Chris Wehner Strikes Again

I do my best to try to be a clear as possible on this site.  Of course, I do not always succeed, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why fellow blogger and APUS History teacher Chris Wehner is having so much difficulty understanding my position on American Exceptionalism [and here].  It’s one thing to disagree with me, which is something I have no problem with whatsoever and even encourage, but why does he continue to attribute positions to me that I’ve never expressed?  In his most recent post, and after hurling insult after insult in my direction, Wehner has this to say about what might be behind my comments:

However, I will offer a guess. (Note, this is my own personal opinion!) Levin has issues with the Republican Party going back to Reconstruction and what they failed to accomplish. He is also disappointed in what the American Revolution failed to accomplish. He is very much like Howard Zinn. But that is the problem, America was exceptional for what it was attempting. It initially failed to live up to our modern and presentists views. I wish our Founders were able to give equality to all, though nowhere else on such a scale was there anything close to early America in terms of political participation.

Thanks Chris, that was truly enlightening.  I sure could have used you the other day in class to help me with a lesson that pushed my students to understand the various factors that prevented most Southern slave owners from emancipating their slaves after the Revolution.  The goal of the lesson was to move beyond our own expectations to better understand the challenges that these men faced on a political/cultural/social and economic level.  Yep…sounds a lot like presentism to me.  I find it hard to believe how anyone who has followed my blog over the past few years could possibly arrive at such a characterization of my approach to history and/or the teaching of history.

Well, at least he remembered to provide a link this time around.

63 responses... add one

Kevin–like the new comments form!

I have to disagree with Richard. Knowing that a professor or AP teacher includes a certain book says absolutely nothing about how those professionals actually then TEACH the book. Zinn offers an interesting perspective on American history, but it's a perspective I suspect that few professional historians would adopt wholesale. Instead, his book shows students one (of many) ways to think about the past.

So, Richard, if you want to really do some research: go visit classes when that book is being taught. Listen to the thoughtful comments from students. I suspect that then you won't be able to be as, uh, general in your assertions as you have been here.

Rebecca,

So, you were able to register. You are absolutely right that Richard's “research” is incomplete until he actually investigates how the book is being used. The problem is that he is not interested in taking it to the next level because what he has found thus far is sufficient to reinforce his own assumptions about the leftist academics. Like I said, he doesn't read much, if anything, of the people he criticizes so he tends to sound like he is barking at the moon.

Kevin,
I've been thinking back to the time when I was in college during the 1980s studying history. Ronald Reagan was president, America was (supposedly) the shining city on the hill, and not once did I have professors from either side of the political spectrum try to “indoctrinate” me into believing that America was the greatest country in the world or that we were the scum of the earth. Privately, professors would express their political views in the context of their own life experiences, but not once did it spill over into the classroom. To be honest, I had never heard of Howard Zinn until I started working for Barnes and Noble, and most of my American History professors were very liberal.

History is just one more part of our culture which has become politicized. It saddens me to walk through my history section and see the Politically Incorrect Guides, which are purchased only by those people whose political views are rigid and want “facts” to back up their already well-entrenched views. Same goes with the “5,000 Year Leap” and books like “The Real George Washington” or “The Real Thomas Jefferson”. Historians, whether academic or popular, and like everyone else, has biases and viewpoints, but most try to keep them from coloring how they attempt to tell their story.

As to the complexity of our national story, I can't for the life of me understand how anyone can seriously look at our history and see it all one way or the other. There is plenty to celebrate (although how exceptional it makes us is a valid point of contention) and there is plenty to condemn (although every country in the world has its low points). That is what drew me to the study of the past, and why I like to focus on American history. It is indeed rich and complex. I'll never live long enough to completely understand what makes America tick, but it is in the journey of attempting to understand it that gives me the greatest pleasure. I hope I never get to the point where I scream “this is the one true answer”. At that point, learning comes to a dead stop.

Best
Rob

Rob,

I completely agree with everything said here. You may remember this post on how I use Howard Zinn's _A People's History_ in the classroom. Richard Williams chimed in with his usual sweeping generalizations concerning Zinn's supposed popularity among liberal professors even though he could never demonstrate its widespread use on the high school or college level. The books that you mention are clearly meant to appeal to people who have little or no curiosity about American history; rather, they use the past to reinforce their own political positions.

It's truly remarkable how unaware students can be of the indoctrination process into left wing social and political perspectives that pases for teaching in most American universities. i was a profesor in the English Department at William Paterson at the time you were a student in that diploma mill. Most members of the History Department were relentless in their propagation of left-wing socialist ideology. The chair of the department had a Soviet flag prominently displayed in her office.

Jacques Pluss, always in very fragile mental health, was a very obvious neo Nazi, but Nazism is not a political perspective. It's a criminal conspiracy, as defined by the Nuremberg trials in 1946, and is treated as such in the European Union today.

Professor Wertheim,

Thanks for the comment. I have to say that I have a very different memory of Paterson at that time. I earned degrees in both the history and philosophy department and went on to study on the graduate level in philosophy at the University of Maryland.

I found the history department to be filled with talented scholars who challenged me every step of the way. Let me state clearly that as a very conservative student I was not indoctrinated in any way. In fact, I was unaware of most of my professor's political views. In fact, I worked at Jacques Pluss's teaching assistant and spent a great deal of time chatting during office hours. I knew him (or I thought I knew him) as well as any student. So, you can imagine my surprise when it was revealed a few years ago that he had been a member of a neo-Nazi group. Other professors that stand out are Carol Gruber and Sara Nalle. The only professor who wore his politics on his sleeve was Terry Ripmaster and we got a long just fine in his excellent courses on Germany.

I also enjoyed my time in the Philosophy Department and was able to find an adviser for my Objectivist Club before I moved on to more interesting subjects and philosophers. Sorry, but your memory does not resonate with me at all. Thanks again for the comment.

Well, at least we agree on Sara Nalle. She was perhaps the only real scholar in the Wiliam Paterson History department. Ripmaster, like Pluss, was obviously mad. He really didn't have political opinions. He had a pose of parlor Marxism that attracted naive undergraduates. You say that you had an excellent German history courses with Terry Ripmaster. I am a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany. Ripmaster did not speak or read German. He had never been to Germany. He did not have a degree in history (His Ph. D. was in lanfuage arts from the NYU School of Education). His reading on German history (such as it was) came from introductory-level secondary sources and was extraordinarily superficial. His bohemian affectation and irreverence impressed undergraduates.

