History News Network - Front Page History News Network - Front Page articles brought to you by History News Network. Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 Zend_Feed_Writer 2 (http://framework.zend.com) https://www.historynewsnetwork.org/site/feed How We Told the Ongoing Story of Title IX

Poster courtesy New-York Historical Society

 

What do you know about Title IX? The average person might say something about girls and sports or sexual harassment on college campuses. Depending on their politics, perhaps they might describe it as legislation that once served a purpose, but is no longer needed. Yet, as the New-York Historical Society’s new exhibition, Title IX: Activism On and Off the Field—on view at the New-York Historical Society's Center for Women's History through September 4, 2022— reveals, this couldn’t be further from the case. In the 50 years since its passage, Title IX has played a hand in ushering women into higher levels of education and professional careers, opening doors to new areas of employment from corporate offices to athletic arenas, and remaking school curricula and classroom materials to discard outdated gender stereotypes. These societal shifts relied on this 37-word piece of legislation and on the crucial role of activists who understood the impact that expanding educational access could have for women.

 

Enacted in June 1972, Title IX was the first federal education legislation to specifically address gender when it prohibited sex discrimination in education. Activists lobbied for the original legislation, pushed for clear regulations and enforcement, and protested efforts that would have weakened the law's scope. Revisiting the law's history clarifies Title IX's aims and highlights the fact that although society has changed in many ways, more work remains to ensure that all students have access to an education free of sex discrimination.

The impact of activism can be obscured in hindsight, giving a sense of inevitability to cultural changes. Our exhibition digs into the history of activism and social transformation brought about by Title IX. As lead curator, I worked with a larger curatorial team—Mellon Foundation postdoctoral fellows Allison Robinson and Anna Danziger Halperin and Mellon Foundation predoctoral fellows Keren Ben-Horin and Karintha Lowe. Together, we created an exhibition that places activist work within the enduring throughlines of Title IX. The commitment to ensuring access to education free of sex discrimination, long-standing disputes around sports and sexual harassment, and changing definitions of sex discrimination have always been part of the history of Title IX. Contrary to popular understanding, this legislation has never been static: Both the definition of sex discrimination under Title IX and the law's protections have changed as society has changed.

 

Title IX was passed during a period of feminist legislative activity, when women's rights activists within and outside the federal government sought to institutionalize the groundswell that had spread across the country since the late 1960s. Educational access was a huge priority for feminist activists who saw the professional opportunities that access to higher education could provide to women. Many of Title IX's earliest advocates, including key activist Bernice "Bunny" Sandler, had personal experiences of sex discrimination in education.

 

Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the law itself made up a small portion of the Education Acts of 1972. Not until after its passage did battles arise over the legislation's scope and its application to athletics. A cohort of young women in Washington, D.C., with experience working for federal agencies defended the new legislation. Using their professional experience, connections, and dedication to opening doors for women, they partnered with sympathetic members of Congress to defeat amendments intended to weaken the new law. The newly formed National Coalition for Girls and Women in Education joined more established groups like the League of Women Voters and received funding from the Ford Foundation to lobby in the nation's Capitol while educating women nationwide on how to combat sex discrimination in their local schools and communities.

 

"Our Helpers" Milton Bradley Company, 1974. Image New-York Historical Society

 

Title IX banned sex discrimination in education, yet left a larger question unanswered: What counts as sex discrimination? Federal regulations provided some initial answers, but when some government and educational institutions attempted to weaken or ignore Title IX, students used the legal system to clarify and enforce it. The exhibition examines key questions and court cases, and recounts the experiences of plaintiffs, many of whom initially knew little about Title IX and educated themselves when faced with instances of sex discrimination.

 

 

Sports remain a perennial battleground in the Title IX story in part because they make inequality visible in a relatable way. Women student–athletes enthusiastically joined intercollegiate teams and engaged in physical competition—some for the first time. But they found that the men's teams enjoyed better practice times, newer equipment, and more financial support. Despite claims about the value of athletic competition and expressions of support for female athletes, female athletics often receive less institutional support and girls who compete face scrutiny about their femininity and sexuality.

 

Collection of Caleb LoSchiavo, courtesy NYHS

 

Society's growing understanding of gender as a spectrum versus a binary has also changed the definition of sex discrimination and revealed the sometimes tenuous nature of Title IX protections. In the 1970s, Title IX offered an opportunity to free boys and girls from sex stereotypes reinforced in classrooms by giving access to previously sex-segregated courses and pushing back against sexist classroom materials. Present-day efforts in the classroom involve welcoming the broad spectrum of gender identity. In 2016, an Obama administration “Dear Colleague” letter defined limiting transgender students’ access to a restroom, locker room, or sports team as sex discrimination under Title IX. The Trump administration rescinded this letter, reflecting its narrower definition of sex discrimination. Sports remain sex-segregated under Title IX, leaving trans and non-binary students wondering where they can play.

 

Curating an exhibition about a modern piece of legislation, particularly one seen as a political flashpoint, requires consideration of one's own perspective. What elements of the historical record does one include? What voices are prioritized? We drew extensively on New-York Historical's Women's Sports Foundation and Billie Jean King collections to illustrate the rise of women's professional athletics and the efforts put in place to support female student-athletes. Well-known repositories like the Schlesinger Library and the Library of Congress supplied contemporary images from the collections of some of the women related to this story. Yet some of our richest sources were the individuals we interviewed about their personal experiences with sex discrimination in education and their hand in shaping Title IX.

 

 

Finding objects for exhibitions often involves reading primary and secondary materials with an eye for the physical object. If a text mentions a certain poster or T-shirt related to an event or group, we ask: Does this still exist, and where is it? Some items show up on a quick eBay search. Other times, detective work is needed. When a plaintiff from Alexander v. Yale (1980), the first Title IX lawsuit to argue that sexual harassment was sex discrimination, told me about T-shirts made to fundraise for the suit, I tracked down the designer. She relayed the story of its origins but no longer had a physical shirt. She referred me to a Yale alumna who also no longer had a T-shirt.  But her friend did and was willing to lend it. These items heighten the emotional resonance of the exhibition by illustrating the personal stakes and impact of this legislation.

 

We conducted almost 60 interviews with scholars, activists, and people impacted by Title IX. We combined these narratives with the larger historical context of the legislation and the era. Our interviewees used Title IX not only to benefit themselves, but to aid those who came after them, from 1970s activists who saw themselves setting the building blocks for social change to activists in the 2010s who established organizations such as Know Your IX and End Rape on Campus.

 

Many interviewees viewed Title IX as an imperfect tool, at times insufficient to address the intersections of sex discrimination and race or sexual orientation. Others objected to newer policies for sexual assault hearings on college campuses that make them more like criminal trials. Yet no one believed that in 2022 Title IX is no longer needed.

 

Presidential administrations have differed in their commitment to the ideals of Title IX and its enforcement. Women's increased visibility in professional athletics has inspired generations of children, yet that visibility can also disguise the inequities that persist within sports. Institutions struggle to ensure the rights of all students on campus and to navigate the  political challenges of reallocating funds to address historic inequities.

 

Yet if we focus on the fundamental promise of Title IX— ensuring that sex discrimination does not impede a student's access to education—some of the noise falls away. Schools may face painful decisions, angry alumni, and political backlash. But it is hard to deny the value of an education, the damage done when a student cannot access their education, and the inspiring work of activists determined to be treated fairly. Fifty years out, we can look back and say with certainty that the U.S. landscape on gender equity would look very different today without Title IX. And the legislation continues to play an important role in shaping the future.

 

 

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183202 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183202 0
Excerpt: Inside the Gwangju Uprising, a Key Moment for South Korean Democracy

 

 

Editor's Note: In May, 1980, a protest movement of students and blue-collar workers was violently suppressed by the South Korean martial law government of General Chun Doo-hwan, which arrested, tortured or killed thousands of participants. Survivors worked to preserve and compile a record of their experiences, frequently in secret as activists remained subject to surveillance. The publication and distribution of the texts as contraband was a key driver of the 1987 "June Struggle" democracy movement.

 

Sporadic and Passive Resistance (Sunday, May 18: Day 1 of the Uprising)

The fuse

The morning of May 18 began with a chill that quickly gave way to warmth. It was a clear spring day; the mood in the city, however, was bleak. Every street and avenue brimmed with silence and tension. Older plainclothes policemen temporarily transferred to Gwangju from police stations and precincts in other communities in the province stood guard in pairs at key locations. Distraught locals came out into the side streets and exchanged news under their breaths. The torchlight demonstrations that lit up the city only two nights earlier were still clear in their minds, and the absence of the flames was keenly felt. People gathered in small groups in the downtown area and the main street of Geumnam-ro, sharing rumors. Even passersby stopped to listen. Citizens clashed with stationed police officers on occasion, but there was no sign of unusual activity.

At 7:00 a.m., students attempting to enter Chonnam National University to access the library were beaten by the paratroopers at the main gates. They had been completely oblivious to the political changes sweeping the nation—and the expansion of martial law—and had only focused on studying for employment or civil service examinations. Half a dozen or so injured students were taken to the Noh Jun-chae Clinic for treatment. As time passed, more and more students crowded the main gates. Some had gathered to use the library or meet for group excursions, while others had come for sports. Yet others had come out because of the pact to gather at the main gates at 10:00 a.m. if the school was ordered to close. The students circled the gates, which were defended by the paratroopers, and refused to depart. They had no idea that those who had stayed on campus overnight had been taken into custody.

Lee Gwang-ho (age 21), a third-year student at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Chonnam, had learned of the expansion of martial law and headed to school early to put away documents detailing the student council’s activities. He arrived at 8:00 a.m. and encountered Student Council President Park Gwan-hyun and his small party walking out from the vicinity of the College of Agriculture. They exchanged glances warning one another to be careful.

At that time, eleven soldiers from the 7th Company of the 9th Field Battalion of the 33rd Battalion of the 7th Brigade stood guard at the gates to Chonnam University. However, as the number of congregating students increased, Lieutenant Colonel Kwon Seung-man—commander of the 33rd—deployed an additional thirty soldiers to the gates. Kwon was anxious to resolve the situation quickly because Brigadier General Shin Woo-sik, commander of the 7th Brigade, was scheduled to visit at 11:00 A.M.

Lee Gwang-ho noted that by 9:00 a.m., the number of students had risen to about 50. They put themselves into a formation and attempted to break through the barricade at the gates with cries of “End martial law now!” However, their attempts were unsuccessful, and they were forced to simply circle the gates from the outside. By 10:00 a.m., their numbers had grown to over 100, and the crowd of onlookers also increased in number. An officer picked up a megaphone to demand that students disperse. In response, the students assembled by the bridge in front of the gates for a sit-down demonstration. Their numbers soon rose to over 200. The demonstrators shouted rallying cries of “End martial law now,” “Down with Chun Doo-hwan,” “Down with martial law troops,” and “Open schools again.”

Lieutenant Colonel Kwon, the highest-ranked officer of the special forces troops stationed at Chonnam, sensed that something was amiss and personally stepped forward. He warned demonstrators, “Disperse immediately, or you will be disbanded by force.” The students simply chanted more loudly.

In response, Kwon roared, “Charge!”

Paratroopers rushed into the crowds with menacing yells, clubbing students indiscriminately; unlike the police, they showed no restraint. Soon many bleeding students fell to the ground. The students wererattled by the violence, fleeing into alleyways to regroup and fighting back by throwing rocks. The 7th rushed the students again without hesitation. They chased down one of the demonstrators, clubbing them in the head until they were unconscious, and dragged them away. The skirmish went on for about thirty minutes, but unarmed university students ultimately stood no chance of defeating special forces who were trained in riot suppression and guerrilla warfare.

At around 10:30 a.m., Kim Han-jung (age 20) cried, “We should relocate to Province Hall instead of staying here to fight a battle we can’t win.” The students accepted the proposal and headed downtown. Fellow Chonnam students Park Monggu (age 25), Lee Don-gyu (age 22), Cheon Yeong-jin (age 20), and Cho Gil- yeong (age 22) and Chosun students Park Chae-yeong (age 21) and Na Jeong-sik (age 21) were also at the scene.

Paratroopers were engaged in violence at the rear gates of Chonnam as well. However, the situation was completely different. Students did not congregate at the rear gates, but the soldiers stationed there indiscriminately attacked postsecondary-aged passersby and took them into custody for no reason. Paratroopers even charged into buses that had stopped to let off passengers, dragging off young people and beating them.

At 10:00 a.m., Beom Jin-yeom (male, 21)—who was on the cusp of starting his mandated military service—was on his way to pick up pesticides on an errand for his father, when the bus he was on stopped briefly at the rear gates of Chonnam University. The doors opened, and soldiers poured inside and started beating passengers around his age. About twenty of them were taken away to Chonnam University for no reason. A female student who was unable to walk because of a leg injury was dragged off bodily. Jang Cheon-su (male, 24), who was in the furniture business, disembarked from the bus at Chonnam’s rear gates for personal business around 10:30 a.m. and was immediately taken to the guardhouse by two soldiers who kicked and clubbed him. Arms locked and helpless to defend himself, Jang sustained heavy injuries to his head and back without so much as an explanation. During the investigation by the Prosecutors’ Office, Lieutenant Colonel Kwon admitted that the 7th had used excessive force at the very beginning of the Gwangju situation:

Captain Ko, commander of the 7th Field Battalion, which was stationed at the rear gates of Chonnam University, said that “There was jeering from the bus, so the sentries dragged out several people, struck them several times, and had them kneel while the field commander re-educated them before sending them away.” Because of the nature of the re-education process, they would have struck those people several times.

Resistance in the Downtown Core

As the 7th Airborne Special Forces Brigade hunted down small groups of students putting up resistance at the main gates of Chonnam University, one of the students proposed heading downtown to inform people that martial law troops had taken control of the campus. With raised voices, students called to regroup at Gwangju Station. They scattered and made the one-kilometer journey to the plaza outside Gwangju Station in groups of twos and threes. With the plaza outside the South Jeolla Province Hall as their destination, the students ran from the station to the Intercity Bus Terminal to the Catholic Center on Geumnam-ro Street with cries of “End martial law now,” “Release Kim Dae-jung,” “Open schools again,” “Down with Chun Doo- hwan,” and “Down with martial law troops.” The majority of citizens at the time had no idea that Kim had been taken into custody. It took only two sentences for them to learn that their hopes for democratization had been cruelly dashed by the remnants of the Yusin regime and the Singunbu forces that composed a large portion of the military:

“Chun Doo-hwan has led a coup d’état.”

“Kim Dae- jung has been taken into custody.”

The students were met with little resistance as they reached the Catholic Center downtown at 11:00 a.m. There, they marched to the YMCA in a large group and were met by riot police. The group changed course and headed to the Chungjang-ro Street Post Office. Riot police had already been stationed at the entrance to Chungjang-ro 1-ga Street, forming a blockade with their shields. The demonstrators split into two groups: one headed straight toward Gwangju River, and the other turned into Chungjang-ro 2-ga Street. The number of students continued to snowball. Around 11:25 a.m., the students threw rocks at Chungjang-ro Street Police Substation, breaking nine windows.

