Thomas E. Woods: Time to Lump Him in with the America-Haters

Historians in the News

Cathy Young, in the Boston Globe (2-21-05):

CONSERVATIVES often complain, with good cause, about America-hating left-wing radicals in academia. Yet in recent weeks, a college professor who co-founded an organization that refers to the United States as an "alien occupier" in its manifesto and whose 2001 essay blaming the "barbarism" of American policies for Sept. 11 was picked up by Pravda, the Russian communist newspaper has received gushing praise on the conservative media circuit.

   Meet Thomas E. Woods Jr., assistant professor of history at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History." A main selection of the Conservative Book Club, it has been propelled to the New York Times best-seller list with help from talk shows such as Fox News's "Hannity & Colmes."

        The book's back cover promises a refutation of "myths" written into textbooks and popular history books by left-wing academics. But don't expect a book that celebrates American heroes and American accomplishments as an antidote to hand-wringing over the sins of dead white males.

   If there are any American heroes in Woods's book, apart from the Founding Fathers, it's the Southerners who fought for the Confederacy. Abraham Lincoln is on the villain side of the ledger.

   Woods makes the disclaimer that "no one, of course, mourns the passing of the slave system." However, he apparently thinks the Southern states should have been allowed to abolish slavery in due time without federal intervention. In any case, to hear Woods, the "War Between the States" had hardly anything to do with slavery: The South really fought for self-determination, the North for its economic interests. (Ironically, on the latter point Woods is in agreement with most left-wing historians.        The book's obvious sympathy for the Southerners and their suffering is matched by a lack of any acknowledgment of the horror of slavery or any moral revulsion at the fact that some Americans owned, and defended the "right" to own, other human beings....

If you want to talk about America-hating professors, here's someone who hates nearly everything about the last 140 years of US history. Yet only a handful of right-of-center commentators Glenn Reynolds at, Max Boot in The Weekly Standard have spoken out against the book. Where's the outrage? Is this the kind of ideology conservatives want to be associated with? Does anything labeled "politically incorrect" get a pass?

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