With this example, you have made my point. Undergraduates (or first year graduate students; we're not talking about Yale here) are usually not qualified to understand the academic qualifications of their professors or the political and social positions behind their studied objective postures. You were surprised to discover that Pluss was a Nazi, but Dr. Richard Jaarsma of the English Department and I, both of whom were born in Europe under that regime and knew Pluss well, were quite aware of this. For the most part, of course, you are quite correct. Professors usually do not wear their politics on their sleeve; nor are they involved in sinister plots to seduce undergraduates intellectually and morally. Left wing, socialist political positions are the way in which academics are conditioned to think in American universities. These positions are unconsciously equated in their mentalities with the rational and the educated. Religion and conservatism are equated with ignorance and selfishness. These are not deliberate deceptions, except in the few instances such as those we are discussing, but they are deceptions nevertheless.

You obviously did not have a positive experience at Paterson. I agree with you that undergraduates are probably not in the best position to understand the qualifications of their professors, but this has nothing to do with my experience at Paterson. If it wasn't for the history and philosophy departments there I would no doubt be sitting in some cubicle right now punching out numbers as some mediocre Accountant. I learned to love and respect the world of ideas at Paterson and for that I will be forever grateful.

Rather than continue this thread I am pleased to see that we can agree that most professors “usually do not wear their politics on their sleeve.” I learned a great deal from both Professors Ripmaster and Pluss, regardless of their backgrounds and qualifications. You point to Ripmaster's lack of a Ph.D in history, but I can point to other examples of professors with degrees from some of the top universities who had no business being in front of a classroom.

As I often tell my students, “When you stop learning, please let me know so I can throw some dirt on you before you start to stink!”

Recognizing that America's story is complex and rich does not mean that someone has accepted some academic buzzwords that preclude any negative or positive reaction to American History at a personal level. Are there things to get excited about? Yes. Are there things to be sad about? Yes. Does that mean teachers should let that cloud how they teach? No. Does it? As a rule, most good teachers attempt to check their bias at the door, but we are human beings.

I often tell my students that I'm not there to discuss with them whether an item is right or wrong, correct or incorrect, but simply to point out what was. I believe this lets students make their own decisions about how to view this country.

Do I think America is great? You bet, but that's because we enjoy more liberty than anywhere else on earth, not because we are better than everybody else.

Hi Richard,

You are an outsider looking in. You are neither a high school teacher or college professor and all you seem to be able to do is gather information that confirms your own narrow-minded perspective. Congratulations! I have nothing more to say in addition to what is contained in the post link below. Your blog is sounding more and more like the Glenn Beck Show – it's one conspiracy after another. Entertaining? Yes. Informative? Well, not really.

All of us eagerly await your rationalization of your own statements in support of the Crocker book. It should be a real doozy.

Kevin:

I am “an outsider looking in?” True. So that disqualifies me from reading, studying, researching and commenting? Does that also mean that only members of the military may offer commentary and observations about our armed forces and war? That would mean that since you are from and grew up in the Northeast, “you are an outsider looking in” when it comes to Southern culture, history, and heritage, which you comment on often. I could make the same charge regarding your “narrow-minded perspectives.” Using your logic, you have no business commenting on Glenn Beck, since you're not a radio or TV host. Absurd. Besides, my wife and I educated six children and have some very practical experience.

“I have nothing more to say in addition to what is contained in the post link below. '

What else is there to say? I simply posted a comment disproving your charge.

You haven't proved a damn thing. You spend hours and hours “researching” by doing one Google search after another about a book which it is not even clear you've read. Your anti-intellectualism shines through in your zealous attacks against academics whose books you do not read. Your response doesn't work because I do read Southern history and I do live in the South. I also tune into the GB Show once in a while. The problem is that you don't read the books that you criticize. It's not even clear to me that you read Crocker's book on the Civil War because if you did there is no way you could have given it your endorsement.

I sense that I am wearing out my welcome, so this will be my last comment (here) on this post. I believe it is quite clear that I did prove my point. You even seemed to agree with me when you stated in the original discussion:

“There are pages and pages of [Google search] results that include professors and AP teachers who include the book [Zinn's book] in their syllabi. The results cover a wide range of subjects from history to political science to anthropology and span a significant number of years.”

“pages and pages”, “a wide range of subjects”, “significant number of years.” Sounds like widespread use to me. But, hey, I'm just an outsider.

And my response does work. If living in the South and reading Southern history qualifies you to comment on the subject, then attending school and reading about academia qualifies me to comment as well. And although search engines are a wonderful tool in doing research, they are not my only resource. I do, however, find your criticism of using Google a little odd. Should someone coming across your site via Google discount everything here?

That's all. You may skewer me at your pleasure. Thank you for your (Southern) hospitality.

Richard,

I am no more or less (Southern) hospitable than you are on your own site. Like I said, until you actually take the time to read the books that you criticize I am not interested in your narrow and meaningless characterizations of people who spend a great deal of time thinking and writing about intellectual topics – more time than you will ever spend.

Yes, I acknowledge that many high school teachers (me included) and college professors use it, but you have no idea how they use it. You've always assumed the worse because it fits your assumptions about academia.

Ken: I enjoy your blog very much and I typically agree with your comments and I take your side against Williams,etc. But I have to say you are being somewhat disingenuous or amazingly naive about the liberal indoctrination issue in history teaching in H.S. and college. I concentrated in Am. History at Harvard in the late 80s. If there was no overt indoctrination into “critical” approaches toward America and its role in the world, that is only because the faculty and student body were already convinced or cowed into agreement and further “indoctrination” was unncessary. Williams is over the top, but his fears aren't that far from the truth. I had the amazing experience of taking David Donald's “Civil War” course which, incredibly, did not discuss the War. In a candid aside, Prof. Donald admitted to a few students that he would have loved to have included military history, but the campus atmosphere precluded him from doing so (I'm paraphrasing, but I heard him make this comment to a group of 3 or 4 of us, and that was the message). I was not politically active, but speak to anyone of our generation who attended an Ivy as a liberal arts major, and who “outed” themselves as anything but liberal, to get a sense of the peer pressure and isolation of that experience. The most popular American history “survey” courses at the time were taught by Alan Brinkley, a very public liberal. Did his politics influence his teaching? It is hard to judge from 20 years memory, but I cannot recall anything him ever saying anything that challenged the liberal consensus. Certainly his admiration of Roosevelt knew few bounds. Interestingly, Harvard was desperate at the time to attract Eric Foner. Foner is both a superb historian and very left-wing public commentator. Do these aspects of his career intersect and shape his teaching? Perhaps someone who has taken his classes at Columbia can comment.

