Friday, November 9, 2012

Reclaiming The Past

Tuesday was obviously a failure on many levels, but I think the most important one was cultural. What happened, happened because the Left's "Long March" through our institutions has finally come to pass; they have now misled a majority of Americans about the nature of society. Something has to be done about that. There are many fronts on which we need to engage liberals, but given my background, I'm going to talk about the one I know: History.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, but a lot of what gets put into history books these days is extremely inaccurate and twisted to fit liberal interpretations. Thanks to recent scholarship on the Right, many conservatives are well aware of the most insidious example: that conservatives and Nazis are somehow linked. That subject could be a post in itself, but suffice to say, even many academics are no longer willing to make this claim.

But there are lots of other cases. For example:

Hoover was a laissez-faire conservative. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although he certainly wasn't a socialist either, Hoover, who made his fame as a humanitarian in the Wilson administration, was a firm believer in intervention. One of the things he did following the Crash of '29 was to more than double the existing tax rate for people in top income brackets, while another was to sign the Smoot-Hawley tariffs into law, which strangled free trade. Many economists agree that it was these acts of government interference, not "rugged individualism," which turned a recession into a depression.

The Catholic Church collaborated with the Nazis. Some extremely popular and extremely bad scholarship has been written, alleging that the wartime pope, Pius XII, not only did nothing to assist Jews during the Holocaust, but allowed the Church to take part in the persecution. In fact, Pius and leading bishops publicly denounced the ideas behind Nazism, hid hundreds if not thousands of Italian Jews within Vatican property, and repeatedly intervened across Europe to stop deportations to death camps. Despite the fact that their interests contradict each other, many historians continue to paint the Church as an enabler of totalitarianism.

Industrial capitalism impoverished the working class. You can make whatever claims you want about the moral and social effects of industrialization, but statistically, it is indisputable that the average man's physical condition improved during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Between 1750 and 1850, for example, the average annual income in Britain, then in the swing of the Industrial Revolution, more than doubled, while the infant mortality rate declined by more than half. Figures from France and Germany, which industrialized later, support this data, regardless of what Marxist historians want people to believe.

These are just a few random cases of how the things historians, including ones I have worked with, teach to their students are often just flat wrong. Scary, isn't it? The extent to which youths are told things that aren't true? But before you ask, no, I don't think there's a conspiracy at work here. From my own observation, it goes a lot deeper than that.

In the first place, history, like most liberal arts professions, is increasingly obsessed with theory. In truth, it's been like this for a while; the first professional historians in Europe used their field to glorify the nation-state, after which came the Marxists, who see everything in history as evidence of class conflict, and then the postmodernists, who see everything as some kind of conflict, and on and on. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, but it tends to cause people especially wedded to a theory to reject or filter information that doesn't fit. Plus, most of them take it for granted that white males are always holding the levers of power and therefore are always oppressing everyone else.

Also like most liberal arts professions, its members are mostly leftists of some stripe, which tends to produce a groupthink effect. You don't have to talk to sociologists to figure this out; go to any Department office at a university, count up the number of LGBT support stickers, Bush-bashing "Doonesbury" cartoons, and "Power to the People" posters on professors' doors, and guess for yourself how easy it is to express conservative ideals in their midst.

Plus, you have the problem that history is an increasingly research-driven field; in order to qualify for their degree and entry into the fold, a student has to write a dissertation on some topic and explain why what he's saying about it is important. Only with so many students and a fixed number of issues to talk about, we've long since exhausted any meaningful discussion, and most students trying to qualify today are falling back on theoretics to justify their work. Hopefully, you can tell by this point that these facets of the profession are reinforcing each other and making it more liberal over time. And it's clearly dangerous, because if this is the only version of past events young citizens hear, they're going to start thinking that class conflict is real, that government action can solve anything, and other falsehoods.

Since I put "Reclaiming" in the title, obviously I should be talking about what to do about it, right? Well, I do, but any counter-measures conservatives take will be a long time in showing results. That's just the nature of it. Hopefully, if I can make it through graduation and then tenure-getting without being ostracized, I'll make my own small dent in things, as will other conservatives I know in the process of becoming professors. But those who are on the other side of it can do something too. Academia would go nuts if they read this, but often the popular histories you see at bookstores are better at informing readers than the "scholarly" publications created for the ivory tower's benefit. They cover more ground and don't bother with theory. I recommend grounding yourself in these.

There are probably many more things which can be done. But the point is that we start thinking about how to combat the Left's control of education and other professions. Ultimately, winning the electoral fight every four years is merely tactical. It's winning the battle for minds that produces a true strategic victory.

80 comments:

K said...

T-Rav: Bravo! I assume you're following the example of the Marxists. Operate under the radar. Try not to reveal your true orientation until you get tenure. Then work to get other pro-liberty types into the department.

