Blogs > Cliopatria > Things Noted Here and There

May 21, 2007 6:17 am

Things Noted Here and There

Many thanks to Manan Ahmed and Rob MacDougall for posting in my absence from Cliopatria. The Lawcha conference was an interesting experience. David Montgomery seemed to think that we'd find ourselves on the same side of the barricades, when the issue was not speech codes. Sally Deutsch, who is one of"the Duke 88", seemed to think that I should know better than to be found blogging with KC Johnson. She bristled noticeably when I said that, after all, he'd turned out to be correct about the lacrosse case."You mean about the charges being dropped? she asked. I started to say:"No. Read my lips: ‘There was no rape.'" But the hairs were already standing up from the back of her neck up over to her eyebrows and her eyes were flashing. It's a good thing that KC and I are not looking for a job at Duke. Professor Deutsch has just moved from chairing Duke's history department to dean of the college of arts and sciences.

On the plus side, the conference was a good opportunity to meet elle of elle, phd and Tim Lacy of History and Education and U.S. Intellectual History. Tim was on a panel of young American historians who are working on projects that may do for the United States what Jonathan Rose's brilliant The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes did for Great Britain.

Revisiting Duke after 45 years was also a wonderful opportunity to revisit old friends and old haunts. At 88, one of my favorite teachers, I. B. Holley, is still actively teaching and publishing. He took me to the Faculty Club for lunch, which will be my only opportunity, if Sally Deutsch has anything to do with it. The courthouse, where I was jailed, doesn't yet have a plaque to take note of that historical event, but, 45 years later, the building on 9th Street in which I lived above a bookstore that was firebombed, shot into, and had a brick hurled through its plate glass window, seemed none-the-worse for its history. In fact, Duke's wealth has recreated 9th Street's seedy self as upscale and trendy.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Justin Pope,"Higher Education Sees Rise in Dishonesty," AP, 19 May, cites recent scandals to justify a claim of increased cheating in higher ed. So far as historians are concerned, I think we've seen nothing to match the scandals of 2001-03.

In"Enrollments and Requirements" and"Ways to Require History", Tim Burke hosts a discussion of history requirements in a liberal arts education.

Rob has already cited it, but the discussion between David Bell and Eric Rauchway about military history and counterfactuals continues at Open University. See: Bell,"Military and Counterfactual History"; Rauchway,"For Want of a Nail"; and Bell,"Counterfactuals and Social Science". Thanks also to Dale Light.

Finally, farewell to UCLA's distinguished historian, Eugen Weber. In addition to a long list of important publications in modern European and, especially, French history, Professor Weber had chaired the history department and served as dean of social sciences and dean of the college at UCLA. Earlier this month, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died on Thursday evening. Thanks to Chris Bray for the notice.

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Ralph E. Luker - 5/24/2007

There was nothing unprofessional or discourteous in anything that she said or did in my conversation with her. I do think that, like other members of the group of 88, she wants to read their original statement in a way that exempts them from the charge of assuming the guilt of the three lacrosse players. I don't particularly blame her for that. I hate to admit my own early assumption of their guilt. I just don't think that she's adequately confronted their innocense of the stated charges. That's all. If I'd been under near daily siege from KC for about a year, I think that I'd bridle at the mention of his name, as well.

David Lion Salmanson - 5/24/2007

Ralph, the only evidence you've provided on Sally is your reading of social cues (bristling hair, eyes firing). You are always spoiling for a fight - it's one of the things I llike about you - and I can easily see you reading more into it then was there. In my own experiences with Sally, I have always found Sally to be professional, courteous, and open to new interpretations. Her first book, "No Separate Refuge" is one of the best books out there on the history of New Mexico. In that book, she devoted a whole chapter to the federal government's actions during the Great Depression and paid a good deal of attention to how those actions played out locally. Incidentally, the sub-title of No Separate Refuge which explicitly mentions race class and gender was written by the publisher, not Sally.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/23/2007

The only point at which I might disagree with KC here is that I don't think that party registration is much of a measure of intellectual diversity. Intellectual diversity would have to take into account differences of fields of study, assumptions and methodologies, academic backgrounds and influences, etc. A department can satisfy measures of race/class/gender diversity and yet be intellectually rather monolithic; and a department can be intellectually diverse and, yet, appear to be monolithic in terms of race/class/gender -- and, even, party registration.

Robert KC Johnson - 5/23/2007

I suspect Deutsch wouldn't be too pleased with me even if I had confined my criticism to Nifong; and I rather doubt Deutsch or most of the Group members would look kindly on any applicant who didn't accept their race/class/gender worldview. That she, even now, can't concede that a rape didn't occur is striking.

I agree with Ralph, however: the Group didn't like my criticism of them, and it's inconceivable Group members (or their supporters) would ever look kindly on an application from me. Since I'm not planning on applying to Duke, that's not a concern for me. But I certainly would have approached this case differently had I not been tenured and a full professor, with little desire to go to another school. I have no more promotions or applications for other jobs, so ideological allies of the Group outside of Duke can do little to me professionally.

