Blogs > Cliopatria > An Open Letter to the OAH's Vicki Ruiz and Lee Formwalt

Jul 27, 2005 4:50 pm

An Open Letter to the OAH's Vicki Ruiz and Lee Formwalt

Mr. Luker, an Atlanta historian, was co-editor of the first two volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King. He also contributes to HNN's blog, Cliopatria.

Dear Drs. Ruiz and Formwalt,

I've been a member of the Organization of American Historians for about 35 years. For all those years, it has been a center of my professional identity and pride. Its Journal of American History has kept me apprized of the latest research in my field and its conventions have been opportunities for re-union with professional colleagues whom I've cherished for many years. Unlike some other historians, I'm not deeply estranged by the OAH's"political correctness" nor have its occasional follies, such as shifting conventions from one undesireable location to another at the last minute, undone my loyalty. In the last three or four years, however, I have begun to wonder if it has become the place where Offences Are Honored.

I'll cite some instances of what I mean for you. Then, you tell me whether I am" cherry-picking" evidence that has no coherent center.

Case #1: Together with its antecedent, The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, the Journal of American History has long been the venerable authority in American history, with a publication record dating back to 1914. In 1996, the Journal of American History published Michael Bellesiles's article,"The Origins of Gun Culture in the United States, 1760-1865." It was awarded our Binkley-Stephenson Prize for the best article of the year in the Journal. There's no need to rehearse the painful saga of what happened thereafter. Before it was over, however, his book, Arming America, won and lost the Bancroft Prize, his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, withdrew it from publication, and Bellesiles lost his tenured position at Emory University. No reputable scholar any longer believes that his 1996 article will bear close scrutiny, but the OAH and its Journal of American History are the only institutions that still honor Bellesiles's research trajectory. There's been no official repudiation of the article, no official acknowledgment of its deep flaws, and no withdrawal of the Binkley-Stephenson Prize. Why is that?

Cases #2: The Organization of American Historians' Distinguished Lectureship Program began in 1981. Over the years, it has offered local institutions across the country the opportunity to present lectures by distinguished historians on topics of their special expertise. The lecturers, in turn, donate the modest honorarium of at least $1,000 to the OAH. Beyond that, the local institutions are responsible only for transportation and housing expenses. Nearly 300 of my professional colleagues now participate in that program. It is considered an honor to do so. I was looking over the list of the OAH's Distinguished Lecturers the other day and was delighted to see the names of many truly distinguished historians. In truth, however, it's a fairly mixed lot: Paul Buhle? Christine Heyrman? Ann Lane? What violations of standards of historical practice and professional ethics must one commit in order to be called"distinguished" by OAH authorities these days?

Three years ago, Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes accused Paul Buhle of politically motived dishonesty and obfuscation of the facts in The New Criterion. They repeated the charges in their important book, In Denial: Historians, Communism & Espionage. When I made note of the accusations in an article for the OAH Newsletter, Buhle promised to answer the charges"in some neutral venue." He has not yet kept that promise. In an article for History News Network a year ago, I outlined accusations against Buhle's scholarship in film history that included over five dozen major errors of fact: misidentification of actors, authors, critics, directors and producers and errors of character, chronology, genre, and role. An anonymous critic called his book, Hide in Plain Sight,"a compendium of misinformation, deliberate falsification, bizarre fantasy, incoherent writing, and fraudulent scholarship that is nothing less than shocking and appalling." Nor is his work noted for interesting or important interpretation. Salon's Michelle Goldberg said his book, Radical Hollywood: The Untold Story Behind America's Favorite Movies, did not surpass the sophistication of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. They both saw"a Commie under every bed, a radical consciousness in every twitch of character, and Marxist propaganda in every turn of plot." Buhle only disagreed with HUAC about whether or not those were good things. In my book, that doesn't add up to"distinguished" scholarship.

It can't be easy for a feminist scholar to be known primarily as the sister of one man and the former wife of another, but such is Ann Lane's fate. She's the sister of Mark Lane, the prominent New York defense attorney and conspiracy theorist, whose clients have included Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earle Ray, and Jim Jones of Jonestown, Guyana, fame. She's also the former wife of Eugene Genovese, the Bancroft Prize-winning historian, but that was back when the Bancroft was still worth winning and long before Genovese abandoned the Left for Catholicism and the Right.

