Galloping Historical Illiteracy

Friday, April 19, AD 2013
Remember Laura Curry, the Adjunct Professor, who went berserk at a pro-life display at the University of Buffalo?  Go here to read all about it.  Six of her colleagues, two professors of history, one associate professor of history, one assistant professor of history, one American studies assistant prof, and one assistant professor of “global gender studies”, decided to write in to the student newspaper, The Spectrum, to demonstrate that they too could make public asses of themselves.  Herewith is the letter and my fisk:

Dear Spectrum:

We are writing to condemn the message of the anti-abortion protest that took place outside the Commons this week.

Yes, we certainly wouldn’t want to give anyone the impression that a modern university is a place where opposing viewpoints are welcomed and debated.

In particular, we are disturbed by the equation of those who support women’s reproductive rights with those who lynched thousands of African American men and women in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It is an unfair comparison.  Between 1882-1968 approximately 3,446 blacks, along with 1,297 whites, were lynched in this country.  That is less than a morning’s work in the abortion clinics of this country.

We do not condemn the protest itself; in fact, we believe that the right to peaceably assemble is one of the foundational rights of American citizenship.

I am sure there is a “but” coming.

However, as historians, we feel it is imperative to speak out against this crass, uninformed and dangerous misuse of history.

Yep, I am certain it is the purity of History, and not voices raised against your right to slay your offspring, that has your knickers in a twirl.

From the end of the Civil War through the mid-20th century, white lynch mobs throughout the United States, although mostly in the South, deliberately and with extraordinary malice, terrorized and murdered African Americans under the pretense of “protecting” white womanhood from the supposed threat of rape by black men.

Actually, lynch mobs had various motivations.  In regard to blacks, one of the chief motivations immediately after the Civil War was to ensure that black Republicans did not vote, lynch mobs often acting as the terrorist arm of the Democrat Party, the party of abortion today.  The Republicans in Congress and in the White House made attempt after attempt to pass federal legislation against lynching, some 200 bills being introduced between 1882 to 1968.  Each time the legislation was blocked by Southern Democrats in the Senate.

 

Of course, this mock chivalry was just a ruse. Lynchers could not imagine a world in which a white woman might choose to love a black man, and no doubt some of those lynched were guilty only of crossing the South’s prohibition against consensual interracial sex.

Lynchings involving accusations of rape were almost always based upon a white woman making the charge of rape.  Of course that is an inconvenient fact for the professors, so they don’t mention that.

Others were simply guilty of owning their own land or trying to make a way for their families. Regardless, all of them paid the price for the white South’s brutal effort to control not only black bodies but white female ones, as well.

Oh give me a break.  The idea that white females making accusations of rape were merely pawns in the hands of male lynch mobs is feminist clap trap and has virtually no basis in the historical record.

The inability to see women as capable of making decisions about their own sexuality. The use of violent, inaccurate, and misleading imagery. The pretense of protection. Anti-abortion protesters appear to have a lot in common with those who supported lynching.

Only if one views history as through a glass, darkly, combined with a bad case of feminist stigmatism.  Pro-lifers of course wish to stop the slaughter of black babies just as they wish to stop the slaughter of all babies.  No doubt the professors would view the main problem with Kermit Gosnell as being, not that he slaughtered hundreds, maybe thousands, of nearly full term black babies, but that his case threatens the sacred rite of abortion.

We applaud vigorous, thoughtful debate and protest.

Sure you do, so long as the debate and protest agrees with you.

 

It is the lifeblood of democracy. However, this kind of political action requires much deliberation, which unfortunately was missing from yesterday’s anti-abortion protest.

I would certainly hope that anyone undertaking political action engages in much more deliberation than you put into this letter.

If students wish to learn more about the history of racial and sexual violence, including lynching, we welcome them to take any of our classes.

Thanks for closing on a humorous note.

Sincerely,

Susan Cahn, Professor of History

Carole Emberton, Assistant Professor of History

Theresa Runstedtler, Assistant Professor of American Studies

Lakisha Simmons, Assistant Professor of Global Gender Studies

Victoria Wolcott, Professor of History

Jason Young, Associate Professor of History

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29 Responses to Galloping Historical Illiteracy

  • Students comments give great hope for tomorrow. Profs are empty and should be ashamed at themselves.

