Shouldn't We Be Talking About What Colleges Teach Rather than Just Who Gets into College?

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Mr. Reeves is the author of A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy. His latest book is America's Bishop: The Life and Times of Fulton J. Sheen (Encounter, 2001).

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The U.S. Supreme Court's verdict in the University of Michigan case, upholding Affirmative Action in admissions to institutions of higher education, has received extensive analysis, much of it critical. The most formidable critiques I have read were by Carol Iannone, Stanley Rothman, Shelby Steele, and by officials of the National Association of Scholars (NAS) in their formal statement. These commentaries call attention to the myth of the magic of diversity in the classroom, to the unconstitutional and immoral nature of reverse discrimination, and to the fuzzy thinking backing up the Court's narrow decision. What we need now, I think, is a careful study of the Affirmative Action bureaucracy that pervades American business, government, and industry. My guess is that such a study would discover much cynicism and blackmail.

But what struck me during the recent uproar was the complete lack of attention in the major media to the deeper problem in higher education. The vital issue facing us today is not who gets in but what goes on once they're there. That is to say, why do we fuss endlessly about admissions (especially when the great majority of colleges and universities in America let almost anyone in) when we seem to care little or nothing about what is taught and what graduates come away with? The great triumph, it seems, is to be admitted to a prestigious college or university. After that, silence.

The story of the debasement of higher education in recent decades is familiar to NAS members: the "life-experience" credits, courses (and majors) without intellectual content, leftist propaganda masquerading as scholarship, lowered expectations and inflated grading, and the failure to require the basics of a traditional, rigorous, and meaningful education.

Being a historian, I am especially sensitive to the lack of required history courses. I recently lunched with a young graduate of a prestigious university who majored in marketing and had not had a history course since his second year of high school. Such innocence is dangerous. It leads otherwise thoughtful people, for example, to accept all sorts of nonsense, such as the recent dismissal of the whole concept of McCarthyism by right-wing ideologue Ann Coulter in her book Treason. Anti-Catholicism, thick in the intellectual air of our time, is based in great part on historical ignorance.

Very few seem to pay any attention to the contents of higher education any more. College and university administrators, of course, are not eager to rock the boat. A contented faculty and student body can translate into salary increases and personal promotion. Whatever people want, they can have, say many chancellors and presidents. Unless, of course, the request infringes upon an assortment of widely-held assumptions about racial, ethnic, and sexual diversity. Or is conservative.

Why should administrators argue for tougher courses or higher requirements when they can simply contend, ad nauseum, that "academic excellence" reigns on campus and never be required to define or explain what they mean? Why propose the elimination of the Mass Communications major or the Film Studies program when that will only result in outcry, especially from the cash-producing Athletics Department?

Faculty members are primarily interested in their careers, as well, and like to keep students happy. High grades and low requirements very often lead to high teaching ratings, which can be converted into higher pay and promotions. Why assign three books when the students complain about one? In time, this approach often leads to take-home exams. Only a professor's conscience demands academic rigor, and it takes little to stifle that inner voice.

Students, of course, do not seek higher requirements. They want to have fun, graduate by any means, get a good job, and buy a Lexus and a McMansion. Polls show consistently that financial prosperity is the major student goal, not education. "Easy is better than hard." That should be printed on campus sweatshirts. Or perhaps, "Loot not Latin."

Business doesn't seem to care what graduates are taught, beyond the basics of business itself. When was the last time you saw a business leader on a board of regents suggest higher educational standards? One might think business would want people to take graduation, not just entrance, examinations. This lack of concern requires further study. Is anti-intellectualism wed to American business? Then how do you account for the consistent excellence of the Wall Street Journal and the assortment of first-rate think tanks, magazines, and cultural institutions supported by business people?

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Alumni seem interested primarily in the success of campus athletic teams. Where is the grad who promotes the return of required foreign languages, lab sciences, history, political science, literature, and philosophy? The people receiving the loudest cheers from alumni are seven feet tall.

Politicians seem to care mostly, if not solely, about the costs, rather than the content, of higher education. Name a governor, for example, who goes beyond the cant of "excellence" when discussing his state's colleges and universities.

So, if few care about what goes on, anything will go on. And so it does. And we spend our energy fussing exclusively about who gets into the few "great" institutions. Why not concentrate on what students will learn once they are enrolled…in every accredited college and university in this country?

This article was first published by the National Association of Scholars and is reprinted with permission.

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NYGuy - 8/13/2003

Interesting thread. Since some have used Horowitz as an expert on communism and the entire period, which he is, it is worthwhile to read what he has to say about the period.

“The fact is that if so many liberals and Democrats had not covered so assiduously for Communists and Soviet spies like Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White, there would have been no “McCarthy Era” -- no wave of loyalty oaths and no congressional investigations. Derelictions like Roosevelt’s, the sense of insecurity created when the public realized that there was an enemy within who had thoroughly penetrated the Democratic Party and which was indeed controlled by the Kremlin, and the refusal of Democratic leaders to take the threat as seriously as they should have -- created the demand for investigations and made the exploits of demagogues like McCarthy inevitable.”

“The McCarthy Era has been written into college and high school curriculums and even government history standards as a time of “witch-hunts” instead of a time of fifth column treason for the same reason. Coulter is right to emphasize this point. The opening of the Soviet archives and the release of the Venona decrypts have established beyond any reasonable doubt that McCarthy’s so-called victims – with few exceptions (James Wechsler would be one) -- were people who either served the intelligence agencies of the biggest mass murderer in history or supported the despotic empire he built, or were fellow-travelers of the same. The remedy for preventing such injustices as occurred through the hearings of McCarthy’s subcommittee and the House Committee on Un-American Activities would be to close congressional hearings to the public. But no one to my knowledge – liberal or otherwise -- has ever proposed this.”

It also appears that Horowtiz believes the communist threat is alive and well and living comfortably on campus.

Bill Heuisler - 8/13/2003

There were 59 names and each name was specifically substantiated in a letter to Senator Millard Tydings in 1950. Quotes, "...he furnished material to a known Soviet espionage agent..." and "He is a known Communist Party member." are typical. See the (recently or to-be?) published book on McCarthy by M. Stanton Evans or see some of his recent articles.

Why haven't you ever heard this before? Good question. But Ann Coulter's book is already promoting the truth.
Bill Heuisler

Ralph E. Luker - 8/12/2003

Bill, Imagine that I wanted publicity, that I gave a speech to a women's group in West Virginia announcing that I had the names of 51 agents of Osama bin Laden in the Defense and State departments' hierarchies. Imagine that I repeated the claim subsequently but that I never substantiated my charge. How long would you listen? In no particular sense have the Venona documents vindicated McCarthy. If Democrats are traitors, why does your president keep signing them up for tours of duty abroad?

Bill Heuisler - 8/12/2003

Let's talk facts. Drunken psychopath? Repudiated? Clinton bombed Saddam? None of these terms is correct on its face. Get a grip and let's argue issues instead of overheated opinions.

There is no evidence the Senator was a psychopath. The serious drinking didn't begin until after censure. AMRAM missles were often fired at radar sites in Iraq, but Clinton never bombed Saddam, his bombs were reserved for Sudanese watchmen and Serbs.
Radosh, Horowitz and a few others certainly are not my fellows, nor do they disagree with Coulter on basics. They dislike her broad-brush statements and consider them counter-productive.