Dan,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. What I value about your comment is the fact that you attended Harvard and are in a position to speak about your experience. It seems to me that your experience with Donald tells us much more about about the focus on social history on the college level. Now, I do agree that the beginning of social history can be traced to the politics and social unrest of the 1960s. Brinkley and Foner clearly come from that time period and I've never tried to deny that.

My problem is with people like Williams who attempt to reduce the discussion down to one of politics. We are all influenced by our way of seeing the world, but it seems to me that we can discuss the merits of our beliefs by focusing on the arguments that we offer. Foner's interpretation of Reconstruction is clearly influenced by his personal experiences, but would you suggest that we judge his work by simply referring to his politics? My point is that our work as historians must stand or fall based on the arguments that are put forward. Williams begins and ends his discussion of these matters with politics, which fails to shed any light on the issue.

One final point. I was a very vocal conservative as an undergraduate. In fact, I was the president of the school's chapter of the Objectivity Club, which is connected to the Ayn Rand Society. Yes, I was that conservative. I even hung out in New York City with members of Rand's inner circle. Most of my professors were liberal, but not once did I feel pressured to hide my beliefs and I can remember many wonderful philosophical and political discussions. I think there are a wide range of campus experiences that need to be taken into account. Thanks again.

Kevin:

As an interested reader of these blogs and comments, without a dog in this fight, I am surprised at the level of emotion among Mr. Wehner, Mr. Williams, and you. I do not understand the intensity of the remarks, but I think that a face to face discussion might yield better civility, though with probably no agreement.

Regarding Howard Zinn's book, I had never heard of it until several years ago (when I was many years away from high school or college). Zinn, while an intriguing polemicist-as-historian, just does not rate that highly in my interest, my worldview, or my to-read list.

I would, however, recommend a perusal of Biblical justifications of slavery written by James Henley Thornwell, Robert Dabney, Benjamin Palmer, and others. An excellent brief introduction to this topic is Eugene Genovese's Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture entitled “'Slavery Ordained of God': The Southern Slaveholders' View of Biblical History and Modern Politics” (1985).

Thornton Stringfellow, a Virginia theologian, in 1850 wrote “A Brief Examination of Scripture Testimony on the Institution of Slavery . . .” Stringfellow defended slavery as receiving “the sanction of the Almighty in the Patriarchal age” and that “its legality was recognized . . . by Jesus Christ in His Kingdom.”

Stringfellow also claimed that slavery was “incorporated into the only National Constitution which ever emanated from God.”

Is Stringfellow's quote an example of American Exceptionalism? More to the point, is this an example which you, Mr. Williams, or Mr. Wehner would use to teach students or other young people? It is not Zinn, but I find the writings of the antebellum Southern proslavery theologians to be a fascinating topic of American history and Southern heritage.

John Stoudt

Hi John,

Thanks for the comment and for pointing out the increased bitterness in recent days. In re: to Wehner I guess I am just a little frustrated by this guy's failure/inability to understand my position. The accusations are off the wall. Richard and I have a long history of sparring on the blogosphere. We always seem to recover from it so I am not too concerned.

I love your suggestion about how to read Thornwell and others who justified slavery in their writings. I use Thornwell and even a chapter from Genovese's _Roll, Jordan, Roll_ in my AP class, but I never thought about interpreting them as an expression of American Exceptionalism. I am going to have to give that some thought. Thanks so much for the comment.

I would argue that there is nothing exceptional about these examples. (If you want my opinion on this topic as a whole, you can click on my profile and follow the link there to my blog.) What I would argue is that people changed their viewpoint or never had it while it was the dominant view is the more exceptional thing.

I don't follow you Greg. Clearly, these men believed that America's “Exceptionalism” could be found in the fact that it was a slave owning society that was divinely inspired. Perhaps you can clarify your point.

Yes, they believed that, but that doesn't make it the case. What is more exceptional — that there were those who had this idea or those who changed their perception despite its unpopularity, perhaps, never having it in spite of the unpopularity. I understand that perception is the reality we live with and the same is true of those living in the past. These men did believe that their perception was exceptional; however, so did those who opposed slavery and advocated for an expansion of rights. I believe this would be the case regardless of the era. This is why, to me, the exceptionality of America in anything other than the exceptionality of the principles of liberty is an inaccurate presentation of history.

Greg,

Thanks for the follow up. Let me be clear that I am not primarily interested in what “is the case.” The history of the concept of American Exceptionalism is one that can be used to track changing conceptions of freedom, nationalism, and identity throughout American history. The view of white Southern slave owners represents one stop along the time line.

Whether this conforms to your definition of AE is another thing entirely. I would be very surprised if it did. Like I've said all along I do not introduce my own thoughts about AE in the classroom. I am, however, very interested in the history of the concept.

Greg,

Thanks for the follow up. Let me be clear that I am not primarily interested in what “is the case.” The history of the concept of American Exceptionalism is one that can be used to track changing conceptions of freedom, nationalism, and identity throughout American history. The view of white Southern slave owners represents one stop along the time line.

Whether this conforms to your definition of AE is another thing entirely. I would be very surprised if it did. Like I've said all along I do not introduce my own thoughts about AE in the classroom. I am, however, very interested in the history of the concept.

The history of the concept does tell us a great deal about national perceptions of the country throughout our history, and the white Southern slave owners' do represent one view of the concept. I do not present my own views of history either, unless I am point-blank asked. Teaching middle school students, the response to issues like slavery, women's issues, treatment of Native Americans is greeted with a response like, “That's not fair!” or “That isn't right.” To which my standard response is, “I'm not here to say what was right or wrong, correct or incorrect. I'm simply saying what was.”

Kevin,

I agree with Stanley Wertheim, in this sense: a university education does involve indoctrination of students into prevailing ideologies, to a certain extent. Professors do not willfully indoctrinate their students; the professors are, themselves, indoctrinated, and thus, do not realize that they are indoctrinating students. (Not all professors, but some)

I graduated from the university in 1977. As I have stated on your blog before, I left the university believing that women were inferior writers. No professor stood before a class and said that women were inferior writers, nor was there a “conspiracy” to make unsuspecting students believe that women were inferior writers. The majority of the professors simply believed this themselves, and I incorporated their beliefs without knowing that I had done so. Professor Wertheim’s comment has helped me to understand why I have had such a difficult time comprehending the changes that have taken place in the academic community in the last thirty plus years. Indoctrination went from one extreme to another.