Pushed toward Gwangju River by the police, the students took a break at the Gwangju Park plaza around 11:30 A.M. before heading to the Catholic Center on Geumnam-ro Street via Jungang-ro Street. Two to three hundred staged a sit-down demonstration on Geumnam-ro Street. Hundreds of locals gathered on sidewalks to watch, but no one stepped up to join them. Some time passed, and the number of demonstrators grew to over 500. Police surrounded the students and fired tear gas canisters over their heads.

Students were shocked to find that the police’s attitude had done a full 180 from the torchlight demonstrations only two days earlier. People watching from either end of the road jeered the police and showered them with profanities. The police forces vastly outnumbered the students and arrested many of them, but the students stubbornly dispersed and regrouped again and again.

Geumnam-ro Street and the fountain outside Province Hall remain the most symbolic places in Gwangju today, similarly to Gwanghwamun in Seoul and the plaza in front of Seoul City Hall. News of these events in downtown Gwangju quickly spread across the rest of the city.

Helicopters Deployed Against Demonstrators

The students found themselves growing more cornered over time. Although the people of Gwangju were outraged at their treatment, they did not dare to join the demonstrations. Slowly pushed out of Geumnam- ro Street, the students elected to avoid unnecessary con-frontations with the police in favor of collecting stray students in the Geumnam- ro area. By 12:30 p.m., events unfolded similarly in the areas north and south of the street. About 300 of the students who had been scattered from Geumnam- ro regrouped in front of the Municipal Student Hall and made their way to the bridge at Bullo- dong. There, they ran into 300 more demonstrators who had been marching from the Dong- gu district. The two groups had not been aware of one another and raised a cheer at the encounter.Next, the demonstrators went to the Intercity Bus Terminal in the hopes that news of their open opposition to the military coup d’état would spread across the region. Students raised their voices, some speaking directly to passengers in waiting areas and asking them to spread news about the demonstrations in Gwangju to the country-side. In response, the police surrounded the terminal and shot tear gas canisters into the building. The demonstrators desperately fled in the direction of Daein Market.Outside, they were chased past the terminal roundabout and toward the Gwangju Citizens’ Center, at which point an unprecedented event took place—a helicopter joined the chase. It was apparent that personnel on the helicopter were delivering the demonstrators’ locations to the riot police. Chonnam student Im Nak- pyeong (age 22), who was among the crowd, testified that the wind from the helicopter threatened to blow away the demonstrators on the ground.9 The demonstrators scattered into narrow alleyways but were met by police at every turn and dis-persed. The deployment of the helicopter accelerated the riot police’s movements, with police on land and air cooperating to suppress the demonstrations.10Violent police tactics pushed the demonstrators all the way to Gyerim Cinema, located about 1 kilometer from Geumnam- ro Street. Countless students were taken in the process, and the rest dispersed almost entirely. Only about twenty were left remaining. The helicopter continued to circle overhead in search of the main group behind the demonstrations.

 

The first victim Hearing-Impaired Kim Gyeong-cheol

The first recorded loss of life during the Gwangju Uprising was the death of Kim Gyeong-cheol (age 24), who was hearing-impaired and unable to speak. On the morning of May 18, family and relatives gathered at his home to celebrate the 100th day since the birth of his daughter. Kim ran a shoe- shining and crafting business in the Kkachigogae area of Baegun-dong with fellow hearing-impaired friends Hwang Jong-ho (age 22) and Park In-gap (age 25). They would visit cafés and businesses in the city to offer their services. That afternoon, Kim and his friends wandered the downtown core in search of work, when three or four paratroopers appeared out of nowhere at the entrance to the alley by Jeil Cinema on Chungjang-ro Street and struck Kim in the head. Kim fell on the spot, bleeding. Hwang and Park fled in terror and watched from a hiding place in the alley as Kim was beaten. They too were quickly discovered by soldiers coming from the opposite direction and beaten with rifles and kicked. They gestured desperately to explain that they were unable to hear or speak, until blood ran down their hands. But the more they tried to plead, the more the soldiers assaulted them and accused them of pretending to be disabled. The soldiers dragged the half-conscious men away and hauled them into their armored vehicles. It was 11:00 p.m. when the soldiers finally realized that the men were indeed hearing-impaired and released them.

Kim, who was taken to the Red Cross Hospital in the afternoon, was moved to the Korean Armed Forces Hospital and was declared dead at 3:00 a.m. on May 19. According to the autopsy of Kim’s body, conducted jointly by the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office and the military, Kim suffered “abrasions and lacerations to the back of the head, lacerations to the superior palpebral region of the left eye, blunt trauma to the upper right forearm, blunt trauma to the left shoulder joint, and blunt trauma to the anterior tibia, buttocks, and femoral region.” In other words, the back of his head was caved in, his left eye was ruptured, his right arm and left shoulder were broken, and his buttocks and thighs were crushed. According to the death certificate, the direct cause of death was cerebral hemorrhaging caused by blunt trauma to the back of the head.

By 5:00 p.m., an hour after paratroopers were deployed to the downtown core, the last of the student demonstrations on Geumnam-ro Street were disbanded in front of Cheongsan Private School. However, the soldiers continued to carry out their violent suppression. They crawled through shops, cafés, barbershops, restaurants, offices, homes, and billiard halls, hunting down students with dogged obstinance. Those still in hiding or who had failed to escape were dragged out like animals.

Signs of Reversal

At 6:00 p.m., about 300 young people clashed with a small number of paratroopers in the Gyerim-dong neighborhood. The demonstrators were armed with pieces of lumber, metal pipes, and kitchen knives. Where other demonstrators scattered helplessly in the face of military might, this group met the soldiers head-on and refused to give in. A fierce struggle ensued with injuries on both sides. Lee Jang-ui (age 30), a blue-collar worker at the Asia Motors factory, had attended the first birthday celebration of a friend’s child in Gwangcheon-dong and was on his way back when he happened to stumble upon the scene. Lee attempted to pass by the paratroopers stationed in front of Gyerim Cinema at 6:00 p.m. when, with a cry of “Get him!” the soldiers swarmed him, beating him with their batons and stabbing him four times.

Demonstrators responded with horror and indignation. They surrounded the paratroopers without care for their own safety. The soldiers were pushed back little by little until suddenly, they broke ranks and fled in the direction of the Sansu-dong five-way intersection with the demonstrators in hot pursuit. It was not long, however, before military reinforcements arrived to strike back, forcing demonstrators to fall back and scatter, taking shelter in local residences.

The paratroopers surrounded the neighborhoods of Sansu-dong and Punghyang-dong and combed the area late into the night, taking away anyone who seemed to be postsecondary student-aged. Rumors spread that martial law forces would search boarding houses and studio apartments in the Chonnam and Chosun University areas at night to take students into custody.

At 6:00 p.m., Jeolla Province martial law authorities moved up curfew time in Gwangju to 9:00 p.m. with Martial Law Command Branch Announcement 4 and urged citizens to return home early. At 7:00 p.m., Lieutenant Colonel Kim Il-ok, commander of the 35th Battalion, reported to Commander Chung Ung of the 31st Division that the demonstrations had been put down. However, demonstrators continued their activities guerrilla-style late into the night. A group of more than 600 amassed in front of the Catholic Center on Geumnam-ro Street downtown at 8:00 p.m. and clashed with martial law troops before being driven off. Dozens were taken into custody and over 2,000 young people were pushed toward the Labor Supervision Office and Hanil Bank until they scattered. Pockets of resistance flared up across the city. Demonstrators were taken away until late that night, and screams continued to echo down the streets. The commotion finally grew quiet at 11:00 p.m. The alleyways were rank with the stench of blood.

That night, Chonnam University students Noh Jun-hyeon (age 24) and Im Nak-pyeong made countless telephone calls in the dark to confirm the safety of their friends and to spread word about what they had seen on the streets that day. Their hushed voices carried across phone lines and over walls from house to house. Word of the military’s brutal actions spread across the city like wildfire. The people of Gwangju spent the night wide awake, simmering with fear and anger.

Officially, 405 people were taken into custody on May 18: 114 university students, 35 college students, 6 high school students, 66 young people studying for university entrance exams, and 184 ordinary civilians. Of them, 68 suffered head injuries, blunt trauma, or puncture wounds, and 12 were in critical condition. However, the real number of injuries and arrests was much higher than reported.

That day, the 31st Infantry Division collected 4,717 firearms and 1.16 million rounds of ammunition from storage locations across the city and the armories of workplace reserve units and moved them onto their base, fearing that they might be seized by civilians. An additional 550,000 rounds of ammunition from local armories were collected to be stored on base or at a police station. The 31st also requested permission from the Singunbu to open fire on anyone who attempted to approach any of the armories in the city.

 

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183148 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183148 0
California Isn't a Liberal Sanctuary where Asian Americans are Concerned

Gathering of the Anti-Chinese Workingmen's Party near San Francisco City Hall. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, March 1 1880

 

As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May, it’s important to consider why examining the history of anti-Chinese violence is important to people outside the AAPI communities. Current dialogues about race in the U.S. often minimize Asian experiences with racism as unfortunate incidents involving a successful model minority that does not need “extra” attention or assistance. One state in particular—California—has often been portrayed by public media as a liberal sanctuary, often held up as a model for the rest of the U.S., when it is certainly not the case.

 

In 2020, hate crimes against Asians in California more than doubled; the most common type of anti-Asian hate crime reported was violent crime, with 72 reports in 2020, up from 32 in 2019. This included an assault that left a 76-year-old Asian American grandmother with two black eyes, the death of a 75-year-old man after a robbery in Oakland, and the June 2021 stabbing of a 94-year-old San Francisco woman. Two years later in January 2022, the San Francisco police department reported that hate crime incidents involving anti-Asian bias had jumped from nine in 2020 to 60 in 2021, a 567% increase.

 

These are not the first instances of anti-Asian intolerance in California. The first recorded instances of anti-Chinese violence occurred during the California gold rush in 1850. Along with Black Americans and Native Americans, Chinese were barred from testifying against whites in California’s courts. As a result, assaults on Chinese people in California generally went unpunished from the very beginning of their immigration history.

 

In his campaign for re-election in 1852, California Governor John Bigler urged fellow citizens to "check this tide of Asiatic immigration," claiming that the Chinese were incapable of becoming American. He baldly asserted that due to racial and cultural reasons, they could not assimilate. That same year, merchant Norman Asing responded thusly, “so far as the history of our race in California goes, it stamps with the test of truth the fact that we are not the degraded race you would make us.”  Unmoved, 10 years later in January 1862, Governor Stanford (founder of Stanford University) stated: “To my mind it is clear, that the settlement among us of an inferior race is to be discouraged by every legitimate means.” What does the term “legitimate means” mean?

 

California history includes massacres, riots, expulsions and other violent actions that were directed at Chinese-American communities during the mid and late 19th century. In the 1880s alone, Chinese communities were attacked in 34 towns in California, subsequent to the 1871 LA Chinatown massacre of 20 Chinese in one night. Less than a decade later, the San Francisco anti-Chinese 3 day pogrom took place in 1877 where Chinatown was burned to the ground, followed by killings in Chico, Weaverville and Yreka; still later, in 1885-1886 Chinese were expelled from Arroyo Grande, Marysville, Merced, Nicolaus, Pasadena, Redding, Red Bluff, Riverside, Truckee and Tulare, where local Chinatowns were razed.

 

Clearly, anti-Asian American hate has not abated in the U.S. since the ratification of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the only federal act targeting a specific nationality by race.  Discrimination has not been limited to Chinese.  During WWII, the first Japanese internment camp was opened in Manzanar in 1942, located in southern California.  No other nationalities were targeted. A total of 11,070 Japanese Americans were processed, and nearly two-thirds of all internees at Manzanar were American citizens by birth. During the 1992 LA riots, 2,280 Korean American-owned stores were looted, burned or damaged; nearly half a billion dollars of damage was sustained by Korean-owned businesses. Koreatown became a war-zone, with no police coming to help. Last year in March 2021, a white man disrupted a protest against anti-Asian racism in Diamond Bar, California, by driving through a group of protesters while yelling, “F — China!”  John Lee, a Korean American city councilman who currently represents a district in the San Fernando Valley, shares a common refrain about the Asian American experience, that it is to “perpetually feel like an outsider.” Certain aspects of “the American Dream” manifestly have not applied to Asian Americans.

 

“We cannot allow this effort to die down,” Lee said of the Asian community’s work to highlight anti-Asian violence. “We cannot and will not be silent any longer.”

 

It’s particularly instructive to uphold the mythology of California's liberal tolerance.  Its history and contemporary politics belie that stereotype. After all, in June 2021, a report from the California state attorney general noted that attacks against Asians rose by 107% the previous year. The total number of hate crimes in California in 2020 was the highest in more than a decade, 1,330. One in three anti-Asian hate crimes took place in Los Angeles County. These are merely the latest in the long list of violence and discrimination against Asians throughout the state’s history.  Surely, California cannot be held up as an unblemished paragon of tolerance and peaceful inclusion. During the COVID pandemic, it’s become obvious that self-evident truths of American democracy have been under attack: equality, unalienable Rights such as Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. In the Golden State, attacks on these values have been specifically directed towards Asian Americans for over a century and a half.

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183203 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183203 0
Samuel Eliot Morison's 1950 Address Still Has Lessons About Subjectivity (Though Not All He Intended)

Samuel Eliot Morison, 1953

 

 

Are historians too subjective? Should we strive to be impartial and objective? Should one of our purposes be to give people perspectives and incentives to shape the future?

These questions are not new. They have been debated in our field before. One of the most interesting perspectives comes from Samuel Eliot Morison’s American Historical Association 1950 presidential address “Faith of a Historian.” He was the author of several maritime histories, studies of New England, and co-author of a popular text.  His AHA Presidential essay is worth considering for his perspectives on the purposes of history, objectivity, and historians’ influence on the public.

A few themes:

*Historians are swayed too much by the desire to cater to and please their readers.

Historians need to stay objective. But the “legitimate desire of the historian to interest, to instruct, and to please, is at once a leading motive for his labors, a challenge to present his work in artistic form, and a danger to his professional integrity. It tempts him to deviate from the truth in order to satisfy school committees on whom he depends for ‘adoptions’; or the prejudices of reviewers and the emotions of the public to whom he looks for circulation,” Morison wrote.

*Historians trying to write “popular” history face competition from “amateurs.”

Historians may want to consider writing “popular” history – books that appeal to a broad reading public. But, Morison cautioned, popular history is a field mostly occupied by less-than-qualified  non-historians. “Most writers of pseudo-history…are gifted amateurs seeking to bolster some pet theory with carefully screened facts, or people trained in journalism or some similar calling in which the story's the thing. If it accords with the facts, fine; if not, so much the worse for the facts.”

*Historians should stick with the facts, not twist them to fit preconceived theses or patterns.

