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Archive for February, 2013

The National Association of Scholars recently completed a study of history courses offered at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. It’s absolutely on target:

Our findings in this study shed light on a source of Americans’ increasing ignorance about their own history. At the two institutions we studied, the focus on race, class, and gender often tended to crowd out the teaching of other perspectives, and many U.S. history courses failed to provide a comprehensive rendering of U.S. history as a whole. Thematically skewed teaching leads to an incompleteness of knowledge, as recent studies of American history knowledge among students demonstrate. Faculty members at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University teaching U.S. history courses in the semester we studied made assignments that disproportionally favored themes of race, class, and gender [RCG] over all other themes.

The details are startling, even to those of us in other departments on campus:

Major Findings:

  • High emphasis on race, class, and gender in reading assignments. 78 percent of UT faculty members were high assigners of RCG readings; 50 percent of A&M faculty members were high assigners of RCG readings.
  • High level of race, class, and gender research interests among faculty members teaching these courses. 78 percent of UT faculty members had special research interests in RCG; 64 percent of A&M faculty members had special research interests in RCG.

Faculty in the history department have feigned outrage at this criticism, though I remember history and government faculty bragging thirty years ago about how they had tricked the legislature by turning its requirement that students take a year of American history and a year of American government into a license to teach whatever they wanted.

Here’s a view of how this looks from a student’s perspective. This week, I received a message from a student from my fall semester course about what he’s taking this spring. Here is his message, together with my reply:

  • Hey… I’m in US history covering 1492-1865 and am having to read A People’s History of The United States by Howard Zinn which is essentially a sad book about how terrible the United States has been to everyone from the Native Americans, to the Mexicans in the Mexican American War, to the blacks, and the Vietnamese and Koreans and Japanese during world war 2… Basically, the thesis of my history class thus far and to the end of the course is that our country is built upon oppressing other nations and ravaging the world around us through our warped justification of divine right and American Exceptionalism. Similarly, my Sociology class has the same crusade… in fact communism has been presented in a favorable light during sociology and we’ve learned about the U.S. “oppressing” the middle east… Obviously this is a total deviation from your … class in which America was shown in a pretty optimistic and favorable light… So I’m asking you as i try to keep my faith in this country… Should i loathe the United States? What do you think? I feel like a voice in the wilderness holding onto patriotism and the american dream and capitalism and American goodness.

  • Hey, …! Good to hear from you!

    Zinn was a communist, and his book, widely used, means precisely to get the citizens of the US to loathe their own country. The Gramscian march through the institutions has been going on for a long time, and departments of history, sociology, anthropology, English, etc., are deeply infected with this kind of thinking.

    I don’t mean to say that bad things didn’t take place. President Jackson’s treatment of the Cherokees, for example, was an outrage. Internment of Japanese-Americans was an overreaction with a profound human toll. I’ve never understood how we supposedly oppressed the Arab world.

    But the US has also freed slaves, freed hundreds of millions to pursue their dreams, tolerated dissent, expanded civil rights, and fought for the protection of human rights.

    Moreover, I see our failings as *human* failings, not the failings of the US or of capitalism or of whatever else people blame. No society throughout the entire history of the world has been free from crime, oppression, and war. Compared to Nazi Germany, the USSR, Communist China, North Korea, and eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain, the US looks positively magnificent. But those are countries in which the far left has taken control. Far from bringing about the promised utopia, they’ve brought about poverty, hopelessness, enslavement, disrespect for human rights, and mass murder.

    This isn’t just because the wrong people somehow took charge. It’s essential to socialism. If wealth and power are to be redistributed, someone gets to redistribute them, and, guess what? They keep most of it for themselves. The “social justice” schtick is for the rubes.

    If you want a dramatic illustration of the results of free enterprise within a constitutional republic as opposed to socialism within a “people’s republic,” look at this series of photographs from Germany: scenes from East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and, then, the same spots twenty years later, after the fall of the Wall.
    http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/photo-gallery-east-germany-s-transformation-fotostrecke-59943.html

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