I watched a video posted by one of your fellow bloggers in which Howard Zinn speaks at MIT. I don't understand what the problem is with Zinn. He makes perfect sense to me. Why does he make sense? Because I graduated from the university in 1977, and Zinn addresses the problems that both faculty and students faced in the 1960s and 1970s, as sweeping social changes went into effect. Zinn wrote his book in 1980. That was a difficult year for liberals. I remember that year. What I don’t think that liberal professors or liberal students from the 1960s and 1970s could foresee was the rigidity of point of view into which we would become locked–a rigidity of viewpoint that applies not only to the academic community; but to society at large. Blogs such as your blog help to begin to break down rigid stances so that a true dialogue can take place. I have not read Zinn's book. I did watch the video, though. What is the problem with Zinn? I don't understand. Thanks, Kevin.

Sherree,

Thanks for the comment. Let me be very clear that I am not suggesting in any way that academics/intellectuals somehow stand above culture/society/politics in any way shape or form. We are all products of the time and place we live. The university has always been a reflection of broader cultural patterns and individual disciplines no doubt evolve because certain interpretive assumptions or research models become popular. As you note, they also reflect the gender and racial climates at different times.

What I object to is the reductionist mindset that simply reduces all discussion of academic endeavor to a question of culture and politics. For people like Richard Williams the value of a specific work of history has little or nothing to do with the argument put forth and everything to do with his/her politics. That's a non-starter of an argument and of no help in trying to better understand the past. What I value most about my college experience is that I was taught that it is important to have beliefs, but that it is more important to be able to engage in critical thought about all things, including my own beliefs.

“What I value most about my college experience is that I was taught that it is important to have beliefs, but that it is more important to be able to engage in critical thought about all things, including my own beliefs.”

I agree with the above statement, Kevin. A liberal arts education should have, as its goal, the teaching of the ability to think. I received that ability through my education as well, and was able to later correct the shortcomings in my education concerning gender, precisely because I had received an excellent university education. Knowledge is not static, as has been observed here.

At the end of the video on Zinn, a student asked a very probing question: had any society that viewed itself as “exceptional”, (in the sense of being superior) ever relinquished that point of view voluntarily. Zinn replied “no”.

I think we may be witnessing that now. President Obama is asking America to relinquish the notion of “exceptionalism”, as an idea that promotes America as a nation superior to other nations. That is, in itself, an exceptional idea, and is an example of one of the things that is truly exceptional about America: our ability, and willingness, to continually examine our culture and history. We are not superior to other countries and societies. We are an exceptional nation, though.

When Zinn says that the idea that America is a “shining city on a hill” is limiting. It certainly is. Each shining hill that became a part of America required the displacement of the men, women, and children who inhabited that hill. That is a part of American history that students do need to understand, so that we can continue to build a more equitable society.

This may seem like a trivial thing to do, but I wanted my readers to see the upshot of engaging a former professor at William Paterson College, which I attended as an undergraduate. You can read our exchange below. I thought we were being cordial with one another and respecting what appear to be very different experiences of the place. Here is what Professor Stanley Wertheim had to say about me over at Chris Wehner's blog:

“I am hardly surprised to learn that Kevin Levin is an ideologue or that he is impatient with those who disagree with him. When he was an undergraduate student at the William Paterson University of New Jersey, where I was a professor of English, he was very much inspired by two professors in the History Department, as he acknowledges in his recent exchange with me on his blog. The first, Terry Ripmaster, was a doctrinaire, self-acknowledged communist. He taught German history, although he did not speak or read German; had never been in Germany;and had no degrees in history. I am a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany and was appalled by ths man’s ignorance. The second, Jacques Pluss, is a virulent Nazi (Look him up on Google), who was actually expelled from the National Socialist Movement for his extremism and rejected for membership by the American Nazi Party because he advocates genocide.”

As a young conservative I took classes with two professors, one of whom revealed much later on after I had graduated that he was a member of a neo-Nazi organization. Professor Wertheim has decided to now paint me as one or at least imply a connection. Geez, thanks a lot. Needless to say that this individual will no longer be able to comment on this blog.

Perhaps the ban on my posts is not as effective as it should be, but I can't reply directIy when my posts are banned. I really can't imagine what you and Kevin are reading into my statements. I was not suggesting that he was in any way a neo-Nazi but merely reiterating my point that undergraduates usually cannot distinguish when they are being indoctrinated socially and politically. Kevin was under the direct influence of two professors, one a self-professed Marxist and the other a Nazi with a thin veneer of reputability that he has since discarded, who to the knowledge of many faculty members were directly involved in such indoctrination. Most American liberal-arts university professors have been, with a lesser degree of consciousness, indoctrinating students with left-wing liberal humanism and anti-American political stances since the 1970s. Nazis are uncommon, although anti-Semitism is not. I believe your present debate about American exceptionalism reflects some of this bias. Political refugees from Europe such as myself have little doubt that the United States is exceptional, for all its shortcomings.

You accuse me of being an ideologue without any explanation and you somehow assume based on my few comments about my interaction with two former professors that I've been negatively influenced. Worst of all, you say this on another site after I engaged you here in a very respectable manner. What exactly did I say to deserve that? For someone who so easily criticizes the teaching and character of others you seem to be completely incapable of engaging in a mature discussion. It doesn't reflect well on the kind of teacher you are/were.

If you want to share some thoughts on what I've said about American Exceptionalism than please do so, but please stop attacking/demeaning my experience while a student at William Paterson College. You don't know the first thing about me.

We seem to be engaging in a comedy of misunderstanding. I see the internet as a forum for free-wheeling intellectual exchange, regardless of whose site I am posting on. You apparently consider this a violation of netiquette. It is not I who maintained that you had been influenced by the two professors mentioned; you maintained that they had inspired you to independent thought. I am in an excellent position to attack/demean your experience as a student at William Paterson College because, as a full professor at that institution, for 30 years, I know much more than you do about how it functioned, although I know little (not “nothing”) about you. As to my being “completely incapable of mature discussion,” I do have some credentials that might challenge this assumption, although I understand that you consider such things meaningless. I have a Ph. D. from a world-class university (NYU). While at William Paterson, I wrote and edited six books, all published by reputable publishers including Columbia University Press, the Macmillan Company, and Greenwood Publishers. I wonder whether you consider all doctorates as worthless as the Ph. D. After all, one can know a great deal about medicine without an M.D. or about law without a J.D., but would you go to a doctor or lawyer without such credentials? Is it only the Ph. D. that would not be credible evidence of competence as a teacher or scholar while other doctorates are evidence of knowledge and competence?