Morison endorsed an oft-quoted recommendation from 19th century historian Leopold von Ranke: historians should just “explain the event exactly as it happened." That had been an often-expressed goal in the  19th century but the history community in the 20th had mostly regarded it as simplistic. For one thing, it was historians who selected which facts to emphasize. That depended on research into evidence, which might change over time as more sources became available or historians looked at old evidence with new insights. But Morison held to the older view: just the facts.

*Too many contemporary historians think they need to insert their own viewpoint.

Too many historians think their work is about interpretation, said Morison. Somewhere along the assembly-line of their education, these students have had inserted in them a bolt called ‘points of view,’ secured with a nut called ‘trends,’ and they imagine that the historian's problem is simply to compare points of view and describe trends. It is not. The fundamental question is,’What actually happened, and why?’”

*Historians understand, illuminate, and explain the past.

The positive task for the honest historian…is to illuminate the past. He will inevitably try to answer some of the questions that contemporary society asks of the past, such as the causes of and prevention of war, the working of democracy under different sets of conditions and by various peoples, and the part that personality, climate, and environment play in determining events,” Morison went on. But “these considerations should be secondary in the historian's mind. After his main object of describing events ‘simply as they happened,’ his principal task is to understand the motives and objects of individuals and groups, even those that he personally dislikes, and to point out mistakes as well as achievements by persons and movements, even by those that he loves. In a word, he must preserve balance.”

*Charles A Beard is an example of where too much “interpretation” can lead to problems.

Morison spent much of his essay attacking a predecessor AHA president Charles A Beard. His 1933 presidential address "Written History as an Act of Faith" had asserted that all history is relative in a sense because a historian’s experience and frame of reference determines how they interpret history.

Morison pointed out that early in his career, Beard had a progressive or liberal bent. His famous 1913 book An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States had argued that the Founding Fathers were motivated by personal financial interests. That influenced how people thought about the Constitution and the government structure it created.  “The book had an immense success, promptly becoming the Progressives' Bible. Through it, Beard probably contributed more than any other writer, except [journalist and satirist] Henry L. Mencken, to the scornful attitude of intellectuals toward American institutions, that followed World War I.”

Later, though,  Morison went on, Beard became more positive about the founders, particularly in his book The Enduring Federalist. Beard was a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal early on. But he became an isolationist and his 1948 book President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War,1941, contended that  FDR’s policies got the U.S. into World War II.

“Thus Beard came full circle. His 1913 book was received with greatest acclaim in the camp of  [socialist] Eugene Debs; his 1948 book evoked the wild enthusiasm of the [conservative, anti-Roosevelt] Hearst press and the Chicago Tribune.”

This is an example of the fact that “frames of reference constantly shift,” said Morison.  “Fashions in history are constantly changing.”

Of course, not all historians agreed with Morison, and probably fewer would now. Morison might not like to hear it, but his own “frames of reference” shifted over the years. On the other hand,  he might counter that yes, they did, and that bears out what he was saying.

Morison’s views may seem quaint now, the discussion dated. But studying past historians can shed light on our own times. Many historians these days are involved with social causes. Their books are cited in support of, or in opposition to, non-historians’ positions on issues related to race, gender, social justice, and other issues. Morison’s essay gives us reason to revisit our purpose, mission in society, and role in shaping how people understand their world and try to shape the future.

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183204 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183204 0
Historians on the Mainstreaming of the "Great Replacement" Myth

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183180 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183180 0
The Roundup Top Ten for May 20, 2022

White Power, White Violence, and the Open-Source Manual for Terrorism

by Kathleen Belew

The Buffalo shooter's manifesto doesn't need to be coherent or reality-based; its function will be to give instruction to future white supremacist terrorists within growing networks.

 

The Undiscussed Backlash to Brown v. Board: The Sidelining of Black Educators

by Leslie T. Fenwick

Brown v. Board was meant to ensure that children of different racial groups would share classrooms. But resistance to allowing Black teachers and principals to oversee white students' education led an estimated 100,000 Black educators to leave their profession. 

 

 

SCOTUS is Enabling a Backlash Against Free Sexual Expression

by Rebecca L. Davis

The history of legislation aimed at suppressing "vice" shows that abortion is tied to other forms of free sexual expression. The last sweeping attack on sexual freedom took decades to reverse.

 

 

The Abortion Rights Movement Needs Something More than Voting

by Spencer Beswick

Anarchists and other more radical reproductive justice activists have pioneered direct action and mutual aid methods that will be needed to make sure women can access abortion after Roe.  

 

 

Buffalo Mass Shooting Demands We Think About American Racism

by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

The gunman's manifesto shows the dangerous convergence on the right of anti-Black racism and a belief in white persecution. It also shows why the right is working so hard to fight teaching about racism in history classes. 

 

 

We're Facing the Results of the Dems' Retreat from Secularism

by Jacques Berlinerblau

By trying to match the Republicans on bringing Christian faith into policy, Democrats abandoned the difficult but necessary struggles to define how a diverse society protects religious freedom for majority and minority faiths – and those of no faith. 

 

 

Why American Christians "Back the Blue" so Fervently

by Aaron Griffith

Evangelicals within police forces and in the public at large have been encouraged to understand a scriptural mandate for police authority that often short-circuits consideration of other Christian obligations for justice, argues a historian of evangelical attitudes toward law and order. 

 

 

Women Know You Can't Just Replace Formula with Breastfeeding

by Laura Earls

Breastfeeding advocacy is historically tied as much to a prescriptive and sentimental image of motherhood and maternal attachment as to concern for babies' health, and has long ignored physical and social obstacles to nursing. 

 

 

America's School Funding is Kleptocracy in Action

by Esther Cyna

The American system of funding schools largely through local property taxes contributes to inequalities both obvious and subtle that amount to legal dispossession of poor and minority students by denying them access to quality education. 

 

 

Will Businesses Get Beyond Superficial Feminist Gestures when Abortion Rights are at Stake?

by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

Businesses have successfully integrated ideas about female empowerment into their marketing strategies. What will happen when women's status as both consumers and citizens is threatened by the rollback of reproductive rights?

 

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183200 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183200 0
Leaked Draft of SCOTUS Abortion Decision Rejects Roe, Tees Up Obergefell, Griswold, Lawrence

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/181169 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/181169 0
The Dangerous Trend of Imperial Nostalgia – It's not Just Russia

Soviet poster c. 1935. Accompanied by slogan "The Whole World Will be Ours" 

 

 

Although great empires rank among the most powerful engines of world history, they are also among the most dangerous, especially as they brood over their decline.

The Russian empire provides a striking illustration of this phenomenon.  Traditionally referred to as the “prison of nations,” Russia, in its Czarist and Soviet phases, controlled a vast Eurasian land mass of subject peoples.  But the implosion of the empire in 1991 left Russian leaders adrift, uncertain whether to steer their nation toward a more modest role in the world or to revive what they considered their country’s past imperial glory.  Ultimately, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, they decided on the latter, employing Russian military power to attack neighboring Georgia, win a civil war in Syria, annex Crimea, and instigate a separatist revolt in Ukraine’s Donbas region.  This February, Putin launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, with horrendous consequences.

Along the way, imperial nostalgia has pervaded Putin’s thinking.  As early as 2005, he told the Russian parliament that the collapse of the Soviet empire was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” and “a genuine tragedy” for “the Russian people.”  In July 2021, he published a long historical article (“On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”) contending that there had never been a Ukraine independent of Russia.  During a televised address on February 21, 2022, in which he recognized the two secessionist Donbas regions, Putin again invoked the past, claiming that Ukraine was “historically Russian land.”

This lament for a lost imperium, shared by many Russian leaders, not only showed little regard for people trapped under the yoke of empire, but for their actual history.  A Ukrainian nation, with its own language and culture, had existed for many centuries, had been ruled by a variety of nations during that period, and, in 1991, had held a referendum in which 92 percent of the electorate voted for independence from the Soviet Union.  Nor did it seem to trouble Putin that, in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, the Russian government had formally pledged to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

Disconsolate Russian officials have their counterparts in Britain.  In the aftermath of World War II, as decolonization gathered momentum throughout the far-flung British Empire, the guardians of the Old Order worked to suppress independence struggles and bitterly lamented the decline of imperial grandeur.  In 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden, angered by the policies of Egypt’s revolutionary leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, launched a British invasion, along with France and Israel, to retake control of the Suez Canal.  Blocked in their reassertion of imperial power by the Soviet and U.S. governments, British officials were deeply humiliated and, thereafter, largely settled for a junior partnership with the United States in global operations.  Even so, the fact that Britannia no longer ruled the waves continued to sting.  In 2002, Boris Johnson―currently Britain’s prime minister―wrote contemptuously that Africa “may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience.  The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”

The French government, too, grew increasingly dismayed in the postwar era as the Algerians revolted, the Vietnamese routed France’s armed forces, and the French Empire disintegrated.  Desperate to fend off imperial collapse, French officials proposed retaining their colonial relationships through a French Union.  In 1958, when the people of Guinea voted, instead, for independence, the embittered French government turned to sabotaging the ungrateful new nation by destroying government records, flooding the country with fake banknotes, diverting shipments of food and medicine, and even removing the lightbulbs from government buildings. 

Meanwhile, French military officers, convinced that their own government would fail to subdue the Algerian rebels, seized power, toppled the Fourth Republic, and stepped up France’s counterinsurgency war.  In 1961, when General Charles de Gaulle, installed in office thanks to the coup, negotiated a peace agreement, French military leaders, horrified, again revolted.  Although de Gaulle proved able to outmaneuver them, many disgruntled French military veterans and staunch imperialists flocked to a new, far-right political party.  Its descendent, the National Rally, is led by Marine Le Pen, who recently received 42 percent of the vote for the French presidency.

Though the United States, originally a thin string of colonies on the Atlantic coast, is less often regarded as an imperial nation, the reality is that, through wars and treaties, it dramatically expanded across the North American continent and beyond.  By the end of World War II, it was one of the largest nations on earth, as well as the richest and most powerful.  Even so, as other countries recovered from the conflict and began to assert themselves, fears arose among Americans that they were “losing” nations around the world to Communists, revolutionaries, and nationalists. This anxiety about declining control of global affairs inspired U.S. military intervention in numerous lands, including Vietnam, where, as Lyndon Johnson remarked, the United States could not allow itself to be defeated by a “raggedy-ass, little fourth-rate country.” Although Donald Trump is best-known for promising to “Make America Great Again,” this backward-looking incantation was also employed by earlier presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, to rally Americans behind reviving the nation’s Golden Age.

China’s leaders―especially Xi Jinping―have reached deeper into the past to locate its era of imperial glory.  Shortly after taking power in 2012 as Communist Party Secretary, Xi lauded his nation’s five thousand years of history and its “indelible contribution” to world civilization.  Condemning China’s more recent years of humiliation at the hands of the colonial powers, he vowed “to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”  Xi amplified on this theme in 2018, when, in a speech to the 13th National People’s Congress, he declared that “we are resolved to fight the bloody battle against our enemies . . . to take our place in the world.”  Listing China’s historic achievements, he again promised “the great restoration of the Chinese nation.”  In the 38-minute speech, in fact, he used the word “great” 35 times.  And Xi has managed to turn China into a major power, surpassed only by the United States in economic and military strength.  He has also developed a much more assertive foreign policy, dubbed “wolf warrior diplomacy,” as well as a dangerous military confrontation with the United States and other nations in Asia.

Imperial nostalgia is rife in other lands, as well, among them Turkey, India, Hungary, Austria, and Israel, where it helps foster delusions of grandeur and the aggressive programs that accompany them.

The ubiquity and perils of this nostalgia highlight the need to create an international security system to replace today’s international anarchy.  Fortunately, the United Nations presents a useful starting point for an international order no longer plagued by imperialism or other forms of international aggression.  Although the nations of the world have given the world organization the responsibility to protect international security, they have failed to provide it with the power to do so.  Therefore, as we cope with a planet riven by international conflict and war, let us consider how dreams of imperial grandeur might be discarded and how a strengthened United Nations might be used to fashion a more secure and cooperative world.   

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183146 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183146 0
Confronting the Erasure of Native Americans in Early American Towns and Cities

 

Travel through any New England town and you will immediately see the historical references on the landscape. The ‘last’ Indian who lived in this space; the ‘first’ settler (invariably an Englishman) who lived nearby. The ‘last’ Indian wigwam or longhouse or village; the ‘first’ (settler) house or town or trading post. You will see the ‘first’ church, and the ‘first’ road. And, of course, there are the “lasts.” The “last” Indian who lived in the town; the “last” Indian village or fishing weir or midden. The town that I sit in as I write this, Concord, Massachusetts, and surrounding towns have all done this with multiple monuments to the firsts and lasts of settler-colonial replacement. As historian Jean O’Brien (Ojibwe) has argued, “firsting” and “lasting” is an American national tradition – a form of colonial erasure of the people(s) who previously occupied, lived, and made cultures and institutions on the land. In some cases, you will see ‘Indianized’ aspects to this erasure. Occasionally you do see artifacts of previous occupation: Indian names that mark certain features on the landscape; or, Indian names that mark townships. But this only serves to reinforce the settler colonial erasure more completely – these are simply remainders of a long ago, and, we are to understand, no longer relevant ancient past.

In many larger cities (especially in the Northeast but elsewhere as well) the erasure of Indian presence or even existence is often more complete. Indians were not part of urban space, this history and naming tells us. Indians lived in “wild” places or rural places or small places; they lived in the places between the built landscapes that colonial settlers created in establishing civilization in the New World such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Albany, or Montreal. But, as Colin Calloway has long pointed out, this was always simply a colonial lie agreed upon. It was never a colonial reality. In his new book, ‘The Chiefs Now In This City’: Indians and the Urban Frontier in Early America, Calloway tackles this lie directly and provides a wealth of detail, narrative, and remembrance of the American Indian peoples who moved through, stayed, visited, and populated the cities of colonial and early national America. His central goal, he argues in his introduction, is to provide a “means [for] exploring plural understandings of the past” (14). As Calloway points out: “Many historians have pored over the writings of colonial travelers for deeper understandings of Native American society and culture, yet few have looked to Native American travelers for alternative understandings of early American society and culture. An extensive literature examines the imperial gaze, but Indigenous eyes are as important as imperial eyes in understanding contact.” (14)

 

Calloway organizes the book topically to examine the Indian relationship to colonial cities. In some ways each chapter can stand alone in looking at an aspect of the indigenous relationship to urbanism (something very useful for the classroom use of the text). He notes at the outset, for example, that towns and cities were never unknown spaces to indigenous peoples. They had already lived and created large townships and cities long before European invasion in places as varied as the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) town of Hochelaga, near modern Montreal (which had at least 3000 inhabitants); or in the Wichita (Quivira) town of Etzanoa, near the junction of the Arkansas and Walnut rivers in modern day state of Kansas (which had up to 20,000 residents). These towns were places centrally organized around kinship and community – they were important for what they represented for a people rather than simply as large places of commerce. But the main part of Calloway’s analysis is of the port cities along the Atlantic coast built by settler colonial societies. These were, as he argues, “late additions to the urban landscape of North America, and many of them were established at locations where Indian communities had previously existed, sometimes on their very ruins” (25). Each chapter is organized thematically around topics such as what was seen upon arrival in town, the interactions with other Indian peoples while in settler-colonial cities, the risks of visiting settler-colonial cities (especially from disease and violence but also from alcohol consumption), or the performances they witnessed or engaged in while visiting.

