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Jim Loewen

Sociologist James W. Loewen is the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me.

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  • Let Our Seniors Go

    by James W Loewen

    Our prisons bulge with too many old people, mostly black, put there with too long prison terms, for violent crimes like murder and rape.

  • The CIA Has a Museum?

    by James W Loewen

    The CIA never tells about it, but one of their own confirmed it. It's a mystery worthy of the agency.

  • Scalping Columbus

    by James W Loewen

    "Some of my stories are total fabrications disguised as the truth."--Fortunate Eagle

  • Revising the SAT To Make It Even Worse

    by James W Loewen

    Happily, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) - the folks who bring us the SAT - have heard the increasing protests against their product. But ...

  • George Zimmerman, Harmony Stair, and the Elephant in the Room


    Credit: Wiki Commons.

    After the Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter for killing Trayvon Martin, everyone had an opinion about the verdict. Many people sought my opinion, including a major radio station in Jamaica and Al Jazeera. I knew that my own knowledge about the killing was no more than that of most of my listeners or readers. Hence I could not add to their knowledge base. I could only give them my opinion about the matter. So it would be about me and my opinion. What's the point of that?

    I had expected the jury to find Zimmerman guilty of involuntary manslaughter. In my mind, I had compared his action to the fairly notorious 2011 case of Harmony Stair, a 33-year-old woman from Blacksburg, Virginia who was 7½ months pregnant. Stair had been making jello shots for a party and sampled her product. (Jello shots are small servings of jello made with vodka or grain alcohol.) She then drove drunk, causing a crash that fatally injured her fetus. Like Zimmerman, she was charged with manslaughter for his (her child's) death. Unlike Zimmerman, she was not charged with second-degree murder.


  • Wabash Cannonball

    by James W Loewen

    "Wabash Cannonball" is a light-hearted yet serious country-music song. It celebrates a train that went past my house at the southern edge of Decatur, Illinois, throughout my childhood. Maybe for that reason, my father bought Roy Acuff’s recording of it shortly after Columbia’s invention of the “LP” (long-playing record). I’ve heard this song since about 1950. I sang it myself – in public – in 2009. Now, I cannot get it out of my head.

    Remembering Mark Twain’s famous short story "Punch, Brothers, Punch!", about the man who could not get a catchy jingle out of his head until he infected another person with it, in desperation, I turn to you. In the process of my passing the "Wabash Cannonball" on to you, we might enjoy a little railroad history together, perhaps a sort of baseball story, and even a bit of economic history from the 1890s.

    Like several other railroads, the Wabash connected Chicago to St. Louis. It also went to Detroit and Kansas City. Perhaps its #2 claim to fame (after the song) was that its freight trains went fast, often averaging 55 and even 60 MPH. On many other railroads, then and now, freight trains trundle(d) along at 40 or even 20 MPH.


  • The Nature (or is it Nurture) of Color

    Years ago, when I was teaching sociology at the University of Vermont, a colleague introduced me to a classroom exercise that he found useful for showing students gender differences. Eventually I wrote it up and Teaching Sociology published it.

    The exercise had two parts. The first, labeled "Colors," listed eight colors -- not the easy ones like red, white, and blue, but puce, taupe, teal, mauve, magenta, chartreuse, ochre, and sienna. Students were to match each with one of ten definitions, such as "brilliant yellow" or "brownish gray."

    The second half listed eight "Football terms": safety, screen, curl, trap, touchback, lateral, touchdown, and clip. Again we supplied ten definitions, such as "to block out a defensive player from the side after he has crossed the line of scrimmage."


  • New Opposition to Old Sports Mascots

    by James W Loewen

    On February 7, 2013, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) hosted a day-long seminar, "Racist Stereotypes in American Sports." The handout they used to promote the show paired two graphic images:  a stereotypical black doll on a base saying "Not. Cool." paired with the stereotypical Cleveland Indian mascot on a base saying "Go Tribe!" It made a stunning impact. So did the symposium, getting considerable attention from the Washington Post, including the entire front page of its free "Express" edition the next morning.


  • At War With Art

    by James W Loewen

    “The Civil War and American Art,” the current exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. After it closes in late April, the show will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for most of the rest of 2013. To complement the show, the Smithsonian has published, in conjunction with Yale University Press, a beautiful companion volume that includes many images not on display in the galleries and several chapters of commentary. The exhibit and book are an occasion not only to showcase some fascinating art, but also to clear up the misconceptions that many Americans still hold about the period. Unfortunately, both squander that opportunity.

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