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May 19, 2005 4:42 pm


Noted Here and There ...



Anne Applebaum,"Blaming the Messenger," Washington Post, 18 May, is essential reading on the Newsweek story about what may or may not have happened at Gitmo.

At Is That Legal? Eric Muller reports that the threat of legal action has forced Michelle Malkin to retract her false allegations against Peter Irons of the University of California, San Diego, and Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga in her book, In Defense of Internment, about Japanese-American experience in World War II. She has yet to retract charges against others. See also: Dave Neiwart at Orcinus.

At Stop Smiling, there's an excerpt from an interview with Christopher Hitchens that fully appears in the current Vanity Fair. Thanks to Bobby Farouk, who posts at Horizon and has launched his own blog at mrbfk. Meanwhile, this review by Hitchens irritated several Cliopatriarchs. Caleb McDaniel said as much in"John Brown and Nonviolence," but it generated a discussion well worth reading through at Mode for Caleb. It's odd, somehow, isn't it, that Hitchens denigrates the nonviolent abolitionists to lift up antebellum America's premier terrorist as an adjunct to his defense of our"war on terror." That was to have been the war we were fighting, wasn't it? But, suddenly, one of the terrorists we funded turns up again and it is no longer clear what war we are fighting at all.

Cliopatria's friend, John Emerson at Idiocentrism, has a post up with recommendations about book buying on the internet. They're also discussing it at Adam Kotsko's The Weblog. Like John, I'm inclined to recommend abebooks.com and bookfinder.com. But you may have other suggestions. There are alternatives to book buying and borrowing.

If you understood the collective behavior of political scientists, sociologists, and historians, and you confronted them with the matter of the British Association of University Teachers' boycott and the universities of Haifa and Bar Ilan and blacklisting of their faculty members, wouldn't you predict that the political scientists would support the AAUP's protest of the boycott, that the sociologists wouldn't be able to agree on a position, and that the historians will not take up the issue for discussion until after the AUT votes on a reconsideration of the matter? Well, that's what has happened.

Thanks to Caleb, we've been reminded that it's History Week at Slate. Here is the line-up of events, so far. I haven't gotten through everything yet, but I thought the discussion between Diane Ravitch and Jon Wiener was a little stale. (Sorry, Jon, but I did.) On the other hand, David Greenberg's two part essay,"That Barnes & Noble Dream," was quite well done.

The six anthropologists who've launched a new blog, Savage Minds, Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber, and David Epstein at Inside Higher Ed are all writing about the non-renewal of Yale anthropologist David Graeber's contract. There's also an on-line petition in support of Graeber. I wouldn't think that it will make any difference. Although his scholarship has apparently been outstanding, Yale chews up and spits out assistant professors with some regularity and it is not obliged to give a reason for doing so. I suspect it might have overlooked Graeber's anarchism; I suspect it did not ignore his support of graduate students organizing for union recognition.

Finally my colleague, Jon Dresner, calls my attention to the fact that 130 members of the faculty and staff at Michigan's Calvin College signed a petition protesting the policies of the Bush administration in the face of GWB's giving the commencement address on Saturday. Student protesters even have their own on-line discussion group,"Our Commencement is Not Your Platform." I know enough faculty members at Calvin College to be able to name some of the people who signed that petition without even seeing it; and if the White House had asked me I could have told them"Don't mess with those Calvinists." They're not just your run-of-the-mill, watered-down Presbyterians, like Bill Frist and Condi Rice. They take their Christianity pretty seriously up there.

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Carl Patrick Burkart - 5/19/2005

I thought it was a little strange that both Ravitch and Weiner both agreed that "freedom" should be the theme of teaching US or World history. As Eric Foner has shone, the conflicts that surround Freedom can make a compelling master narrative. And of course, this approach is superior to a "nationalist heritage" or a "foward march of oppression" theme. Why, however, is it important to structure a history survey around a single theme?

Why can't the course be structured around questions like "How do historians use evidence?" and "What is history for?" As part of this course, teachers could bring up the question "Is the theme of American history the conflicts surrounding the definition of freedom?", but I don't see why they need to answer the question for students in advance.


Greg James Robinson - 5/19/2005

I am glad that Michelle Malkin has retracted her accusations against Peter Irons and Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, whom her book made sound like criminals. Mrs. Herzig-Yoshinaga is a hero of American democracy who spent six days a week for a period of years at the National Archives going through documents. It was she who discovered the "smoking gun" that demonstrated the War Department's coverup and manipulation of evidence before the Supreme Court in the cases challenging mass evacuation. It was these discoveries that were responsible for the historic 1980s court cases (brought by a legal team led by Irons) that resulted in the overturning of Fred Korematsu's and Gordon Hirabayashi's wartime convictions. We can only hope that this will inspire her to retract the other slanders that Eric Muller mentions.

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