  • Someone needs to forward this reponse to the school news paper and hope the publish it!

    Well done!!

  • Thank you my brother of the bar!

  • You really have a lot invested in this “Democrats as the party of Jim Crow” thing. A good amount of the Democrats in the South who turned on the national party from 1964 on were probably not too keen on abortion, and vice-versa for members of the liberal wing like McGovern. People are complex ‘n all that. I doubt George Wallace would find tons to agree with in the current Democratic Party platform today.

    of course this has nothing to do with both being moral evils but when it comes to people who come down somewhere in between the choicer absolutism quoted and the pro-life position, probably better to argue why abortion is wrong in and of itself rather than drawing analogies between two very different phenomena.

  • “You really have a lot invested in this “Democrats as the party of Jim Crow” thing.”

    It is called fidelity to the historical record JDP, a record studiously ignored by most of the contemporary partisans of the party of the Jackass.

    “I doubt George Wallace would find tons to agree with in the current Democratic Party platform today.”

    George Wallace, like almost all of the major segregation figures in the South, lived and died a Democrat. He last ran as a Democrat in 1983, winning the governorship of Alabama, and the Democrats had become the party of abortion by that time. Married three times, his last two marriages ending in divorce, I think Wallace fit right in with the contemporary Democrat party, especially since he had embraced affirmative action by his last run.

  • Actually, JDP, many of the southern Democrats who clung to the party were fairly more left-leaning than people assume. For instance, the Klan which dominated in the early part of the 20th century consisted of self-styled Progressives and Populists who would have been sympathetic with the Occupy Movement. Further, as Sean Trende has written, the southerners who wound up switching to the GOP earliest were those who had much more tolerant views on race, meaning that the ones who stayed in the Democratic party were the old guard, Jim Crow crew.

  • “I doubt George Wallace would find tons to agree with in the current Democratic Party platform today.”

    Wallace started out in Alabama politics as a protege of James Folsom, Sr., a populist agreeable to the social democratic and union tendencies in the national democratic party and with little inclination to play white against black. Wallace re-invented himself as a fire-eating segregationist after losing a primary election in 1958. Alan Crawford, in his brief assessment of Wallace published in 1979, quoted an observer of Alabama politics of the time (I believe an official of the Alabama Chamber of Commerce) thus: “he was the leading liberal in the legislature; a lot of people regarded him as downright pink”. A better description of Wallace might be sociopathic opportunist.

    (His treatment of his 1st wife did not incorporate adultery but in other respects makes John Edwards look downright gallant).

    I think if you rummage through it you will discover that quondam segregationists (Jimmy Carter comes to mind) were very hit and miss on social questions. The most prominent defenders of life in the Democratic Party after 1973 tended to be ethnics like Robert Casey and John LaFalce, who had no segregationist past.

  • the southerners who wound up switching to the GOP earliest were those who had much more tolerant views on race,

    In federal elections, the peripheral South abandoned the Democratic Party before the Deep South. IIRC, as late as 1985, Southern Republicans tended to be quondam Bourbon Democrats, people who had fewer points of conflict and competition with the black population than did the remainder of the Democratic electorate.

  • many of the southern Democrats who clung to the party were fairly more left-leaning than people assume

    I think it might confound rather than illuminate to put the old South on a left-right spectrum.

  • TO BE A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST YOU MUST LOVE HIME AND OBEY HIS COMMANDMENTS.
    THOU SHALL NOT KILL IS BEING VIOLATED EVERY DAY IN ABORTION CLINIC IN THIS COUNTRY.
    I WOMAN HAS CONTROL OVER HER OWN BODY AND WHAT SHE DOES WITH IT.
    A BABY GROWING WITHIN IS NOT PART OF HER BODY TO DISPOSE OF AS TRASH.

  • Caterine-
    Your capitalization is NOT loud enough for the women who continue to see this as “their right.”
    I scream with you.