 

The most interesting subject for investigating the imperial gaze is Calloway’s discussions of American Indian views of imperial society. Officials thought that bringing Indian peoples into settler-colonial cities would impress indigenous visitors, and awe them into seeing the wonderful accomplishments of advanced civilization. Native American visitors did often point out the extensive commerce that seemed to be the main purpose of urban spaces – indicating with astonishment the numbers of ships, goods, and shops that populated cities up and down the Atlantic coast. Since Indian cities were primarily spaces of community building and culture making, the emphasis on economic practices attracted much of their notice. Commerce was not the centerpiece of indigenous community life. The emphasis on commerce and the hope of inspiring awe were, in essence, bold attempts to establish settler-colonial superiority. But for most Indian peoples it was a wasted effort. Although American Indians often enjoyed their time in the settler-colonial cities of 17th and 18th century North America, they also saw urban filth, poverty, and frequent injustice that shocked them. Indeed, it helped to establish a deepening Native American critique of how settler colonial society functioned and the purposes that organized the functions of settler-colonial communities. Most often, Indian viewers and visitors pointed out the hypocrisy of settler-colonial pretensions to superiority. For example, the Seneca leader Red Jacket – who frequently spent diplomatic time in colonial New York’s urban spaces – said to a Quaker missionary that “the white people, who have a good book called the Bible among them, that tells them the mind of the Great Spirit…are so bad, and do so many wicked things…” (154).

 

The only problem with Calloway’s work is that we simply want to know more. This work focuses upon the late colonial and early national period. In the long term, Calloway has provided a guide to how to think about American Indian peoples and their connection to urban space in the 19th century and beyond. Searching for works on urban America and Native American life reveals only a few large-scale works but they are certainly increasing; after all, the vast majority – more than 70 percent – of American Indian peoples live in cities today. Much of this recent historical work focuses upon the assimilation and termination periods – particularly after the federal Urban Relocation Program instituted during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. Novels and memoirs have also captured this experience from the mid-20th century to the early 21st century. We should regard this as a reclaiming of indigenous spaces – a return of Indian lives and voices and experiences to the center of thinking about urban America. For instance, in the Cheyenne-Arapaho writer Tommy Orange’s award winning, There, There: A Novel, he centers the experience of late 20th and 21st century indigenous Americans as “present-tense people, modern and relevant” in the cities of the American West (the book focuses on Oakland).

Calloway has done a major service for scholars and teachers of Native America – and even more for United States history in general – to broaden our outlook to the ways that American Indian peoples interacted with and shaped American urbanism dating well back into the settler-colonial invasion. Let us hope that indigenous urbanity is better understood as part of the US past, the US present, and the US future.

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183147 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183147 0
How Will History Remember Xi?

 

 

President Xi Jinping is flexing China’s muscles again. Recently, his government worked out an agreement with the Solomon Islands that will allow construction of a base for Chinese warships and troops. This arrangement could upset the balance of power in a vital shipping region of the South Pacific. The pact appears to represent yet another impressive achievement of China’s dynamic leader. In just a decade as president, Xi Jinping seems to have improved his country’s reputation as an economic and military juggernaut.

High-fives for Xi’s successes are premature, however. A broad view of modern Chinese history suggests it is too early to call Xi’s leadership a smashing success. Xi maintains a top-down, autocratic regime. The long-run consequences of Xi’s management are not yet clear.

President Xi has been managing the third major Chinese revolution in less than eighty years. Mao Zedong inaugurated the first significant transformation when his armies defeated the nationalists in 1949 and established a pervasive communist government. Deng Xiaoping inaugurated the second revolution in the late 1970s when he loosened the government’s dominance over people’s affairs. Deng allowed capitalist enterprise to function inside the communist political structure. Now Xi Jinping is creating a third revolution by reviving elements of autocracy. Xi’s approach is not as radical as Mao’s, but it has the potential to undermine China’s progress.

Mao Zedong’s dictates produced enormous upheavals and extreme suffering in China. Mao called for a “Great Leap Forward” in the late 1950s and early 1960s that forced extreme dislocations. The collectivization of farming crushed private activity and led to major declines in food production. Local officials feared reporting disappointing information that challenged Chairman Mao’s exaggerated claims about crop surpluses. Radical shifts in agriculture contributed to the death of perhaps 15 to 45 million people in one of the worst famines of modern history.

A notable example of risks from badly informed top-down decision-making occurred when Mao’s regime called for the elimination of sparrows because the birds ate grain crops. Millions of sparrows died from a mass slaughter that caused a severe ecological imbalance. Sparrows ate bugs, not just grain. The Mao regime’s decision led to a surging population of locusts and other insects. Eventually, China had to import thousands of sparrows from the Soviet Union to correct the costly mistake.

A second revolution began in the late 1970s when Deng Xiaoping changed the direction of Chinese society. He encouraged individual responsibility in economic decision-making and skilled management in commerce and industry. Deng moved China toward fast-paced capitalist development within the communist governmental system. His regime allowed peasant farmers to make individual decisions and keep profits from their work. The government also permitted rewards for individual initiative in manufacturing. China began to improve global relations as well. Trade and cultural exchanges flourished. Foreign investments poured into the country. From the 1980s to 2010, millions of Chinese escaped poverty. They achieved middle-class stature, and some became wealthy. China’s communist government in those years remained authoritarian, but mildly so.

Governmental actions promoted by Deng and China leaders that followed him were sometimes controversial. The one-child family program brought demographic problems in later years, and the massacre of protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989 was tragic. Still, the country’s overall progress was impressive.

Xi Jinping brought strong authoritarianism to the society when he ascended to power in the early 2010s. His government imposed tight controls. It ordered crackdowns on big tech, aiming to rein in competing sources of influence. Pressures against entrepreneur Jack Ma sent a clear signal to other ambitious individuals. Ma was the richest man in China thanks to his innovative companies, Alibaba and The Ant Group. Xi’s government moved swiftly to degrade and divide Ma’s Internet empire.

Repression became much more prevalent under President Xi. The communist party was intolerant of democratic organizations and independent-minded political activities. It backed Xi’s plans to remain in power for decades. Media independence largely disappeared. Public communications were tightly controlled.

China’s handling of the novel coronavirus revealed serious flaws in the hierarchical political system. Demands for conformity and compliance suppressed speech. In late 2019 and early 2020 the virus spread rapidly in Wuhan, but local authorities were afraid to report details. Government officials kept a lid on information that might harm the economy. Precious time passed for dealing with an emerging health crisis. The virus spread quickly in China and across the globe.

Xi’s government remained closed-minded and nationalistic, too, when developing vaccines. It insisted on using formulas created in China, even though scientific studies showed China’s vaccines gave significantly less effective protection than mRNA vaccines developed in the West. 

Recently China’s government stumbled when dealing with a large outbreak of COVID. Officials imposed lengthy and stringent lockdowns, especially in Shanghai, a hub for technology and manufacturing. Draconian measures closed assembly lines, snarled ports, and left truck drivers stranded. Some leaders of global corporations sought more reliable suppliers by shifting operations to other Asian countries.

The COVID lockdowns produced extraordinary hardship for Chinese families. In many instances, health workers responsible for quarantining infected people appeared at apartments and homes to take children away from their parents. Some youngsters remained separated for a month or more, and some families could not leave their residences to purchase food.

It is too early to judge the consequences of Xi Jinping’s decade of leadership. In the future, historians may conclude that Xi effectively launched a revolution, or they might say Xi’s assertion of one-man, authoritarian rule stymied innovation, squelched dissent, promoted fearful conformity, and undermined economic growth.

Xi’s shift away from Deng Xiaoping’s strategy of keeping a low profile and encouraging friendly international relations could produce long-term troubles for China. In recent years China has accentuated “wolf-warrior diplomacy.” Xi and other officials appear suspicious, resentful, and strident in international relations. Xi’s alliance with Vladimir Putin, announced shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, may soil China’s global image and damage opportunities for expanded trade. An aggressive foreign policy could lead to military conflicts. Reckless leaders have sometimes taken their countries into needless wars. 

Xi Jinping has been clamping down on reforms that liberated China from stultifying authoritarian rule. In the long run, Xi’s approach to leadership may create more problems than progress.

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183144 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183144 0
Thoughts From the Zoo

Deforestation in the Amazon

 

 

While visiting Indiana, I went to the Indianapolis Zoo with my 2- and 4-year-old grandchildren. There was a lot of excitement about cheetahs wrestling with each other, orangutans swinging from ropes, and dolphins performing athletic tricks. But I found the visit depressing.

 

As a kid, my parents took us to the Bronx Zoo, at that time a world-class zoo. Since then, zoos have transformed themselves from exotic animal incarceration facilities to thoughtful educational institutions, replacing cages with landscapes, building environments which mimic natural settings, and rescuing instead of capturing wild animals. The headline on the Bronx Zoo’s website says “Saving Wildlife and Wild Places”. Still, I can’t get over seeing eagles confined to enclosures barely large enough for one beat of their wings, observing fellow primates behind glass with nothing to do, and clapping for dolphins as a circus act.

 

I have not forced myself toward a firm position on animal rights, but I no longer get a thrill from the human ability to put wild and wonderful creatures on display for our viewing pleasure.

 

The educational messaging of the Indianapolis Zoo was the most depressing aspect of my visit. Over and over again, at many, perhaps most stations with carefully worded signs, we were told in plain language about the predictable results of our murderous heedlessness toward other life forms. Humans kill large, complex animals just for “fun”. Rich men pay enormous sums to fly to faraway places, so they can sneak up on unsuspecting animals and shoot them. I find that impulse sickening.

 

But big game trophy hunters are not the main problem for the world’s wildlife. Elephants and rhinos are regularly hunted for their tusks and horns, which some people believe have magical curative powers. Extinction is on its way.

 

Even more destructive are the normal human processes of making land “useful”, cutting down rain forests to create farms and grazing land. Signs all over the Indianapolis Zoo repeated the warning that animal habitats are being transformed into human habitats, driving the Earth’s living diversity toward irreversible extinction.

 

Human heedlessness, or better selfishness, is demonstrated every day by the unnecessary pollution of the atmosphere and the oceans. These vast reservoirs of life-giving resources have been human garbage dumps from the earliest societies until the most “advanced”. Now that our “civilization” has developed more technologically sophisticated methods to promote human convenience, now that humans have multiplied beyond sustainability, we are not only killing the world’s animals, but are hurtling toward mass suicide.

 

Humans have the unique capacity to rationalize the mass killing even of our own species. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is merely the latest instance among countless human wars against ourselves, never about survival, always about human hatred for other humans, justified by the most elaborate systems of “moral” or “religious” belief. “Useful” always means useful for us, regardless of earthly consequences.

 

I am not trying to be cute with quotation marks. The words I have modified in that way are tendentious, although I have taken a long time to recognize that fact. Moralities can rationalize mass murder with abstract syllogisms. Religions whose texts condemn killing in plain language find ways to bless murderous enterprises on a grand scale. Other ways of thinking are possible.

 

The uniquely human creation over the past few centuries of a detailed understanding of the world we inhabit appears to be no match for much older stories that humans have made up about how our inherent superiority allows us total control over all forms of life and death. The messages the Earth is sending us are no less clear than the printed signs at the Indianapolis Zoo about what “human impact” means for all life forms.

 

As the plastic pollution of our oceans threatens us on land, as the modern great extinction picks up speed, as the weather predictably endangers life and property, the biggest adherents of divine human right are barely discomfited by the clash of reality with belief. The zoo should remind us that humans have the power over life and death for everything on Earth. Thus far our species has not been pro-life.

 

Steve Hochstadt

Boston

April 6, 2022

shochsta@ic.edu

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154601 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154601 0
Reigniting a Nuclear Arms Race is the Wrong Take-Home from Ukraine

Conceptual Rendering of USAF LGM-35A "Sentinel" ICBM

 

 

When it comes to the Ukraine War, no one has a crystal ball. With Putin rattling his rockets and the world worried about his next step, the most important take-home message from this disastrous affair — however it ends — should be that nuclear weapons must go.

And yet, beyond death and destruction, another outcome is very likely and potentially tragic; namely, a renewed call for more and “better” nuclear weapons.

The claim is already being made that if Ukraine hadn’t given up its nuclear weapons in the mid-1990s, Putin would not have attacked that country. Nukes, we are told, would have deterred him, and so, we should cast our lot — even more than at present — with nuclear weapons so as to deter would-be aggressors.

History argues otherwise, namely, that nuclear weapons do not prevent wars. During and after the Cold War, each side engaged in much conventional warfare and military arm-twisting: the Soviets, for example, in Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), and Afghanistan (1979–1988); the Russians in Chechnya (1996–2009), Georgia (2008), Ukraine (2014-present), as well as in Syria (2015-present). The United States in Korea (1950–1953), Vietnam (1962–1974), Beirut (1982), Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), the first Gulf War (1990–1991), in the former Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001–2021), and Iraq (2003–2016), to mention just some of the more prominent cases.

Nor did the threat presumably posed by the US nuclear arsenal deter aggressive maneuvers by the Soviet Union when it was not yet a nuclear power. In 1948, the US had a nuclear monopoly, which didn’t inhibit Stalin from initiating the Berlin Blockade, one of the USSR’s most provocative Cold War actions. In fact, the Soviets were most aggressive vis-à-vis the US between 1945 and 1949, when only the US had nuclear weapons. It was during that time that Stalin, in violation of the promises he had made to Roosevelt and Churchill during their Yalta summit, consolidated Soviet control over its Eastern European satellites.

 

Moreover, the alleged deterrent effect of nuclear weapons did not even prevent actual attacks by non-nuclear opponents upon nuclear-armed states or their avowed strategic interests. In 1950, China was 14 years from developing its own nuclear weapons, whereas the US had dozens, perhaps hundreds of atomic bombs. US military and civilian officials judged, moreover, that China’s military was exhausted by decades of civil war and would not dare intervene against the world’s sole nuclear superpower. They were spectacularly wrong. As the Korean War’s tide shifted against the North, Mao’s China felt threatened that General MacArthur’s forces wouldn’t stop at the Yalu River and might invade China in an attempt to overthrow its new, communist government.

 

To the surprise and consternation of US leadership, the American nuclear arsenal did not deter China from sending more than 300,000 soldiers southward, resulting in the stalemate on the Korean peninsula that divides it to this day, and that has produced one of the world’s most dangerous unresolved standoffs. In 1956, nuclear-armed Great Britain warned non-nuclear Egypt to refrain from nationalizing the Suez Canal, to no avail. The UK, France, and Israel ended up invading the Sinai in an unsuccessful effort to achieve their goal. A decade later, Israel had obtained its own nuclear weapons, which didn’t keep armies from non-nuclear Egypt, Syria, and Jordan from attacking it in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Argentina invaded the British-held Falkland Islands in 1982, even though the UK had nuclear weapons and the attacker did not.

