Letters to the Editor


Mr. Shenkman is the editor of HNN.

We encourage readers to write us about our coverage of events. Send correspondence to: editor@hnn.us.

COMMIES BACK IN STYLE (posted 2-10-03)

To the Editor:

I've recently discovered your entertaining and informative web site. After several weeks of perusing articles and comments, I've learned a great deal. One of the bigger surprises that your site has revealed is the dogged mania of anti-communist ideology.

In the past 10 years, I think I had heard or read of maybe ten people denounced as Communists. In just the past few weeks of reading the History News Network, I've read of at least twice that many alleged Communist cabals operating within the deepest recesses of American institutions. Surely the resurgence of this always ideological and now absurdly dated campaign is a sad retreat from the more complex and pressing problems created by the supposed"victory" over Communism.


Sam Haselby
Ph.d. candidate
History Dept. [Columbia University]

Editor's Response

Remember Art Linkletter's old line?"Kids say the darndest things." Well, so do adults.

Book of the Month Club offers  the very best in fiction and non-fiction.

WHY DON'T YOU ... (posted 2-8-03)

To the Editor:

You asked for comments, here are some of mine. I think that you do a good job in collecting the best that is out there and making it available to all who wish to pursue the leads. What surprises me is what is not the subject of comment. For example, for over six months Bill Moyers TV program NOW on PBS has had material on many disturbing aspects of American life, but I have never seen any reference to him or any of his programs or topics on the web. A few weeks ago 60 Minutes did a interesting segment on cheating in colleges. Again no response. The Washington Post ran an little piece a week or so ago by a professor from Duke on grade inflation. The few comments in the paper appeared to be from high school teachers. Perhaps the two last topics are too close to home and too dangerous for people now in academic life to comment upon. It may also be that many historians no longer watch anything on TV or read newspapers but get all their information from their computer screens.

I also wonder about the nature, content and historical value of many papers offered at the annual meetings of various historical associations. I have listened to many a verbal comment about such things, but have seen no extended discussion. So, since you do extensive searches, I assume that there is not anything out there on these topics.

Keep up the good work.

H. Langley

Editor's Response

Thanks for your comments.

I watch Bill Moyers's show every week. We do indeed get story ideas from his and other television shows. Recently, we listed articles about the history of smog as a result of the interview he ran a few weeks ago on the subject. The link appeared in the department: On Other Websites. A week ago Moyers ran an interview in which it was alleged that President Bush had lied to the country about Iraq's capacity to build a nuclear weapon. The president cited as proof a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, though there was no report. We related the facts in an excerpt posted in our regular feature: Gotcha!

We did not follow-up the"60 Minutes" story on cheating because it did not take a historical perspective. And in any case, it is very difficult to do follow-ups on"60 Minutes" stories. The CBS show does not provide transcripts and does not post links on the web to the information broadcast. We do not have the resources to transcribe excerpts.

Questions have been raised from time to time about the papers presented at conferences devoted to history. In December we published an article by Jonathan Harris of Campus Watch, which was critical of the subjects discussed at a recent meeting of the Middle East Studies Association.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Lance Gay - 6/11/2003

See attached story that says Pulitzer panel is reviewing prize given New York Times reporter Walter Duranty for stories that misled people on the extent of the 1930's famine in the Soviet Union.



what are your views on affirmative action, and what do you see coming out of the supreme court.

gopika - 4/30/2003


anonymous - 4/5/2003

I suggest you read the article, Academia v. America, in the April issue of American Legion Magazine. It is getting quite a circulation and a buzz. It is not online but your reach should get one. Roger Kimball wrote it and accuses many academics, including a historian, and many elite universities of antiAmericanism and disloyalty. I would think HNN would be VERY interested in this extraordinary attack.

George Bain - 3/18/2003

Looks like you need some help in keeping up with the incoming mail. I made a post about the effect of public opinion on policy a few days ago and it has not appeared. Do you want some local assistance?

George Bain - 3/16/2003

I should like to remind readers here that the US is a REPUBLIC, not the sort of democracy that one finds implied in many postings and in many discussions of likely war. The country may be influenced by polls but is not (at any rate not nowadays) run by poll findings. The unique US system allows greater latitude to the President than does the constitutional system of, say Great Britain. In the latter, the Prime Minister must carry with him his cabinet, each of whom is elected by a relatively small number of people, and he must accord recognition to those of his party called 'back benchers'. To a great extent, and when it comes to legislation, the PM is much more powerful than the President. But in all matters he must carry the Cabinet. In contrast, in the US the President answers to no one but the electors at the next Presidential election. While he may consider that the street voices carry some weight in his dealings with the Congress, he can ignore them during the first several years of his term. Thus FDR was able to ignore the anti-war cabals in the later 1930s while placating (lying?) to the public and the Congress. For example, I sailed overseas in a Canadian convoy in September 1941, guarded by many US warships, something done by the President that would not have been done by the Congress at that time. President Johnson was able to ignore the anti-war protests until they continued and influenced his chances for another election sweep by his party - he himself was chastened and withdrew. So, what do street protests accomplish? I think they are a useful way for those parts of the general public that is siezed of an issue - environment, anti-war, save the whales,globalization etc - to blow off steam. Mostly the protesters are inarticulate about their aims and know little about those organizing the protests. Were these protesters able to go to their representatives and senators at their homes, perhaps the level of their influence as protesters would increase. In the meantime, pay not much heed to street protests, I say, George F Bain, Vienna,VA