  • You guys are right that you can’t necessarily fit all this neatly into a left/right deal. I just really dispute that the Jim Crow Democrats thing, as a matter of historical accuracy, should be brought up in arguments about the modern parties. Not to whitewash the past or anything, because obviously important Democratic coalitions like FDR’s were partially built on tolerance of the Southern wing, but because it’s not relevant to anything today, there’s no ideological lineage between Dixiecrats and the current Democratic establishment. “Fidelity to the historical record” should include recognizing the shifts on this country’s politics over time and not a view that treats the parties and coalitions like monolithic entities.

    I know it’s not the point of the post, just that this particular argument is intellectually unserious and symptomatic of a partisan desire to fit all historical wrongs on the other ideological side.

  • “I just really dispute that the Jim Crow Democrats thing, as a matter of historical accuracy, should be brought up in arguments about the modern parties.”

    It most certainly should be when Democrats routinely bring up the charge that Republicans are racist. Additionally the Democrats are still using their time honored tactic of race baiting in order to win elections. Recall this gem from Biden last year?

    Democrats have shifted the colors of their racial appeals, but the use of race to divide Americans for cheap political advantage remains a key part of the Democrat strategy.

  • “It most certainly should be when Democrats routinely bring up the charge that Republicans are racist”

    So what? Just refute/brush off the charge, this type of historical revisionism is not necessary. Republicans like Rand Paul are not going to convince blacks that what Southern Democrats thought back in the day is at all relevant to what the national party did from 1964 on no matter how hard they try. For him specifically making that argument’s kinda ironic since he holds a slightly Goldwater-ish libertarian view against part of the Civil Rights Act.

    “Democrats have shifted the colors of their racial appeals, but the use of race to divide Americans for cheap political advantage remains a key part of the Democrat strategy.”

    a lot of politics is “divisive” and based on redmeat/hyperbole for your most likely voters, can’t say I was shocked by a typically overwrought Biden statement. On the same subject, you mentioned affirmative action upthread, which arguments can be made against while acknowledging it was initially seen as an attempted correction and not drawing strained analogies to Jim Crow.

  • “this type of historical revisionism is not necessary.”

    Not revisionism JDP, simple historical fact.

    “on no matter how hard they try”

    Accurate history is always relevant JDP, especially when a distorted view of it is being propounded by the Democrats.

    “a lot of politics is “divisive” and based on redmeat/hyperbole for your most likely voters, can’t say I was shocked by a typically overwrought Biden statement.”

    Race baiting and appeals to racial paranoia are in a special low class all by themselves JDP. Whenever someone like Biden engages in it, they need to be called on it hard. Forner Congressman Artur Davis was right on target last year:

  • a lot of politics is “divisive” and based on redmeat/hyperbole for your most likely voters, can’t say I was shocked by a typically overwrought Biden statement.

    You mean there is not much to bother about in Biden’s remarks but that a private citizen reciting historical fact is troublesome. Your slip is showing.

  • . I just really dispute that the Jim Crow Democrats thing, as a matter of historical accuracy,

    Care to refute it with evidence instead of assertion?

  • “Care to refute it with evidence instead of assertion?”

    Do you view Southern Democrats of the time as hardcore leftwingers in the mold of Nancy Pelosi? I don’t and I think it’s pretty silly to. This is “accurate” in a very limited sense — the Democratic Party as a party that used to include segregationists in its coalition — that doesn’t take into account ideology, doesn’t take into account the divide between Northern and Southern Democrats at the time and doesn’t have a ton of relevance to today. It’s not like the black Republican vote dropped in 1964 out of nowhere.

  • *more dramatic dropoff should say.

  • Your serial exercises in press agentry are tiresome, JDP.

    And it is relevant. Partisan Democrats have for a generation been trafficking in fraudulent history, useful story. Black electorates have proven highly responsive to opinion leaders therein, gesture, and myth. Much of the myth has to do with what Republican politicians did and did not do over a thirty year period and what they do and do not intend today. An aspect of that is a ‘look over there’ diversion. The Democratic Party was very dirty and very tainted by the civic and social system of the South. The Republican Party had nothing to do with that.