 

Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 1991, that non-nuclear country was not deterred from lobbing 39 Scud missiles at nuclear Israel, which did not retaliate, although it could have demolished Baghdad. It is hard to imagine how doing so would have benefitted anyone; the fact that Israel had this capacity did not stay Saddam’s hand, perhaps because he realized that Israel would have had more to lose than to gain by “making good” on its implied deterrent threat. Moreover, nuclear weapons obviously did not deter the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on New York and Washington, DC, just as the nuclear arsenals of the UK and France have not prevented repeated terrorist attacks on those countries.

 

The pattern of nuclear non-deterrence is historically established and geographically widespread, along with the frequent failure of nuclear-armed militaries to get their way, even against non-nuclear countries. Nuclear-armed France couldn’t prevail over the Algerian National Liberation Front. The US nuclear arsenal didn’t inhibit North Korea from seizing an American intelligence-gathering vessel, the USS Pueblo, in 1968. Even today, this boat remains in North Korean hands. Its nuclear arsenal didn’t enable China to get Vietnam to end its invasion of Cambodia in 1979; a conventional invasion did. Nor did US nuclear weapons stop Iranian Revolutionary Guards from capturing US diplomats and holding them as hostages from 1979 until 1981, just as fear of American nuclear weapons didn’t prevent Iraq from invading Kuwait in 1990.

 

Moreover, the historical record is clear that when a nuclear state is losing in an armed struggle against a non-nuclear one, being armed with what was once called “the winning weapon” doesn’t contribute to winning. The US unequivocally lost in Vietnam, but accepted this defeat rather than flailing about with its atomic and hydrogen bombs. Ditto for the USSR and then the US in Afghanistan, outcomes that were not reversed by the superpowers’ ability to incinerate Kabul.

 

By the end of the 20th century both India and Pakistan had nuclear weapons, which might have inhibited each side – thus far – from using them. But it certainly hasn’t made their confrontations less dangerous, nor, it seems likely, any less frequent. In 1999, Pakistan snuck military units – disguised as Kashmiri militants - into the high-altitude region known as Kargil, on the Indian side of the Line of Control that separates India and Pakistan in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistanis apparently thought that its nuclear arsenal would force India to accept the move as a fait accompli. Pakistan had tested its first nuclear weapons in 1998, and it seems likely that its military was emboldened by this addition to its arsenal, expecting that the threat of going nuclear would inhibit an Indian response. If so, it didn’t work. India responded by mobilizing 200,000 troops, initiating an air campaign (not answered by Pakistan), and preparing a naval blockade of Karachi.

 

Pakistan’s next step was to begin issuing nuclear threats. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced “If there is a war, or if the present confrontation continues on the borders, it will bring so much devastation, the damage of which will never be repaired.” This did no good whatever, and by mid-June, Indian forces had retaken all of the key positions in Kargil. India’s nuclear arsenal had not deterred the Pakistanis from their military adventuring, just as Pakistan’s didn’t prevent India from retaking its lost territory.  

There is very little reason to think that nuclear weapons would have made Ukraine safe, or that they would benefit other countries, not to mention the world. Nonetheless, ostensibly because of the Ukraine War (or, more likely, using it as an excuse), the US Air Force now intends a three-fold increase in spending on a new ICBM — labelled “Sentinel” — from $1.1 billion to $3.6 billion. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has described the proposed Sentinel as “one of the most dangerous weapons in the world,” because like all ICBMs, it would be easily targeted by an adversary and would leave a president only a few minutes to decide whether to launch a retaliatory strike, greatly increasing the risk of Armageddon based on a false alarm. The Ukraine War has also stimulated $5 billion on a new bomber (labelled “Raider”), which itself carries a planned total of $20 billion by fiscal 2027.

 

There are doubtless more ill-advised take-home messages yet to emerge from the Ukraine War. So, starting now, let’s disabuse ourselves of the illusion that this terrible war makes a case in favor of nuclear weapons, when the reality is precisely otherwise.

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183145 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183145 0
The Roundup Top Ten for May 6, 2022

Leaked Opinion Shows Not Just the End of Roe, but Conservatives' Delight in It

by Mary Ziegler

The court's right-wing majority is clearly emboldened by the belief that the Republican Party and the conservative legal movement have its back. 

 

The Reconstruction Amendments and the Basis of American Abortion Rights

by Peggy Cooper Davis

When the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were debated, concerns about the protection of both public rights of citizenship and private, intimate rights of individuals were front and center. There is, notwithstanding Samuel Alito's opinion, a long tradition of constitutional respect for privacy.

 

 

Abortion Isn't in the Constituiton? Neither are Women

by Jill Lepore

"Women are indeed missing from the Constitution. That’s a problem to remedy, not a precedent to honor."

 

 

Palm Oil is Colonialism's Continuing Nightmare

by Max Haiven

The extraction and trade in palm oil in west Africa has been at the center of two centuries of exploitation and violence, which stands to get worse as the Ukraine war threatens the world supply of competing sunflower oil. 

 

 

Is Historic Preservation Ruining American Cities?

by Jacob Anbinder

Historic preservation laws often have a loose relationship to the actual historic significance of buildings, and an even looser relationship to the interests of cities in meeting their residents' social needs. 

 

 

Affluent White Parents Don't Understand the "Public" in Public Schools

by Diana D'Amico Pawlewicz

Are parents' rights movements aimed at ensuring quality education, or at destroying the potential of public schools to support both learning and a democratic culture across lines of race and class? 

 

 

The Democratic Potential of China's Grassroots Intellectuals

by Sebastian Veg

Chinese intellectuals working outside the protection of state-controlled universites have a perilous existence, but carry on the struggle against the regime's efforts to impose orthodoxy on the nation's history. 

 

 

Race and Religion Have Always Helped Determine Who Gets Refuge in the US

by Laura E. Alexander, Jane Hong, Karen Hooge Michalka and Luis E. Romero

While Ukrainians fleeing war are deserving of aid from the United States, the treatment of both Haitian and Syrian refugees shows that the asylum process is far from equitable. 

 

 

How Josephine Baker Challenged Racism in Las Vegas

by Claytee White

Josephine Baker's brief stand in 1952 didn't forever break the color line in the city's casinos and clubs, but it did help Black Las Vegans push for enduring change. 

 

 

The Laundry Workers' Uprising and the Fight for Democratic Unionism

by Jenny Carson

African American and Black Caribbean immigrant women were key organizers of New York laundry workers who pushed for a union movement that rejected divisions of occupation, race and nationality in favor of workplace democracy. 

 

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183143 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183143 0
High Crimes and Lingering Consequences: How Land Sale Contracts Looted Black Wealth and Gutted Chicago Communities

Chicago artist and activist Tonika Lewis Johnson with a sign installed to mark a house lost to a Black couple after a predatory contract sale.

 

 

 

In Chicago, there’s a lot of talk about crime that happens on the city’s South and West sides. There’s less talk about crime that happened to the South and West sides. One such injustice is the predatory practice of land sale contracts, common in Chicago’s Black communities in the 1950s and ’60s. A contemporary Chicago artist is shining a spotlight on this acutely detrimental form of housing predation, the effects of which linger today.

 

But first, let’s look backward. The little-known history of land sale contracts—also called contracts for deed, home installment contracts or home contract sales—stretches back to the postwar period. After World War II, a housing boom spread across America and with it came the creation of a vast middle class. Many white Americans—aided by low down payment, low-interest home loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, along with benefits from the 1944 GI Bill—were able to buy property and reap the economic benefits of home ownership which resulted in generational wealth. The number of families that owned their homes climbed from 44% in 1934 to 63% in 1972.

 

Meanwhile, Black Americans were largely excluded from homebuying due to discriminatory practices like redlining, which were federal government-endorsed policies in which banks withheld loans from prospective buyers in Black or mixed-race neighborhoods. Then along came land sale contracts, a purported pathway to homeownership for African Americans with few other options.

 

Contract sellers bought houses, often from white families attempting to flee racially changing neighborhoods, then marked up the prices of the homes and sold them to Black buyers on contract. The buyers would pull together hefty down payments, followed by monthly payments at higher-than-average interest rates. Contract buyers also were responsible for covering the cost of all home maintenance. Despite making payments, buyers did not build equity in their homes—and importantly, contract sellers kept the titles until the last contract payment was made. If a buyer missed even one payment, the seller could evict them and the buyer lost the money they invested in the home, without recourse to recover it.

 

Making the case for reparations in a 2014 article in The Atlantic, author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates described contract buying as “a predatory agreement that combined all the responsibilities of homeownership with all the disadvantages of renting—while offering the benefits of neither.” Indeed, scores of contract buyers got an exceptionally raw deal and were ultimately left with nothing to show for it.

 

A 2019 study from Duke University explored the quantitative impact of land sale contracts on Black homebuyers in Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s. The findings of the study were grim. Contract sellers marked up home prices by 84%, on average. A speculator would buy a home for $12,000, and days or weeks later, sell it to a Black homebuyer on contract for $22,000. Compared with what they would have paid if they had bought the home at a fair price with a conventional mortgage, Black contract buyers spent an average of $587 more (in April 2019 dollars) each month.

 

Between 75% and 90% of homes sold to Chicago’s Black families in the ’50s and ’60s were on contract, and the amount of expropriated Black wealth is staggering: between $3.2 billion and $4 billion were stolen in the two decades studied, according to Duke University estimates. Due to holes in surviving data—there were no requirements that land sale contracts be publicly recorded—researchers say those estimates are conservative.

 

“What happened during this crucial era, that of the making of America’s mass white middle class during the long postwar economic boom, was a systematic, legally sanctioned plunder of black wealth,” the Duke researchers wrote.

 

The billions in taken funds directly contributed to America’s racial wealth gap. Rather than earning equity and passing down assets to future generations, Black contract buyers often lost their homes and savings and landed in debt; meanwhile, their money lined the pockets of contract sellers. As Rutgers University historian Beryl Satter wrote in “Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America,” a book about the land sale contract system, “While contract sellers became millionaires, their harsh terms and inflated prices destroyed whole communities.”

 

It’s important to note that speculators gained access to the necessary capital to buy and then resell homes on contract from investor groups including Chicago doctors, dentists, lawyers and politicians, the Duke study found. In other words, the well-off got wealthier at Black buyers’ expense. Land sale contracts came to an end in the late ’60s with the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, nationality or sex.

 

Through a public art project titled “Inequity For Sale,” sponsored by the National Public Housing Museum and its Artist as Instigator residency program, artist Tonika Lewis Johnson illuminated the history of this theft, showing  that abandoned homes, vacant lots and population loss present in some Chicago neighborhoods today are directly tied to land sale contracts, redlining and other forms of discrimination. The museum’s program is designed to shine a light on historic and social justice issues using artful intervention to illustrate history that otherwise might have remained unnoticed.

 

Lewis Johnson erected five-foot-high, black-and-yellow concrete and metal land markers in front of two land sale contract homes in Englewood, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, one at 6823 S. Aberdeen St. and the other at 7250 S. Green St. Passersby can’t help but notice the bright yellow circular signs. In capital letters, the marker on Green Street reads: This home at 7250 S. Green was legally stolen from Black resident John Garner on December 28, 1962 in a widespread land sale contract scam. This crime was never brought to justice. Reparations are due.

 

The back of the land marker explains the concept of land sale contracts, including their ruthlessness and present-day effects. The exhibit launched in February 2022, during Black History Month, in collaboration with the National Public Housing Museum, which named Lewis Johnson its 2021 Artist as Instigator.

 

More land markers will be added in front of additional properties in late spring; there’s also a planned walking tour of Englewood’s land sale contract homes using an interactive phone app.

The Duke University study documented more than 100 homes in Englewood sold using land sale contracts, many of which are still standing.

 

“Many of these once-beautiful homes are now dilapidated or abandoned, visible proof of the sordid legacy of land sale contracts,” said Lewis Johnson, who also co-hosts a three-part podcast series supported by the National Public Housing Museum based on the project. “Having people walk through Englewood and see these properties allows them to interact with the destructive nature of Chicago’s history of redlining and segregation.”

 

Pushback on the new exhibit has already arrived—as it so often does when ugly history is publicly aired. The owner of the Aberdeen Street property, who doesn’t live in the city, removed the land marker. The home is vacant, with boarded-up windows, but the owner said he plans to renovate it in the future. 

 

Lewis Johnson plans to campaign for a collection of land sale contract homes to become an official city landmark. She also hopes to purchase one of the stolen homes and transform it into a community art center. Moreover, she intends to place a land marker in front of a present-day business, such as a bank, that directly profited from land sale contracts.

 

“My goal with this project is to map the evidence of historic legalized theft in Greater Englewood,” Lewis Johnson said, “and engage the public in action-oriented conversations that ultimately bring this unresolved crime to justice.”

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183089 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183089 0
Leaked Draft of SCOTUS Abortion Decision Rejects Roe, Tees Up Obergefell, Griswold, Lawrence

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/181169 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/181169 0
When Will the French Dam Against the Far Right Crack?  

 

 

On Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron won re-election in the French presidential election, defeating far-right leader Marine Le Pen by an impressive margin of 58 to 42 percent. Despite this victory, French politics are once again in disarray and the nation is deeply divided.

 

In the final stretch of the electoral campaign, President Macron and many political leaders had called on French citizens to rebuild a barrage républicain (republican dam) against the surging waters of the far-right movement in France. On Sunday, a majority of French voters responded by voting for Macron in order to block the far right and the republican dam seemed to hold.  

 

Yet, even in defeat, Le Pen and her Rassemblement National (National Rally) party claimed a historic “shining victory” by scoring the highest number of votes for a far-right party in any modern election in France. Indeed, the presidential elections have demonstrated the French far-right’s growing power within French political culture and its potential to win elections in the near future. Is the republican dam now fundamentally weakened?

 

Two weeks previously, Macron and Le Pen emerged as the two leading candidates in the first-round election. President Macron and his La République en Marche (Republic on the Move) party led with 27.85 percent, followed by Le Pen of Rassemblement National with 23.15 percent. The leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélanchon, leader of La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), narrowly ended up in third place with an impressive 21.95 percent.

 

The two main political parties that were dominant for decades were both crushed. The center-right Les Républicains (Republicans), led by Valérie Pécresse, failed to win five percent of the vote, while Anne Hidalgo’s center-left Socialistes (Socialists) could only muster a miserable 1.75 percent. Meanwhile, an array of green and communist parties each garnered less than five percent of the vote.

 

In their concession speeches, most of defeated candidates called explicitly for their supporters to vote to re-elect President Macron in order to protect against a far-right takeover of the French state. Yannick Jadot, leader of Europe-Ecologie-Les Verts (Europe-Ecology-Greens), appealed for French citizens “to build a barrage (dam) against the extreme right by casting a vote for Emmanuel Macron on 24 April.”

