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Feb 15, 2005 7:00 pm

More Notes ...

This I do not believe. If moral conservatives use C. A. Tripp's recent book about Abraham Lincoln to justify chiseling Abraham Lincoln's face from Mt. Rushmore to replace it with Ronald Reagan's, they'll be giving Tripp more credit than he's due and defacing national memory. Thanks to Moby Lives for the tip.

Gertrude Himmelfarb has an excellent piece in The Weekly Standard,"The Trilling Imagination," on the centenary of Lionel Trilling.

Scott McLemee's latest column at Inside Higher Ed focuses on Harry Frankfort's classic essay"On Bullshit." It's a great column and the stuff is just piling up high, wide, and deep around here.

You've probably heard that the Organization of American Historians is moving its Spring convention to San Jose because of the hotel workers' strike in San Francisco. I don't cross picket lines, but the move to San Jose confirms my decision not to attend this year's OAH convention.

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Oscar Chamberlain - 2/18/2005

I have never been to downtown Los Angeles. What do people enjoy there?

Greg James Robinson - 2/18/2005

All but ignored in the glare of publicity regarding the OAH's move from San Francisco to San José has been the parallel decision by the Association for Asian American Studies to change hotels for its annual meeting in April 2005 in Los Angeles, in order to repect a union boycott. (A letter from AAAS President Franklin Ng is at Luckily, the move was only several blocks rather than many miles, and so everyone will still be able to enjoy downtown Los Angeles.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/18/2005

Greg, Yes, I agree that Oscar's question was helpful because what I initially said was too terse.

Greg James Robinson - 2/18/2005

Ah, that is more like it. Your statement that you were not going sounded like a protest of the Organization's decision, rather than simply an expression of perosnal distaste for San Jose. I was not planning to go to the convention, so it is all one to me.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/16/2005

Oscar, I'm not necessarily opposed to the decision to move to San Jose. My impression is that the OAH polled the early registrants for the convention and that, in light of the strike, 3/4 of them favored the move to San Jose. I _suspect_ that historians who will be on the convention program are heavily represented in the early registration group. Along with the publishers and the OAH itself, they are the ones who have a real vested interest in the convention taking place. So, I'd say the decision was fairly made and made by the people who have the most at stake in it.
Because of the strike, I wouldn't make an argument that we should have gone ahead with plans for the convention in San Francisco. But I'm not on the program. I've seen as much of San Jose as I care to see. I'd have loved to see more of San Francisco. So, while I'm not opposed to the OAH's decision, I'm going to sit this convention out. I _suspect_ that this decision will result in a lot of late decisions like mine: people who would have loved to go to San Francisco, except for the strike, who decide not to go to San Jose. That means, I suspect, that the OAH will pay a heavy price for this decision of conscience. Btw, I went to the convention in St. Louis that was moved from the hotel of original choice (the Adams Mark) because of claims that the chain discriminated against African Americans. (Tim Tyson and I threatened to hold a sleep-in in the Adams Mark's lobby.) I ended up staying in a pretty unpleasant hotel setting. It wasn't terrible, but the convention lacked the sort of central gathering places where you could expect to meet old friends. I don't know that that will be the case in San Jose, because there's a change of city and, presumably, the OAH can get reasonably good hotel space, even at this late date.

Oscar Chamberlain - 2/16/2005

Ralph, I'm curious that the move to San Jose confirmed your decision not to go. Was it simply the extra logistics or is there something in the decision-making here that you disliked, even though it involved picket lines?

Ralph E. Luker - 2/15/2005

When a congressman introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to _require_ that there must be a memorial to Ronald Reagan in _every_ congressional district, my initial reaction on Richard Jensen's conservativenet was censured. But, really, given periodic congressional re-districting, the whole thing seemed so outrageous. Finally, I just gave up and made sport of it, with suggestions for the Ronald Reagan Memorial Dumpster in Harlem, etc.

Jonathan Dresner - 2/15/2005

It's worth noting, though, that proposals to put Reagan on something -- Rushmore, the dime, the $5 -- have been floating around for some time, and it is true that Lincoln's value as an icon of the Republican party is decidedly tarnished by its association with states-rights anti-federalists; and social conservatives are also not terribly happy about the discussion of Lincoln (though I read elsewhere that Buchanan actually should qualify as the "first" gay president). The best satire contains strong elements of truth.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/15/2005

Good catch, David! I'm just amazingly gullible sometimes -- not a good quality in a historian. It's happened to me before -- sometimes it's just _so_ embarrassing. You wouldn't believe what I did once -- it had to do with Crooked Timber and Margaret Soltan at University Diaries. Humiliating naivete. Those folks over at Moby Lives didn't make the distinction for me. At least I had the sense to say _This_ I don't believe.

David Lion Salmanson - 2/15/2005

The Swift report is a hoax although it took me awhile to figure it out. It wasn't until I hit the line about the head of Proctor and Gamble coming out as a Satanist on Donahoe and Sally Jesse Raphael that I realized these guys are pranksters of the first order.

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