A word about the academy and American exceptionalism. As a European—I'm still a German citizen—I continue to marvel at the faith that American academics have in the authority of reason and the lack of appreciation for its limitations. It's a kind of religious faith. That is why you have approximately 3,000 institutions that are called colleges and universities, while France and Germany each have about 40. Given the population disparity, the US would need to have perhaps 200 such institutions. This is an example of exceptionalism, the faith that the average person can and should be educated. A William Paterson University could not exist in Europe. Another example is encapsulated in those words that come near the beginning of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” To whatever extent America has failed to live up to these promises, they were revolutionary and exceptional in the 18th century, and they remain so now. America was and is promises. It has realized these ideals to a far greater extent than any other nation. Europeans scoff at these ideals, but they gaze with awa at the Statue of Liberty. I said this sort of thing to Professor Ripmaster once. He threw his books at me.

Professor Wortheim,

You said the following: “I am in an excellent position to attack/demean your experience as a student at William Paterson College because, as a full professor at that institution, for 30 years, I know much more than you do about how it functioned, although I know little (not “nothing”) about you.”

How am I supposed to respond to such a claim? Yes, I claim that my professors at William Paterson taught me the importance of analytical thought and a love for ideas. What is my evidence for such a claim you might ask? How about clicking on my cv for a few examples. I've published an article in one of the leading journals in American history and was honored for best essay in that publication in 2007. I have book chapters that have been published or forthcoming by the University of Kentucky Press, University of North Carolina Press, and University of Florida Press. My book manuscript on the battle of the Crater and historical memory is being considered for publication by the University of Kentucky Press. I have spoken at the annual meetings of the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and Southern Historical Association. Please don't challenge me to a pissing contest. Oh…and I did it all with an M.A. in history. Again, if it wasn't for my professors at William Paterson I am sure that I would not have continued down the road of scholarship and teaching.

Thank you for your reflections on American Exceptionalism. You make some excellent points. I should point out that I've never denied anyone their right to define their own understanding of AE. What I have said is that I do not impose my own views on my students. I assume that given your concerns about indoctrination that you would support such a position.

Again, we seem to be misreading one another. I never criticized your credentials or lack of credentials, although I do wonder that you achieved a respect for ideas and analytical thought at William Paterson, and I am truly amazed that you were able to learn very much about German history from a professor who neither read nor spoke German or had ever been to Germany. Both are truly remarkable accomplishments.

I also have no reason to believe the indoctrination that you were subjected to at WPC had any effect on your publications. First, I have never read your publications, and second, almost every survey of the subject indicates that the persistent left-wing propaganda that American students are subjected to, even at real universities, has little lasting effect on their social and political opinions.

My remarks on the Blog4History about your ideological obscurantism were based entirely on my reading of your comments and those of others on this blog that seem devoid of any real meaning. Now, we all have our own definitions of abstractions like “real” and “meaning,” which is what I intended to say when I referred to the limits of reason and the difficulty most American intellectuals seem to have in recognizing these limitations. Faith in reason as the arbiter of reality is the ultimate simple-mindedness. The criticism of American exceptionalism on this blog seem to me to be what Hamlet characterized as “words, words, words.” My reference to the Statue of Liberty in my last post was based on an experience I had a few weeks ago aboard the Queen Mary 2 from Hamburg. As the ship entered New York harbor at about 4:30 in the morning, my wife and I stepped out on the balcony of our stateroom and saw hundreds of my countrymen lined up on rows on the decks straining to catch the first glmpse of the Statue of Liberty. I was not surprised; I've seen that before a number of times. There you have a “real” insight into the “meaning” of American exceptionalism.

Just for the record, this is your follow-up comment at Chris Wehner's blog. It strikes me as odd that you would attack me on a personal level by describing me as pretentious and then suggesting that I failed to complete my education. Does my cv really reflect a failure to complete my education. I would say that I've done fairly well for myself and I am proud of my academic accomplishments.

“I stumbled across Richard Levin’s web site. He seems to be an simple-minded but pretentious high school teacher who began but failed to complete a graduate education in a subject in which he aspires to expertise through the use of obscurantist psudo-intellectual jargon. He maintains that he learned a great deal about German history from a college professor who did not read or speak German, had never visited Germany, and had no degrees in history. He also maintains that in a history department filled with left-wing ideologues “not once can I remember one of them trying to influence our political views or forcing us to think a certain way about the past.” In 45 years of college teaching (30 of them in the very college Levin attended), I can say without qualification that I have never encountered so naive a reaction to the relentless left-wing social and political indoctrination that since the 1970s has been the staple of liberal-arts education in American universities.”

And even now you choose not to engage my thoughts about AE and the teaching of history. Rather, you offer a personal story, which is no doubt significant in your framing of this concept. That said, I find it curious that as a professor you chose to spend much more time insulting and questioning my integrity than engaging me in serious discussion. And this is after I welcomed your initial comments.

“While at William Paterson, I wrote and edited six books, all published by reputable publishers including Columbia University Press, the Macmillan Company, and Greenwood Publishers.”

http://www.bookfinder.com/author/stanley-wertheim/

In the interests of historical accuracy, Dr. Wertheim has coedited several books, prepared an encyclopedia, and prepared a bibliography. I don't see a monograph in the bunch. Perhaps the list is incomplete.

If nothing else, the professor should have recognized the collaborative nature of his labors, especially if he's going to beat his chest about his accomplishments. Let's not inflate our resumes along with our own sense of self.

“I am in an excellent position to attack/demean your experience as a student at William Paterson College because, as a full professor at that institution, for 30 years, I know much more than you do about how it functioned, although I know little (not “nothing”) about you.”

I'm puzzled. Why would anyone ridicule an institution that saw fit to elevate the critic to the rank of full professor? And why would anyone who held that institution in such contempt be there for three decades? After all, if it was a “diploma mill,” who ran the mill?

“I was fully aware that the Philosophy Department at WPC had one or two real scholars and attracted most of the intellectiually competent students at WPC, all 12 of them. I was quite jealous. I wondered what their secret was. In our 28 member English department we had six or seven excellent scholars and critics. Yet, we almost never attracted intellectually competent students. None of the few decent students I had in my 30 years at the institution was an English major.”

