26 February 2015

Thought For The Day

The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women. ~ Booker T. Washington

24 February 2015

Academia's Deafening Silence

Right under their noses, yet they're too busy chasing non-existent "ism" boogie-men:
A study titled “National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students 2014,” conducted in the spring of 2014 by Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, revealed that over half of Jewish college students have experienced anti-Semitism on campus.
*Phonies. More here.

*Just to be clear, I'm referring to the phonies in academia who are silent on this issue, not the ones who conducted the study.

23 February 2015

Ricky Jay & The History Lesson

His sleight of hand reminds me of some history bloggers . . .

18 February 2015

Gordon S. Wood Nails The "incestuous conversations of the academic scholars"

*Update: Kevin Levin responds (kinda) to Professor Wood here. I'll be responding to Kevin Levin in a separate post soon. 

Oh my. Professor Gordon S. Wood seems to delight in overturning the tables in the temple:
College students and many historians have become obsessed with inequality and white privilege in American society. And this obsession has seriously affected the writing of American history. The inequalities of race and gender now permeate much of academic history-writing, so much so that the general reading public that wants to learn about the whole of our nation’s past has had to turn to history books written by nonacademics who have no Ph.D.s and are not involved in the incestuous conversations of the academic scholars.  (Emphasis mine.)
Now that was a mouthful if ever there was one. Sounds familiar, does it not?

And . . .
. . . the new generation of historians has devoted itself to isolating and recovering stories of the dispossessed: the women kept in dependence; the American Indians shorn of their lands; the black slaves brought in chains from Africa. Consequently, much of their history is fragmentary and essentially anachronistic—condemning the past for not being more like the present. It has no real interest in the pastness of the past. These historians see themselves as moral critics obligated to denounce the values of the past in order to somehow reform our present. (Emphasis and links mine.)
And . . .
Not only does the history these moral reformers write invert the proportions of what happened in the past, but it is incapable of synthesizing the events of the past. It is inevitably partial, with little or no sense of the whole. If the insensitive treatment of women, American Indians, and African slaves is not made central to the story, then, for them, the story is too celebratory. Since these historians are not really interested in the origins of the nation, they have difficulty writing any coherent national narrative at all, one that would account for how the United States as a whole came into being. (Emphasis mine.)
It would be really hard to add anything to these comments. And it's not necessary. He simply nails it. Those of us outside the "incestuous conversations" have been pointing this out and writing about it for many years. But there's something very validating when these same observations come from inside the temple of academia. We know what he writes rings true which is why the strident claims of "objectivity and balance" from these same academic historians, along with their scoffing at the notion of political correctness, consoles only those involved in the "incestuous conversations." They are blinded by their own arrogance and sense of moral superiority; the blind leading the blind.

You can read all of Professor Wood's brilliant piece (which is actually a tribute to Professor Bernard Bailyn) here at The Weekly Standard. He concisely, but very skillfully, exposes the shrinking credibility of modern historians and one can sense both the sadness and anger in his writing.

Hat tip to David Corbett.

13 February 2015

The Augusta County Historical Society Reviews My Latest Book

Waynesboro-based Civil War *historian Richard G. Williams, who grew up very close to the site of the battle, has written a lengthy and comprehensive analysis of the battle. The focus of the book is the battle itself, but he adds a lengthy description of the events leading up to the battle including useful sections on the lives of Union and Confederate troops including Generals Sheridan and Early. There is an interesting sub-chapter on the merits of Sheridan's "burning" of the Valley from Winchester to Augusta County where Williams reminds readers that Sheridan was acting on direct orders from General U.S. Grant and acted with restraint on some occasions, but he also tells of instances of unnecessary cruelty by Union troops in the Valley. There is a lengthy section on the "Aftermath" of the battle as well as an Appendix section on one Maria Lewis, a Black woman who allegedly rode in disguise with the 8th New York Cavalry during the Civil War.
Williams' The Battle of Waynesboro is a superb study not only of the battle itself, but also of events preceding and following the battle, the leading actors on both sides, and the desperate condition of the Confederacy in the late winter of 1865. His approach is balanced and fair except that he may go overboard a bit in his criticism of Sheridan's "burning" campaign. Williams has done excellent research even using the memoirs of both Generals Early and Sheridan and his very clear writing is a joy to follow. The book is well illustrated. Williams is to be commended for his excellent work. ~ Augusta County Historical Society Bulletin, Volume 50--2014.
And thus, my ego is sufficiently stroked - for now. And I'll gladly accept the criticism regarding Sheridan's affliction with pyromania, though many residents of the Valley in 1864 would doubtless think it impossible to "go overboard" in criticizing Sheridan's shenanigans. Frankly, being accused of going "overboard" in regards to any criticism of Little Phil is a badge of honor. ☺ Many thanks to the good folks at ACHS for even mentioning my book in their latest bulletin. I sincerely appreciate it.