IMO, winning back academia should be job one for conservatives. Breitbart said that culture was upstream from politics, but school is upstream from the culture.

Individualist said...

I recommend the book Liberal Fascism by
Jonah Goldberg and the book A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sewell. these are two books about contemporary ideological history that are well researched and eye opening.

It would be nice if someone did a true hisotry of MArgarett Sanger

darski said...

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-stratosphere-lounge#_=_

need the link magic again :)

At some point Bill discusses how the public changes and then politics change. he uses the Rosa Parks experience to demonstrate this idea... could be useful.

It's always good to listen to Bill.

All of this to say that I agree with T-Rav.

Joel Farnham said...

Nice brief.

I hope you haven't forgotten the agricultural revolution and the crushing of Malthusian theory. Also, what happens to civilization when it gets enough food.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent post, T-Rav!

I couldn't agree more. Well, maybe a little bit more. Okay, I agree a little bit more (whatever that means).

And kudos to you for going into a profession that really needs more conservatives!
I can't wait until I get to call you Professor T-Rav!

I second Indy's recommendations. Of course, all of Dr. Sowell's books are outstanding.

BTW, I get your point about grad students covering new (old) ground.
This may be one reason we get such absurd ones like the 'Lincoln was gay' thing or any other 'let's say something shocking for shock's sake' (for attention).

ambisinistral said...

One of the problems of learning history is that you need to read a lot of it to build up enough of a critical mass to begin to judge what you're reading. Students who encounter it in a single class or two they just need for credit hours don't have that filter.

That's how Howard Zinn gets away with spouting his nonsense. Take the beginning of his 'People's History': without the context of the reconquista, the prevalence of slavery in pre-enlightenment cultures, and the debates about slavery in Christendom at the time you can buy his cartoonish version of blood-thirsty Columbus slaughtering and enslaving peace loving injuns as he twirls his Snidely Whiplash mustache and "muuhahahahas" away.

Add the context and you have something far more complex and illuminating. That's the shame of the history being taught today -- the tapestry of human life is obscured and instead the thin veneer of historical knowledge they get indoctrinates rather than challenges. It is a shame.

Patriot said...

T........I have come to he conclusion that I am going to like being a rebel. As this country is no longer a center-right one, we conservatives will now be a minority and have the cachet of "fighting sagainst the man" that has so enthralled the left from the 60's on. If I remember my history, weren't there only about 30% or so of American that were true "patriots" during revolutionary times, while the rest supported the British or really just didn't give a shit? Well, I am proud to think of myself as part of that 30% again if need be. We will fight a power that means to force us under their jackboots. When we finally rise up again and install individual liberty as enshrined in our Constitution, then we can feel the same sense of honor that our ancestors felt after beating the British.

And...as a history professor, are you aware of the annual Thanksgiving soliloquy that Rush presents on what the 1st Thanksgiving was really all about? The fact that the Pilgrims almost died as a result of their "Compact" and once they gave their members the ability to trade their harvest then things started to prosper. Is this true, or should we continue to hold that the Indians saved the Pilgrims by bringing them sustenance and showing them how to survive in the new world?

StanH said...

Good luck. You are very right with your overview of the understanding of the world and it’s history. I was fortunate to come up well before Howard Zinn poisoned the well. I love history, and when I read a book, it’s historical in nature. One group of books that I poured over when I was a kid, were William & Ariel Durants “The Story of Civilization.” My mother gave me a set in the late ‘60s, and I poured over those as did my kids. In my opinion these volumes are as inside pool, and straight up as history books can get. Again, good luck, young man.

Anthony said...

I don't think there will be any reclamation, though I wouldn't be surprised if there is an increase of conservative historians. The same way some people watch Fox News and others watch MSNBC, people subscribe to whatever versions and/or aspects of history suits their worldview.

There are people who read books about Lincoln the Tyrant and the War of Northern Aggression and there are people who read books about Lincoln the Liberator and the Civil War.

I'm sure (okay, I hope) both types of books tend to be factually grounded, they just make different assumptions about what is important, look at different facts, and come to different conclusions.

History is so vast that it is impossible to cover everything and easy to cherrypick facts in order to support whatever point one is trying to make.

Tam said...

I supplement my kid's education with the Core Knowledge Series (What Your Kindergartner, 1st Grader, etc. Needs to Know) by E.D. Hirsch. I am lucky to live in a mostly conservative area where the school promotes patriotism and good values. I have only protested small things and I have not had to "re-educate" my kid on many issues. But I think it is vital that parents take part in kids' education, know what they are learning, supplement or counteract the texts, and spread the word.

Individualist said...