From reading these answers, I think I have a very good idea of why students avoided this professor.

As for Pluss being recognized as a Nazi by his colleagues at William Paterson, what exactly did they do with this information? Did Professor Wertheim ever make public Pluss's political philosophy? Where? You would think this would have been a matter for public discussion at the time, and not after Pluss moved elsewhere. Pluss seems to be something of a sick, twisted fool, but I'd be interested in seeing what other faculty, including Dr. Wertheim, made of these beliefs at the time, and how they balanced them with the concept of academic freedom. Surely, if the professor can go after Mr. Levin with such passion here, there must be evidence of his going after Pluss in public at the time.

So, let's see, Kevin. In addition to being a carpetbagger, a scalawag, and a Marxist, you are now a neo Nazi? That would be a strange occupation for you. Anyone who wishes to say something to you should say it to you, not to someone else.

It must be a sign that I am doing something right. In all seriousness, I engaged this guy in an honest little exchange. I acknowledge some of his points as legitimate and offered my own perspective and then he goes to another site and trashes me. Now that's what I call intellectual dishonesty.

Kevin,

Maybe he is not used to the blog forum. I thought you were very fair. I am not sure what to think, quite honestly, except that you don't deserve treatment like that. Sherree

Kevin,

Love your blog. I was fascinated by this exchange. I must say, however, that finding out you are a neo-Nazi casts your Bar Mitzvah in an entirely different light.

Hi Allan,

I don't believe that this guy is accusing me of being a neo-Nazi, but he is claiming that somehow I was unwittingly influenced by a neo-Nazi. It strikes me as funny that someone I've never met would imply such a thing about me.

Kevin,

I know that the professor was not accusing you. I also understand and agree with the point that young students are often not equipped to understand the manner in which they are being influenced. I saw that throughout my own education. I was simply trying to add a little levity because the thought of you succumbing to the negative influences of a neo-Nazi professor is laughable to me.

Allan,

Thanks for the follow-up. Let me just point out that I am not suggesting that students are not influenced by their professors and that this doesn't sometimes occur to a dangerous extent – regardless of the ideological direction. At the same time students should be influenced by the people they study under. What is the point of higher education if that fails to occur. I have been influenced by everyone that I've studied under, some much more than others, but that doesn't mean that I parrot what they taught me or that I've become some kind of robot. I've been influenced in the sense that they forced me to think about things that I probably would never have thought about on my own. Some of what I've learned I agreed with and other things I disagreed with. I was lucky enough to work with professors at three different institutions who respected my mind and provided me with the necessary room to think critically. I like to think that I provide the same space for my own students.

Kevin,

We have had a similar conversation before and I agree with you. It seems the real problem here is that the professor has no respect for your educational background in general and your degree from William Patterson in particular. Curious, given that he saw fit to teach there for 30 years.

Allan,

That is an excellent point. I am the first person to admit that WPC was not known for being a beacon of knowledge when I attended. After high school I attended the local community college for two years before transferring to Paterson and my first year was spend in a drunken haze in a fraternity.

It was actually the Philosophy Department (and only later the Philosophy Department), which sparked my interest in ideas. For the last two years I took a full load of course to satisfy both degree requirements. I was lucky enough to become friends with a small group of philosophy majors all of whom were equally passionate. Our late nights were spent in the department's lounge talking about ideas until the wee hours of the morning. All of us ended up going on for advanced degrees and a number of them are now Philosophy professors themselves. It was one of the most intellectually stimulating periods of my life and I will be forever grateful. I made it a point to question my teachers in both departments and they encouraged me to do so.

To be honest, I am not really interested if this guy respects my educational background. What I do expect, however, is that he engage me in a mature manner rather than accuse me of being a fraud.

I was a little too quick to concede the professor's good faith. Over at Blog4History he posts as follows:

“PS: Levin has banned me from his blog. He maintains that I am falsely attempting to associate him with Jacques Pluss, later an avowed Nazi and at that time recognized as a Nazi by his colleagues, when he was only a student in Pluss’s class. The fact is that he was Pluss’s personal teaching assistant.”

This is stated like it's a “gotcha” moment. However, you revealed it yourself in a reply to him. Clear and dishonest attempt to discredit you by the association.

Professor Wertheim has provided no evidence that anyone at WPC knew about Pluss's associations before he himself revealed this a few years ago.

I'm overwhelmed by the variety of responses my posts have gotten on this blog. Most of them show almost total misunderstanding. Perhaps my English usage is inadequate. Only Sherree Tannen seems to comprehend what I am saying. It was a relief to read her post. You and some of the others appear to be lost in the fog of meaningless abstractions that cloud the minds of most American academics these days—what you call rational discussion. All nations are exceptional. Yes, India is exceptional in that half her people are starving; Cuba is exceptional in that a person will disappear an hour after criticizing the regime; the Republic of the Congo is exceptional in that you are likely to be butchered if you are a Tutsi. What insane garbage!

You say that I have provided no evidence that anyone at WPC knew about Pluss's Nazi associations before he revealed them. What evidence would you like? Does my background suggest I am making things up? All this happened about 15 to 20 years ago. Professor Jaarsma died of a massive heart attack. Pluss's mother, a physician, with whom I was in contact and who blamed his psychiatrist for over-medicating him, is also dead. You might write the American Riding Instructors' Association and ask whether I did not inform them at that time that Pluss was Information Director of the National Socialist Movement. He was a lifetime member. They first ignored my messages until I contacted their sponsors. They decertified Pluss only hours after that.

I was fully aware that the Philosophy Department at WPC had one or two real scholars and attracted most of the intellectiually competent students at WPC, all 12 of them. I was quite jealous. I wondered what their secret was. In our 28 member English department we had six or seven excellent scholars and critics. Yet, we almost never attracted intellectually competent students. None of the few decent students I had in my 30 years at the institution was an English major.

Professor Wortheim,

I don't know what responses to your comment you are referring to. You are supposed to be an academic and yet this is the best you can do in response to the multiple posts written on this subject: “You and some of the others appear to be lost in the fog of meaningless abstractions that cloud the minds of most American academics these days.” Congratulations.

I am beginning to understand why you failed to attract any “decent students” to study under you in your 30 years at WPC. Who would want to deal with your arrogance? Granted that WPC was not a beacon of curiosity, but that is a pretty sorry record.