There's a certain notoriety in all that, but it doesn't add up to"distinguished" and Lane's opening professional work didn't either. There was substantial plagiarism in her first book manuscript. When some of that was called to her attention, she was tutored by her brother to discourage use of the"p-word" by threats of a lawsuit. Some of the plagiarism was removed from the manuscript before the book appeared, but additional plagiarism was alluded to in reviews of the published book. Somehow, Ann Lane's career survived charges of plagiarism and negative book reviews. There's a case to be made for second chances, based on the fact that she subsequently has published creditable work, but I wonder if"distinguished" isn't too positive a word for a career with such an ignoble launch.

Or, there's the case of Christine Heyrman. She directed Michael Bellesiles's dissertation at the University of California, Irvine. In fact, as I pointed out in an article here at HNN, she led the way for him, down the same path, with the same editor and the same publisher for her book, Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt. Their books even had very similar formats. They looked alike. The authorities who make decisions about Bancrofts liked the look and she got one of them just as he was whipping his Bancroft winning manuscript into shape. As I pointed out two years ago, her book even made errors of the kind, if not the depth, that would make Bellesiles notorious: highly prejudicial definitions of the subject, misusing ellipses to give quotations a meaning the opposite of what they actually said, and major errors in quantitative charts in the book's appendices. The errors in simple addition ought to embarrass a high school graduate. Just as virtually all of Michael Bellesiles's errors were in the direction of his controversial thesis, virtually all of Christine Heyrman's errors vastly understated the crucial role that African Americans played in making an evangelical South. While Bellesiles attempted to correct his mistakes in a revised second edition of his book, Heyrman has done nothing of the sort. She is simply"in denial." Like the early Ann Lane, she gestured at legal action against my accusation, flashed a minimal concession, and refused to correct major errors. Like the late Paul Buhle, she has subsequently stonewalled. In my book, that doesn't qualify as"distinguished" scholarship.

Case #3: Launched in 2001,"TalkingHistory" is one of the more recent initiatives of the Organization of American Historians. It produces a series of half hour programs that are made available to 400 stations here in the United States through the Public Radio satellite system and through the Voice of America overseas. Talking History is primarily a series of interviews with historians and other writers about major issues and major work. Unfortunately, its host, Bryan LeBeau, was recently at the center of his own plagiarism scandal. There have been some consequences for his plagiarism. On request, he has withdrawn from a search for a major administrative position at DePaul. He has been placed on leave from his position as Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Consequently, he will take a salary cut to remain a member of the History Department there, but there are members of the faculty at UMKC who were surprised to learn from the interim Chancellor's memo than LeBeau's reduced salary of $130,000 a year is commensurate with that of a full professor there. Most full profs at UMKC have yet to see 75% of that. But the question does, naturally, occur to me: will Bryan LeBeau continue to host the OAH's"Talking History" program? Or, is there something about such a position of leadership in the Organization that doesn't hinge on having a clean record?

I have to admit, in conclusion, that I have my own ambivalences about all of this. If the OAH is, like the church, a place for sinners to repair and repent, then I feel quite at home in it, as a fully fledged sinner, myself. Ann Lane is, I suppose, as good an example of the redemptive possibilities of repair and repentance, as I can recall. But, I don't think that the OAH aspires to being a church-like organization. It is a professional organization that has some responsibility for self-policing. It doesn't do that when it mistakenly identifies some of us as having done"distinguished" work, when it is, at best, only hum-drum, and, at worst, violates ethical claims that we're called upon to enforce among our own students.

Sincerely yours,
Ralph E. Luker

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More Comments:

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Luker's complaints would seem to warrant at least careful consideration, but I suppose that professional historians not familiar with the fields of the specific authors under consideration do not feel qualified to comment on such matters, and that those familiar with the subjects will also be familiar with the authors and thus reluctant to touch a "hot potato". In that limited sense, the remark here about open letters being the last refuge of the ignored also makes sense. Without claiming much knowledge about it, I further suppose that OAH resembles a club more than a church, and that HNN is not part of that club, for reasons not wholly ascribable to OAH.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

DId I say anything about "the charges" being ignored, or did I merely concur with the earlier implication that "open letters" tend to correlate with a lack of effect ? I suggest you follow your own advice to "Read. More. Carefully" and try not to fly off the handle with unfounded personal remarks. I am not a member of OAH and am willing to take your word for it that that organization is not behaving responsibly as alleged, but I wonder whether your being so touchy about it is helping your cause.