 

Building a dam against the floodwaters of fascism has become more and more challenging since the term barrage was first deployed in April 2002, after the far-right Front National (National Front) party scored a shocking victory over the Socialists in the first round of the presidential election. That year, it was Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who defeated the Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in a “thunderclap” that stunned the entire nation and allowed him to face the incumbent President Jacques Chirac, leader of the center-right Rassemblement pour la Républic (Rally for the Republic) party, in the second round. Jean-Marie Le Pen was an ultra-nationalist leader, Holocaust denier, and overt racist who had been accused of torturing Algerian revolutionaries during the Algerian War. The threat of a total victory by the Le Pen’s Front National clearly frightened many French citizens.

 

The defensive posture and emergency nature of the response to the far-right threat was clear in the use of the term barrage, which can refer to a dam to hold back floodwaters, a defensive fortification to resist enemy forces, or a police barricade to control crowds. The imagery of the barrage in French political culture can also relate to a cordon sanitaire, a military blockade against the spread of epidemic disease. French voters mounted a defensive barrage républicain (republican dam) against the elder Le Pen in the second round in 2002, re-electing Jacques Chirac in a landslide victory of 82.21 percent to 17.79 percent.

 

In 2017, French politicians and analysts again called for citizens to rebuild the dam against fascism in the second-round election, when Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen somewhat expectedly ended up in a runoff. As in 2002, the republican dam held firm against the far-right in 2017, and Macron scored a landslide victory—becoming the youngest president in French history.

 

Twenty years after the first republican dam was built in 2002, President Emmanuel Macron and the challenger Marine Le Pen campaigned furiously in preparation for a single presidential debate and a second-round runoff election on 24 April 2022, in what was billed as a rematch of the 2017 runoff between Macron and Le Pen.

 

Yet, the 2022 second round election was not a simple repeat of 2017, since the French political landscape has been utterly transformed over the past five years. Marine Le Pen rebranded her party in 2018, changing its name from the National Front to the National Rally. Le Pen has worked hard to tone down her party’s extremist rhetoric and reinforce its patriotic image, despite retaining its far-right ultra-nationalist program. Meanwhile, the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) movement emerged in response to President Macron’s reform initiatives and Jean-Luc Mélanchon’s left-wing France Unbowed party has consolidated.  

 

Most spectacularly, the rise of Éric Zemmour has galvanized far-right political supporters across France. Éric Zemmour is a journalist, political pundit, author, and media personality who has gained a large following through his radio and television appearances. He has hosted his own talk radio show, Z comme Zemmour, and has written a number of books on French politics and culture—notably Mélancolie française (2010), Le Suicide français (2014), and Destin français (2018).

 

Zemmour founded the new Reconquête (Reconquest) party in 2021 and launched a presidential bid, garnering an impressive 15 percent of potential voters in some early polling. His political rallies have been controversial, attracting diverse groups of far-right militants. Zemmour’s racist, Islamophobic, and anti-immigrant messages have relied on ultra-nationalist and neo-imperial historical narratives rooted in crusading culture. Zemmour argues that France is in “decline” or preparing to commit “suicide” by departing from its nationalist and imperialist past. French society, he warns, is in danger of being overwhelmed by Islamic law and French people are menaced with “replacement” by Arab and African immigrants. Zemmour envisions himself as a leader on the model of Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle, and he aims to restore the France nation through ideological purification and racial expulsion.

 

Far-right parties such as Zemmour’s Reconquête frequently rely on gross distortions of the past to construct alternative histories that rely on racist, xenophobic, ultra-nationalist narratives of their nation’s history. Zemmour has helped to provoke French “Culture Wars” that are being waged by politicians, pundits, and media personalities on television news programs, talk radio shows, and social media platforms, as well as in cultural and educational institutions. A group of French historians recently responded to Zemmour’s politicized vision of French and European history with a new publication, Zemmour contre l’histoire, critiquing Zemmour’s “falsifications and political manipulations of the past.”

 

As the first round of French Presidential Election approached, Zemmour slipped in the polls, but his ultra-nationalist and anti-immigrant program continues to resonate powerfully in French political culture. A number of Marine Le Pen’s supporters seem to have been Zemmour followers who voted tactically to bolster Le Pen and ensure that a far-right candidate reached the second round.

 

In his concession speech after the first-round election, Éric Zemmour seemed almost giddy at his fourth-place finish, with 7.07 percent of the overall vote. He enthusiastically called for his Reconquest supporters to vote for Marine Le Pen in the second round, and the crowd erupted with applause. Many of Reconquest members have already declared their support for the remaining far-right candidate. Marine Le Pen has welcomed the Reconquest supporters and has invited all French citizens who did not vote for Macron in the first round to join her National Rally.

 

One of the biggest questions in the second-round election was whether or not the millions of enthusiastic left-wing France Unbowed supporters would turn out to vote in the second round. During his election-night speech, Jean-Luc Mélanchon thundered three times that he and his followers would “not give a single vote to Madame Le Pen.” However, Mélanchon refused to call explicitly on his supporters to vote for Macron, and many of them still seemed undecided and some reportedly planned to vote for Le Pen as a protest vote. In addition, an astonishing twenty-five percent of French eligible voters did not vote at all in the first-round election.

 

As the second-round election day approached, politicians and concerned observers from across the political spectrum once again pleaded with French citizens to rebuild the dam against the far-right. Yet, Éric Zemmour’s extreme positions and militant rhetoric seem to have succeeded in making Marine Le Pen’s version of far-right politics appear “softer” and more acceptable to a broad section of the French citizens.

 

Meanwhile, over the past several years, the very language of dam-building has been appropriated and repurposed. The Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests)—and many news reporters—have appropriated the language of barrages to refer to their barricades and roadblocks deployed against President Macron.

 

Over a year ago, well before the start of the presidential campaign, political analysts on France Culture were already questioning whether a dam could really hold back a resurgent Marine Le Pen. Many French politicians and political observers recognize that deep cracks have appeared in the republican dam.

 

After landing a place in the second-round election, Marine Le Pen began using the language of barrages herself, openly calling for French citizens to “build a dam against the return of Emmanuel Macron” at an April 14 campaign rally in Avignon. Perhaps some French voters cast ballots for Le Pen in the second round as a protest vote against Macron, but there are many signs that most of the voters embrace many aspects of the National Rally’s political program. Marine Le Pen seems to have succeeded in sanitizing the image of the National Rally and normalizing far-right political positions. The French far-right has become a real force in French political culture.

 

The republican dam has held for now, but the French far-right is stronger than ever, and the French legislative elections are approaching in June. Enthusiastic far-right supporters are already discussing plans for the next presidential election in 2027. Reconstructing a republican dam against the French far-right may be much more difficult in future elections.

 

 

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183070 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183070 0
A Century After the First Insulin Injection, It's Time to Make Sure It's Affordable  

 

On March 31st of this year, the House passed The Affordable Insulin Now Act by a margin of 232-193. The bill, which is now being reviewed by the Senate and which would take effect in 2023, seeks to cap the monthly cost of insulin at $35 for the more than 10 million Americans with diabetes who rely on the medication (that is almost one third of all people with diabetes). What better time to look at how this important drug came to be in the first place?

 

Just over 100 years ago on January 11, 1922, a 14-year-old boy named Leonard Thompson was given an injection of insulin at Toronto General Hospital.  He had been diagnosed the previous year with type 1 diabetes.  Prior to the advent of insulin therapy, people with type 1 diabetes lived for a few months and the only treatment available to them was a diet that excluded carbohydrates. It was more akin to a starvation diet.

 

The first injection contained too many impurities and failed.  Leonard developed an abscess at the injection site and the extract given to him did not lower his blood glucose.  Twelve days later he received a 2nd injection—a more purified extract of insulin—and there was a dramatic reduction in his blood glucose level.  He continued to receive insulin injections and lived for an unprecedented 13 more years before succumbing to a lung infection. 

 

Today, millions of individuals worldwide with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes receive insulin injections, which are truly lifesaving.  Diabetes, however, is not a new disease.    It has afflicted humans for thousands of years.  A disease resembling diabetes was described by the Egyptians as far back as 1550 BC.    Sushruta (600–500 BC), a phyisician in India, wrote about a disease he termed “Madhumeha” which translates to the sweetness of urine.  The physicians in ancient times would often diagnose diabetes by noting that an individual’s urine attracted ants. They also commented on the extreme thirst and occasional foul breath in people afflicted with this condition.  This was likely due to the presence of ketones in the blood and breath because of a deficiency of insulin and inability to metabolize carbohydrates.

 

Greek physicians coined the term “diabetes” in 250 BC. The term emanates from the Greek word meaning “siphon,” as people with the disease appeared to pass urine like a siphon.

In 1675 AD, a British doctor Thomas Willis coined the term “diabetes mellitus,” the latter a Latin term meaning sweet like honey. It took almost a century and a half for the chemist Michel Eugene Chevreul in Paris to prove that the sweetness was due to glucose.   In 1848, a German chemist, Hermann von Fehling, developed a method for quantifying the amount of glucose in the urine.

 

Claude Bernard (1813–1878) was a prolific scientist and physiologist, reportedly referred to by the legendary Louis Pasteur as “physiology itself.” He performed an experiment in which he tied off the pancreatic ducts of dogs and noted that this led to atrophy of the gland. This set the stage for future studies.  In 1889, Oskar Minkowski and Joseph von Mering were the first two investigators to discover that removal of the pancreas in dogs led to excessive urination and that the urine contained large amounts of glucose.  Minkowski pursued additional experiments in which he implanted a small portion of the removed pancreas underneath the dog’s skin and observed that doing this prevented high blood glucose levels in the dog.  When the implant was removed or once it had spontaneously degenerated, the diabetes returned. This was proof that the pancreas was key to regulating blood glucose.

 

In 1921, Frederick Banting, an orthopedic surgeon, approached John MacLeod, a Professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto, requesting laboratory space to do some novel experiments in a small number of dogs.  He requested an assistant to perform these experiments over an 8-week period in the summer.  Macleod sent Banting two of his

students who had just graduated from the physiology and biochemistry course at the University of Toronto – Charles Best and E. Clark Noble. Banting desired to have only one assistant, so Best and Noble flipped a coin to see who would start first in the lab.  Best won the toss and with great enthusiasm joined Banting.  According to some accounts, Noble went on a vacation to Europe.  So did Macleod, who left for Scotland.

 

Beginning the experiments in May 1921, Banting and Best removed pancreatic tissue from dogs, ground it up in a mortar and injected it as an extract into dogs whose pancreases had

been removed to render them diabetic. Although the initial results were not promising, by the end of July they observed success - injection of the pancreatic extract into one of the dogs lowered the blood glucose and the dog’s condition improved!  Repeat experiments yielded similar results and they presented their groundbreaking findings in the fall of 1921. 

 

In late 1921, a biochemist named James Collip joined the team at Macleod’s laboratory, and they continued to work on the production of a pure pancreatic extract for administration to humans.  All of the above culminated in the historic experiment on Leonard Thompson.

 

Banting and MacLeod received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923. Banting was incensed that Best was not a fellow awardee and shared his monetary winnings with him. Macleod subsequently shared his prize money with Collip.

 

On January 23, 1923, Banting, Best and Collip were awarded the American patents for insulin.  Banting refused to put his name on the patent as he felt it was unethical for a physician to profit from a discovery that would save lives.  He said “Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.”  Best and Collip promptly sold the patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1.00.

 

So many advances have been made in the development and production of insulin during the past century – the manufacturing of human insulin using recombinant DNA technology, and modifications of human insulin to affect how rapidly or slowly it exerts it effects (to more closely mimic normal insulin physiology) to name a few.  How wonderful it would be to honor the legacy of Banting, Best, and Collip by ensuring that insulin really does “belong to the world” and that everyone who requires this life saving treatment can afford it.

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183087 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183087 0
Democracy's Enemies are Abroad, but Also at Home

As Vladimir Putin wrested Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, I wrote here on HNN and in The Washington Monthly that although peace-loving liberal democrats must arm themselves and fight sometimes, the Crimea seizure was not such a time and that more serious threats to liberal democracy were coming from much closer to home. The 2008 financial meltdown and the accelerating pace of public massacres in American public and private spaces were only two instances of the implosion of a civic-republican culture without which a liberal democracy lies open to demagoguery, thuggery, and grand theft.

Some Americans live only to fight threats from abroad, distant from our internal crises; they beat drums for war against external enemies: armchair warriors such as Leon Wieseltier and Robert Kagan line up with Kagan’s brother Frederick, a professor at West Point, and with other would-be combatants --“Second Amendment People” or uniformed militarists craving what they envision as a clear, decisive defeat of democracy’s enemies. 

In 2014, I dismissed that view out of hand. I doubted even deeply researched, sober warnings from the historian Timothy Snyder that Putin’s Russia is a fascist dictatorship intent on shutting down a lot more than the independence of Ukraine and other former Soviet “republics.”

But while the drumbeaters have been relentless, and sometimes a bit over the top, there are times to acknowledge that, just as a stopped clock is right twice a day, neo-conservative publicists and historians fixated on Eastern Europe’s Bloodlands, as one of Synder’s books calls them, are right at certain moments. 

So, what time is it right now? And whose clock is telling it reliably?

Barely a year before 9/11, Robert Kagan’s father Donald, a Yale historian of ancient empires and wars, and Robert’s younger brother Frederick, the West Point professor, published While America Sleeps: Self-Delusion, Military Weakness, and the Threat to Peace Today, warning that "the collapse of an international system… will bring attacks on the American homeland" and that "the United States must begin to gird itself for the next round of conflict."

Typical of neoconservative drumbeating though this was – critics dismissed it as just another neoconservative reenactment of Winston Churchill’s wise but ignored warning against appeasing Hitler in 1938 at Munich-- 9/11 reinforced the Kagans’ dark summons. Two of the Kagans and Wieseltier and dozens of other would-be warriors signed a public letter to President Bush from the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, urging that "even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack… the eradication of terrorism… must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein." They even championed our 20-year occupation of Afghanistan as a good and necessary fight.

History has discredited such responseswhich were sometimes as gratuitously destructive, corrupt, and ineffective as Russian incursions in Afghanistan and Syria and now in Ukraine. Yet like Pearl Harbor, 9/11 did vindicate the drumbeaters’ conviction that there are times when humanists must join with power-wielders and even with war profiteers to crush enemies who are willing to die for their convictions and rage. Are we willing to die for anything worth defending against them? At certain times, it’s a compelling challenge.

But, even now, it's the wrong question if willingness to die and kill overwhelms sounder strategic judgments. Our punitive, supposedly corrective wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like Russia’s in the latter, ended up posing a different challenge, one that the Vietnam War had shown us: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Vietnam combat veteran John Kerry asked the U.S. Senate in 1971, as the war still raged. 

Proud though I am of my father’s service in World War II, when even stopped clocks were right about the fascist threat, I became a Conscientious Objector during the Vietnam War and would have gone to prison or Canada had the first option been denied. That war, like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, needn't and shouldn't have been fought. 