My opinion? Setting history right is worth some hyperbole.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/12/2003

Yes, she's wrong, Bill. In fact, she's so wrong that your fellow conservatives have repudiated her. Bill Clinton bombed Saddam Hussein -- that's placating in Coulter's book and your post. She abuses sound conservative scholarship and lifts drunken psychopaths like Joe McCarthy to the status of hero. The book's not worth defending, Bill.

Bill Heuisler - 8/11/2003

Immediate problem? Your problem is that you're not addressing the issue. You're so worried we know your work on Civil Rights - that we know you read a lot of books - that you fail to respond and then engage in misdirection. My posts never denied a Civil Rights struggle and you know it. My post told you to get over yourself. For the twentieth time, Derek, this is not about you. Can you engage Reeves' issue about what rather than who?

The Coulter issue is germain. Evidently there is monolithic misunderstanding in Academe about McCarthy. Apostasy is treated as anathema, but not seriously debated. Does that trouble you?
One last time, will you address the issues Coulter raises or will you continue to deal in irrelevance? Coulter says Liberals generally side with the opposition in a US conflict. Coulter says Democrats have become the Party of the UN, World Court, Kyoto, the Party of surrender, the Party of placating Castro and Hussein. When US national interests are not at stake, the Dems will slaughter Serbs and Sudanese watchmen, but if US Interests come to the fore, Dems tend to obstruct, object and finally act against the national interest in favor of tyrants. Is she wrong? Tell me how. Tell me where.
Bill Heuisler

Derek Catsam - 8/11/2003

Bill --
You deny that there was a struggle for civil rights. That, in the simplest terms, is my immediate problem.
You deny that the mass of conservative scholars criticizing Coulter have anything relevant to say. That is a secondary problem.
You think that your worldly experience, and only your worldly experience, is relevent. That is a tertiary problem.

I'm frankly tired of your experience being the final word. Especially when no one else's experiences are apparently germane, and when professional historians, devoted to our craft though we may be, are secondary to someone who has written nothing beyond criticisms of the work the rest of us do. And then when you have the sanctimony to tell me, or any one else, to read a book, when I've read more books in the last six months, as a professional imperative, than you can possibly imagine.


Bill Heuisler - 8/9/2003

By the way, Mr. Hartmann,
Nice of you to tear yourself away from the Hobsbawm School of Modern History long enough to confess your ignorance. Curse the darkness and all that. Allen, Forrest and Rachmaninoff are each poignant examples of humans ascending to relative heights in spite of fate's hand. Too bad you can't grasp such concepts.
Greenland hasn't much to offer either except vapid opinions and grumbling how he doesn't read certain posters on HNN.

The quality of your opinion and reading material is directly pertinent to Reeves' article - an unintended illustration.
Bill Heuisler

Cato - 8/9/2003

Could this comment be more incoherent?!?!

Dave Thomas - 8/9/2003

Who wants to go back to classrooms where White older men taught white younger men how white men should run things.

The insinuation that higher education has less value today than when the author took classes is preposterous.

Today's students would find no value at all in the gender bias and bigotry that pervaded American higher education before the 60's.

Kent Hartmann - 8/9/2003

What a joke. Most historians couldn't "ace" such trivia questions. Your idea of history is trivia rather than the meaningful interpretation of such facts for what they teach us about the human condition. What size pants did Lyndon Johnson wear? How many counties did Truman lose in his home state in the 1948 election? How come I haven't seen you on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

Bill Heuisler - 8/9/2003

Mr. Williams,
Agreeing with your first post and parting company on W makes me uncomfortable. Why have such healthy synapse broken down over politics? Remember 9/11. Three questions:
Would Gore have done better?
Who told you what China spends on anything?
Why quote hacks: "and how the decisions of capitalists affect a country's citizens for good or ill." You can do better.
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 8/9/2003

Mr. Greenland,
My name often invades your keyboard. My deepest apologies. Perhaps you consider yourself relevant on this HNN site and consider me an outsider. You accuse me of misstating history.
Let's try a quick pop quiz most historians can ace without even pulling a book:
Where was Barbara Allen first mentioned?
Where was Nathan Bedford Forrest educated?
In what city was Rachmaninoff's First Symphony scorned?
History is reality. Take your time. After you answers, give me three of your best. Time and accuracy beat accusations.
HNN readers can judge.
Bill Heuisler

Mark Jardine - 8/8/2003

Very useful observations. Class size matters for youngsters and adults as well. Even in a lecture course of 50 or 75 students it is hard to teach "seminar fashion." Certainly a higher degree of personal responsibility is demanded at the college level, but meaningful human contact is essential to education. The process is relational.

Don Williams - 8/8/2003

The idea that universities produced "educated men" is hilarious also. A knowledgable person should understand the main structure of the world --the forces which affect our lives. They should know who are the major military powers, their relative strength, strategic goals, and likely courses of action. Similarly, they should know the major economic powers, their patterns of trade, and needed imports. They should know who owns the wealth of the world, how, and how the decisions of capitalists affect a country's citizens for good or ill. They should know the basic structure of the US economy -- the major components of the GDP, the ties among industries,etc.

Yet most college graduates do not know even the most rudimentary facts about the above. And they never get smarter. That is why Bush can convince the citizens of the most powerful superpower on the globe to increase defense spending above $400 billion/year at a time when most other major military powers are our allies and potential opponents like Russia and CHina only spend on the order of $40-$60 billion/year. The average American citizen is so stupid he almost deserves to be screwed. But his stupidity is the product of the self-serving US educational system.

Don Williams - 8/8/2003

This discussion failed to recognize that the mission of Universities is to create docile corporate drones, not builders or creaters.
Just look at the educational paradigm: years of focus on detailed information of little consequence--with no consideration given to utility or value.
Is there any other activity where a young person could spend 4 years of life and $120,000 with no result other than a piece of paper pretty nigh worthless in the marketplace?

An excerpt from a recent news article about Arnold Schwartznegger
discussed how he was bemused years ago by the ease with which money can be made in America --and how Americans seem blind to opportunity. That is the result of the American educational system , which suppresses all creativity and entrepreneurism.

That is why an immigrant who can't speak English can become a multi-millionaire while laid-off Harvard graduates clutch their old diplomas.

That is why college dropouts like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison can become billionaires -- the same being true of people like Michael Dell who neglected his studies to build his company. Meanwhile, college professors insist that young students must waste 7 years of life and $200,000 earning a PhD before they are qualified to try their hand at computer science.

Moreover, the college dropouts are happy --because they set the course of their life instead of wasting years of hard labor merely for a gold star.

Anyone remember Nick Nolte's comment in the movie "Dog Soldiers"?--
"Damm it, NO! I'm tired of taking shit from inferior people. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I swore that I would never again allow myself to be fucked over by morons."