*I have never really been comfortable with referring to myself as a "historian." I'm simply a writer whose focus is the War Between the States and Virginia history. Also, I'm not technically "Waynesboro-based", though I was born in Waynesboro and grew up, for the most part, in that town. I currently reside in Augusta County, about 10 miles from Waynesboro.

150th Commemoration Of The Battle Of Waynesboro

*Update - due to weather and ground conditions, this event has been rescheduled for April 25 & 26 2015.

Details here.

12 February 2015

On My Nightstand

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, he argues, we have grown so concerned about the roles of sex and violence in our society that we have forgotten the older virtues: romance and eros, courage and patriotism, the blend of love and bravery it takes to raise a family. In The Code of Man, he exhorts us to look to the traditional virtues of the past for inspiration. Contrasting the time-honored lessons of traditional voices -- Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln, Jane Austen and Teddy Roosevelt -- with the chaotic signals emanating from sources like Eminem, video games like Thrill Kill, and Goth culture, Newell illustrates how we have come to associate courage with violence, "transgression" with wisdom. Most disturbing, he argues, the essential triumph of Western culture may have left us with a building reserve of untapped aggressive energy, and no consensus about how to channel it -- a situation that threatens to weaken us at the core.

Seamlessly weaving together literary references from a diverse body of sources, Waller Newell offers an open-eyed look at what it means to be a man in America today, and a clarion call to recapture our traditions if we are to preserve our character as a society ... and avoid catastrophe. ~ Amazon

. . . almost 80 years after the park was opened, more attention is finally being paid to the redneck ethnic cleansing committed by both the state and federal government. “Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal,” by Sue Eisenfeld, a Johns Hopkins University writing instructor, beautifully captures the mountain people and the official vendetta that made them refugees from their own land. ~ The Washington Times

11 February 2015

Who Is Sowing The Seeds Of Secession?

You might be surprised.
HONOLULU—China has suggested arming Hawaii’s independence activists in retaliation for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and recently threatened to challenge American sovereignty by making legal claims to the Pacific islands as its territory. Chinese threats to back several groups of Hawaiian independence activists who want to restore the islands’ constitutional monarchy, ousted in a U.S.-backed coup over a century ago, has raised concerns that military facilities on the strategic central Pacific archipelago are threatened at a time when the Obama administration is engaged in a major shift toward Asia as part of its military and diplomatic rebalance. (Source.)
The official 2008 (don't know about 2012) Democrat Party (the party of academia) platform reads:

We support the efforts for self-determination and sovereignty of native Hawaiians, consistent with principles enumerated in the Apology Resolution and the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. (More here.)
The "apology resolution" was simply the camel's nose in the tent, so to speak. So who are the real secession proponents?

10 February 2015

John Randolph - The Consumate Virginian

He entered the House chamber, spurs jingling, with several of his hounds close about his feet. He wore "a full suit of heavy, drab-colored English broadcloth" . . . His hat might be pulled down to his eyes. The heel of a whip tapped in his hand. ~ from David Johnson's, John Randolph of Roanoke

09 February 2015

Wackydemia's Latest - The 1960's Reincarnated

Hating America. 
The University of California Student Association board – which represents all 233,000 students enrolled in the UC system’s 10 campuses – approved a resolution on Sunday that calls on the system’s leaders to financially divest from the United States. The measure cited alleged human rights violations by America such as drone strikes that have killed civilians, and claimed the country’s criminal justice system is racist, among other accusations. (Source.)

Andrew McCarty at National Review boils it down . . .
What most frustrates Americans is that we are a happy, optimistic, can-do people ceaselessly harangued by media solons, delusional academics, post-sovereign Eurocrats, and the Democrats who love them. While we free and feed the world, they can’t tell us enough that we’re racist, imperialist, torturing louts. We know it’s a libel, an endless stream of slander. But we also know it’s an absurd libel. We’re tired of hearing it, but taking it too seriously would give it power it doesn’t deserve.
Aren't we relieved, however, that college professors don't bring their politics into the classroom. I am, that's for  sure.