Anthony

It is not about casting Lincoln as the Tyrant or the Liberator. He was both. he was an abolitionist and he did keep the union together. The war never started over slavery even though the issue was contentious and in his campaigning Lincoln was a flip flopper. I beleive Douglas pointed out in the debates that in the North linclon talks Aboliton and in the South he talks against it.

Lincoln also did suspend Habeas Corpus and there were issues with the Reconstruction taking land and overruling the majority but there were also the elevation of former slaves and blacks into the government giving them power until Grant ended it.

The point is not to promote one view or another. The point is to address all the viewpoints so that the student can be enticed to make up his own mind based on facts. the problem is that facts are being edited out to force the student to only be able to accept one viewpoint.

I am unsure but I don't think that was the case in academia before 1960. I think Zinn's view, Sowell's view, D'Souzas view would all be mention and the differences explained. The facts aligned. I think it only very recently that facts are altered or omitted to show only one viewpoint but I could be wrong.

T-Rav said...

Thanks K! Yes, I suppose I'm fighting fire with fire, in a way. :-)

I would go further than that and say that school is part of the culture itself. That's where youths' ideas and beliefs are mostly formed, and most universities are now so large that they're communities in themselves (heck, most have their own zip codes now). So this is another front in the culture wars, I would agree.

Anthony said...

Individualist,

My take on the Civil War is the South sought to secede primarily to preserve slavery (or a state's right to keep slaves, if one prefers), the North fought the war primarily to preserve the Union. I say 'primarily' because on both sides there were other factors at play (civil wars are rarely simple). *Shrugs* But on this matter, I suspect we'll wind up agreeing to disagree.

I suppose in an infinite universe, its possible that pre-60's textbooks were studies of neutrality, but I tend to doubt it. Most people and the things they produce tend to reflect the social consensus/concerns of the day, why would historians and their writings be exempt from the trend?

T-Rav said...

Indi, those are both good books. I have Liberal Fascism and have read large excerpts of A Conflict of Visions. I've contemplated doing some writing about what they discuss; I may do that at a later date.

As for Sanger, however you feel about Planned Parenthood and birth control, she was a truly terrible person and an example of the worst features of eugenics and Progressivism in general. Also worth a future post.

T-Rav said...

darski, here's your link: LINK

Like I said, just focusing on the next election instead of combating the lower-level cultural changes is a losing battle. The old generation will eventually die out, and then you'll be left with new generations indoctrinated in leftist ideas. Glad you agree. :-)

T-Rav said...

Thanks, Joel. Malthus is a good example of what happens when you try to get too mathematical in describing society. People don't work that way. Unfortunately, he appeals to a lot of academics.

AndrewPrice said...

OT: Before I comment...

The GOP (and Sean Hannity) announced today that they are coming around on illegal immigration. Thank God!

T-Rav said...

Thanks Ben! When I get my job, I will have "Professor T-Rav" printed on my door! ;-)

You may laugh, but for a while it was popular in certain departments (History, but also English Lit and Gender Studies) to argue that Shakespeare was gay. I don't think that particular idea is in vogue anymore, but yes, it goes to show how academics feel the need to say something shocking to get attention and thereby secure their position.

This is one reason why I think historians need to re-orient themselves from research to teaching.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, since you are now doing regular articles, I would love it if you would insert a history lesson from time-to-time. Simply put, I came late to history and didn't realize how much I really enjoy it. I didn't have Howard Zinn in school, but prior to his books the approach seemed to be to make history as boring and repetitive as possible.

From K-6, I was literally "taught" the exact same material annually, starting every fall with Columbus but never quite reaching the 20th century by spring. I was in college before I learned of anything besides American history. Needless to say, ancient history was wholly new to me. So, please, keep it coming!

T-Rav said...

ambi, I consider myself fortunate to have never read Zinn, though I do know some of the basic assumptions he's working from, and they are....troubling, to say the least. Unfortunately, I fear his influence will continue for a while.

Another aspect of the problem is that a lot of professors don't actually care about teaching and leave it to their grad students to take care of while they go off to do research (see above), leaving lesson plans scrambled, huge gaps in the material, etc. No, students definitely do not learn a lot. Among other things, I think there need to be required courses focusing on the groundings of the Constitution, Western Civ, etc., so students actually appreciate where their world comes from.

T-Rav said...

Patriot, I am aware of the argument that the Pilgrims were the first to attempt socialism and fail (which has happened in America more often than you'd think), though I haven't really researched that particular episode. I have no doubt Squanto and the other Indians were a big help, though.

Sadly, I think that not only is America no longer a center-right nation, it has not been for some time, and continuing to insist that it is has blinded us to the things happening. From this point on, we have to consider American popular culture enemy territory, to be reconquered.

T-Rav said...

Thanks Stan, I'll need it.