Andrew Todd - 8/8/2003

The debate about affirmative action at Michigan is very probably
a meaningless debate. I spent a year at Michigan as a freshman in
1976-77, and it was one of the more futile years of my life,
even worse than the year I broke my arm and had to have an
operation. Granted, that was a long time ago, and Michigan may
have improved in the interval, but I somehow doubt it. Academic
administrators being what they are, universities don't raise
admission standards until they have exhausted the possibilities
of overcrowding. At Michigan, professors were incredibly remote.
Classes were gigantic, even the discussion sections. The
dormitories were sardine cans. As I recall, my most significant
adult contact was with the proprietor of a local used bookstore.
Eighteen-year-olds are mentally malleable. If they aren't
actual grinds, they are bound to be recruited by the fraternities
under those conditions. Even the grinds will have to endure
ongoing hazing by fraternity "wannabees" in overcrowded
dormitories, and are therefore very unlikely to perform up to
their potential.

Just about every ordinary state university I have ever
encountered has things like an honors program, independent study
in freshman language courses, etc. An eighteen-year old is not
going to be short-changed by being sent to a place where his SAT
scores are 100-200 points above the average. In fact, he will
probably benefit by being put together with people who are a
little bit older than himself, e.g.. placing into a sophomore
course. There will be a slight diminution of the social pressure
to drink excessively, that kind of thing. If you ask hard
questions about exactly what kinds of plans each college has for
a given prospective student, holding an undergraduate program to
the same standards that you would hold a private elementary
school, then most of the more highly selective universities would
not even be in the running.

A typical state university, not subject to the sardine
effect, has an admit ratio of about 80%, which makes the
affirmative action issue all but moot.
Much the same principle applies at a higher level to
professional schools. One comes across instances of famous law
and business schools with class sizes of a hundred or more. No
professor, however talented, can teach seminar-fashion under
those conditions, and the standard of instruction inevitably
reverts to the undergraduate level.

Various people have demonstrated that you can get
undergraduates (sophomores, even) to actually do scholarship,
rather than reading and regurgitating textbooks and ideologies.
With the internet, archives are much more readily accessible than
ever before. The catch is that this kind of teaching works out to
coaching students about how to find things, how to construct
narratives, etc., the stuff of graduate education, a very
hands-on business. It probably cannot be done in a lecture with
five hundred or a thousand students. It can, however, be done in
a lower-division honors history seminar. Safety against political
extremism does not rest on the public having been taught the
correct answer, but rather on the public knowing how to go about
researching it. This has been pointed out before-- one of the
better statements is Nathan Glazer's "The Wasted Classroom"
(_Harpers_, Oct. 1961, _reprinted in Jim W. Corder, Finding a
Voice_, 1973), and then of course there are the various writings
of Paul Goodman. The issue of ideology-- either right-wing or
left-wing-- only becomes relevent when serious education is
systematically neglected in favor of highly profitable giant
lectures-- in the kind in institution where affirmative action
cases arise.

Andrew D. Todd
1249 Pineview Dr., Apt 4
Morgantown, WV 26505

Kent Hartmann - 8/8/2003

Dr. Athan Theoharis received the 2002 Lawrence G. Haggerty Faculty Award for Research Excellence. As illustrated by his most recent books, Chasing Spies: How the FBI Failed in Counterintelligence But Promoted the Politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War Years (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2002) and These Yet to be United States: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Post-1945 America (Harcourt College/Wadsworth Group, 2002), Dr. Theoharis is one of the most prolific and respected scholars at Marquette, not only in History but across the University. His Haggerty Award for Research Excellence is indeed well deserved recognition of his outstanding contributions to the study of American history.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/8/2003

Historically.... history was a popular major for students intending to go on to law school. I don't have statistics on hand, but my experience suggests that political science is more popular as "pre-law" than history now.

History also used to be one of the favorite majors for students who are now in Business pre-professional programs.

History, though it offers excellent training in skills and critical methods crucial to good law, good business or many other fields, is now only the chosen major of students who are primarily interested in History.

NYGuy - 8/8/2003

You say:
"Mr. Heuisler and Your Ever Loyal Wingman NYGuy - Dr. Catsam has been specific in his criticisms and dead on target in his assessment of your tactics. You and your personal Boy Wonder (who rarely contributes anything substantive to your moderately substantive jabs) always have your fallback position of being more attuned to the "real world" that somehow eludes those with advanced degrees. This is anti-intellectualism at its worst, the kind of stuff Professor Reeves is castigating in his article."


You start off your posts with clever but unfounded remarks which are uncalled for. Now you go into your cry baby mode and are joined by your non-historian friend Josh to heap unfounded criticism on others. As I mentioned one of the communists tactics was that if you told a lie often enough people would start to believe it. Is this part of your intellectual upbringing?

My award for the most anti-intellectual comments would be by those historians who deliberately put U. S. troops in danger by claiming that GW, Rumsfelt, the DOD, the U.S. Army etc. were deliberately destroying Iraq's and the world's history and allowing the looting of the Baghdad Museum. It was further compounded by fantasies that GW and Cheney were saving the Oil Ministries for themselves and their friends. Today those claims have all been proved false and the the saving of the Oil Ministry was proper since it enabled us to provide energy to rebuild the country. So if Reeves was not creating a cheap shot he should very well has cited this recent example. And there are others from the stuck in the mud Vietnam generation who fail to understand the world has changed but are still stuck in a quaqmire mentality.

Stop being a cry baby and start to post something of substance on this board. You start thinking your a hero in your own mind. But, as pointed out you are in the real world now

NYGuy - 8/8/2003


"But isn't history one of the common majors for people who are pre-law?"

Ugh. I thougt you were trying to build up the history profession not tear it down. But you finally make a good point.

NYGuy - 8/8/2003


You are on the wrong board with all your psycological rants. We know you are not an historian.

Your brillance is just being wasted here.

Josh Greenland - 8/8/2003

I think Ralph Luker was right about NYGuy when he called him an "anonymous mush-brain." If you step back and look at NYGuy's writing, you'll be surprised at how much of it really doesn't make any sense. I can believe that he has some kind of organic brain problem, and sometimes I feel sorry for him, but he really doesn't contribute anything worthwhile to HNN. I mostly stopped reading his posts some time ago, and only do it now when I feel the need for a laugh or a groan.

Josh Greenland - 8/8/2003

"Coulter is an ideologue as are you and your no name friend - you are unmoved by evidence or arguments, use the Al Gore tactic of "attack, attack, attack,""....

That sums him up. His historical allusions are wrong at least half the time, and if you call him on it, he goes right onto the next attack without acknowledging any error. I don't think he picked up his tactics from any Democrat, but from rightwing talk radio. Some of those people, most notably Limbaugh, just lie, lie, lie, and are not in any way accountable. Heiusler only cares about "winning." There is no integrity or search for truth in his approach. I almost never read anything he says anymore. It saves a lot of time.

Kent Hartmann - 8/8/2003

And NYGuy, I could cite plenty of times when you have used the tactic of writing someone off as part of a bogeyman group you erect.

Kent Hartmann - 8/8/2003

How Coulteresque - to write me off as part of an entire, corrupt generation. I am not part of that generation. And what in my remarks constitutes a "personal attack"? I'd rather be called "boy wonder" than a "losser."

Josh Greenland - 8/8/2003

"The main problem is a cultural and curricular one: history is not taken seriously as preparation for the "practical" pursuits which have become the economic foundation of (post?)modern higher education."

But isn't history one of the common majors for people who are pre-law?

NYGuy - 8/7/2003

Jonathan you said:

"Yes, there are a few flabby offerings in history, and a few teachers who prefer to show videos to actually teaching, but they're not the main problem."