    One of the things that has proved impossible over the last 40 odd years has been the erection of a system of natural liberty – equal liberty and careers open to talents. There is no structural impediment to this. It is just that the Democratic Party’s reflexive modus operandi is to manufacture patron-client relationships mobilize elements of the population on ethnic lines. These have lately been complimented with another social impulse: putting all human relationships under the superintendency of lawyers. All this is tarted up with judicial opinions and agency rulings and the bushwah in which politicians, journalists and public interests lawyers traffick. Here is a nice example of the nuttiness of some of it:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/kausfiles/2006/12/more_obama_substance.html

    In 1945, we lived in a world where talented Southern blacks could not get medical training, because the state universities they might have attended to get it did not admit them. Now, we live in a world where politicians insist we have to subsidize higher education for illegal aliens, to please the public interest bar and professional ethnics. Officers of the same political party are responsible for both sets of nuttiness.

  • Do you view Southern Democrats of the time as hardcore leftwingers in the mold of Nancy Pelosi? I don’t and I think it’s pretty silly to.

    No, nor have I inferred that they were save to allude to their populist economic jargon. However, it would be even sillier to claim that many of them, particularly the most virulent Klan members or Klan protectors were exactly Reaganite conservatives. Read some histories of the Klan and tell me which party, in toto, would appeal to Klan ideology.

    As Art said, this is important because the left has whitewashed history and presented a false narrative of American political development, implying that the Republican party has been taken over by a bunch of southern racists who pine for the days of Jim Crow.

  • “No, nor have I inferred that they were save to allude to their populist economic jargon. However, it would be even sillier to claim that many of them, particularly the most virulent Klan members or Klan protectors were exactly Reaganite conservatives. Read some histories of the Klan and tell me which party, in toto, would appeal to Klan ideology.”

    OK I agree with this. my point isn’t to say racism is inherently right-wing. I also think it’s fine to clear up any misconceptions people might have about Republican policies in the past — of course people talk about the Southern strategy but that was electoral politics, not policy.

    and we agree that the people we’re discussing aren’t leftists. So again…clearing up misconceptions and simplified “Republicans and Democrats switched places” narratives is fine, but I still don’t see the point of lumping George Wallace (who I assume saw himself as nonliberal considering the amount of cracks he made about ’em) in with Pelosi-Reid-Obama like it means anything, any more than someone like Nelson Rockefeller means anything to GOP politics today.

    i am not trying to defend the current Democratic Party (really,) I just think it can be criticized on its own terms, without trying to lump its post-’60s incarnation and earlier, more coalitional state together.

  • — of course people talk about the Southern strategy but that was electoral politics, not policy.

    No, they utter the term “Southern Strategy” as a mantra. They would not know Nixon’s actual campaign literature from a toilet paper ad.

  • but I still don’t see the point of lumping George Wallace (who I assume saw himself as nonliberal considering the amount of cracks he made about ‘em) in with Pelosi-Reid-Obama like it means anything,

    Why not ask who Wallace was trying to mobilize and what his methods were and then have a look at the other three shnooks.

    any more than someone like Nelson Rockefeller means anything to GOP politics today.

    GOP policy wonks begin with the world wrought during those years and attempt to whittle it down. ‘Fraid he means a great deal.

  • There seem to be a lot of professors around. Is this the American equivalent of the English term ‘lecturer’?

  • Someone earning 18,000 a year and no job security is graced with the title adjunct professor in this country John.
    This wikipedia article explains the American system of profs here, profs there, profs everywhere!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professors_in_the_United_States#Adjunct_Professor_Compensation_and_Academic_Use

  • Is this the American equivalent of the English term ‘lecturer’?

    ‘adjunct’ is a generic which refers to a menu of peripheral faculty.

    1. Modally, the term ‘lecturer’ in this country refers to a faculty member who has an open-ended term of appointment or an indefinitely renewable term of appointment but is paid by the number of courses taught. In arts and sciences faculties, they are most common in foreign language departments teaching the lower level courses. As a rule, lecturers do not participate in faculty governance structures.

    2. An ‘adjunct professor’ is commonly someone employed elsewhere (as a working professional or as a teacher) who has a contract to teach a partial or full load for a limited term, for a renewable term, or for an open ended period. These also usually do not serve on faculty committees.

    3. A ‘visiting professor’ (modally ‘visiting assistant professor’) is generally someone on a limited-term contract (one to six semesters) to fill a vacancy because a regular faculty member is on leave or has retired or has departed. However, there are sometimes prestige appointments where the institution cadges an established scholar for a limited period (who is on leave from his home institution).