Unfortunately, I missed a lot of what you grew up reading, but I lucked out and had some conservative professors early on, which kept me from getting dragged leftward in grad school. I have to say, though, Zinn sounds downright professional compared to some of the materials my fellow would-be professors and I are having to read nowadays. It's pretty blush-worthy.

AndrewPrice said...

Nice article T-Rav! I think you are right that we need to reclaim history to put an end to the left trying to make people think leftist ideas have worked and distort/smear conservative ideas. I'm not sure how we do that except that people like you go into academia and then push back, but it needs to be done.

T-Rav said...

Anthony, true enough, but the difference here from the media is the degree to which academia is dominated by liberals. There are no real conservative alternatives--sure, there are certain conservative colleges such as Hillsdale, and those with an explicitly evangelical/fundamentalist basis such as Oral Roberts, but I fear these last have been categorized as backward and anti-intellect and will matter less and less.

I don't believe there will be a "reclamation" in terms of establishing universal right-wing control of academia, at least not in our lifetimes, but an effort should be made to break this liberal monopoly and groupthink I refer to. Not only is that a threat to conservatism, it just makes for bad history.

obiwan2009 said...

I have often found that a great deal of the people in history get portrayed as somehow ideal, when in fact, they have plenty of flaws of their own. Abraham Lincoln, for instance, was someone who tried to really appeal both sides. He tried to argue that slavery would be stagnant in scope, but not abolished, but the secession occurred regardless. He tried to argue the big picture of how a divided nation would be weak, but to win, he folded on the suggestion to issue the Emancipation Proclamation as a threat to come back or lose slaves. In short, he was a statesman, but anything but the enthusiastic abolitionist that he is sometimes portrayed as.

We also, thankfully, in one history class, had a discussion comparing the fascist and communist regimes, we actually found more similarities than previously expected. In fact, both fascism and communism sought to end private inheritance, heavily restrict or abolish private property, and force a heavily graduated income tax as part of a move to attack class inequality.

Since someone brought up Malthus, I think part of his problem was the fact that when you have a large populace, the thinking and behaviorial patterns of the masses aren't as orderly as it sometimes seen, in addition to the technological breakthroughs of the Green and Industrial Revolution, that made resources more efficient in obtaining, and opened up resources such as petroleum on the market, which I doubt he had in mind.

obiwan2009 said...

Indi, in additon to the authors you mentioned, I find Andrew Napolitano, while I have heavy disagreements with him on foreign policy, and while I do have a hard time taking writing from him being a former TV personality, at the same time, he had numerous thought-provoking facts in his Book: Lies the Government Told You, that I did find a little provoking, such as the fact that until the 1950s it was illegal, and people prosecuted for protesting against a war, or the fact that on technicalities, it could be wrong to enforce drug laws as currently stated. Again, I heavily disagree with him on minimal foreign involvement, but at the same time, he does collect facts in his book, that I have found worthy of looking up. He probably wouldn't be considered by a lot of academics for plenty of his book titles though.

obiwan2009 said...

Andrew, something I would argue is that I think doing a reading, review, and critique of say, several opinion books on history would be a good requirement for a history class. My Penn State professor did this, and while I read through a number of books written scholarly, the opinions did differ, and certainly were above the regular political rants. Again, I agree with the above posters about Zinn. Garrity and others come to mind as well. The big issue with history is diving into the facts, because the facts give a better picture as to the complexity of the historical figures and the atmosphere of what was going on at the time.

T-Rav said...

Tam, as I've mentioned, I was blessed with some conservative professors in college. I'll never forget what one of them told me about when he inquired of a grade-school teacher what materials his kid was reading. "Oh, you don't have to worry about what your kid is learning. That's our job." He and his wife started homeschooling their children shortly afterwards.

Good on you for taking part in your kid's education. That's more than a lot of parents do.

T-Rav said...

Indi and Anthony, I won't get into the Civil War/slavery thing, except to say that both sides were able to make some strong legal/constitutional arguments. It wasn't nearly as cut-and-dried an issue as it seems today.

As for pre-'60s history--no, it wasn't always easy to find thoroughly neutral works back then, either. There were schools of thought such as Marxism well before the New Left came along, and of course every historian is going to be at least slightly influenced by his or her personal biases and values. The difference, I think, is that with the rise of postmodernism, academics stopped believing in trying to produce scholarship as unbiased as possible. Instead, they argued that everything was biased and you couldn't avoid it, so there was no sense in trying, which was the perfect excuse to write history (and other subjects) however they wanted. That's what has had the most pernicious influence.

T-Rav said...

Thanks tryanmax! I've actually thought about doing that for a while now, but I wasn't sure how many people would be interested. If it's something everyone's just clamoring for, I'll bookmark it and start doing some history-oriented stuff.

Anthony said...

History lessons have my vote. I could use a bit of distraction from the present.

rlaWTX said...