kim doty - 6/3/2006

Ah, Erik. Nice to see you are still passionate about history. Miss you and hope you are well Kim, yes Kim

Ralph E. Luker - 8/8/2005

Mr. Cassily, If you read carefully, you'll see that I neither referred to Professor Lane as the devil nor to you as the devil's defender. It's called an analogy. Things that are analogous are not identifical. The point would be that, since Lane acknowledges that she committed plagiarism, there's not much point in your being so pointedly agnostic about it. Nor did I suggest that Professor Lane was chosen for the Distinguished Lecturer program _because_ she had been married to Dr. Genovese. They've long been divorced and, indeed, he has become a very outspoken critic of the OAH. If you'd bother to read what I said, the connection was that she was married to Genovese at about the time the plagiary was committed. No more. No less.

Erik Cassily - 8/7/2005

I find it insulting that you would refer to me as a defender of the devil when I am sure (or relatively so seeing how I have never met her)that Ms. Lane is not the devil and I have never defended her. There are many more people in this world that deserve the dubious distinction of "devil" rather than Ms. Lane. I was explicit that I am not judging one way or the other Ms. Lane's professional work as I am not familiar with it. In other words, I refrain from commenting work I have not read and studied myself.

As for my larger point, I still fail to see how being married to anyone regardless of prominence has anything to do with her credentials IN HER OWN WORK. Do you think OAH selected her because of her relationship with Eugene Genovese? If so, I simply ask you to provide the proof. If you can, then I will admit that you have a good point as I am arguing that no Historian's career should be advanced or hindered by her family's work.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/7/2005

Mr. Cassily, Your first paragraph and mine about Lane fills readers in on background information. Mark Lane tutored his sister to threaten legal action to prevent use of the word plagiarism in regard to her work. That is certainly germane to my point. Moreover, it certainly is germane that she was married to a historian so prominent as Eugene Genovese. Finally, your refusal to "admit" that Lane was guilty of plagiarism is, to be fair, at a minimum altogether unnecessary, since she has subsequently admitted it. The devil's defenders need not be in denial.

Erik Cassily - 8/7/2005

Although I will begin my comments by conceding that extraneous facts are a matter of subjectivity, I think it to be wise that critics refrain from including an Historian's family when analyzing the Historian. Several critics have professed many times on this message board that personal statements are not warranted and all debate should center on relevant facts. Yet, when Mr. Luker questions the decision to include Ms. Lane in the Distinguished Lectureship Program, he somehow feels it necessary to write about her brother and former husband, which I feel fall outside the realm of relevant facts. What these two individuals have to do with her credentials as an Historian are beyond me. Is this the reason she was chosen for the program? If so, where is your evidence? Did OAH release a statement mentioning her former husband and brother as reasons for her inclusion? If so, why did you not cite this statement as evidence to support your claim? Are you are proposing that we are all responsible for the actions of our family members and that this should have an averse effect on our careers? If so, do you suggest that each critic give a brief family background on each Historian while reviewing his or her work?

Though I cannot possibly deduce with certainty any point you were making by including Ms. Lane’s family, I would give you the benefit of the doubt by guessing that the subsequent paragraph comprised your main objection. As for this paragraph where you go on to question her “professional work,” I have no complaint. This should not be received as an admission that your critique is correct, but at least it is fair because you have focused on Ms. Lane’s body of work, not her family’s.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/5/2005

Not off the handle. Not touchy. Just calling the attention of the leadership of the OAH to what it doesn't wish having its attention called to.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/5/2005

Mr. Clarke, No one, including the accused themselves, disputes the charges against Ann Lane and Bryan LeBeau. No one, except Michael Bellesiles, disputes the charges against him. You'd be hard pressed to show that the charges against them have been "ignored" by anyone except the OAH. It's nice, as always, however, to have your own uninformed thoughts at HNN.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/4/2005

Bill, You do understand Don Williams. You are correct. He isn't worth the time.