Professor Wertheim,

All personal animosity that has developed between you and Kevin aside, this has been a productive exchange. Your viewpoint is appreciated, and by Kevin himself, I would venture to say. You are also correct concerning Jacques Pluss; he is quite insane. In addition, he is a racist and an anti Semite.

Kevin Levin is not Jacques Pluss, however. He is Kevin Levin. And he has quite a gift for teaching, as well as a considerable intellect, so I would ask you, as a reader of this blog, to please refrain from insulting him.

Students are most definitely indoctrinated into whatever the prevailing ideology of the time happens to be–and that includes students at Yale and students in European universities as well. Education itself is a form of indoctrination. That does not mean that those students remain indoctrinated throughout their lives.

Yes, America is an exceptional nation. It is very moving to hear you speak of America in the way in which you do. To hear your words helps to further the appreciation of America for those of us who had the privilege to be born in this nation.

You know of the turmoil in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. Those were difficult decades, in which tremendous change took place. I attended the university shortly after women were first admitted. America still had a long way to go, at that time, to bring equality to its own citizens. We did it, though, and we are still striving to achieve a more perfect union, and yes, that is exceptional.

In closing, the experience you related concerning the Statue of Liberty resonated with me. Kevin posted a comment that I made ten months ago that expresses a similar sentiment as expressed by friends who defected from Russia. I include it below. Thank you.

As President-elect Obama said, we are a nation held together by a set of ideas, and even as our nation failed to live up to those ideas and the ideals they inspired over the centuries, still the core idea of freedom for all and the equality of all remained–the flame–and now that flame truly is a beacon again unto the world, held high by Lady Liberty, as a friend of mine who defected from Russia to America in the 1970s and who lived through the siege of Leningrad said as she described the Statue of Liberty to me and why SHE loved America so much: “In Russia there is not that lady!!” my friend said at the time, “She does not exist!” “What Lady?” I asked. “The Lady Liberty with the flame of freedom in her hand.”

It takes a lot of work and dedication to keep that flame burning, Professor Wertheim. And that is what Kevin is helping to do by running this blog, as are you, by publicly denouncing men like Jacques Pluss. I hope that you and Kevin begin to converse. Sincerely, Sherree Tannen

Is there really any doubt whatsoever as to why Professor Wertheim ended up spending thirty years of his career at a college he disliked? It' perfectly clear to me.

Is there really any doubt whatsoever as to why Professor Wertheim ended up spending thirty years of his career at a college he disliked? It' perfectly clear to me.

Kevin,

Please, I am asking everyone to stop insulting one another. You did not hurl the first insult, but you can keep the insults from continuing. After one and a half years of interacting with you, you know how much I personally admire you, and how brilliant I find you to be.

It is beyond disturbing that Jacques Pluss was on the faculty of a university; it is terrifying. The man is truly insane, and apparently schizophrenic enough to live a double life. I am including an article from History News Network. Everyone please read this article.

Professor Wertheim is doing very good work. I linked to a site that speaks of the attempts of Arab Americans and Jewish Americans to bridge differences. The site is entitled : “Ishmael and Isaac Unite”. Professor Wertheim is involved in this.

You are doing tremendous work to promote awareness of how our memory of the Civil War has helped to promote racism, Kevin. Your contributors are also doing tremendous work in their various fields, so again, I am asking–no I am pleading–for this thread not to turn into a public humiliation of either you or Professor Wertheim. Professor Wertheim is obviously not familiar with blog forum. Blogs can be very treacherous places within which to communicate. Luckily for me, my foray into the world of blogs has been a positive experience, because I entered the blogosphere through your blog, Kevin, and I admire you for so many reasons, not the least among them being that you understood that I did not understand this new technology, and you helped me not to say and do things that I would regret. Kevin, you are a wonderful man, a brilliant man, and a man of true integrity. I thank you for everything, I truly do. I just want to do that publicly, here. Now. As I said earlier, you are not Jacques Pluss. You are Kevin Levin. Jacques Pluss is a dangerous man. Why was he teaching at a university? University officials need to answer that, and answer for it. Sherree

Here is the article:
3-12-07

Jacques Pluss Now Says He Is a Nazi–And Proud of It
By Troy Vettese
Mr. Vettese is an HNN intern.

In March 2005, Fairleigh Dickinson University fired Jacques Pluss, a popular and outwardly tolerant professor who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in medieval history. It was reported that Pluss was a neo-Nazi. But to avoid controversy, FDU cited Pluss’s alleged numerous absences for his dismissal, not his beliefs.

HNN has closely followed this story since then and kept in contact with Pluss. Pluss has even posted on HNN forums, and wrote an article to defend himself against defamation, which was published by HNN in January 2006.

This article, titled, “Now It Can Be Told: Why I Pretended to Be a Neo-Nazi,” explained that he was posing as a Nazi to collect research for his book on fascist movements in the US. He later went on to confess that he was responsible for his own firing by writing a letter to the university newspaper disclosing his involvement in the National Socialist Movement (NSM). This contradicted his earlier assertion that a “watchdog group” unmasked him. He went on to claim that he allowed himself to be vilified to use himself “a human literary experiment.” This enabled him to experience personally what the people he was writing about experienced–what he called Geistesgeschichte (‘spirit of history’).

Six months later, in August 2006, he repudiated this version of events, but insisted that he “never claimed not to be a National Socialist.” He is currently an unrepentant National Socialist and has dedicated himself to this cause. He maintains a blog concerned with right extremist politics and Nazi ideology.

Since losing his job, Pluss has become increasingly strident in his pronoucements and has admitted on his blog to being disingenuous to reporters.

He has recently stated that he lied to interviewers from the Jewish Standard and Citizens Against Hate. He was mendacious because he wanted to use these reporters to give him publicity and a forum for denigrating his erstwhile organization, the NSM. This was justifiable because “spreading disinformation to gain knowledge or make a point was a value that Heinrich Himmler's SS held quite dear.”

Another opinion he shares with Himmler seems to be the support of genocide. Pluss has “clarified” several “racial questions,” that presumably have been asked by his neo-Nazi peers. In regard to African-Americans he maintains that:

Negroes are not humans. The True National Socialist view of the Negro is that each one of them should be liquidated, that is, killed immediately or after performing forced labor without shelter or food. The elderly, women and children should probably be wiped out first, since their labor potential is less than that of a healthy male. Special Action Squads should be formed, made up of Aryans, and charged with the rapid liquidation of the Negro blight amongst us.