This is not the issue. The issue is those professors who never grew up, want to go back to Woodstock, and get on a picket line at the drop of a hat. They have presented themselves as being stunted in their growth and can not get past their youth and the vietnam war.

People paying $20,000-30,000 per year to educate their children are demanding a better return on their money. They want them to learn, not become propagandist who are losers and face a dead end existence because of a few bankrupt intellectuals.

NYGuy - 8/7/2003

Kent you said:

"It is NYGuy who assumes facts about others' backgrounds - they've never worked at manual labor, had mommy & daddy pay for school, yadda yadda yadda. No one who disagrees could be of similar background or social status - they must be effete elites."


Kent, having nothing to add to the discussion you add only an ugly incorrect comment which you can not prove. But then again, if you can not add anything to the debate, "Attack, Attack Attack." That is what this country has come to.

The incoming class of college students, paying $20,000-30,000 per year for learning are tired of your ignorant comments that are unproved. Today, parents are saying, I remember the past, but why am I paying all this money to hear from teachers who want to be on a picket line rather than teaching. They are saying, we love this country and want our children to understand how great this counry is. I do not want my child to learn how to become a propergandist who are bankrupt in their ideas. We want them to grow up to be responsible people who can properly compare the U. S., the second oldest democracy, against the continued horror that goes on in the majority of non-democatic countries in the world.

By the way, aside from your personal attacks I am still trying to understand why you came forword with nothing to say.

It is just part of the Vietnam generation who thought they had all the answers. Which they didn't.

Bill Heuisler - 8/7/2003

By the way, Mr. Hartmann,
A partial listing of your boy, Athan Theoharis' titles will give HNN readers an idea of his caliber and point of view:
"Yalta Myths", "Spying on Americans", "A Culture of Secrecy" and "Imperial Democracy" which he wrote with Melvin Dubovsky, a Marxist Labor Historian who thinks all labor historians are "greatly in debt" to Eric Hobsbawm, the Brit Marxist.

So, Mr. Hartmann, as counterpoint to Venona you give us Leftist Paranoia? You should hang around with a better class of people.
Bill Heuisler

Kent Hartmann - 8/7/2003

Typical fallback. I said nothing to denigrate your intellect, yet you play the victim to the mystical "elites." Of which I am not one. It is NYGuy who assumes facts about others' backgrounds - they've never worked at manual labor, had mommy & daddy pay for school, yadda yadda yadda. No one who disagrees could be of similar background or social status - they must be effete elites. No wonder you're eager to accept the McCarthy of Ann Coulter - that was the same "outsider" rhetoric he blasted away with indiscriminately. Go ahead, play the victim. You're clearly a very bright person, you can do better.

Bill Heuisler - 8/7/2003

By the way, Mr. Hartmann,
Nice of you to add such substance to the discussion; your rebuttals and factual riposts are devastating. It saddens me not to be included in your elite intellectual circle and you whet my curiosity when you denigrate NYGuy and me as hoi polloi. Are you aware of my background? Of NYG's? From your lofty perch can you discern the smiles on reader's faces when they read your self-important snobbery? Probably not.

I do not speak Russian, but will match my wits, experience and knowledge against yours when - and if - you decide to share factual argument rather than smug opinion.
Bill Heuisler

Jonathan Dresner - 8/7/2003

My main problem with this article is that it is posted in the wrong place: historians aren't the problem. Yes, there are a few flabby offerings in history, and a few teachers who prefer to show videos to actually teaching, but they're not the main problem. The main problem is a cultural and curricular one: history is not taken seriously as preparation for the "practical" pursuits which have become the economic foundation of (post?)modern higher education.

Kent Hartmann - 8/7/2003

By the way, Mr. Heuisler - Have you personally read any of the Venona transmissions? Just curious.

Kent Hartmann - 8/7/2003

Mr. Heuisler and Your Ever Loyal Wingman NYGuy - Dr. Catsam has been specific in his criticisms and dead on target in his assessment of your tactics. You and your personal Boy Wonder (who rarely contributes anything substantive to your moderately substantive jabs) always have your fallback position of being more attuned to the "real world" that somehow eludes those with advanced degrees. This is anti-intellectualism at its worst, the kind of stuff Professor Reeves is castigating in his article. Coulter is an ideologue as are you and your no name friend - you are unmoved by evidence or arguments, use the Al Gore tactic of "attack, attack, attack," and appeal only to your gnostic sense that your realpolitik sensibilities shame anyone with a liberal interpretation of historical evidence. "Venona!" is your shibboleth, but the best interpretation of the meaning of those papers is certainly not Coulter's thesis (if you can call her Manichaean approach to history that) that "liberals are treasonous." If you care to move from the Regnery bookshelf (which I doubt you would), you should see Athan Theoharis's Chasing Spies. Nice work, Dr. Catsam.

Bill Heuisler - 8/7/2003

Okay. I'm a hypocrite, NyGuy is irrelevant, Coulter is dumb and a liar. Given. But can you define the threshold of treason?

Are you incapable of engagement? Do advanced degrees bestow chronic dysphasia when deciphering the vulger scribblings of lesser men? Your objections are general, my answers specific.
You wrote, "...miscitation from Coulter. I gave one. No actual substantive response from you." Wrong. My response referenced a lexis-nexis search and refuted the insipid claim. Did you read it? Must you constantly carp and quibble?

One last time, will you address the issues Coulter raises or will you continue to hold hands with Radosh and skip through the daisys of irrelevance? Coulter says Liberals generally side with the opposition in a US conflict. Coulter says Democrats have become the Party of the UN, World Court, Kyoto, the Party of surrender, the Party of placating Castro and Hussein. When US national interests are not at stake, the Dems will slaughter Serbs and Sudanese watchmen, but when US Interests come to the fore, Dems tend to obstruct, object and finally act against the national interest in favor of tin pot tyrants. Is she wrong?

Refute instead of complaining about vague NYT misquotes and points being ignored. Why call people names? Deal with the main point of Treason. I'm six-four, 215, thick brown hair; she'll surely prefer me over a man who insults rather than answers.

Flint Johnson - 8/7/2003

Dr. Reeves as absolutely right about how the system is set up so that it takes persons of conscience in administrative positions to support faculty members who will maintain standards of excellence. My own personal experience has shown me that there are universities out there where administration is more concerned with income than academics.

What I would like to bring up, though, is that business in this country especially wants young energy to do its menial work. They are expected to put in long hours and sacrifice. And if, in the course of their trials to be successful they lose interest, or simply can't continue, there are always others. Business does not concern itself with the individual, and this nation's businesses in particular. It doesn't care if we have a strong philosophy of life, or a depth of personality. That does not show up directly on the profit margin, so it is unimportant. Until business can see how such intangibles effect them, we will get no support for our integrity there. It is our job as teachers to tie the business world with what we are doing to them every day, in a personal way, so that this generation will understand that. And that not only includes math and business writing, but the social sciences and fine arts as well. After all, without them we are little more than autometons.

NYGuy - 8/7/2003


I have published so that is not an issue.

Are you the official censor on HNN, the one who defines who can comment and who can't? You may have noticed that there are thousands of comments on this board but you get upset with what I say. What actually does Ralph say, beyond his cute little injections. And why do you lecture others on HNN, is it summer and there are no classes.