Anthony - that's what I was thinking!

T-Rav, well done! I wish I could remember 1/4 of what I "learned" in undergrad. I had some pretty intellectually honest profs in both history and govt classes. My Western Civ prof was an amazing font of info (but an awful adviser!!); I wish I had recorded those lectures. My govt profs were libs, but were open to us questioning. I didn't get to grad school level classes though...
Now, in grad-level psych, I can see that "theory-orientation" in a LOT of the research that I read (heck, nearly ALL). Instead of saying, 'I don't know why this happened when we weren't expecting it', they manage to twist it back to their theory, if not their hypothesis.

I think that after I get done and (hopefully) get to working, I would like to look into psych of politics. I have a feeling that I'll have to pick through the leftward-ho perspective, but it'd still be interesting stuff.

tryanmax said...

Speaking of conservatives becoming profs, besides history and J-schools, I feel there really need to be a lot more conservatives teaching the communications major. This may be a tad cynical, but that major attracts a glut of students who don't know what they want to be when they grow up. If my personal experience is any indicator, it's also where the left of the left professors gravitate. Not to mention, most of these students by virtue of their major end up working in the broadcast and media industries, so...

tryanmax said...

Sorry to yank everyone back to the present, but TOTUS is speaking and basically declaring a mandate. So...yeah.

Tam said...

Tryanmax,
Let. It. Burn.
Speaking of education and all the other things we've been speaking of in the past few days, I've been thinking about small things we can do to bring on the fire. Applying for benefits is one. But here...think about this. In my CO and UT and AZ public schools there is one day in the year when the district counts attendance for the next year's budget. There is often some kind of big party or assembly planned so kids will want to come and the teachers all push and remind students to be sure to attend on that day. I say, find out how your kids schools count attendance for the budget and don't go that day. Tell your friends.

Tennessee Jed said...

good luck with it Rav. All I have ever wanted is for academics to be fair. It is impossible to completely submerge bias, but educators need to try and make sure different voices are heard. To compare the teacher's job with the job of the trial attorney is instructive. Both the prosecutor and defense counsel may claim they are looking for justice to prevail, but realistically, they are trying to pursue victory. In fact many defense attorney's say they don't want to know if their client is innocent because their job is make the prosecution prove otherwise. As such, they feel they have done their job even if a guilty client goes free. For this reason, they only are obligated to tell the jury part of the story.

Not so with teachers or so-called journalists. There may be many competing views of history, but a good teacher will try and let the student absorb as much information as possible and draw their own conclusions.

Anthony said...

Tam,

I'm not one of the system crashers, but isn't ensuring that your kids' school misses out on funding the opposite of crashing the system?

Tam said...

They don't get enough money if they don't have the attendance. They have to review their budgets. They have to make cuts--teachers, programs, whatever. Or raise taxes. I think that forcing tax increases is the way to go right now, on everything. I can homeschool.

Individualist said...

Anthony

As I understand it the Dredd Scott decision created an answer to the slavery issue. the Abolitionists would no longer be able to harbor escaped slaves in the Northern states. while the issue was contentious the North was very reticient to do anything about it. This is not unlike the Abortion issue today where we have a court decision that has defined how it must be but you have a lot of angst and argument which no one in congress will truly address by eliminating the court decision.

The war was started over trade tariffs with England. The north was developing their own textile industry and wanted to place limits on English manufactured goods. This would adversely affect the South as the British would get their cotton elsewhere. This is the issue that started the war.

Once the war was begun Lincoln who was an abolitionist used the issue of slavery in part to shore up support in the North and in part to hopefully put an end to it. However prior to this slavery was a third rail and the politicians stayed away from the issue in order to keep peace. so from my perspective it is true the war started over tariffs but the slavery issue played a major role in creating the distance between the North and the South.

but I could have misread something.

Anthony said...

Individualist,

The books I read stated the Dredd Scott decision helped precipitate the Civil War because it stated that slavery couldn't be forbidden or nullified (by a slaveowner travelling to a free state with a slave) anywhere and that blacks could never be anything more than property in the eyes of the legal system (and thus could no more file suit than a housecat or a chair could file a lawsuit).

It was an absolutist pronouncement that flew in the fact of past precedents and compromises (including of course the Missouri Compromise) and helped bring on the Civil War.

*Shrugs* But I am also no professional historian (I'm not even much of a student of history) so I could be wrong. I'm sure T-Rav will clarify things for us.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, I have to tell you that I'm laughing my butt off about California voting to raise taxes and I hope the Republicans let Obama sock it to "the rich." It's time to let people experience full-on liberalism.

On a related note, I saw about a dozen companies that announced Obamacare related lay offs. Good.

T-Rav said...

Thanks Andrew!