Bill Heuisler - 8/4/2005

Don't waste your time. Recall the post Williams wrote two years ago to me on HNN:
"1) After Sept 11, the Jewish-owned New York Times ran an article on Sept 23 2001 (by Serge Schmemann) telling us that the Sept 11 was not motivated by the US government's one-sided support of Israel.
Bill Kristol, the long time supporter of Israel and neocon editor of the Weekly Standard, went on NBC's This Week in October 2001 and told us much the same.

In my opinion, both Israel's supporters and Bush were desperately lying to the American people -- to prevent them from noticing that Bush's pandering to Sharon had triggered the death of 3000+ citizens, $100 Billion in direct costs, and $1 Trillion in indirect costs."

(I edited out a long web citation from the NY Times)

Williams blames Jews for 9/11. His "historical research" is Tarpley, LaRouche, Joe Wilson, Richard Clark, Michael Moore, Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin. Narcissist, uninformed, anti-Semites aren't worth your time.

In agreement with you for a change,
Bill Heuisler

Ralph E. Luker - 8/4/2005

Thanks, Don, for your thoughtfulness.

Don Williams - 8/4/2005

I would discuss the problems of the history profession, but it seems that you and I are the only ones left in the auditorium, Mr Luker.

And I'm afraid a discourse simply with you holds little allure for me, given my memory of your contributions during our 2 year long conversion on the Bellesiles matter.

Good luck with your complaint to the OAH -- although it seems to me that "open letters" are the last refuge of the ignored. At least they published my letter to Mr Formwalt (re the Bellesiles matter) in the OAH newsletter. My guess is that yours is destined for the wastebasket.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/4/2005

Let's take 'em one at a time:
1) I have no problem with that, though good history isn't a mere chronicling of facts and institutions. There's a small matter of interpretation that you ignore.
2) I haven't called on the OAH to "punish" Ann Lane. That's your ignorance of what I said. I questioned whether, given the record, whether she ought to be presented as a "distinguished" lecturer. Such a presentation is a privilege, not an entitlement. Read. More. Carefully.
3) I don't think it is the business of the OAH to become a credentialing agency for what is a sound interpretation of post 9/11 events. It isn't its business to grant or withdraw approval of matters of public discussion and debate.
4) The OAH has a pretty good record as a lobbyist for open records. Where it may have faltered, individual historians have stood in place.
5) Yah. Yah. Blah. Blah. Been there/done that.
6) Ibid.
7) I've got somewhat similar problems with this administration, but that really has very little to do with what I wrote. Why bother me with your agenda, if it has nothing to do with what I wrote?
8) Really. Calling the Bush administration "fascist" doesn't get us very far. It's just more extremist rhetoric.
9) By the way, you have no qualifications whatsoever for your longwinded opinions about historical matters. You haven't done the work of the discipline, so I'm not sure that anyone much cares what you think.

Don Williams - 8/4/2005

Maybe I can restate it in more simple terms:
1) The primary requirement for a historian is the ability to sift through a huge mass of information and identify
the major issues and the major facts about the system under consideration

2) If the issue is major failings of the OAH, then the question of whether OAH should punish Ann Lane (for any alleged acts of plagarism committed 33 years ago) is pretty far down on my list. In my opinion, your letter shows your customary tendency to become lost in the trivial and the irrelevant.

3) If the OAH is going to render judgement on American history scholarship, it would be far better for it to evaluate and critique the false and misleading narrative being constructed re Sept 11 (e.g., the 911 Commission Report) than to wander off into the weeds with you.

4) The reason is that it is possible to discover and document the truth today while it is occurring. That becomes more and more difficult as time go on. If the falsity in today's documentary record is left uncorrected, then future history based on today's primary sources will be equally false.

5) The second major reason why 911 should be focused upon is relevence. In my opinion, Bellesiles work was important because it was the spearhead of an effort by a group of prominent historians to construct a false historical narrative that would sway the Supreme Court into an interpretation of the Second Amendment that would support gun control.

6) This bothered me because I see the Constitution as a complex mechanism constructed by the Founders based on their understanding of 3000 years of human history. Like many NRA members, I feared that creeping disarmment of US citizens via gun control would lead to a fascist government 30 or 40 years down the road, most probably during a national crisis like a Great Depression.