On the DCU study: my criticism has focused more on the rationalizations of the figures offered by the then-chairmen of the History and Philosophy Depts. than the figures themselves. That the figures were so overwhelmingly one-sided, however, might have provided a hint that Duke's humanities and social sciences faculty was not a particularly diverse one intellectually.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/22/2007

Well, sure. In other contexts, KC has cited a study by the Duke student conservatives that found, as I recall, that Duke's history department included 32 Democrats, 3 resident aliens, and 0 Republicans. If I'm not mistaken, he reads that as prima facie evidence of a filtering for correct political opinions. There are other ways of reading it -- that is, Republican and administration policies in recent years have been such that it's difficult for someone like me to continue to insist that I'm the _real_ Republican and GWB, et al, are fraudulent ones because their policies are such that very few self-respecting academics could be a Republican.

Christopher Newman - 5/22/2007

Thanks for your answer, Ralph. It makes good sense.

I wonder about Deutsch's willingness to judge you guilty by association, though. I wonder, too, about how much Deutsch's animus against KC Johnson is personal and how much is ideological. Would Deutsch behave differently, do you think, if KC had confined his criticism of the Duke case to Nifong and left the 88 alone? But I suppose it's impossible to answer that question.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/22/2007

Good question, Christopher. Let me put it this way: for nearly a year, KC has put the Duke 88 under siege about a statement they published in the Duke Chronicle in April (as I recall) 2006. Some of KC's readers have put the Duke 88's email addresses in comments at Durham-in-Wonderland and I have no doubt but that those 88 faculty members have received abusive e-mail from some of KC's readers. Some of them have publicly demanded that trustees at Duke ignore tenure and arbitrarily fire the 88 faculty members. It's not going to happen, of course. And neither KC nor I think it should. Nonetheless, neither KC nor I are naive enough to think that members of the Duke 88 would be anxious to or even willing to hire historians who have been critical of them about a matter that's been difficult for everyone close to it for over a year. I wouldn't put that in terms of an ideological litmus test -- but simply what one can expect of people of whom you've been critical. I don't expect David Horowitz, Paul Buhle, Christine Heyrman, Michael Bellesiles, or anyone else I've criticized publicly to hire me -- why would they? I have ideological differences with _some_ of them, but it isn't really ideology that I suspect makes me an unattractive hire for them. I've named them publicly and criticized them by name. I'm not even sure that I'm so unselfinterested as to see one of my critics as _the_ obvious choice for a position I'm charged with filling.

Christopher Newman - 5/22/2007

I don't want to get in the middle of the dust-up here, but Ralph, may I respectfully request that you elaborate/clarify your position regarding Sally Deutsch? I mean to inquire, not about your reaction to her particular brand of feminism, but about your suggestion that Deutsch herself would blacklist scholars like KC Johnson and others who agree with him about the Duke rape case. Is that what you meant to suggest or was it humorous hyperbole?

P.S. I understand that to believe Deutsch herself has ideological litmus tests for prospective faculty members does not necessarily entail a belief that Deutsch is representative of academia as a whole. In other words, I carry no brief for Horowitz or anyone else here, I'm just curious as to whether you really got that impression from Deutsch.

Nonpartisan - 5/22/2007

Jonathan is correct -- I was summarizing Grant's position, not agreeing with it. The fancy dancin' is his, not yours.

Jonathan Dresner - 5/22/2007

I think Nonpartisan was summarizing Mr. Jones, not agreeing with him...

Ralph E. Luker - 5/22/2007

Lessee ... you can agree with Grant Jones all you want to. It just puts you in the same camp with David Horowitz and other scud. My disagreement with Sally Deutsch isn't disagreement with her "feminism." If you think it is, it only means that you've bought Grant Jones's interpretation of things. My problem with Sally Deutsch and others (male and female, white and black) is that they've yet to come to grips with the fact that the rape charge was a fraud from the beginning. As Deutsch pointed out in our conversation, feminism is no one thing. If I have a problem with hers, it's that it's blinkered -- unwilling to confront injustice, whether the victim is male or female, black or white -- and the blind spots make the 88 complicit in injustice.

Nonpartisan - 5/22/2007

Lessee...disagreeing with a feminist historian = good. Disagreeing with you = bad.

I don't care how you cut it, that's some fancy dancin' you're doing there.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/21/2007

Oh, it's censorship, whether it's your blog or not.

Grant W Jones - 5/21/2007

"If you have anything of substance to provide..." Didn't think so.

P.S. It's my blog, so it's not "censorship."

Ralph E. Luker - 5/21/2007

To be clear with all of Cliopatria's readers, your censorship deleted my comment: "This is crap." That response is worthy of what you posted. You didn't intend reasonable discussion and if you start there, you won't get it from me.

Grant W Jones - 5/21/2007

Ralph, I have deleted your three word comment from my blog since one of those words contained four letters in an offensive combination. If you have anything of substance to provide, I'll be happy to leave it up.