It's a difficult problem to solve, because it's not as easy to do an end-run around academia as it is with the media. Obviously, getting more conservative professors is one step, but that'll take a while.

I think one of the most important steps is for parents to get involved in their kids' education (like Tam is) and pay attention to the colleges when time for that rolls around. There are good conservative colleges out there, mostly private institutions. But also, avoid the "University of"s if you can. Most of them are the big left-wing research institutions I'm talking about. If you're looking at a public university, aim for one of the smaller ones, like "Southwest (your state here) State" or whatever. Those have a more regional basis, are typically too small to form self-sealing communities of their own, and are therefore less likely to run away with the leftist ideas.

Also, if you happen to be in an alumni association, pay attention to what's going on at your alma mater. If it's going off the rails, withhold your donations and explain why. One thing about universities, they're extremely sensitive where money's concerned.

Tam said...

Yep Andrew...all the dems' hopes and dreams are coming true. I have a friend who told me yesterday that she will be moving to either the Philippines or India within the year. Why, I asked. Outsourcing, she responded. Her husband's company had two contingency plans hinging on the election and now their moving out of Dear Leader's America. At least the company is taking her with them!

T-Rav said...

Anthony, I'll take that as a "mandate" from the community for such lessons, so to speak. :-)

rla, that's not much different from the experience I've had. Fairly good profs when I was getting my B.A., increasingly leftist hacks at the grad level. I picked on history because it's what I know, but I'm definitely aware of the corroding influence of theory in psychology and other branches (particularly English, poli-sci, and law, which is especially disturbing).

I think I'm going to do this. Not every week, but every so often get into certain subjects I think need clarification, and also the really egregious examples of what passes for "learning" these days.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, I don't have a lot of experience with the communications field, but what you say reminds me a lot of public administration. Very technocratic, very malleable, very influential. I think there's a strong basis for arguing that those fields need conservative teachers as much as history does.

Tam said...

T-Rav, may I request a "recommended reading" list?

T-Rav said...

Thanks, Jed. And very true. As an educator, you can't ignore the ideas of, say, Marx as if they never happened, and you can't say that the past was unilaterally better than the present. I think what really agitates me is when professors try to make, say, American history one long story of race/class/gender oppression, focusing on how Washington owned lots of slaves instead of the sacrifices he made as a general and a President. The latter is at least as important as the former (not to mention being a more compelling story). Besides which, they often ignore names and dates altogether, and never explain how event X happened at all. I've TAed for these people before, and the lack of information students get from such classes is appalling. When I had to give a guest lecture for one of them on short notice, and spit out 45 minutes of explanation as to how WWI occurred, why the U.S. got dragged into it, and what the effects were, I was told afterward that the kids learned more that day than from any of the regular prof's "racial theory" lectures. So yes, facts are the most important thing.

BevfromNYC said...

So did everyone hear that Gen. Petraeus has resigned effective immediately as CIA Director. His reason is that he was having an affair. So I guess the Liberals were right about that too...he really is General Betray Us.

T-Rav said...

Tam et al., a week ago I would have had reservations about this idea, because there are good public schools out there and I don't want them getting screwed over in the process. Now, I'm past caring.

Tam said...

T-Rav, mine is a good public school. Like you, a week ago I wouldn't want it and my kid and my friends' kids getting screwed in the process. But that is the problem. We all want OTHER people to change and suffer a little so we can all get better. Now, like you, I'm past caring. I know I'm going to get screwed, so I say bring it on.

T-Rav said...

Indi and Anthony, Dred Scott was a complicated case and a good example of judicial activism. Chief Justice Taney (a slaveowner) could have simply thrown out the case on the grounds that Scott, as a slave, had no power to bring suit in the first place, and that was part of his decision. But then he went further and declared that there was no right to outlaw slavery by any government.

This was a big deal in the Northern states. They did not care about black people for the most part--the desertion rates in Union regiments after announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation will tell you that--but they did care about being told what to do by southern slaveowners. It was States' Rights in reverse, if you will. More importantly, they didn't want slavery in their backyard at all, because it was believed slave labor would have an unfair competitive advantage over free labor (in the long run, not really, but in the short run kinda yes). If the Southern states wanted slavery, that was fine, but only if it stayed down there. Dred Scott did a great deal to mobilize opinion in the North against the South, maybe more than any other event with the possible exception of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

(continued)

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - "On a related note, I saw about a dozen companies that announced Obamacare related lay offs. Good."

Actually it is more like over 1300 companies (so far) that have announced layoffs (of 50 people or more) and/or plant closings. However, you wouldn't know it, would you? Boeing is closing its plant in California because of cuts in Defense spending.

T-Rav said...

(continued)

As for what started the Civil War, the tariffs issue was a part of it (it caused the first secession crisis in the 1830s), but at the very least, I think it has to be said that slavery--specifically, Southern fears that Lincoln and the Republicans would try to abolish slavery--was the immediate cause of secession and then war.