7) But recent developments have made NRA members like myself look like a bunch of idiots. We have elected an Administration whose Attorney General has cheerfully established the legality of torture in a brillant display of sophistry. The Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment no longer applies if a US citizen is labeled an enemy combatant. Nor does habeas corpus -- the right to trial by jury. Surveillance cameras are spouting up like weeds and the Patriot Act is about to be made permanent-- scraping our protection against unreasonable searchs and seizures.

8) Just like the Chicago Kent Symposium, we have the creeping imposition of facist government justified by what I consider a false historical narrative.

9) By the way, I think that you are unqualified to render judgment on the historians you cited in your letter.
The fair way to evaluate a historian's work is to compare it to the available historical sources in order to verify that the historican has (a) incorporated all of the major data sources and (b) has truthfully characterised what the data shows . If you are not willing to do that, then you have no right to express an opinion about a historian.

The one thing worse than the scholarship Bellesiles displayed in Arming America was the scholarship of the three historians on the Emory Commission -- as I've pointed out to you before. But your characterization of Bellesiles' work above shows even more ignorance than the Emory Commission's.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/4/2005

This is about as relevant to the argument made in the "Open Letter" as your comments about anything else at HNN, Don. Why do you bother cluttering up the comment boards with junk like this?

Don Williams - 8/4/2005

1) Even if one concludes that Michael Bellesiles lied, he was lying about events that happened 225 years ago. Our
mainstream media, White House, Congress and government
lie to us every day -- about major things happening today.
2) Consider the major event of our time -- the Sept 11 attack. Do you believe President Bush when he says we were attacked simply because Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda "hate our freedom"?
See, e.g., my September 2003 post here:
3) Yet notice how the 911 Commission refused to take the slightest effort to determine WHY the Sept 11 attack occurred -- even though Bin Ladin clearly explained to US TV networks in 1998 why he was launching jihad on the US?
I would have thought that 911 Commission member Ernest May, a Professor of American History at Harvard, would have looked at the primary sources, wouldn't you?

4) PS When do you think Bush is going to find those Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? Saddam must have hid them pretty well, huh?

5) The fundamental problem with the history profession in the US is not individual scoundrels. The problem
is that we, the readers, no longer have a reliable
means for telling whether a history is the work of a scholar with integrity or whether it is a pack of lies
written by a con artist.

It appears that doctors and policemen have nothing on historians when it comes to protecting malpractice within their ranks. Recall Peter Hoffer's description of how the AHA responded to the Bellesiles matter.

6) Another problem with the history profession is that it promotes as established reality what is really mere speculation based upon written records. Having worked on intelligence systems in the past, I find historians' touching faith in government records rather hilarious.

7) The Roman historian Cassius Dio (163- 235 AD) was far less gullible. In his Roman History ( Book 53
, para 19) he noted
"But in later times most events began to be kept secret and were denied to common knowledge, and even though it may happen that some matters are made public, the reports are discredited because they cannot be investigated, and the suspicion grows that everything is said and done according to the wishes of the men in power at the time and their associates.

In consequence much that never materializes becomes common talk, while much that has undoubtedly come to pass remains unknown, and in pretty well every instance the report which is spread abroad does not correspond to what actually happened."

8) The next time you are inclined to take the history profession seriously, recall that 100 years from now professors of American History will be writing solemn tomes on the events of today using
the papers of George W Bush as primary sources.

Mark A Newgent - 8/3/2005

Proyect's response is typical of the status of those who Haynes and Klehr expose. They moved from denial to some pathetic justification of espionage.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/3/2005

Clayton: Notice the difference between my reference to five discrete cases and your broadscale claim that: "... I [Clayton Cramer] no longer have any illusion that these "professional standards" are adhered to by the vast majority of history professors teaching in the U.S." Do you see the difference? My statement identifies five specific cases and asks why the OAH has acted as it has with respect to them. Your statement takes an unspecified number of classes and smears the reputations to thousands, tens of thousands of people. It is vicious to do that and you ought to know better.

Clayton Earl Cramer - 8/3/2005

And to think that Dr. Luker was all upset with me a few months back for suggesting that there was a significant integrity problem in the profession.

John Guy Fought - 7/31/2005


Ralph E. Luker - 7/29/2005

John, John, John. Well the h**l have you been?

John Guy Fought - 7/29/2005

Good for you, Ralph. Keep it up. First ventilation, then fumigation.

Ralph E. Luker - 7/26/2005

Van, I suspect that you are probably correct. Nonetheless, I did go out of my way to make sure that both of the people to whom the letter is addressed received copies of it.