I just follow the thinking of the history profession, "the U. S. is not perfect, it is patriotic to point out its flaws." The same is true of HNN, "the articles on HNN are not perfect and it is patriotic to point out their flaws."

Bill is correct with his criticism of Reeves article. Reeves makes some very good points but if he wants to find fault with the teaching of history he could have used the historians false claims about the Baghdad Museum, the Vietnam Syndrome, the writing of false history by historians, etc. AC is not an historian so why his obession with her and his pulling her name out of the blue.

I am not defending AC. There was a major communist threat in this country during the pre WWII period, it was more than the McCarthy era. But, when I read criticism's of her work it mostly demonization of her. If her book outsells HRC and other historians, then Reeves point has to be that Amerians trust AC more than they do historians, no matter how much they huff and puff.

Derek Catsam - 8/7/2003

NYGuy --
How about this. How about you actually write something. An article. A book. A think piece. Those of us who actually DO get rather annoyed by those of you who sit on the sideline and snipe. We get espacially annoyed at those who sit on the sideline and snipe anonymously. Seriously -- write one little tiny thing beyond a response to an HNN article (someone else actually putting their name out on a limb) or else stay in the gutless anonymity of the NYGuy, Suetonius, Herodotus types who apparently have opinions, but not the actual sack to stand behind them.

Derek Catsam - 8/7/2003

Funny. You asked me for one example of a miscitation from Coulter. I gave one. No actual substantive response from you. Again, funny.
Of course, throughout this exchange i have given examples of Coulter's lies, deceit, misrepresentations, duplicities, and just outright screwups (she's awfully di=umb, or just plain a liar, for such a smart gal) and yet every time you ignore them and ask for more. i find it curious that you keep switching up.
Finally, one isnot simply entitled to an opinion that is factually wrong. Words (traitor) have meaning. When one uses words wrong, they are either idiots, merely ignorant, or duplicitous. Wasn't it you who titled a recant post (I beloieve on another article) "history is not subjectve"? Funny how now you resort to "that is her opinion". So in fact history IS subjective? Hypocrisy, thy name is Heuisler.

Derek Catsam - 8/7/2003

NYGuy --
I wrote the post in question, and I have no idea why your name was affixed to it. I, unlike you, have never cloaked myself in anonymity.
As for logic, well, I guess you have the market cornered, NYGuy.

NYGuy - 8/6/2003


Since NYGuy did not write the following post, it goes to show there are some very sick minds on HNN. I can’t stand those who hide behind anonymous names. Who ever wrote this post should stand up and identify themselves.

Post by a deceitful impostor:

Subject: RE: Cheap shots
Posted By: NYGuy
Date Posted: August 6, 2003, 2:12 PM
Oh brave anonymous one -- what exactly is your argument here? What is a favorite tactic? Ralph simply asserted that "if x then y" -- that's rudimentary logic, even in New York. Pigs cannot fly, as you may know. But we were not talking about pigs, we were talking about something concrete. I realize this is hard for you. If you disagree, then fine -- explain why. But to say that basic logical constructions are illegitimate, and to deride them with sophomoric clichés doesn't really add much, now does it?


Of course if:

“ If people accept the x then y argument” by Ralph, even if it is false, it is no wonder that they have no integrity and would post other false items as the above.

And of course they should find noting wrong with the “If pigs could fly argument”, after all its creditability is equal to Ralph’s assertions, which was described as not necessaryily correct.

Some people use so called logic, even though they do not understand it, just to try to make people thing they are “smart.” It just makes then look dumb when they can’t go to the next step and separate out their illogical conclusions.

Your Friend:

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Ralph E. Luker - 8/6/2003

Bill, I referred to Horowitz, but in a different context. I listed for you a half dozen prominent conservative writers who have repudiated AC's _Treason_, hoping that you would question your own enthusiasm. You needn't take the word of liberal historians for it, but the list of AC's conservative critics is growing and with good reason. She misuses their work for her own broadbrush purposes and lines her own pocket at their expense.

Bill Heuisler - 8/6/2003

Okay, Derek,
Ralph brandished Horowitz...or was it Mr. Dresner? But the generalities continue to fly at Coulter, whether from Radosh or Horowitz - careless, inaccurate generalities. You brag about specifics, but your specifics are various versions of the Liberals/Democrats are Traitors theme. That's an opinion to which she is entitled. For facts you say the NYT did not use the word Cowboy when referring to President Reagan. Wrong. Lexis-Nexis NYT lists pages of NYT references to Reagan as a cowboy. As far as shooting at the drop of a hat you may be correct. Coulter also says US troops crossed the Yalu in Korea. We didn't, but that doesn't change the accuracy of her basic theme that Truman allowed the First Marine Division and Seventh Army Division to advance into a PRC trap because he wouldn't allow MacArthur to bomb Yalu River bridges and annoy Mao.

We agree, treason and bungling are different. Horowitz used the term bungling when referring to Cuba, didn't he? Makes you wonder whether Horowitz thinks Arnold bungled when he tried to sell West Point to the Brits. The theme of the article (and obliquely of Coulter) is what mythic history is being taught. For instance, Kennedy and the Missile Crisis, Kennedy and PT 109, Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs are covered in the media and some textbooks almost worshipfully. Shouldn't that concern us?

Howard N Meyer - 8/6/2003

Rapid reading has its limtatiions and traps.
After finding out more about NAS and seeing its amicus bief in the Michigan cases, I re-read the Reeves piece.
All I should really have endorsed was the title,-- and a few
passages here and there.
I regret my impetuosity (if that is a word)

Howard N Meyer - 8/6/2003

I meant to express dissent and disagreement with the tone and the substance of the first paragraph, which contains animadversions that I regret and with which I disagree strongly.

Howard N Meyer - 8/6/2003

IT IS TIME that some one said what had to be said.

I'll grade this A+ but incomplete; the latter because some specificity is needed: the history of the Fourteenth Amendment is not taught and is needed (see THE AMENDMENT THAT REFUSED TO DIE) to help understand what REAL Affirmative Action was and how it was gutted by the Bakke case;
to understand what the Law of Nations was and should be -- the
international law recogized in the Constitution itself, for which U S peace movements strove, a struggle of which the fruit was The Internaional Court of Justice, described in THE WORLD COURT IN ACTION, by this writer.

NYGuy - 8/6/2003

Oh brave anonymous one -- what exactly is your argument here? What is a favorite tactic? Ralph simply asserted that "if x then y" -- that's rudimentary logic, even in New York. Pigs cannot fly, as you may know. But we were not talking about pigs, we were talking about something concrete. I realize this is hard for you. If you disagree, then fine -- explain why. But to say that basic logical constructions are illegitimate, and to deride them with sophomoric cliches doesn't reallt add much, now does it?

