National Association of Scholars
Originally published 07/18/2013
Peter Wood is the president of the National Association of Scholars.The Associated Press broke a story on July 16 that Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University, wrote e-mails while the governor of Indiana attacking the use of Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, as “a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.”My first response: good for Mr. Daniels. His comment, made on February 9, 2010—according to the date stamp on his e-mail—shows that he has a pretty clear grasp of both American history and Mr. Zinn’s book.But the Associated Press wasn’t interested in Daniels’s intellectual acumen. Its story was headlined, “Mitch Daniels Looked to Censor Opponents,” and it was based on a Freedom of Information Act request. If the four brief e-mails he sent to political allies over the course of 51 minutes in February 2010 are all the AP came up with, or an additional e-mail sent on April 11, 2009, we can best conclude that the governor was a busy man with little patience for academic bunkum....
Originally published 03/26/2013
William Murchison is a nationally syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on politics, religion, and society.We know, axiomatically, how it is with victors in one cause and another—they claim the spoils and write the history; in the latter case, untangling heroism from villainy, assigning significance to the outcomes, defining challenges still to come.Why wonder (to the extent anyone does these days) that from many a seat in the modern classroom, America seems strikingly different from the star-spangled nation generally on view during—oh, I don’t know, the early ‘60s might do as point of departure. That was the era in which I occupied my own seat in the history classrooms of the University of Texas (currently called, due to system expansion, the University of Texas-Austin).A few years after my graduation, with a history B.A., followed by study at Stanford for the history Master of Arts, came the tempests and upheavals of the Vietnam war-counterculture era, whose victors were… guess who?
Originally published 01/29/2013
James Grossman is executive director of the American Historical Association. Elaine Carey is vice president for the Teaching Division of the association and chair of the history department at St. John's University, in New York.Historians welcome informed debate. It is precisely what attracted many of us to the discipline in the first place. Thus our initial reaction to a recent report by the National Association of Scholars, "Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?," was to engage the ideas, explore the research model, and open a conversation about different ways of understanding history. This report, however, does not contribute to informed debate.
Originally published 01/29/2013
Richard Pells is professor of history emeritus at the University of Texas. He is the author of four books on modern American culture, most recently Modernist America: Art, Music, Movies, and the Globalization of American Culture (Yale University Press, 2011).The National Association of Scholars recently released a report excoriating the teaching of American history at the University of Texas at Austin and, to a lesser extent, at Texas A&M University at College Station.The report argues that there is an almost monomaniacal preoccupation in American-history courses withon the issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Meanwhile, it argues, not enough attention is being paid to the history of American politics, economics, and culture, and the military.The report has caused considerable fury among University of Texas historians,and it has apparently incensed American historians at other universities as well. Its critics have accused the association's writers of being conservative assailants who don't know what they're talking about.It's true that the NAS is a conservative organization. Yet being conservative does not by itself make an organization uninformed or invalidate its report....
Originally published 01/14/2013
American flags on the National Mall. Credit: Wiki Commons.Here’s an interesting question for historians: Why do ideologues never seem to be aware of their own ideology?Such is the case with the recent report from the Texas Association of Scholars and the National Association of Scholars’ Center for the Study of the Curriculum, “Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?”The groups’ answer to the title’s question is “yes,” which is hardly surprising given the NAS’s longstanding critique of scholars who raise questions about the mythology of American greatness.
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