Lincoln personally is a bit problematic. Undoubtedly he was morally opposed to slavery from his youth onwards, and in a perfect world would have liked to see it abolished; his legal opinion on it, however, was something of a moving target. He only made up his mind for sure to issue the Proclamation in the summer of '62, to give the Union the moral high ground, and repeatedly insisted in private that it was a means to preserve the country, not an end in itself (though I think he had in fact come to see it as such by the end of his life). Had the war ended early on--for example, if First Bull Run had ended in a Confederate defeat and surrender--it's doubtful he would have ever issued it.

Remind me again: Why are we talking about this?

tryanmax said...

Saw a tweet that was too good not to share:

Joe Herring
‏@readmorejoe

I think its unfair to expect a lot from Obama in his second term, after all, he inherited a shit economy from his first term.

2:53 PM - 9 Nov 12

T-Rav said...

Bev and Andrew, I've seen a bunch of stories of businesses either laying off workers or being closed on Wednesday in mourning. There was even a McDonald's in West Virginia that had the flag flying upside down (as a distress signal), though they later said it was because it got tangled up in the rope. (Which I don't think is physically possible.)

One small business owner said his employees would probably never get Christmas bonuses again. So there's that.

T-Rav said...

Tam, a "recommended reading" list? Hmmm. I'll have to give that some thought.

Tam said...

Take your time :)

BevfromNYC said...

Interesting timing about Petraeus' resignation. He was scheduled to appear before Congress next week to answer questions on Benghazi...

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, that's pretty good. I also liked a line from Adam Carolla's podcast yesterday: "Obama seems like he'd be a good President. I can't wait until he gets started."

Individualist said...

Anthony

don't misunderstand me. Dredd Scott was a terrible decision. What I am saying is that the South was mollified with regard to the issue. There was talk of succession prior to that. Dredd Scott pushed that off.

The war itself however was started over the tariff issue. The slavery debate and the consternation it caused definitely was the fuel that allowed the fire over that issue to burn so hot. Straw that broke the camels back so to speak.

But this only shows why both sides should be taught. We really don't know how much the anger of the tariff was just the projection of the slavery debate or how much was real concern over the economics of it, which was a valid issue. Britain was planning on trade retaliation to a certain extent. We can only examine what happened, what the people were saying and writing at the time and create a theory. Purposefully ignoring one or the other would only lessen our overall undertanding in the end.

T-Rav said...

obiwan, sorry I missed you. I would agree on the points you've made; it's not helpful to idealize or romanticize any historical figures. That inevitably leads revisionists to smear their images beyond what's deserved, and the result is chaos. We need to be fair-minded and accurate as possible in our assessment.

Like I said, the whole fascism/communism thing probably deserves its own post, but it's becoming harder and harder for historians to deny that there was an uncomfortable similarity in how they worked. It'll be a cold day in Hades before they call fascism a left-wing movement, though. And as for Malthus, I think a lot of intellectuals adopted his predictions because it seemed so simple and implicitly required the kind of preventative action that only the educated elite could oversee. Too bad there were many other factors at work.

Anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

T-Rav, I didn't pay much attention to history in school--boring for one. Maybe that's a good thing because I didn't get corrupted by lib BS--I didn't remember it!

So, now we have you for our history lessons. And now, I'll probably be ready to learn.

T-Rav said...

Oh dear, Jen. You're putting a lot of responsibility on a snot-nosed 20-something grad student, but I'll try to live up to it.

While it hurts my soul to learn that you found history boring, I suppose it's good that leftist talking points never had a chance to penetrate your skull. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Of course you aren't going to hear about this because that would be bad news for the Democrats. But it's going to happen.


Tam, Obamacare is going to shift the medical device industry to China. Which also means, they will get more technology, which is bad.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I can't wait to see how long they try to run with the "it's still Bush's economy" line. Maybe until the last person alive in 2008 has finally died?

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That's my understanding. Until that point, the North thought of slavery as something nasty that was going one "down there" but which didn't touch them. Dred Scott basically said that the North had to participate because they couldn't provide sanctuary nor could they keep slave-owning Southerners banned from the North. In effect, it pushed the North into accepting the fact they were responsible for slavery as well.

Jen said...

T-Rav, Just think, you're getting practice for later, and it doesn't even cost any $$ on your part. We'll be your students--critiques and all.

I saw that you said you were going to do this, and I didn't see any complaints.

Would you rather have us question you, or some snot nose, skull full of mush students??? I think you know the answer to that.

At least we can think for ourselves, and not spout off some lib talking points. The fun is in the ones who won't cooperate :D

We're trying to put an upside to everything right now, are we not?

Anthony said...