Is Ukraine different? Would risking a war between Russia and the West unleash a Gotterdammerung even more devastating than the Great War of 1914 and the Second World War, which ended partly because Americans alone possessed and used a nuclear weapon?

In 2014, I considered that the historian Snyder might be more right than wrong to insist that Ukraine was pivotal to the West’s prospects. It's clearer now than it was then that Putin is indeed determined to do more than restore Russia’s sphere of influence. His invasion of Ukraine is even worse than our grabbing Texas from Mexico in 1846 or Puerto Rico from the Spanish Empire in 1898. The philosopher Jason Stanley argues that Russia's intentions are genocidal, in that they truly mean to erase Ukrainian peoplehood, culture, and language. Putin and Xi mean to replace the whole post-World War II order. 

But here comes the hard part for Americans, who have been the progenitors and managers of that postwar order. Our neoliberal, global capitalist order is now a wrecking ball whose casino-like financing and degrading consumerism are fomenting climate crisis, deepening inequalities, forced migrations, cultural implosions, and rampant fraud and violence. Absent a pretty dramatic reconfiguration, our "order" is no longer legitimate or sustainable on terms that any of us can continue to live in. 

One certainly needn’t idealize Ukraine (as I warned against doing here at HNN during the first week of Putin's invasion) to recognize that this is one of those times when the stopped clocks are right, if only because our own hypocrisies and cruelties have weakened our own immune system against threats from beyond. 

The historian Snyder’s most recent argument that Putin's intentions are as intolerable as his brutality is profound but intensively linguistic and somewhat arcane. Perhaps this three-minute video of Putin entering the Kremlin is worth a thousand such words of warning. A society that seeds and suborns the postures and faces of Putin’s guards and elite nomenklatura, packed like sheep on either side of his swagger, is a failing, kleptocratic state running on oil, militarism, imperialism, cybertheft, and pure fascism. It will have to be defeated sooner or later – not only by Ukrainians, because his fascism is viral in killing truth and public trust wherever it enters our rapidly globalizing lives.

I don’t know if the deeply flawed West can defeat this danger through a mix of sanctions and deft military strategies. World War II was ended and “won” only because Americans had the most terrible weapon and used it. This time, it's Putin who’s threatening to use such weaponry. Even if he doesn’t, the West will have to sacrifice a lot for a long time to stop him. It will have to face down – as France has just done, barely, and without effectively correcting its own neoliberal turn -- the fascism that has been metastasizing not only in its own right wing but also in America's Republican Party. 

We have a two-front “war” to fight, not only against fascism from abroad but also against domestic drumbeaters and stopped clocks that have given our own sins too much cover and have made our challenges seem only one-sided. 

Our predicament bears some analogy to that of 1939, when the Bushes, Lamonts, and other Americans were still doing business with Hitler and Mussolini instead of recognizing that they would have to be stopped. Putin must be defeated, and Xi contained, even though our own centuries-old financial and corporatist world order generated their resentments and resistance, and even if defeating them makes Western plutocrats and their duped mobs fatter and happier. A similarly tragic reality confronted Americans at the onset of World War II, which elevated propagandists for plutocracy like Henry Luce and imperialists like Churchill even as it crushed Hitler and the other Axis powers. 

"Humankind cannot bear very much reality," T.S. Eliot observed, and it’s hard indeed for most of us to face these two incompatible truths at once:

"They" are truly evil in humanist, liberal-democratic terms, yet "we" are corrupt and brutal enough to have generated some the evils they embody; and: "We" have no choice now but to stand up against what our own flawed system helped to create, because these enemies would destroy us even more quickly and brutally than we’re already doing by disrupting and dissolving our own civic-cultural and institutional lives.  

Staunch, unremitting opposition to Putin's fascism and Xi's totalitarian state capitalism is part of Eliot’s “very much reality” that we'll have to bear, at the sacrifice of our own moral conceits and material comforts. 

Financial Times columnist Chris Giles writes that “the quickest and cheapest way to reduce dependence on Russia is simply to use less gas. if ever there was a win-win outcome for the energy trouble of our time, this is it. Lowering the temperature of our buildings in winter, from 20C to 18C across Europe would reduce energy use by between 20 and 25 percent.” Giles calls for emergency appeals plus price incentives that would make it more expensive to connect to gas and electricity grids but would offer double discounts to current users for every unit of energy they conserve compared to last year.

I favor challenging and reconfiguring the very corporate-capitalist system within which such measures could be taken, by nationalizing or otherwise severely constraining American oil companies that now pursue their shareholders’ profits uber alles. At the risk of flirting with “state capitalism” – as the New Deal and the World War II regimen certainly did – we have no choice but to defeat and/or contain what Putin and Xi, his likely overlord, intend for all of us.

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183086 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183086 0
Ukraine Evokes Past "Eve of Destruction"

Bombardment near Kharkiv, March 1, 2022

 

 

A folk-rock song from long ago has been haunting me for weeks. In 1965, Barry McGuire scored a number 1 hit with the chilling “Eve of Destruction.” As the Vietnam War escalated and the civil rights movement devolved into violence, McGuire’s apocalyptic record shot up the pop charts. The musical broadside blasted American politics, militarism, racism, and hypocrisy, as well as violence worldwide. “Even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’,” lamented the raspy-voiced McGuire. “If the button is pushed, there's no running away. There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave.”       

   

The ominous song became part of a generation’s collective memory. Fifty-seven years later, we once again find ourselves on the eve of destruction. While the Ukraine War and Russian atrocities escalate, nuclear war clouds gather on the horizon. Still, there is a glimmer of hope that peace will break out. Putin’s “special military operation” has not turned out as planned. Rather than achieving a quick victory and glory for Mother Russia, the invading forces wound up in a quagmire.  

         

Putin has only a few options left, all bad. He could unleash more troops, tanks, planes, and rockets, but at best that would result in a Pyrrhic victory. The rising body counts of Russian soldiers and the horrendous attacks on civilians are damaging Russia’s image at home and abroad. Every day brings new humiliations and evidence of war crimes. The invaders look brutal yet inept. Their weapons and equipment appear inferior, while strategic thinking and supplies are lacking. The Russian army – once feared – is now being mocked by their Ukrainian foes and the world in general.              

 

If the Russian war machine continues to misfire, Putin and his generals might be tempted to use chemical or even nuclear bombs to end the war quickly and decisively. But, the use of such horrific weapons would be an act of self-destruction. Very likely, Putin, his regime, and perhaps Russia itself would pay the ultimate price.   

          

Escalating or even just continuing the Ukraine War would be futile. Ukrainians are determined to fight back, while the United States and its allies are united in their determination to stop Russian aggression.             

 

As casualties mount and economic sanctions pound the Russian economy, cracks are beginning to appear in Russia’s support for the war. Growing evidence suggests the Russian people are reeling from less access to western banking, technology, and consumer goods, including the products and services provided by global companies such as General Electric and Apple, not to mention McDonalds and Victoria’s Secret.      

   

News that the war is not going well is now sinking in, causing Russians to speak out in unexpected ways. Anti-war protests continue to pop up. Academics and pundits have voiced anti-war sentiments on State-controlled media. Oligarchs have begun questioning the wisdom of Putin’s war. Even the Russian military is having second thoughts as the death count for generals and officers continues to rise and the morale of conscripts on the Ukrainian front plummets. Making matters worse, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet just sunk due to Ukrainian missiles or Russian incompetence. Either way makes Russia look bad. With the situation worsening, unnamed Kremlin officials confided to Bloomberg News that Putin’s invasion was a “catastrophic” mistake that could hurt Russia’s economic and military strength for years.

 

Russia’s best if not only option is to end the war as soon as possible. From all indications, Putin is looking for a way out. Several weeks ago, Russia informed Kyiv it would halt all military actions if Ukraine agrees to remain neutral in the future, acknowledges Crimea as Russian territory, and recognizes Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states. When Ukrainian negotiators balked, Putin declared the talks had reached a “dead end.” But a few days later, he did an abrupt about face and sent new proposals to the Ukrainians. Although Russia’s terms are still harsh, they are a far cry from Putin’s original goals of completely “de-militarizing” and de-Nazifying” Ukraine. Significantly, the Russian leader is no longer talking about toppling Zelenskyy’s government or controlling all of Ukraine. Even Russia’s current escalation in the Donbas region suggests that Putin is desperate for any victory that would allow him to negotiate a peace with honor.   

 

Obviously, Putin cannot be trusted, as evidenced by his constant lies and brutal attacks on civilians. Still, diplomacy is the best way out of this mess. Hopefully, Ukrainian leaders will not overreach at the negotiating table. They will see the wisdom of allowing Putin an exit ramp if it means they can negotiate a settlement that will save their people, most of their country, and possibly the entire world.            

 

Meanwhile, Russian and Ukrainian forces are positioning themselves for a new round of fighting in Eastern Ukraine. The whole world is watching, hoping that a negotiated end to the crisis will keep nuclear hounds from hell at bay. This is a no-win situation. No matter how this war ends, it won’t make amends for war crimes or bring back all the innocent people who have died. Nor will it result in world peace or even restore the imperfect political order that had been in place since 1945.             

 

But, ending the war in Ukraine will avoid World War III. Ukrainians, Russians, Americans, and everyone else worldwide should grab that “consolation prize” while they still can. All those who insist on all-out victory, regime change, war crimes convictions, no-fly zones, or other forms of escalation should heed Barry McGuire’s message from 1965: “This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'…and you tell me over and over and over again my friend, ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.”            

            

 

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183069 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183069 0
1968: A Year of Dashed Hopes

Mourners of Martin Luther King, Jr., near the White House, April 1968. Photo National Archives

 

 

In a previous HNN article, I dealt with 1962 starting as a year of trial for the Kennedy administration and, after the settlement of the Cuban Missile in late October, ending as one of hope. Conversely, 1968 began as a year of hope, but ended--both in the USA and abroad--on a much gloomier note.

 

As in 1962, my own path mirrored and reflected the larger trend. There was a saying in the mid and late 1960s: “Don't trust anyone over 30.” The countercultural movement of the decade was primarily a youth movement, one that flourished on many college campuses. I was teaching on such a campus, Wheeling College, later transformed into Wheeling Jesuit University. I turned 30 in the spring of 1968, but throughout that year--the most significant of the late 1960s--I and my wife Nancy remained sympathetic to the movement.

 

Most of the college’s students were from white, middle-class Catholic families--we had no Black students until a small faculty group of us in late 1968 established two scholarships for them (the president of the college was the Jesuit priest Frank Haig, brother of Al Haig, later White House chief of staff under Presidents Nixon and Ford  and still later Secretary of State under President Reagan). Although the Wheeling students were hardly from a socio-economic background inclined to radicalism, they reflected the late 1960s zeitgeist. Movies like The Graduate (1967) and music like that of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and the Hair soundtrack album (from the 1968 Broadway play later made into a film) were popular with them. I remember going to a local coffee house and hearing one of the students strum his guitar and sing Pete Seeger’s 1967 anti-war song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy.” Many of the female students wore mini-skirts. I recall at least one male student asking me if I thought he should have his longish hair cut before he had a job interview and another expressing his anxiety about the draft once he lost his student deferment status by graduating--in 1968 almost 300,000 young men were drafted and almost 15,000 servicemen died that year in Vietnam.

 

That spring two of the men I most admired in U. S. public life were assassinated. They were both critics of the Vietnam War, which since the North Vietnamese launching of the Tet Offensive at the end of January had been increasingly criticized here in the USA. First the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on April 4, and then Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy on June 6 (the exact date, twenty-four years earlier, of D-Day). Noteworthy, for admirers of RFK, it was he who lifted our spirits somewhat just hours after MLK was shot in Memphis. In a speech in Indianapolis the senator said that King had

dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort. . . . For those of you who are black . . . you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization--black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

 

RFK was right about King being against violence, and exactly one year before he was shot down on that balcony in Memphis, he spoke at Riverside Church in New York

some of the most compassionate and empathetic words ever uttered about the sufferings endured by the Vietnamese people as a result of U. S. bombs and other violence. 

 

He spoke of the Vietnamese, languishing “under our bombs. . . .

 

Primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. . . . They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. . . .

 

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. . . . We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

 

Although many of the young college students opposed the war in Vietnam partly because of their own fears of some day dying there, King realized it was disproportionately the Black and poor of the U.S. who were being sent to Vietnam.

 

Despite King’s stress on non-violence, his assassination triggered riots in over 100 American cities. In Wheeling, however, we took a different approach. Some of us in town, including Nancy and I, formed an interracial human rights council called WE (standing for “We Exist.”)  On a warm summer evening in August of that year I was one of the speakers at a downtown WE rally, which the combined local newspaper (The Intelligencer /Wheeling News-Register) described as a “Negro ‘Solidarity’ Rally,” sponsored by a “Negro civic group.” I spoke about white fears about violence and “Black Power”:

As a nation we are not against violence . . . .Our country was born in violence; violence is being perpetrated today in Vietnam . . . [but] I’m more sympathetic to the non-violence of a true Christian like Martin Luther King than I am to anyone who off-handedly dismisses the killing of an innocent whether . . .white, black, or yellow.

 

My earlier HNN essay on 1962 mentioned my previous interest in racial justice, but in 1968 I had just finished a Ph.D dissertation that also touched on that topic. Only it occurred not in the USA, not in the 20th century, and not against African Americans, but in the 19th century, in the Russian Empire, and primarily against Jews.  It was titled “Vladimir Soloviev and the Russophiles.” Vladimir was the son of Russia’s leading 19th-century historian, Sergei Soloviev, author of the 29-volume History of Russia from the Earliest Times. Son Vladimir was Russia’s preeminent philosopher, an early ecumenical thinker, and the best poet of his generation. My dissertation focused on his polemics with Russian nationalists over topics such as Russian nationalism, antisemitism, and conservative ideology. A friend of Vladimir was a certain Rabbi Gets, who, shortly after the philosopher’s death in 1900 stated, “In general one can unmistakably maintain that since the death of [German writer and philosopher] Lessing [1781], there has not been a Christian literary and learned figure who could exercise such an honorable fascination and who could enjoy such wide popularity and such sincere love among the Jews as Vl. S. Soloviev.”

 

In Soloviev’s critique I saw parallels with my own less notable opposition to racism and conservative nationalism, and throughout 1968 in speeches and as a panel participant I attempted to battle against racism and nationalism. In the spring at a meeting of the West Virginia Historical Association, I proposed (and it was adopted unanimously) that the association urge our U. S. senators and representatives to support “civil rights” legislation. And then, following my WE speech in August, in September and October, I spoke on a panel addressing the topic “The Race Against Racism,” and gave a talk on “The Jews in Russia,” both appearances at Wheeling’s Jewish Woodsdale Temple.

 

Following RFK’s death in early June, right after he had won the California Democratic Primary, I supported Sen. Eugene McCarthy, whom many of my friends had backed since he announced his presidential candidacy in late 1967. But things did not go well for him. Despite President Johnson’s announcement at the end of March that he would not seek another term as president, McCarthy was defeated at the Democratic National Convention in August by Johnson’s vice-president, Hubert Humphrey. 

