I decided to take a few minutes to follow up on yesterday’s post concerning the so-called “Liberal Lies” about American history that can be found in most college history textbooks. While we didn’t find any evidence yesterday to confirm the FOX News piece perhaps we will have better luck today. Let’s look at Schweikart’s claim that comes at 3:10 in the video:
Harry Truman ordered the Atomic bombing of Japan to intimidate the Soviets with “Atomic Diplomacy”.
Schweikart goes on to say that there is no evidence in the newly opened Japanese archives (not sure what he is referring to here) to confirm that Japan intended to do anything other than fight to the death. Rather than head straight to the textbooks, however, let’s take a look at the 1988 DBQ that focused specifically on the decision to drop the Atomic Bomb in 1945. Here is the prompt and question:
The United States decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima was a diplomatic measure calculated to intimidate the Soviet Union in the post-Second World-War era rather than a strictly military measure designed to force Japan’s unconditional surrender.
Evaluate this statement using the documents and your knowledge of the military and diplomatic history of the years 1939 through 1947.
We all know that the College Board is a bastion of left wing ideology and that a committee of history professors and history teachers formulate the DBQs so we should be able to find the kind of bias that Hannity and Schweikart, and Richard Williams are trying to protect us from. Check it out for yourself. You will notice that the documents force students to acknowledge that the decision to drop the bomb must be understood from multiple perspectives. Students must weigh the specific sources, along with their background knowledge and come up with a solid thesis statement. I’ve used this DBQ every year that I’ve taught the AP course and every year my students disagree. A student can earn a score of 9 for any number of positions. The 9, however, almost always includes a concession paragraph that acknowledges that the question is complex and can be answered in more than one way. It is the responsibility of the student to justify why he/she has taken a specific approach. Is there something wrong with this question? Are we teaching our students to hate America because we ask them to weigh evidence rather than see American history in black or white? Where is the “Lie”?
I went and took a quick look at the same textbooks that I referenced yesterday as well a few more and not one offered the simplistic explanation that Schweikart believes is pervasive in college classrooms throughout the country. In fact, I was pretty impressed with the amount of attention given to this question. Most give equal weight to the goals of ending the war swiftly to minimize the loss of American life, the role of domestic and international politics, and a host of other factors.
This report is disturbing on so many different levels. It’s difficult to see how this is “fair and balanced” in any way shape or form. If a student handed this in as an example of investigative journalism I would give it a grade of F. There may, in fact, be a liberal conspiracy at work in our history classrooms, but you need to provide real evidence if you hope to convince folks beyond those that already believe that this must be the case. The quality of this piece and the decision of at least one blogger to post it without any explanation reflects something much more disturbing than anything about the so-called liberal bias in history textbooks.