Jim Loewen

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

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  • Victimized by Folklore

    by James W Loewen

    Claiming the status of victim has become an effective way to solicit attention on behalf of justice and social change in the United States.  Women claim to be victimized by male violence.  African Americans claim to be victimized by racism.  Gays play the Matthew Shepard card to gain sympathy and a hearing.  On October 13, 2011, residents of Martinsville, Indiana, put a new twist on the victim role, claiming to have been "Victimized by Folklore."  

    The occasion was the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society, hosted by Indiana University in Bloomington.  Joanne Stuttgen, long-time resident and president of the local historic preservation society, moderated a session with the above title.  Other Martinsville residents spoke as well.  Their point was:  Martinsville has not been a racist community; that charge amounts to nothing but folklore, by which they meant falsehood. 

  • Going Postal History

    by James W Loewen

    Just now, your local post office—easier to find than it will be next year, when the Postal Service plans to close as many as 3,600—features a stamp of Owney, a dog.  He appeared in the Albany, NY, post office in 1888, where "clerks took a liking to him," according to the history that the USPS supplies on the back of each sheet of Owney stamps. 

  • Rick Perry's "Niggerhead" Camp Is Only Part of the Problem

    by James W Loewen

    On Sunday, October 2, a front page story in the Washington Post told of Gov. Rick Perry's hunting camp, a place known as "Niggerhead."  For many years a large flat rock stood upright at its gates, announcing the name in painted letters.  That rock is still at the entrance, now lying on its back, parts of the name still visible, painted over ineffectually. 

    The camp has been important to Perry's political career.  Perry often hosted friends and supporters and fellow legislators there for turkey shoots and other outings.  Now Perry implies that he first saw the rock with its offensive name only in 1983 and immediately got his parents to paint over the letters.  As Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen delicately phrases it, Perry's version

    differs in many respects from the recollections of seven people ... who spoke in detail of ... seeing the rock with the name at various points during the years that Perry was associated with the property.

  • "New Beginnings" at the AASLH

    by James W Loewen

    The AASLH (American Association for State and Local History) just concluded its annual meeting, held in Richmond, VA.  Signs of "new beginnings" in local history—a phrase used in the conference title, abounded, both at AASLH and in Richmond.  Just in time, too! 

  • Taking 9/11/2001 Seriously on 9/11/2011

    by James W Loewen

    Living in Washington, D.C., I attended three civic remembrances on September 11, 2011.  The first was held at "Freedom Plaza," a triangular paved space on Pennsylvania Avenue midway between the Capitol and the White House.  The premiere D.C. remembrance event, it featured the mayor, D.C.'s non-voting "congresswoman" Eleanor Holmes Norton, and other officials.  The second took place in the Kogod Courtyard, the beautiful indoor/outdoor space that connects the National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of American Art.  It featured a "Burden Boat," built by Kurt Steger. 

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