May 02 2009

Jon Stewart is a funny, funny man

Category: historyharmonicminer @ 1:59 pm

Watch it here.


Sep 18 2008

What your history teacher or professor didn’t tell you

Category: education,higher education,USAharmonicminer @ 9:31 am 48 Liberal Lies About American History: (That You Probably Learned in School): Larry Schweikart: Books Here is the publisher’s weekly short review.

Textbooks have long served as a main battlefield in the culture wars and the latest salvo comes from Schweikart, a history professor at the University of Dayton (A Patriot’s History of the United States), who examines leading American history texts and other books that he sees as purveying a distinctly slanted view of American history—one that portrays the United States as oppressive, imperialistic, and evil. Each lie is deliberated in a brief essay. A chapter on the notion that FDR knew in advance that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor focuses largely on countering Robert Stinnett’s Day of Deceit. The belief that Columbus was responsible for killing millions of Indians (drivel) is, he says, based on faulty statistics. In examining the belief that Richard Nixon sent burglars into the Watergate office complex, the author accepts G. Gordon Liddy’s account of events over John Dean’s. Regarding the Rosenbergs, Schweikart cites Soviet documents proving they were indeed spies. Schweikart marshals an arsenal of statistics and scholarly studies, and while his own biases will limit his reach, he offers an object lesson in the need for scrupulous balance in the writing of history textbooks.

That line, “his own biases will limit his reach”, is standard boilerplate that is true of every book ever written (including the review I just quoted), and trotted out whenever the reviewer isn’t really friendly with the thrust of a book, but can’t find something specific to criticize.

UPDATE:  I am in mind boggle.  I am about to praise yet another LATimes editorial, which happens to quote Larry Schweikart approvingly on the matter of the guilt of the Rosenbergs in spying for the Soviet Union (which is established beyond shadow of doubt, despite the nay-saying of the Left).  If you’re a regular reader, you know how rarely I approve of major media reportage and opinion, but this is spot on.

I haven’t read this new book yet, but if it’s up to the author’s usual standards, it will be excellent. I’ll let you know.

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Jun 21 2008

History isn’t just a story

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 11:26 pm

Pat Buchanan‘s recent book, Churchill, Hitler and “The Unnecessary War” has caused no little comment in the blogosphere and elsewhere, in no small part because it is revisionist history, running very much counter to the understanding of most historians about the events leading up to World War II.

I commented on Buchanan’s book earlier, quoting Victor Davis Hanson.

Buchanan riposted, asserting Hanson’s critical views of the book were not founded in fact, claiming Hanson hadn’t read the book, etc.

A fascinating conversation has developed between Hanson and Buchanan over Buchanan’s book.

Just Google “Buchanan Hanson” and you’ll see many links.

To no one’s great surprise, I’m siding with Hanson on this one, though I have appreciated certain of Buchanan’s earlier books, especially The Death of the the West, a sort of precursor to another favorite of mine, America Alone by Mark Steyn.

The sad part of this entire tale is that today’s recent college graduates mostly lack the tools to evaluate the arguments of either Buchanan or Hanson. Many of them literally know no more of Stalin than that he was some kind of dictator, maybe of Russia or something. They know somewhat more of Hitler, because our academic community is (ignorantly) proud of what it thinks was its position regarding Hitler, while being somewhat embarrassed about how many thought Lenin/Stalin might be pretty good guys stuck with a hard job requiring them, regrettably, to break eggs occasionally.

Our recent grads know more about Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib than the Lubyanka. Indeed, the wiki article on the Lubyanka makes only a passing mention that it was an infamous prison/torture center. If they know of all three, they believe there is some moral equivalence between them…. about like equating the elementary school-age neighborhood bully with a professional hit man.

Generally, our recent college graduates believe Hitler was a bigger killer than Stalin, if they even know anything of Stalin. And when informed about Stalin’s murderous ways, they then believe he was the biggest killer, because they know next to nothing about Mao. A great many literally have no idea who Mao was, when he lived, where he lived, or what he did. Some of them think he might have been some kind of Japanese or Asian guy.

Generally, our recent college grads seem better informed about the depredations of the Crusaders than the Bolsheviks.

These students know more about diversity and non-“dead-white-male” authors than they do about the history which shaped the world in which they live, and which provides the frame for many possible future conflicts.

They know just about nothing about Islam, but they know how evil the Israelis are for holding the Palestinians in poverty, and sort of killing them for sport sometimes.

I don’t want to sound like I blame the colleges and universities exclusively. I was graduated from high school in 1969, knowing more history than most of our recent college graduates. I was not especially unusual in that, nor was I especially interested in it. It was just the expectation of the times.

The Howard Zinn effect has been absolutely deadly to our students’ understanding of history, and unfortunately many of its victims are now young teachers, passing along their ignorance to all and sundry.

I write this in the (probably forlorn) hope that young folk will get interested in knowing the real history that created their world, and will take the time to provide for themselves what school did not.

I’ll probably post a reading list at some point… for anyone who’s interested.

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