T-rav,

I apologize for dragging the discussion OT and I deleted my last reply to Invididualist (which pretty much just restated what you said on the matter).

As to how Individualist and I got off onto that tangent, I started it when I talked about the way that different people look at different aspects of given historical events and come to different conclusions.

In retrospect, should have used an example less likely to inspire debate than the Civil War.

Jen said...

Andrew, My dad got into it yesterday with my brother's county commissioner friend (Dem, no brainer there) who got re-elected. The reason for the argument was, the guy is still blaming Bush for problems.

My mom got into it with the guy before the election. So yeah, we'll probably have this continue until the last person that was alive in 2008 has finally died.

Anthony said...

I think one can get by fine with liberal teachers so long as they encourage debate. I often disagreed with my professors, but with one exception, they all seemed to appreciate my interest in the subject matter.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, One of my best teachers was actually a Marxist. But he encouraged everyone to state (and defend) their views and he was very open to new ideas. He and I had long discussions after class on all kinds of topics.

The problem with MOST liberals, however, is that they seek to stifle debate. They simply cannot stand people having different views and they try to shut that down. I ran into that a lot in school.

(p.s. OT conversations are always allowed here.)

tryanmax said...

Andrew, not if a conservative is the last one standing!

I'm finding several news articles about Obamacare layoffs. Here's the twist: each one spins whatever layoffs it reports as anecdotal, yet every one I've read includes at least one anecdote none of the others share. I've only skimmed a few so far, but to find a unique story in each...

Also, a question for you Andrew: I'm seeing USC 18 § 594 being tossed about in regards to some employers who sent communications prior to the election explaining to their employees what the continuation of Obamacare and the end of the Bush tax cuts could mean to their jobs. Such communications are being called "intimidation." What say you?

(Of course, to the leftist, using "inconvenient truths" to persuade is intimidation--unless they are the ones doing it.)

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, It's become a reflex for these people. Bush is to liberals as ancient grievances are to ethnic groups... "your people attacked my village 400 years ago and we've never been the same since!"

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, NO CHANCE on intimidation.

For one thing, intimidation requires an unlawful threat. There is nothing unlawful about terminating people because you don't like their conduct or the beliefs they express -- unless they are protected beliefs/conduct under anti-discrimination laws. So any such case if DOA right there... easy dismissal.

Secondly, they would need to prove that it was a personal threat. "If YOU vote for Obama, I will terminate YOU." How does the employer know which way the person voted?

Third, even if you consider this a threat, it is way too close to the line of "prediction" rather than threat. Otherwise, you would outlaw political speech because any employer who said, "things could get bad and we may need to fire people" would be accused of voter intimidation, which means employers would have no free speech rights. Free speech trumps all other laws almost all the time (some exceptions in unionization).

So forget it. Anyone talking about criminal law (Title 18) is just trying to intimidate people into shutting up.

rlaWTX said...

History done badly can be VERY boring... (I had an upper level American History prof who read to us out of the book. And he took attendance so you had to go!)
History done well is spell-binding!

Why, oh, why does blogger randomly log me out???

happy weekend, y'all!

T-Rav said...

Anthony, that's quite all right. I wasn't complaining--I actually enjoyed getting into the weeds of it a bit--I was just bamboozled as to how this got to be an issue.

As the product of a border state, with my dad's line going back to Arkansas and my mom's going back to Indiana, I think I can say with certainty that the Civil War will be a heated issue long after we're gone. But no matter, those debates can be fun.

T-Rav said...

Jen, definitely NOT the skull-full-of-mush students. I've taught too many of them. ;-)

Yes, I suppose we should be looking for the upside, shouldn't we? (sigh) For the record, I do not grade on the curve--unless you have info on where to get dirt-cheap antipsychotics. Total fairness from me.

T-Rav said...

Andrew and Anthony, one thing I do want to say about that. Although it's definitely possible for one to be a Marxist and a good, above-board teacher (I've known and worked for several), I think the problem Andrew mentions is getting worse, not better, because the grad students I know are often highly arrogant, parrot left-wing talking points without thinking, and are frequently exclusionary of anyone who disagrees with them. I can't tell you how many instances of back-stabbing and political maneuvering I've been privy to. Plus, many of them are completely ignorant of things they should already know. One American History grad student and hard-core leftist was making some point about the Trail of Tears, I think, but got the President at the time wrong. Some non-Am. Hist. guy had to correct him. It's scary, to be quite honest.

T-Rav said...

rla, it is indeed, and I have never yet had a professor who just reads out of the book. The best approach, I think, is to consult multiple textbooks, add in your own thoughts and research, and construct your lectures out of that. Plus, too many of them neglect the fact that lectures need to be given in a more narrative form, not in a dry, professional, jargon-filled manner. That's how you lose students' attention.

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