Derek Catsam - 8/6/2003

Taller? How can you be sure sure?
Funny, I do not recall brandishing Horowitz. Not once. Never. Ever. So your arguing with Horowitz by way of arguing with me is fatuous. As for your take on Horowitz, however, they are disagreements of interpretation and not of fact as you make them out to be. There is a huge Kennedy historiography, much of which hammers him rightly on Bay of Pigs, credits him rightly with the Missile Crisis, and, you'll be pleased to know when you see my book, hammers him on Civil Rights. Don't give me this "blood of Americans" crap. Treason and bungling are two different things, and I've heard too many "Blood of Americans" arguments from every side of the political spectrum.
As for whether Hillary's book is about the Senate campaign, it is not. that is irrelevent, as I never claimed that it was -- YOU said she had never been elected to anything. That is what you said. It is factually wrong.
Name one misquote? Gladly. But I know you. I've given half dozen or more blatant misrepresentations, you never deal with them, then you just ask me for more.
Let's see, which to choose? Oh, how's this:
There was one case (p. 179) she claims that the NYT "reminded readers that Reagan was a 'cowboy, ready to shoot at the drop of a hat" after the invasion in Grenada. This is her evidence of NYT nefariousness, and her presentation makes it seem as if these are the NYT's words. And yet a funny thing happened on the way to the misrepresentation booth: The quotation is actually that of a REAGAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL who was quoted as saying that "I suppose our biggest minus from the operation is that there is now a resurgence of the caricature of Ronald Reagan, the cowboy, ready to shoot at the drop of a hat." Hmmm. So the NYT actually allowed the Reagan official to make the exact opposite case of what Coulter says the Times is trying to do. Is she just stupid? Sloppy? Or is she willfully misrepresenting the Times? In any case, odd how this clear and blatant misrepresentation bolsters her arguments. But I am sure it was an honest mistake.
I look forward to hearing you ask me for "just one" more error. I've named several, you've responded to none. By the way -- it was also a misrepresentation to say that the Times had not said X when they in fact wrote several articles directly saying x. That is misrepresentation, misquoting by ommission if you will.

Bill Heuisler - 8/6/2003

My patience with Radosh, Horowitz and you has just about run out.
So Hillary's ghost-book was about her Senate campaign? You listed specific misquotes? Where? Give a misquote. Just one.

As to Horowitz. Let me quote a part of his critique of Treason where he is completely wrong about Kennedy eight times.
"Why is she equivocating about Jack Kennedy, anyway? Kennedy was not only not a traitor, he was not even a weak anti-Communist,(1)as she claims. He was arguably stronger than Eisenhower or Nixon in prosecuting the Cold War(2). His politics were that of Ronald Reagan. He was a militant anti-Communist and a military hawk, authorizing the largest defense buildup in peacetime history. What can she mean when she says that Kennedy was “surrounded by bad policymakers” – i.e., policymakers who were presumably liberals and therefore harmed the country and its national security? Kennedy was surrounded by Republican policymakers. His secretaries of State, Defense and Treasury – the three key foreign policy posts – were all Republicans. He launched his administration by declaring that America would pay any price to defend the cause of freedom. He tried to overthrow Castro by force (3). It’s true that he bungled (4) the invasion but Dwight Eisenhower failed the Hungarians in 1956, while Nixon and Kissinger betrayed the Vietnamese in the infamous truce of 1973. In 1961, Kennedy stood the Russians down in Berlin (5)– risking nuclear war to do so – and a year later he again risked nuclear war to force (6)the removal of Soviet missiles in Cuba. He put 16,000 troops into Vietnam rather than write that country off to the Communists (7). Why is Ann equivocating on the question of his loyalty and commitment to the anti-Communist cause (8)?

Eight misstatements in one graph! Kennedy was a terribly weak President. He betrayed (not bungled) the effort to overthrow Castro, he allowed Nikita to build the wall in Berlin, he traded missiles in Turkey and a no-invade-Cuba promise so Nikita wouldn't put missiles in Cuba and he fed our young men into an Asian War with no effort to win. Traitor? There's a lot of American blood on JFK's hands. Horowitz can't argue the facts, so he slips and slides and misstates. Kennedy failed the Brigade at Jiron, and many dead young men in VN. Truman failed the First Marine Division at Chosin. Were they traitors? Depends who you ask and what your definition is.

Don't brandish Horowitz and Radosh at me. Their opinion of Kennedy is as wrong as their opinion of Coulter. It's nice to see Lefties (and ex-Lefties) get exercised about something; she's hit a lot of targets that badly needed hitting.

And she'd like me cause I'm taller, more distinguished.

NYGuy - 8/5/2003


Er, ah, Bill, if Derek is correct about this,


If pigs could fly, transportation costs would decrease and pork would be cheaper.

Seems this is a favorite tactic on this board.

Ralph E. Luker - 8/5/2003

"... her misuse has almost always been intentional and always in her argument's favor."
Er, ah, Bill, if Derek is correct about this, and I have no reason to doubt his word, I remember a historian who lost his faculty position and had his book withdrawn from circulation for such offenses.
Where are all those patriotic defenders of Americans' constitutional rights who used to lurk on this site and demanded his scalp when we need them? When will Crown Forum withdraw _Treason_ from circulation to protect its reputation and the minds of the innocents?

Derek Catsam - 8/5/2003

Er, Hillary has never been elected to a thing? Um, Hillary is the junior Senator from New York. In the name of Barry Goldwater and John McCain , Batman, surely even in Tucson the United States Senate counts as an elected body?

First off, I've named a number of misquotations. I'll let you argue with the number of historians who claim that they were misquoted. Or I'll refer you to the Front[ roundtablke on Coulter where they show the extent ofd her misrepresentations, or the article. Or maybe when I am not sick of you raining the bar (a while ago it was "name one factiual error." I've named loads. So you shift -- I name a couple of misquotations and you want ten or three -- any is bad if they are intentional. Unless she is stupid, and let's assume she is not, her misuse has almost always been intentional and always in her argument's favor.

National media gave his religion all it required. Coulter said they, especially the Times did not mention it. I pointed out where they did. If you want to write a bad book, I'll go after you. But we are talking about her book. She said the Times did not do X, they demonstrably did. She's wrong, and unless she is even shoddier than I think she is, she did it on purpose. The fact that your defense is better and more nuanced than her argument may speak well of you. But she did not say what you said, and she is a poor writer if she meant what you said.
I did not read it in the library. I read it in the bookstore. And I have read it now once fully and twice substantially. Her critics have all read and written reviews of the book. It is a bad book, and an especially bad work of history. This is not a matter of being calm or not -- please spare me this emotional control, i would guess that I am equally exorcized on the one side as you are on the other, which is to say enough to write about it on hnn, a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10.
As for credentials and bona fides, they do not mean everything, but they mean something. Radosh has quite literally made a career based on his reading of the McCarthby era, but asd important, every conservative historian who has written scholarly books on this issue has put the hammer down on Coulter. So thay are all wrong, critics on the left are all wrong, and yet the conservative punditocracy who haven't actually been in the archives, domne the work, read all of the books, they are right? Please. I take this book seriously because, like movies by Michael Moore or Oliver Stone, its popularity means that I have to spend that much more time correcting the terribly shallow and historically just plain wrong damage that they have done. And if you think Buckley or Bozell are better on McCarthy than Radosh or Fried or Griffin or many of the other leading scholars on this, then you and Coulter deserve one another. But I bet she'd dig me more . . .

Bill Heuisler - 8/5/2003

We're off subject of what rather than who, but a few small observations about your few small observations:
You wrote: "Hillary Clinton is a major public figure and if her book were simply a spewing of idology, I'd be happy to analyze it that way. it is largely a memoir of a public life." Her book?
My use of HC was because the books are concurrent. She has never been elected to a thing, used ghost-writers, never produced a thing worthwhile except a daughter and conveniently left out hugh swathes of embarrassing parts of her public life - Rose Law Firm records, White House Travel Office etc.. Simply marvelous of you to relegate a real writer's worth as less than a woman who can't even write her own memoirs and has rarely cashed a private paycheck in her life. I'll take Coulter any time.

