Wrong, maybe, but evil? It might be nice polemic shorthand to blame Marx for every evil of people who were more totalitarians than they were anything else, but it isn't history.

Thomas Hagedorn - 10/30/2003

Liberals love to call conservative ideas "scary". KC Johnson's testimony is "scary", is it not? How could his specialty NOT be considered of great value to his institution and his country.

America is a country that is suffering from amnesia and this type of "affirmative action" history is partially to blame.

Here is another example. Ohio has Issue One on the ballot Tuesday. In essence, Issue One would enable the state the ability to circumvent current constitutional limits on borrowing to lend up to $500 million to "high tech" business, with the laudable goal of creating new jobs in "rust belt" Ohio. The state could also obtain equity in some of these businesses, another exception to current constitutional restrictions.

Why are those limits in our state constitution? Because in the 1830's and 1840's corrupt politicians borrowed a huge amount of $$ to invest and lend to builders of railroads and canals, most of which never got built. Ohio (and other midwestern states)held a constitutional convention in 1850-51 to make sure politicians and their greedy friends could never do this again. Try finding this in a recent Ohio history text. (I had to refer a reporter to a 1912 publication and a legal text). Economic history today is trumped by race, gender and ethnicity. And state histories are not very high on the academic pecking order for publication. We live in real states, pay real taxes and vote in real elections, not some post-modern dream world of a history journal that maybe 500 people will read.

Historians (academic and public) have made themselves irrevelant to the real world and they should not be surprised that their funding is being cut. They offer less and less to the outside world that most of us live in.

Ralph E. Luker - 10/30/2003

You did avoid Paul Harvey's point (and he's at the epicenter of the storm) -- that your and Horowitz's allies in the so-called struggle for intellectual diversity in Colorado sought to bar Hanan Ashrawy from speaking there. That seems to betray the intellectual bankruptcy of their argument. In other words, "The other we _do_ know about." And, just to be a little PC, do you comment on the physical features of male politicians? It doesn't add intellectual weight to an argument.

F.H. Thomas - 10/30/2003

Do I have a problem with Karl Marx? Well, after 60 milion murders in his name, by the most conservative estimate, undoubtedly to be disputed by these CCNY profs, I guess I must say "yes, I do". I am not into murder in the name of the new Soviet man.

Ann Coulter? Eh. A little. Horowitz? In small doses. Hanan Ashrawy? A brilliant speaker with a perfect semitic face, who should be running the Palestinian government. Confused yet?

PC representing an exclusionary viewpoint? Could not have said it better myself. Thank you. The other we do not know about yet, except that ideologues tend to be dictators if left in power too long. PC has been in there too long.

Thanks for the engaging and open tone.

Ralph E. Luker - 10/30/2003

Mr. Thomas, I take it that you have a problem with Karl Marx. Where did you learn terms like "closet bolshevik," "leftie profs," "PC cesspool"? It sounds like you are reading too much Ann Coulter and David Horowitz. As my friend, Paul Harvey, has pointed out on these boards, the people who are pushing the "intellectual diversity" agenda in Colorado are the very people who sought to bar Hanan Ashrawy from speaking there. Is she a Marxist? Hardly. Does she represent a point of view too little heard in the United States? Absolutely. She represents it with great distinction. "PC" and "intellectual diversity" can both become shorthand formulae for promoting only the views of people who look like or sound like "me."

F.H. Thomas - 10/30/2003

This should surprize no one.

From an academic and intellectual discipline, the liberal arts have become the last refuge of the closet bolshevic at many campuses. Tired, obsolete ideas are pushed on students by leftie profs, in the name of social divisiveness, ostensibly on behalf of an ever widening list of phony "victims". This is not by any means universal, but it is widespread. PC trumps quality.

Although this incident has been personally damaging to Robert David Johnson, a white male of course, the greatest loss is to truth and educational quality. Anyone against McCarthyism should note the methods used by the lefties - the secret letter.

Stalin would be so proud.

No student could come out of this PC cesspool with a knowledge of how the world got to be as it is, unless he studies on his own. I believe that the Colorado initiative, properly carried through, is the kind of check to these malcreants which might create a tiny bit more balance. Apply it to CCNY? You bet!