    4. A ‘clinical professor’ is generally a working professional who teaches courses at a training academy, usually the most practical courses. You see the term in medical and law schools, not elsewhere much.

    Most aspirant faculty spend several years as visiting professors or adjunct professors or lecturers before landing a tenure-track position and many remain in these short-term position until such time as they give up on academic employment. Those in the hard sciences often spend years as ‘post-doctoral fellows’, who typically do not have teaching duties but are expected to publish.

    Faculty who are tenured are referred to as ‘professors’ or ‘associate professors’. The former have higher salaries and more prestige than the latter. A small selection of faculty have endowed chairs which come with a research stipend and a reduction in course loads. The titles these professors hold typically commence with the donor’s name, as in “Ralph and Rita Raffles Professor of Literature”. There are visiting professorships that are endowed as well and similarly styled. An ‘assistant professor’ is a candidate for tenure. An ‘instructor’ is an assistant professor who has yet to complete his dissertation. Fifty years ago, institutions commonly hired scholars still working on their dissertation; now it is rare. The British term ‘reader’ is never used in this country.

  • It is up or out for assistant professors. You are accepted on the permanent faculty or you are gone. Visiting professors are commonly around for no more than three years. The other sorts of faculty are generally around for indefinite periods depending on funding, the preferences of the permanent faculty in a given department, and the preferences of the peripheral faculty in question. Every institution is a bit different, though. One place I worked had a corps of professors called ‘category i faculty’. They were on three year contracts, renewable indefinitely. They taught anywhere from one to four courses (not the standard five) and were paid accordingly. Otherwise, they were treated like regular faculty. A few who produced interesting research or who had a political connection in the institution were granted tenure after a mess of years.

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We Didn’t Mean Intellectual Diversity!

Monday, October 15, AD 2012

 

Don’t you see the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the language of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it.

George Orwell, 1984

You know that you are living in topsy-turvy times when the most close-minded institutions are colleges and universities which are purportedly dedicated to free inquiry.  A hilarious example of the type of brain-dead ideological conformity enforced at most laughably described “institutions of higher learning occurred last week:

 

Angela McCaskill was the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. She has now worked at Gallaudet for over 20 years, and in January 2011 she was named its chief diversity officer. Last year, she helped open a resource center for sexual minorities on campus. But she has now been placed on leave because of pressure from some students and faculty. Her job is on the line.

McCaskill’s sin? She was one of 200,000 people to sign a petition demanding a referendum on a law recognizing gay marriage, which was signed by Maryland’s Democratic governor, Martin O’Malley, in March. The referendum will be on the ballot next month, and the vote is expected to be close.

 

McCaskill’s signature became public when the Washington Blade posted a database online “outing” all those who had signed the petition. Even though her signature indicated only that she wanted the decision on gay marriage to be made by the people and not by the legislature and the governor, her critics declared that it demonstrated “bias.”

 

Gallaudet University’s president, T. Alan Hurwitz, announced that he was putting McCaskill on paid leave because “some feel it is inappropriate for an individual serving as chief diversity officer” to have signed such a petition. “I will use the extended time while she is on administrative leave to determine the appropriate next steps,” said Hurwitz, “taking into consideration the duties of this position at the university.” Just last year, Hurwitz had praised McCaskill as “a longtime devoted advocate of social justice and equity causes.” But she is apparently not allowed to have private political views.

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3 Responses to We Didn’t Mean Intellectual Diversity!

  • Those people make Medieval Inquisitors look like cub scouts.

    It seems they oppose the “consent of the governed.” Some of them call democracy the “dictatorship of the majority.” Thing is they aren’t content with disenfranchising (using the courts to enforce their unpopular agenda) but they those so evil as to disagree with them. Che, Lenin, Stalin, et al murdered them.

    By their actions they demonstrate their world-view that we the people are either too evil or too stupid to govern ourselves.

  • And folks laugh at me when I refuse to do phone surveys….

  • Direct quotes From the Catholic Catechism

    2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.[206] Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.”[207] Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.

    2446 St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.”[238] “The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity”:[239]
    When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.[240]

    2408 The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one’s disposal and use the property of others.[190]