The NYT? Your "1000 word article" on Venona was merely a detail after years of pro-Hiss and pro-Rosenberg front-page articles. Your point about NYT nearly absent coverage of a major Cold-War discovery that other news outlets devoted dozens of pages and even specials on is nearly as petty as the "literally dozens of documented cases from the book of misquoting sources".
Really? Dozens? Name them. Name ten. Name three.

As far as the shooter, national media played down Muhammed's religion, a national TV news show (Couric?) repeatedly called him John. Elitists don't want to stir up the Nativists.

Derek, calm down. My take on your rather heated response is that you consider my original point trivial, you take Coulter much too personally, are entirely too concerned with credentials and bona fides, have only paged through Treason and that your major arguments are canned from other even less knowledgable sources. Your sudden affection for Radosh is an example; his objections are even less particularized than yours - if that's possible.

And your library gig? Treason hasn't arrived at U of A or the public branch. Your librarian must be a fan. Read Buckley and Bozell on McCarthy during your next visit. We'll all know. The shattering of illusions will resound across the nation.
Bill Heuisler

Ralph E. Luker - 8/5/2003

Derek, I have resolved never to respond to NYG, so long as he or she remains anonymous, even when he or she uses my name, quotes my words, or insults my friends. Volokh's got a great post today which spoofs the mentality at work here: if you don't endorse what Coulter says, you too must be a traitor. It's sad to see in NYG someone who actually reasons that way. Gee whiz, with all the other conservatives exposing her viscious book, you'd think that _some people_ on HNN would get it.

Derek Catsam - 8/5/2003

First off, Hillary Clinton is a major public figure and if her book were simply a spewing of idology, I'd be happy to analyze it that way. it is largely a memoir of a public life -- so to compare her book and Coulter's is, to say the least, bizarre, as the two come from different places, and one was actually someone who played and is playing a role in public life, as opposed to making brash and, yes, blatantly ideological statements.
Second, I finds it odd that someone who often raises the spectre of Zinn and Chomsky but who has never "dissected and argued, point by point" their works would tell those of us who have taken issue with very specific points of Coulter's book that we have not done enough. Coulter's is a bad book, it is bad history, and yes, it is a venting of ideology. Generalizations that do not hold when put under scrutiny, especially when those generalizations are at the bunt of her thesis, are the hallmark of bad scholarship, though it may well also be the hallmark of good polemicism. If she says "Democrats have" or "Liberals are" or some similar construction once, she does it five hundred times, and yet if in any of those cases you can come up with one exception, you have ruined her argument. Sio fine, chalk it up to bad writing, or to shallow thought, rather than to bad history or poor analysis. Whichever one makes you feel better about your reflexive defense of her.
In any case, just to take a minute or two to reveal some of the vacuities of her thought and her misrepresentation of the facts in the book:
Coulter claims that the NYT "barely mentioned" the release of the decrypted Soviet cables that were the Venona Project. Really? Other than the 1000 word article on it?
She claimed that one needed a "New York Times decoder ring" to find out that "John Allen Muhammed was a Muslim.The only clue as to the sniper's religion was the Times's repeated insistence that Islam had absolutely nothing to do with the shootings." Really? On the same day that the capture was reported, there were two NYT stories in which Muhammed is descriubed as (get out those decoder rings folks, this one is a puzzler) a Muslim -- two days earl;ier the Times had run an entuire story on the possible role of religion in the murders. Odd. Perhaps the national review decoder ring she was wearing malfunctioned --oh wait, Coulter got fired from the National Review (Must have been the NR's incipient liberalism.
This in addition to literally dozens of documented cases from the book of misquoting sources (and always to the detriment of liberals; funny that.); of citing single articles in different ways to make it look as if she was using more sources than she did; of absurd smearing -- just the act of Carter's accepting the Nobel Prize was an act of treason? Seriously? This is just simply idiotic. Her book is full of ad hominem attacks that blur all democrats as having fallen sway to the Soviet Union and for kowtowing to communists. Meanwhile in the whole book there is one mention of Scoop Jackson. One. In a substantial book putatively about liberalism in the postwar era. She writes "As a rule of thumb, Democrats opposed anything opposed by their cherished Soviet Union." Really? Americans for Democratic Action? Truman? Kennedy? Johnson? All ardent Cold warriors. They cherished the Soviet Union? These three democratic presidents whom the democratis rank and file elected? This is not a matter of her interpratation differing -- it is wrong. It is wrong in the facts and it is wrong in the interpretation -- not different; wrong.And so when many of us criticize her generalizations it is because these generalizations are not simple matters where, well, Bill and I disagree and so be it. No, they are factually and historically vacuous, they are morally repugnant, and they are wrong. Simple as that.
And McCarthy, treasonous? Argue his merits all you want, McCarthy was a WWII hero. Coulter lives in an era where women can enter the service too. I don't think liberal World War II and Korean and Vietnam vets need to prove their patriotic bona fides to Ann Coulter, nor do any of us on the left who resent being labelled as traitors to our country.
And I know, I know, Bill, you are going to say that this book is not about me, but by her bad writing/flawed reasoning her generalizations do encompass me and every other liberal and democrat out there.
I will close off yet again with Ron Radosh, who had this to say -- "I am furious and upset about her book. I am reading it -- she uses my stuff, harvey Klehr and John Haynes, Allen Weinstein, etc. to distort what we actually say and to make ludicrous and historically incorrect arguments." There you have it -- even where she uses the work of others, she misrepresents it. He goes on: "You might recall my lengthy and negative review in the New republic a few years ago of Herman's book on McCarthy; well she is ten times worse than Herman. At least he tried to use bona fide historical methods of research and argument." Wow. She misrepresents what she does use, and she does crappy research and poorly uses methodology. Good person to hitch your wagon to. radosh consluded: "I think it is important that those who are considered critics of left/liberalism don't stop using our critical faculties when self-proclaimed conservatives start producing crap."

Oscar Chamberlain - 8/5/2003

Bill H. is right. There is far too much truth in Reeves essay, particularly the way that different groups involved with higher education can reinforce what is bad. We need to look at that far more carefully.

As a start, let me suggest three hopeful points.

1. Reeves argues that the instructor's conscience can be stifled easily. I'm not sure that's true. Furthermore, it does not take much institutional encourgagement to make that conscience braver. In short, small reforms that encourage rigor can do considerable good.

2. I teach at both a two-year and a four-year campus. At both I have colleagues who work very hard to engage current students at a high level. Sometimes the efforts work; sometimes they don't. But I do not see many people simply content to punch the clock. (Neither campus has a big sports program. Perhaps that helps.)

3. Finally, I think we need to be a little more patient at the wide and weird range of offerings that are out there. This generation of student can be difficult, but as long as we are paid, it's our job to to provide them a quality eduation as best we can.

As a result many of us experiment. Some history courses use film to help students understand how entertainment can shape the perception of the world. A course focused on Martha Stewart (not that I know of one) can introduce students to intellectually valid ways to examine the media in which there lives are engulfed.