 

Outside of the convention itself, in Chicago where it was held, Mayor Richard Daley unleashed a few thousand police officers in riot gear, who utilized their clubs to disperse anti-war and other protesters (for a recent depiction of some of the protest leaders see the film The Trial of the Chicago 7). The mayor was not following  Bob Dylan’s advice to politicians in “The Times They Are A-Changin’”:

 

Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call Don't stand in the doorway Don't block up the hall

….……………………………

There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’.

 

The whole scene in Chicago that August revealed just how split Democrats were. One of the results of that rift was the November election of Republican Richard Nixon, who won 32 states (George Wallace, running as a third-party candidate, carried five states, all in the south). 

And it was not just the Democratic Party that was divided. The rebellious spirit that affected so many students on U. S. college campuses also displayed itself in numerous other countries, especially in Europe, where students, and sometimes others,  protested for various reasons. In May, French student-worker demonstrations almost toppled Charles de Gaulle’s decade-long government and produced what one journalist called “a watershed in French life, a holy moment of liberation for many,” but for others “anarchy and moral relativism, a destruction of social and patriotic values.” 

As one who taught Russian history, I was especially concerned with the USSR’s reaction to a Czechoslovakian reform movement led by Communist Party head Alexander Dubček. In mid-1968 he aimed to create “socialism with a human face.”  But, like Putin today, Soviet leader Brezhnev exaggerated Western leaders’ influence over the government of a neighboring country not sufficiently pliable to his wishes. He was also mindful of Czechoslovakia’s crucial strategic position, forming a corridor between the USSR’s Ukrainian republic and West Germany. In mid-July, he and some other leaders of Eastern European communist governments sent a letter to Czechoslovakia’s communist leaders. It stated that “it is our deep conviction that the offensive of the reactionary forces, backed by imperialism . . . threatens to push your country off the road of socialism and thus jeopardizes the interests of the entire socialist system. . . . We cannot agree to have hostile forces push your country from the road of socialism.”

 

In late August more than a half-million troops from the USSR and other Eastern European communist countries invaded Czechoslovakia. But, unlike the Ukrainians today, the Czechoslovakians offered only passive resistance. By the end of 1968, with foreign troops still on their soil, the reform movement in Czechoslovakia had been extinguished.

 

To depress progressives even more, the final month of the year ended with still one additional setback--the mysterious death on 10 December in Thailand of the 53-year-old Catholic monk and writer Thomas Merton. Along with Dorothy Day, whose newspaper, The Catholic Worker, published some of his essays, he was a leading Catholic critic of the Vietnam War. Earlier, in March, his “The Vietnam War: An Overwhelming Tragedy” had appeared in her paper. (It, along with his “The Hot Summer of Sixty-Seven” and many other essays dealing with war and racism, were later collected together in his The Passion for Peace: The Social Essays.)

 

In my earlier HNN essay on 1962, I indicated how as an idealistic young Catholic I was very hopeful by the end of that year with John Kennedy as president and the reforming John XXIII as pope.  But by the end of 1968, both men had been dead for five years. Our new president, replacing President Johnson, was going to be Richard Nixon, and the then pope was the more conservative Paul VI. Moreover, MLK, RFK, and Merton were also dead. The anti-war, anti-racism, pro-reform hopes that I shared with others had suffered serious blows, and a certain youthful idealism--and at times naivete--had drained from me.

 

What was needed then--and in succeeding decades as political defeats, deaths, and other setbacks continued to erode our optimistic ideals--was to keep hope and courage alive. As usual, my wife Nancy helped keep me positive. By the end of the year, she was seven months pregnant, and we were looking forward to our second child. And as a historian I could always look to the past for encouragement. For example, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the dark days of June 1941, when Nazi forces still threatened Britain, spoke to the House of Commons: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’” More recently demonstrating great fortitude in opposing Vladimir Putin and Russian forces, it has been Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian people. As psychologist and futurist Thomas Lombardo has stressed, we want to confront life, with all of its difficult challenges, with hope and courage, not fear and doubt.

 

Editor's Note: The first part of this two-part essay, on the hopefulness of 1962, can be read here

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Tue, 24 May 2022 09:01:03 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183090 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183090 0
Recent Violence Shows the Need to Teach More Asian American History

Photo Dorothea Lange, March 1942. Despite proclaiming his loyalty, the Japanese-American owner of this store in Oakland was interned by the US government.

 

 

The focus of Critical Race Theory has been on the treatment of people of African ancestry as the United States has been pressed to come to terms with its racist past and lingering racism today. It also should include the long history of anti-Asian violence and discrimination in this country. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May is a time for teachers and students to highlight the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans on the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

 

Ex-President Donald Trump exacerbated anti-Asian hostility in this country with specious statements blaming China for the COVID-19 pandemic and the calling it the  “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu”. The Republican Party has tried to divide potential Democratic voters by arguing that affirmative action programs and school reforms addressing past discrimination against African Americans and Latinos are in effect anti-Asian.

 

Recent deadly attacks on Asian Americans, in San Francisco and New York City, and the mass shooting in Atlanta where six women were murdered, have been committed by very disturbed people who were agitated by a climate that allows anti-Asian stereotypes to go largely unchallenged. An article in the journal Education Week calls on schools to play a larger role in combatting the stereotypes and anti-Asian racism by making Asian immigrants and their experience more prominent in the United States history curriculum. This would be an important corrective.

 

On the 2020 federal census, people who identified as Asian or of Asian ancestry made up approximately 6% of the U.S. population, or almost 20 million people. The Asian American population grew by 35.5% between 2010 and 2020. Another 4 million Americans identified as mixed ancestry with a partial Asian heritage. The three largest groups were Chinese (about 5.4 million people), South Asians from India (4.6 million), and Filipinos (4.2 million). Chinese are the second largest immigrant group in the country. In 2019, California had the largest Asian American population, about of 6.7 million people followed by New York (1.9 million), Texas (1.6 million), and New Jersey (958,000).

 

The first large influx of people from Asia into territories that would become the United States occurred during the California gold rush starting in 1849. Chinese contract workers were brought to the United States to take low paying, dangerous jobs in mining and railroad construction. Most were male and planned to return home after earning enough money buy land and start a family. In 1850, the Chinese population of the United States was only 3,227 people. It increased to 35,000 in 1860, a little over 60,000 in 1870, and just over 100,000 in 1880 when anti-Asian laws blocked new Chinese arrivals. In1857, Harper’s Weekly reported, “The immigration of Chinese into California has attracted the attention of Congress. It appears that the Chinese immigrants, on settling there, persist in maintaining their allegiance to China; and under these circumstances the Senate voted a resolution, December 19, making inquiry into the propriety of discouraging such emigration.”

 

From the 1850s through the 1870s the California state government systematically discriminated against Chinese. Among other actions, it required special licenses for Chinese-owned businesses and Chinese were not permitted to testify in court against a white person. In 1875, Congress passed and President Grant signed the Page Act, the first federal immigration law. It prohibited immigrants considered “undesirable,” including any individual from Asia who was coming to America to be a contract laborer, any Asian woman who would engage in prostitution, and all people considered to be convicts in their own country. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act suspending the immigration of Chinese laborers for a period of 10 years. It was the first law in American history to place broad restrictions on immigration and the first law to ban a specific ethnic group. The law remained in effect until 1943.

 

Japanese Americans are a small immigrant group that has had a major role in United States history. In 1870, there were only 55 Japanese in the United States, not counting Hawaii, which was not yet an American colony. In 1900, there were still only 24,000 Japanese in the continental United States, but Japanese were the largest ethnic group in Hawaii. By 1960, when Hawaii was admitted as a state, there were 464,000 Japanese in the United States. In 2019, under 1.5 million Americans claimed partial or full Japanese ancestry, less than 1/2 of a percent of the US population. The largest Japanese American communities are in California and Hawaii.

 

In Hawaii, Japanese immigrants labored on sugar and pineapple plantations where they were subject to harsh rules and exploitation by armed European American overseers. On the plantation, Japanese workers had 3- to 5-year binding contracts and were jailed if they tried to leave. Those who eventually migrated to the mainland were subject to discriminatory laws and practices. California passed a law in 1913 banning Japanese from purchasing land.

 

Under the notorious Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907 between United States and Japan, Japanese officials stopped issuing passports for new laborers. Federal legislation in 1924 completely banned any immigration from Japan.

 

The situation worsened with Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and U.S. involvement in World War II. Dr. Seuss posted racist caricatures of Japanese and Japanese Americans as part of wartime propaganda, and Executive Order 9066 eliminated all civil rights for Japanese immigrants and their families living on the West Coast. An estimated 120,000 people were branded as security risks and forced to abandon homes and businesses and relocate to concentration camps, mostly in inhospitable areas of the Rocky Mountains. This action was taken despite the fact that there was not a single case of espionage ever established against Japanese Americans and immigrants living in the United States, and over two-thirds of those forced into concentration camps were American-born citizens. The fenced in camps were located in harsh terrain and patrolled by armed guards. Ironically, Japanese Americans in Hawaii were not imprisoned because they were needed to rebuild areas destroyed by the attacks. Young Japanese American men were permitted to leave the concentration camps if they enlisted in the U.S. military. Japanese American soldiers served in a segregated unit, the 442nd, stationed in Italy and France. It was the most decorated American combat unit during World War II.

 

In 1944, in Korematsu vs. United States, the Supreme Court ruled by 6-3 that the detention of Japanese Americans was a “military necessity” and not based on race. In a dissent, Justice Robert Jackson called the exclusion order “the legalization of racism” and a violation of the 14th amendment. Fred Korematsu, who challenged the evacuation order and forced internment, was “convicted of an act not commonly thought a crime. It consists merely of being present in the state whereof he is a citizen, near the place where he was born, and where all his life he has lived." In 1983, a federal judge overturned Korematsu’s conviction and in 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act compensating more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in the World War II concentration camps.

 

Since 1965, the United States has large immigrant populations from Korea, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Each group has its own history in the United States, however all have faced stereotypes and discrimination and been stereotyped. South Asian Americans, often identified as Moslems even when they are not, were targeted after the 9/11/2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. A case involving an immigrant from India in the 1920s, United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, established that people from the Indian sub-continent could not become naturalized citizens of the United States because they were not a “white person” in the sense intended in the Naturalization Act of 1790.

 

One of the most important constitutional decisions about citizenship was a Supreme Court ruling in the case of the United States vs. Wong Kim Ark was a Chinese American born in San Francisco, California in 1873. His parents were Chinese immigrants who returned to China about 1890. In 1894, Wong Kim Ark traveled to China to visit them and was not allowed to reenter to the United States because officials at the arrival center claimed he was not a citizen. In 1898, the Supreme Court in a 6-2 decision ruled that he was a citizen of the United States because he was born in this country.

 

Despite decades of prejudice, Asian Americans have major contributions to life in the United States. They include Vice-President Kamala Harris whose mother was an immigrant from India, Eric S. Yuan, the CEO of Zoom, Steven Chen, co-founder of YouTube, Nobel Prize winning scientists Chen Ning Yang and T. D. Lee, physicist Chien-Shiung Wu who worked on the Manhattan Project developing the atomic bomb, U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye (Dem-HI) and Tammy Duckworth (Dem-Ill), film director Ang Lee, astronaut Kalpana Chawla, architect I. M. Pei, authors Maxine Hong Kingston, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Amy Tan, athletes Tiger Woods, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Michelle Kwan, musician Yo-Yo Ma, and actors Sandra Oh, Lucy Liu, Haing Somnang Ngor, George Takei (Mr. Sulu), and Bruce Lee.

 

Resources for Teachers on Asian American History

Anti-Asian Violence Resources https://anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co/

Asian American Education Project https://asianamericanedu.org/

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month https://asianpacificheritage.gov/for-teachers/

Center of East Asian Studies https://ceas.uchicago.edu/content/external-resources-educators

Facing History and Ourselves https://facingtoday.facinghistory.org/11-resources-for-teaching-about-aapi-experiences

International Examiner. Honoring, Remembering, and Sharing Kim Ark and his fight for justice, https://iexaminer.org/honoring-remembering-and-sharing-the-life-of-kim-ark-and-his-fight-for-justice/

Learning for Justice https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/after-atlanta-teaching-about-asian-american-identity-and-history

PBS https://ny.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/asian-americans-pbs/

Zinn Education Project https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/teaching-about-asian-pacific-americans/

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The Roundup Top Ten for April 29, 2022

Earth Day is a Chance to Win the Messaging War Against Polluters

by Laura J. Martin

Climate protectors are at war with the fossil fuels industry in the arena of public opinion, and they're losing. It's time to stop allowing Earth Day statements of corporate concern to substitute for real change. 

 

Why Isn't Joetha Collier Known as a Victim of Racism in Mississippi?

by Keisha N. Blain

A young woman's murder by white men in 1971, on the day she graduated from a newly integrated high school, doesn't fit easily into a narrative framework established by Emmett Till's killing – of martyrdom leading to change for the better.

 

 

Harvard President and Dean: Slavery Shaped the University

by Lawrence S. Bacow and Tomiko Brown-Nagin

Harvard's financial, infrastructural and intellectual legacies are unavoidably entangled with slavery. A new report is meant to signal the university's efforts at reckoning and reconciliation. 

 

 

What Makes a Conservative Christian College?

by Andrea L. Turpin

What does it mean when a self-identified "Conservative Christian" college determines that it has violated its own mission by teaching Critical Race Theory? Is the violation religious or political in nature? 

 

 

Journalists and Academics: Stop Fighting!

by Maggie Doherty

How can academics and journalists better understand the relationship between their two camps? 

 

 

Once More in Ukraine, Dehumanization Precursor to Mass Murder

by Anne Applebaum

Suppressing knowledge of the horrors of starvation inflicted on Ukrainians in the 1930s is a key to Russia's ability to use similar dehumanizing rhetoric to justify attacks on civilians today. 

 

 

The Unbearable Whiteness of Ken Burns

by Timothy Messer-Kruse

In the context of today's battles over teaching the history of racism in America, the new Franklin documentary unfortunately uses its subject to spin a narrative of national self-correction that ignores historians' attention to conflict and struggle. 

 

 

"Under the Banner" Improves, but Doesn't Sanitize, Book's Reductive History of LDS

by Benjamin E. Park

The new series raises questions about America's homegrown faith, and shakes off some of the source book's post-9/11 concerns with extremism and religious violence to show the complexity among different tendencies and branches of the faith. 

 

 

The Dark Money Behind KBJ Attacks Is Coming for Public Schools

by Alyssa Bowen

"Dark Money" organizations allow a small group of elite families to use their wealth to control the content of education around the country. 

 

 

The Decline of Tenure is the Greatest Threat to Higher Education

by Marc Stein

While states like Texas threaten tenure politically, in California the instititution is under attack by austerity and attrition; either way, higher education itself is threatened by the abandonment of employment security. 

 

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