Not surprisingly, Pluss does not hold a high opinion of Jews (who, according to him, are also sub-human), but rather exhorts fellow neo-Nazis to:

Liquidate them wherever you find them. If they hide, search them out and execute them. They are, by nature, dangerous sub-humans who have developed clever ways to cheat, lie and steal from others. Remember that no Jew has ever done an honest day's work in his or her life. Hence, they represent the ultimate parasite.

Aside from writing on his blog, Pluss claims to run the American branch of Stille Hilfe (Silent Help), an organization that provides assistance to Nazis from the Third Reich (not surprisingly, this is a clandestine organization, and Pluss refused to disclose any details of his work). Pluss has recently said that his “infiltration” of NSM was not simply for book research, but also done under orders from his Stille Hilfe superiors to “find out whether it was a real National Socialist group or not.”

And in his opinion, it wasn’t, and that is why he left the NSM in October 2005. He left on bad terms and Pluss is estranged from his former colleagues. Many of their forums dedicate themselves to deprecating Pluss, and cast doubt on his military experience and even allege that he is a Jew. In turn, Pluss contends that American Nazi groups are racially impure, ignorant of Nazi theory and history, and led by “mediocrities.” So far are these groups beyond the pale, that the NSM, he claims, is actually a front for a Satanist cult (Pluss referred to the scandal as “Satangate”). Pluss sees himself as one of the last true Nazis in America, and these extremist outfits are simply not up to snuff.

After his disastrous involvement with the NSM, Pluss has dedicated his time to Stille Hilfe Amerika. This new endevour marks a return to Pluss’s roots, as his childhood home was also a refuge for fleeing Nazis. Pluss says his childhood was suffused with Nazi influences. His grandmother, who raised him, was an ardent National Socialist, and provided shelter to many Nazis fleeing the law. Pluss reminisces that “My initial instruction in NS (Nazism) began at their hands.” It is in this environment that the young Pluss imbibed the National Socialist dogma and marked the beginning of his life long devotion to this cause.

Since the last HNN report on Pluss, he has changed his stance greatly. Far from denying his Nazi beliefs, he has embraced them wholeheartedly. His blog has revealed the true depths of his adherence to the genocidal ideology of National Socialism. This change over the last couple of years is best described by Pluss himself: “the constant pressure to hide my true self finally burst forth, and I've lost a lot because of it, but I regret nothing.”

Sherree,

I appreciate your concerns, but I am not for one minute going to apologize for my response to Prof. Wortheim. I welcomed his comments and continued to allow him to respond on this site even after he insulted me twice on another blog. He has attacked my integrity as a teacher, student, and historian while I refrained from responding in kind. My last comment is an honest response to what he has said here. It is indeed clear as to why he was unable to find students to study under him in his 30 years at WPC. My mentor in the Philosophy Department attracted roughly 15 during his first two years and continues to produce top quality undergraduates who have gone on to graduate studies and beyond.

As for Pluss I fail to see why you are so concerned about him. Yes, I studied under him and worked as his TA. l learned quite a bit about teaching from him and was deeply saddened to learn of his associations and beliefs a few years ago. He is apparently a deeply disturbed individual. That said, I refuse to turn this thread into a forum about Professor Pluss. It has nothing to do with him.

I apologize if I seem a bit emotional, but this thread has gotten completely off track because some disgruntled professor can't handle the fact that a graduate of his institution had a positive experience and was able to take what he learned and further his education and even contribute something scholarly to the field in which I studied in while a student there. Have you ever heard of anything so bizarre before? I can't possibly imagine attacking the accomplishments of a graduate of the school in which I teach because of my own experiences. I can't think of anything more pathetic than that.

Yes, well, he was not this forthcoming or blatant at WPC. He confided his Nazi sympathies to Professor Richard Jaarsma, to me, and probably to Professor Richard Atnally. I believe he thought that since I was German and professor Jaarsma was Dutch, we would be in sympathy with him. We were of course totally repelled. I am, incidentally, not the Stanley wertheim cited by another blogger as a member of an Arab-Israeli reconciliation organization. That is another person. My “real” name is Klaus-Helmut Wertheim, but I changed my first name because, living in the US, I didn't want to appear that foreign. Even my German passport now lists me as Stanley Wertheim.

Sherree,

I appreciate your concerns, but I am not for one minute going to apologize for my response to Prof. Wortheim. I welcomed his comments and continued to allow him to respond on this site even after he insulted me twice on another blog. He has attacked my integrity as a teacher, student, and historian while I refrained from responding in kind. My last comment is an honest response to what he has said here. It is indeed clear as to why he was unable to find students to study under him in his 30 years at WPC. My mentor in the Philosophy Department attracted roughly 15 during his first two years and continues to produce top quality undergraduates who have gone on to graduate studies and beyond.

As for Pluss I fail to see why you are so concerned about him. Yes, I studied under him and worked as his TA. l learned quite a bit about teaching from him and was deeply saddened to learn of his associations and beliefs a few years ago. He is apparently a deeply disturbed individual. That said, I refuse to turn this thread into a forum about Professor Pluss. It has nothing to do with him.

I apologize if I seem a bit emotional, but this thread has gotten completely off track because some disgruntled professor can't handle the fact that a graduate of his institution had a positive experience and was able to take what he learned and further his education and even contribute something scholarly to the field in which I studied in while a student there. Have you ever heard of anything so bizarre before? I can't possibly imagine attacking the accomplishments of a graduate of the school in which I teach because of my own experiences. I can't think of anything more pathetic than that.

Yes, well, he was not this forthcoming or blatant at WPC. He confided his Nazi sympathies to Professor Richard Jaarsma, to me, and probably to Professor Richard Atnally. I believe he thought that since I was German and professor Jaarsma was Dutch, we would be in sympathy with him. We were of course totally repelled. I am, incidentally, not the Stanley wertheim cited by another blogger as a member of an Arab-Israeli reconciliation organization. That is another person. My “real” name is Klaus-Helmut Wertheim, but I changed my first name because, living in the US, I didn't want to appear that foreign. Even my German passport now lists me as Stanley Wertheim.

Kevin,

I have withdrawn this comment under the new comment management system that you have put in place. I mistook Professor Wertheim for another man of the same name. I do not know what Professor Wertheim's views are, so I cannot say that I agree with him, or disagree. I do not agree with his treatment of you, however. Thank you, Kevin.

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