Van L. Hayhow - 7/26/2005

If I gambled (which I don't) I'd bet serious money Ralph gets no answer.

John H. Lederer - 7/26/2005

someone had the integrity to ask the questions you asked.

Do let us know what reply you get.

Grant W Jones - 7/25/2005

Has the Journal of American History yet published a piece on the Venona Intercepts?

Ralph, I hope asking you a question is not "trolling."

Ralph E. Luker - 7/25/2005

So, your interpretation of things has the same degree of subtlety and sophistication as Paul Buhle's. Congratulations.

Louis N Proyect - 7/25/2005

No, I am not in denial. I thought that the Rosenbergs were spying all along. Good for them in light of the plans that the US military had.

Ralph E. Luker - 7/25/2005

I assume that you are also "In Denial" about the findings that result from research in the Venona documents. You're simply incorrect about HOAC. Many scholars on the left subscribe and participate in it.

Louis N Proyect - 7/25/2005

I just took a look at the New Criterion piece that Klehr wrote. It is truly bizarre, revolving around Buhle's refusal to acknowledge Soviet espionage through the auspices of the CPUSA. The one that it is evident in Klehr and Haynes's work is their utter refusal to engage with the CPUSA as a product of American society. Most people in the CPUSA had no interest in or inkling about spying. Klehr runs a mailing list at H-Humanities called HOAC (History of American Communism.) It should be called HUAC.

Ralph E. Luker - 7/25/2005

If my work were as blindly ideology-driven and as sloppy as Paul Buhle's, I suppose that I too would want to associate myself with people like Eric Foner and insist against all the evidence that all the attacks on me are politically motivated.

Louis N Proyect - 7/25/2005

McCartney: Your work has always been politically committed, which has sometimes led to some vicious attacks by conservative historians (the recent criticisms of anti-Communists Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes is one example). How do you approach the process of writing politically engaged history? Do attacks by people like Klehr and Haynes indicate to you that you have succeeded in writing a politically provocative work, or are they simply evidence of the power of conservatives within history?

Buhle: First let me note that most of the political attacks from the Right are actually intended, like the repressive atmosphere generally, not to threaten me but to intimidate graduate students and young professors who might speak their minds, or join protest movements. That’s an important reason why I can’t go silent.

Second, it’s a curious thing, being attacked so frequently and so ignorantly. Some of it is highly personal: Harvey Klehr, with a background at the Hoover Institution, was coeditor of a “biographical dictionary” of the Left, a mediocre volume quickly forgotten; the prominence of the Encyclopedia of the American Left was obviously quite disturbing to him. So was my review, in the Times Higher Education Supplement, of one of his books on Communist conspiracy noting his wild speculation on disconnected elements: if X and Y were in an elevator together and Y once met with someone from the Soviet embassy, then X must have been a Communist spy or at least party to some sort of espionage. It was extremely silly and transparent.

But most of the attack is of course political, or a combination of politics and ambition. Eric Foner and I like to joke that we are the most attacked US historians, and that if either of us is in the lead for that dubious honor, the other is bound to catch up. Eric, as past president of both the major historical organizations, is somewhat more insulated from personal attacks. But many of the attackers, as in past phases of repression, are also enraged that I should be an “Ivy League professor”-- while they, good patriots, are not. F.O. Matthiessen at Harvard is suffering various attacks with that evident motivation: how could an “enemy of America” be entitled to that status when others had so much less?

The butt of many, not all the attacks, has been the books that I co-authored on Hollywood, and for a good reason: these books upset the apple cart, proposed a very different and, for many invested in the usual ways of thinking, a threatening narrative in film history. Liberal supporters of the Cold War quite as much as conservatives have a vested interest in insisting that the victims of the Blacklist were talentless and that their loss to American film was incidental at best. If that were not true, then the dominant intellectual atmosphere of the 1950s, permeated with CIA operations, subsidized journals, subsidized conferences and so on, would seem poisonous rather than the Golden Age of the intellectual celebrity, before the Vietnam War and the youth rebellion soured everything. When ex-Communist cultural types admired young people and joined their causes where possible, and Cold War intellectuals as professors or deans found themselves criticized and ridiculed, it congealed the Culture Wars set-piece that remains today.


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