More Liberal Lies About America

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.

Liberal Lies About America

I know that FOX News and Sean Hannity are usually “fair and balanced” but it seems to me that this report about corrupt liberal elite academics and their biased textbooks is missing some important elements of investigative journalism – specifically, the investigative part.  I’ve never heard of Prof. Larry Schweikart or his new book about how liberals are destroying all that is good about American history.  I’m sure it’s filled with all kinds of examples, but what I find curious is that there is no attempt to confirm anything in this FOX report.  It should come as no surprise that I came across this video over at Richard Williams’s site.  It should also come as no surprise that Mr. Williams fails to include any commentary concerning the claims made in this video.  One must assume he believes the report to be an accurate reflection of the most popular history textbooks that are currently being used across America.  It certainly conforms to his own assumptions about higher education.

At one point Schweikart claims that most college textbooks claim that President Roosevelt and the federal government knew that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor, but failed to act on that information.  Since the report fails to include one textbook reference it is impossible to connect the individual claims to a specific textbook.  I will start with my own left leaning textbook authored by Eric Foner.  We all know that Eric Foner is one of the most popular of the liberal academics out there so his book should be helpful.

To this day, conspiracy theories abound suggesting that FDR knew of the attack and did nothing to prevent it so as to bring the United States into the war.  No credible evidence supports this charge.  Indeed, with the country drawing ever closer to intervention in Europe, Roosevelt hoped to keep the peace in the Pacific. (p. 850 in Give Me Liberty!)

Perhaps such a claim can be found in Out Of Many: A History of the American People, which was banned in Texas because of its left wing bias:

Confrontation with Japan now looked likely.  U.S. intelligence had broken the Japanese diplomatic code, and the president knew that Japan was preparing for war against the western powers.  Roosevelt’s advisers expected an attack in the southern Pacific or British Malaya sometime after November: General Douglas MacArthur alerted his command in the Philippines. (p. 755)

How about a textbook that includes that other left leaning nut, Gary Nash?

Roosevelt had an advantage in the negotiations with Japan, for the United States had broken the Japanese secret diplomatic code.  But Japanese intentions were hard to decipher from the intercepted messages.  The American leaders knew that Japan planned to attack, but they didn’t know where.  In September 1941, the Japanese decided to strike sometime after November unless the United States offered real concessions.  The strike came not in the Philippines but at Pearl Harbor, the main American Pacific naval base, in Hawaii. (p. 810)

And finally, let’s consider what is arguably the most popular college-prep textbook of the past few decades:

Officials in Washington, having “cracked” the top-secret code of the Japanese, knew that Tokyo’s decision was for war.  But the United States, as a democracy committed to public debate and action by Congress, could not shoot first.  Roosevelt, misled by Japanese ship movements in the Far East, evidently expected the blow to fall on British Malaya or on the Philippines.  No one in high authority in Washington seems to have believed that the Japanese were either strong enough or foolhardy enough to strike Hawaii. (p. 871)

I have five additional textbooks on my shelf that fall into line with what I’ve already referenced.  Perhaps tomorrow I will check out one or two additional claims made by this individual.  Click here for a review of Schweikart’s own texbook.

Goodbye DISQUS

By now many of you have noticed that I’ve disabled the plugin for Disqus.  It is unlikely that I will activate again, but than again anything is possible.  Let me be clear that I actually think the service is very useful for moderating comments and promoting community and I appreciate the control it gives users over their comments throughout the blogosphere.  On top of that the customer service is first rate.  I highly recommend Disqus to those of you who are looking for advanced comment moderation features.  The one problem that persisted and that I could not get over is the problem that I have with all WordPress plugins: Plugins place the blogger in a dependency relationship with a third-party site.  I am willing to wager that the downtime with Disqus is no more frequent than with most plugins, but when it comes to comments I want an instant response.  Readers should not have to wonder whether a blog’s comment system is working properly on any given visit.  Perhaps I am overreacting, but I have a suspicion that a bad experience or even a few bad experiences, will turn off a reader from commenting in the future.

The other change to the site is the inclusion of a widget for Civil War Memory’s Facebook page, which you can join if you are on FB.  Once in a while it acts up, but for now I am willing to deal with it.  I am using it to communicate with “fans” of the blog and to share information that will not make it to the blog.  I am pleased that the number of fans continues to grow.  Please feel free to post your own notes, which will then appear in the feed on my blog.  You can post news items, events, and even your own Civil War related blog posts if you so desire.  All I ask is that your links loosely relate to the content of my blog.  Of course, I reserve the right to control the feed as well as membership.

Commemorating Joseph Johnston In His Final Hour

A statue of Confederate General Joseph Johnston was dedicated today on private land as part of the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville.  The Smithfield Light Infantry, a local camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, asked the property owner to donate land for the memorial and launched a private fundraising effort to pay the $100,000 cost of the statue.  One of my readers was kind enough to share this photograph, which he took at the dedication.

Can someone tell me what Johnston is supposed to be pointing to?  Have some fun with it.

The statue depicts Johnston with his left arm raised. It’s a call for his troops to hold the line against Yankee forces, Booker said. “And,” he added, “to hold the line against political correctness.”  Political correctness, in Booker’s view, has recast Confederate symbols and distorted history. “These days, political correctness means a lot of things aren’t mentioned or aren’t defended in the proper way,” he said. “But that will not happen in this case, I assure you.” Booker pointed out that the plaque at the foot of the statue did not require anyone’s approval. It reads: “Defender of the Southland to the End.”John M. Booker, Lt. Commander, Smithfield Light Infantry, SCV