Or such courses can be junk: laziness encouraging laziness. The point here is to not assume that they are junk but to judge each one on its own merit.

Derek Catsam - 8/5/2003

NYGuy --
I do read his blog. The problem is that too often you cut and paste without inserting quotation marks or any other markings -- sometimes you point out who is speaking, at other times you do not. It is because I knew the blog stuff that I was especially perplexed. As for my ignorance, NYGuy, this is not about knowledge, which is what ignorance refers to, but rather to coherence, or rather the lack of it. I do not think I need to justify what I know and how well I convey it to you. My record is clear and clean on these matters. Your calling someone ignorant does not make it so, whoever your gutless self may be.

NYGuy - 8/4/2003


It is simple, just read the instruction when all else fails. You may not have noticed that Ralph has his own Blog HNN and you probably did not understand what I was saying since you obviously do not read his blog. If you had you would have know that each item I used came from his own blog and shows his critical analysis of her book.

NYGuy Said:

"Ralph’s blog does not make any serious comments on Ann’s book, but there is a lot of sniping: Nothing new."

Don't blame others for your ignorance.


Derek Catsam - 8/4/2003

NYGuy -- You need to figure out a way to differentiate when you are citing someone else and when your own commentary starts. Your posts are often incomprehensible as it is, but when you insert text from someone else's work or someone else's post and then go right into your own commentary, other than quality of writing it is almost impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends, and thus what you take issue with. I will note that "serious students of history" use their own names.

NYGuy - 8/4/2003


Ralph’s blog does not make any serious comments on Ann’s book, but there is a lot of sniping: Nothing new.

Paradoy of Ann’s work:

Who needs Gilbert and Sullivan (that would be Sir Arthur, not Sir Andrew), when we've got Ann Coulter and the Weekly Standard? Thanks to Oxblog for the tip.

Disappointment in the inevitable:

But speaking of H. R. Clinton's LH, I note with sadness that last week it fell behind Ann Coulter's Treason in sales for the first time this summer.


PANDERING TO THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR (could make you rich) ... 07-28-03

Anne Applebaum explains why the rumor that Ann Coulter has just received a $3,000,000 advance for her next book is discouraging.

But, where are any rational criticisms. Just part of the old communist theory: If you tell a lie enough times, people will believe you. This is the constant drumbeat so no one has to point out any facts.

And of course since he can’t back up his conclusions, he changes the topic and throws out simple questions to you as if communism never existed.

This topic can never be discussed seriously on HNN. Hopefully some of the serious history students will properly review this entire period and not try to sweep it under the rug.

Bill Heuisler - 8/4/2003

Derek and Ralph,
While you both honor me with your disagreements, my dispute with the article was the needless insertion of partisan political commentary in an otherwise incisive essay.

Derek, Ann has as much right to publish her unvarnished opinions as Hillary. Would you like it if I referred to HC as a Left Wing Ideologue, but avoided specifics while discussing her book? Books about Nixon, Reagan or the Bushs shattering Right Wing shibboleths aren't treated as apocrypha, but are dissected and argued, point by point. Is Treason too much trouble?

In any case, you partially agree with me already.
I wrote, McCarthy "...has been proven right about security risks by volumes of evidence." You agreed. Your statement, "They do reveal that Soviet communist inflitration in the US was far more extensive than many on the left would ever hacve conceded."
As to your other generalizations, we disagree. Mr. Radosh also dislikes Coulter's book. You both base your objections on tone and attitude rather than specifics. De gustibus etc.

Ralph, the duty of McCarthy's subcommittee was, as you know, to monitor agencies of the Government for possible security risks after Rosenberg. Many security risks were assessed, questioned and some were later either removed or transferred. Some were merely noted in FBI files. Since my only copy of McCarthy and his Enemies by Buckley is on loan to a friend, you will have to wait for names. One significant specific: Memory comes up with a Presidential laison to the State Department who committed suicide by diving out his office window after a visit from the FBI prompted by McCarthy's Committee. He was a close friend of Edward R. Murrow and has been exposed as a KGB agent by Venona. I remembered his name in a posting on an article by Schwartz.
They say memory is the second thing to go...
Bill Heuisler

Ralph E. Luker - 8/4/2003

How about this for a challenge, Bill? Can you name a single Communist infiltrater who was exposed by Joe McCarthy and whose Communist infiltration of the United States government has been confirmed by the Venona Papers? If you can't, would you agree that it's possible to be scornful of Joe McCarthy and still be a patriot? You're too smart a guy to be taken in by Ann Coulter's treason.

Derek Catsam - 8/4/2003

Bill --
Well, setting aside the fact that Thomas Reeves does not need to prove his credentials to you (he is the "innocent", or he is "ignorant") you once again miss the point. The reexamination of McCarthyism has been done using the document collections you cite by folks such as Radosh (who still overstates some of the claims, but he is prim compared to Coulter's excesses) but Venona and KGB papers still do not do what many people think they do -- appparently what you think they do. They do reveal that Soviet communist inflitration in the US was far more extensive than many on the left would ever hacve conceded. However, McCarthy's tactics are what many of his critics aim their ire at, especially given that the majority of those mCarthy accused (of course he never could get the numbers right) do not appear in any of the aforementioned documents. They are useful. They are not, however, the final word on this issue, and they do not reveal to anywhere near the extent you think they do that McCarthy was right. McCarthy and many, many of his followers subverted the Constitution. One would think you'd find that problematic. I was in a bookstore for a long time this past weekend and I reread much of Coulter and am more convinved by how sloppy and ahistorical her book is. Her generalizations are so frequent and most of them are worthless (I love her claims about "Democrats and their beloved Soviet Union" -- where to start with how wrong that one is) thus when Reeves calls Coulter a Right wing ideologue, he is hitting the nail on the head -- right wing is the modifier for ideologue, and not in and of itself the condemnation, just as calling Chomsky a left wing ideologue is using left wing as a modifier for the word that matters -- ideologue. Coulter is one. She is a very, very bad historian. I just do not see how you can have the auidacity to stand toe to toe with Radosh on this issue and claim that he is wrong -- and every time you validate Coulter, you do directly oppose Radosh. Very bizarre.

Bill Heuisler - 8/4/2003

Professor Reeves,
Great article. But your non sequitor about Coulter's book seemed gratuitously distracting and a departure from your message. Any historian concerned about educational content who dismisses a reexamination of history in light of extensive new knowledge appears confused or rigidly ideological.

You wrote:
"Such innocence is dangerous. It leads otherwise thoughtful people, for example, to accept all sorts of nonsense, such as the recent dismissal of the whole concept of McCarthyism by right-wing ideologue Ann Coulter in her book Treason."

Nonsense? You are the innocent. Since the Fifties, McCarthyism has evolved into accusation. The term has come to mean the libel and slander of innocents. Enter validation: The Venona Papers.
Now through the decoded words of KGB officers and Soviet Agents your "concept of McCarthyism" has become dated and ignorant. True historians should rush to renounce rote condemnation of a man who has been proven right about security risks by volumes of evidence. And calling Coulter a right wing ideologue is also needlessly pejorative. Are Conservatives not allowed opinions? Why allow cheap shots to taint a well-conceptualized thesis?
Bill Heuisler