Blogs > Cliopatria > Noted Here and There ...

Feb 7, 2005 1:59 am

Noted Here and There ...

Carnival in Brazil, France, London or New Orleans may be good, but History Carnival #2 is less expensive.

Have you checked out Cliopatria's History Blogroll lately? In addition to the history blogs here on our mainpage, there are about 90 others to explore there.

How could you not love a house in Brooklyn that was, in 1941, home to W. H. Auden and his lover, Carson McCullers, Benjamin Britten, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Virgil Thompson? When Denis de Rougemont, the author of Love in the Western World, visited their salon at #7 Middagh Street, he wrote that"all that was new in America in music, painting, or choreography emanated from that house, the only center of thought and art that I found in any large city in the country."

Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisherraises serious questions about the estimated voter turnout in the Iraqi elections. Do not be surprised if the returns are a much lower percentage of the potential electorate than were initially estimated.

At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the administration is insisting that economist Hans Herman-Hoppe lose his next salary increase and take a letter of reprimand for a seemingly innocuous generalization about gay people. David Beito and Kenneth Gregg at Liberty & Power and Jim Lindgren at The Volokh Conspiracy have the story.

Both the Ward Churchill flap at Hamilton College and the Michelle Malkin flap at Emory that Greg Robinson wrote about here are reminders of what poor jobs those who are inviting guest speakers to our campuses often do. Too often, the invitations suggest contempt for what should be a college or university's reason for being: the life of the mind. How else do we explain the popularity of an Ann Coulter or a David Horowitz, a Michael Moore or a Ralph Nader, on the campus lecture circuit? I was irritated by an editorial in the Emory Wheel that underscored the problem, even as it attempted to address it. In part, Emory's editors wrote:

This pattern of inviting thinkers of simultaneous renown and reflection is worth noting. Emory student groups, particularly its political groups, have little problem attracting speakers endowed with one of these two traits — but rarely both. In fact, tonight's rival events, one involving firebrand pundit Michelle Malkin, the other entailing an obscure Canadian academic by the name of Glenn Robinson, are good examples of this.
"Glenn Robinson"?"obscure Canadian academic"? So obscure that you couldn't bother to get his first name right? So obscure that you couldn't bother to do a simple search to find out that he published the most important study of Japanese internment? Is his"obscurity" a sign that, in your heart of hearts, you really prefer a glitzy rabble rouser? In your heart of hearts, is that what you'd prefer the university to be about?

Oh, and by the way, if Ward Churchill is 1/16th Cherokee, as he says in some places, Glenn and Jonathan Reynolds have stronger claims to being Native Americans in academia, since they are 1/8th Native American. Glenn and Jonathan just haven't tried to make a living on it.

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Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 2/8/2005

"as a way of weaseling out of pinning himself down."

Do you really think that was his thought process before and during his lecture?

Julie A Hofmann - 2/7/2005

One of the things I remember from my days at Emory was that the student activities budget was ginormous -- about $400,000 a year in the late 1980s. Even then, there were serious rivalries between student groups (back then, it was the BSU versus the JSU -- demonstrating, I think both a lack of knowledge about the Civil Rights Movement and how much alliances of the 50s and 60s had deteriorated by the late 80s and early 90s), and a lot of time was spent in attacking budget proposals on the grounds of racism or political incorrectness. One of the sad things was that it was difficult to tell whether the speaker was influenced by the inviting group ("oh, THOSE people didn't want you to come here") or whether the invitees were adament because they had bought into the speaker's often biased rhetoric, but there did seem to be a kind of rivalry by proxy going on much of the time. Apparently, things haven't changed much.

Jonathan Dresner - 2/7/2005

Technically, perhaps you are correct, but in the context of the statements as I see them, it is a distinction without a difference: he's citing (and I use that term loosely) "some economists" as a way of weaseling out of pinning himself down. He didn't follow up with "some economists find this absurd, as Keynes' theories were pretty effective in certain situations" or "but they are outnumbered by people who prefer to look at the theories on their own merits" or "but this doesn't explain why so many people found Keynes' ideas convincing."

John H. Lederer - 2/6/2005

You are confusing what he said.

As I gather from the accounts Hoppe did not say that homosexuality explained Keynes short sightedness in his economic theories, he said that some economists had done so.

A moment on Google will tell you that Hoppe is correct.

Jonathan Dresner - 2/6/2005

There is an odd implication to Herman-Hoppes' comments on JMKeynes: if homosexuality explains the origins of the theory (which is patently absurd) then how would he explain the widespread adoption of the theory by governments, economists, etc.? Were they all gay?

Clearly he's talked himself into a corner in this case: the question is what we do about it.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/6/2005

Nathanael, My concern is two-fold: 1) Has Churchill defrauded us with his claims to being a native American? At most, his native American lineage seems minimal. 2) To what extent and why have his claims to an ethnic identity been advantageous in positioning himself in higher education and as a "public intellectual."
When I see the poverty of the academic market place that my younger colleagues face and think about the fact that Ward Churchill is making about $96,000 a year (in salary alone and more than that when he still chaired ethnic studies at Colorado; when I think about the fact that he claims only a B.A. and an M.A. in Communications from Sangamon State (now ISU at Springfield); when I think about how many incredibly talented young historians have seen their career hopes wilt in the face of an impoverished market, I am, frankly, outraged at the mis-allocation of resources that appears to be at work, _here_ in Churchill's case, and I suspect elsewhere.

Nathanael D. Robinson - 2/6/2005


I am a little surprised that you would weigh the extent to which one scholars can, or should, use their ethnicity in their professional lives. If Prof. Churchill is who he claims to be, I do not see why this should be a problem. I might be concerned if he promoted his ethnicity without somehow connecting with it or practicing it (yes, that's vague). My larger concern is that native policies of the US have pushed to eliminate the existence of Native American nations by minimizing the importance of the heritage to individuals. Working outside the reservation, converting to Christianity, marrying a non-native, wearing bourgeois clothing -- these all were used to justify moving someone from the native category to white. I am reminded that Native Americans in Connecticut who founded casinos and reestablished their territories are harrangued because documents, over which they had no control, listed them as caucasians.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/6/2005

Josh, Look over at Liberty & Power, where Tom Palmer comments on Kenneth Gregg's post about this matter. It confirms for me that HHH is a rather confirmed homophobe. I don't think homophobes or racists or sexists should be rewarded for suffering from those conditions. I do think that they should have to take whatever rigorous criticism comes their way for their fears and provincialisms. But I do think that HHH's comment in class was relatively innocuous and certainly shouldn't get the heavy hand from the administration that it has in mind for him.

John H. Lederer - 2/6/2005

Is there is a qualitiative difference between Churchill's Adolf Eichmann comment and Hoppe's?

Churchill's comment was one of opinion.

Hoppe's were of alleged fact. Either gays do or do not tend to economically plan less for the future. Presumably Hoppe has some evidence that they do ( I would be surprised offhand if he were not correct, even if possibly wrong about cause, since marriage is well known as a factor influencing personal savings rate.)

Similarly either some economists do nor do not believe that Keynes economics were influenced by his sexuality. I don't pretend to know economic history, but I am fairly sure that reputable economists have referred to Keynes economic theories as having a "childless" short term vision -- which would square with the only Keynes quote I know.. "in the long term we are all dead"... Again Hoppe's statement is a factual statement and is provably true of false.

Unlike Churchill's largely opinion comments, Hoppes are largely factual -- though I grant that neither is pure one or the other.

It seems to me we pass some barrier when not only do some opinions become punishable, but the mention of facts that might lead to opinions themselves become objectionable. One is an overt attempt to enforce a uniformity of opinion, the other attempts to control the very formation and survival of opinions

Certainly as soon as we ban factual statements the university's pretensions to searching for truth become traduced -- we simply have a 527 organization that enjoys not only a tax break but a government subsidy, albeit the offices are not as roomy.

Name Removed at Poster's Request - 2/6/2005

My post above is based on the assumption that this is the first time H-H has done anything like this. And it may be appropriate to at least note it in his personnel record.

Name Removed at Poster's Request - 2/6/2005

You're lucky if you hadn't heard the sorts of things that Herman-Hoppe said before, because I sure have. That he's a 'phobe is clear to me. How can his Keynes remark been seen as being anything other than anti-gay? Similar types of remarks are often made about the motivations for the actions of prominent women; I'm sure you're all too familiar with those.

I didn't say anything about discipline or penalties for that remark because I don't have any position on that. My lack of a position includes lack of advocacy for administrative punishment. There has to be some way of telling the guy he's being a jerk without messing with his pay or career prospects. And the people doing the telling don't necessarily have to be the administration or his department. But I certainly don't think the gay community and its supporters should just shut up and not criticize him pointedly out of some distorted view of academic freedom. I have no problem with him paying the emotional cost of facing shortlived but sharp and well-deserved criticism.

Oscar Chamberlain - 2/6/2005

My comment on Chuchill and stimulation was meant to be communicate something betwen the ruefull and the sarcastic.

I think you have touched on the larger question of what are speakers and conferences for. The reasons today seem to range from the purely scholarly to the most abject sort of campus promotion to the pursuit of various other agendas. What is legitimate? What is not?

Ralph E. Luker - 2/6/2005

I wouldn't go to the mat with you all day on any of these points, Oscar. I was simply trying to think even-handedly of examples of the problem, left _and_ right. We haven't even gotten into the outrageous fees commanded by some of these glitzy windbags.
I'd place Nader's transition to before 2000, when his shameless self-promotion made a difference, than after it, when it no longer did.
A dedicated life capped by reckless self-promotion does, I grant you, raise questions about "what do we live for?" We don't need pay Nader enormous speaking fees to help us think about that. Nader's notoriety, like that of Michael Jackson, is in our face, whether we like it or not.
Yes, Ward Churchill may be "stimulating" and probably cheaper than Nader -- if you go for faux Indians. I think I'll put on blackface and make my living as a professional African American.
I do think that we need to relearn the difference between stimulating controversy and stimulating learning. Hamilton may be beginning to learn to draw the distinction.

Oscar Chamberlain - 2/6/2005

I made three starts on this reply and erased them.

Here are some that made the cut.

1. I'd place Nader's transtion to 100% self-promotion at just after the 2000 election. Four years isn't a massive gap.

2. A life dedicated to something, as most (though not all) of Nader's has been, is inherently stimulating to the life of the mind. It raises the question, "what do we live for?"

3. There are probably better--and cheaper!--choices than Nader and the others you mention. I might be wrong, but Ward Churchill was probably cheaper. And he seems to have been quite stimulating.

4. Of course we hope for speakers who bring more than the stimulation of controversy. I'm not sure many of us (the societal "us") know the difference between stimulating controversy and stimulating thought any more. They have always overlapped. Maybe, in both popular and scholarly minds, they have merged.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/6/2005

I can imagine that some gay people would find Herman-Hoppe's few remarks as offensive. I also believe that the effort to make college campuses "safe spaces" where, by severe penalties, offense is never given and never taken, serious discussion of serious issues will simply never occur. When it was brought to his attention that offense was taken, Herman-Hoppe apologized and indicated that no offense was intended. Unless one _wants_ to severely crimp freedom of speech in American academic communities, I don't know that you ought to ask more of him than that. In some ways, my mind is almost always offended when it first encounters something that I didn't know or hadn't thought about. Isn't that how we learn? Must we teach Herman-Hoppe not to offend?

Name Removed at Poster's Request - 2/6/2005

Seriously Ralph, you view Herman-Hoppe's remarks about gay people as "seemingly innocuous"?

From Volokh's blog:
"Another example he gave the class was that homosexuals tend to plan less for the future than heterosexuals.

"Reasons for the phenomenon include the fact that homosexuals tend not to have children, he said. They also tend to live riskier lifestyles than heterosexuals, Hoppe said."

The remark in the last sentence is absolutely typical of homophobes, who tend to focus gleefully on the higher incidence of AIDS among gay MEN, and then generalize from gay men to all gay people, ignoring lesbians completely. In the real world, Lesbians are less likely to get AIDS then straight people.

"He said there is a belief among some economists that one of the 20th century's most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, was influenced in his beliefs by his homosexuality. Keynes espoused a "spend it now" philosophy to keep an economy strong...."

So because JMK was a flighty homo, he would have to impulsively and self-indulgently spend money on himself, and because his homo nature made him so small-minded that he had to personalize everything, he would not be able to distinguish between personal finance and monetary policy?

Okay, I'm gay myself and I'm being facetious in my use of the word "homo", but I hope I'm made it obvious that Herman-Hoppe's remarks are blatantly anti-gay.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/6/2005

Don't you think that Nader has been vastly overdone on the college lecture circuit? And how many years has it been since Nader did anything other than self-promotion?

Oscar Chamberlain - 2/6/2005

I am a little puzzled by your linking Nader with Moore, Coulson, and Horowitz. He's not perfect, and his lack of leadership after the 2000 elections disappointed me immensely. However he has a solid body of important accomplishments that would make him a logical choice in many circumstances.

Jonathan Dresner - 2/6/2005

It does seem like universities should be less liable to "star" blinded invitations than other institutions, doesn't it? Finding serious people to debate each other about serious issues isn't that hard, if it's conflict you want. But then, really serious people don't have publicists, usually.

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