06 February 2015

Hacking Education - Techies & "Unschooling"

Wow, this is so timely as I'm working on a post that touches on some of these same topics. The problem is it undermines much of what we hear preached from academia. Freedom and technological advances are allowing the rest of us to invade their turf and rest assured, they don't like it. They feel threatened. They have good reason to.

@ Wired.com:

The Techies Who Are Hacking Education by Homeschooling Their Kids

(Forget what you think you know about homeschooler stereotypes. Here are some of the more interesting quotes from the article):
The Cook boys are homeschooled, have been ever since their parents opted not to put them in kindergarten. Samantha’s husband Chris never liked school himself; as a boy, he preferred fiddling on his dad’s IBM PC to sitting in a classroom. After three attempts at college, he found himself unable to care about required classes like organic chemistry and dropped out to pursue a career in computers. It paid off; today he is the lead systems administrator at Pandora. Samantha is similarly independent-minded—she blogs about feminism, parenting, art technology, and education reform and has started a network of hackerspaces for kids. So when it came time to educate their own children, they weren’t in any hurry to slot them into a traditional school.
And . . . 
“The world is changing. It’s looking for people who are creative and entrepreneurial, and that’s not going to happen in a system that tells kids what to do [and what to think] all day,” Samantha says. “So how do you do that? Well if the system won’t allow it, as the saying goes: If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
Ah, but that's the problems. The groupthink control freaks in Big Education and academia believe only THEY are qualified to educate. Actually, they're more interested in indoctrinating than educating, which is a big part of their now verifiable and epic failures. So folks are, shall we say, seceding, from public education.

As this article points out, most schools actually inhibit creativity and learning. Even a lot of educators are ignorant about the facts of homeschooling, believing the movement is populated solely by conservative Christians who "abuse" their children's minds. Absolute narrow-minded, ignorant nonsense. While the pioneers in homeschooling were primarily evangelical Christians, the movement is much more diverse these days:
When homeschooling expert Diane Flynn Keith held a sold-out workshop in Redwood City, California, last month, fully half of the parents worked in the tech industry. Jens Peter de Pedro, an app designer in Brooklyn, says that five of the 10 fathers in his homeschooling group work in tech, as do two of the eight mothers. And Samantha Cook says that her local hackerspace is often filled with tech-savvy homeschoolers.
But perception has, and continues to change. Doubters are, perhaps reluctantly, becoming believers:
As a proud recipient of a great public school education, I harbor . . . misgivings. And yet, as I talked to more of these homeschoolers, I found it harder to dismiss what they were saying. My son is in kindergarten, and I fear that his natural curiosity won’t withstand 12 years of standardized tests, underfunded and overcrowded classrooms, and constant performance anxiety. The Internet has already overturned the way we connect with friends, meet potential paramours, buy and sell products, produce and consume media, and manufacture and deliver goods. Every one of those processes has become more intimate, more personal, and more meaningful. Maybe education can work the same way.
It does and will, as long as we keep the "experts" in their ivory towers and away from those of us who embrace freedom and success.

I recommend the whole article here.

05 February 2015

Anti-Semitism In Academia ~ Where Is The Outcry?

Does this:
The second source of anti-Israel sentiment on campus is faculty. In classrooms and at departmentally sponsored events, faculty members have advanced lies and distortions about Zionism, Israel, and Jews, and advocated the elimination of the Jewish State. Although their rhetoric is unscholarly, politically motivated, and even at times anti-Semitic, these professors have wrapped themselves in the mantle of academic freedom, making it very difficult to challenge. (Source.)
Lead to this? -
Anti-Israel activists at the University of California, Davis heckled Jewish students and shouted “Allahhu Akbar” at them during a vote last week on a resolution endorsing a boycott of the Jewish state, according to video of the event obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. (Source.)
The silence from academia is deafening and politically motivated. But aren't we all relieved that college professors don't bring their politics into the classroom?

04 February 2015

"All American Culture Stems From Southern Culture"

Of course, I've made that observation here before. But some folks who claim to be experts on Southern Culture, really don't have a clue. (See here, here and here.)

But most of us in the South do get it, as evidenced by this recent Tuscaloosa News article demonstrates. Here's some of the more interesting quotes from the article:
It's often claimed all American culture stems from Southern culture, with its wide-spreading, moss-dripping branches. Music thought of as American — jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, R&B, soul, funk, gospel, zydeco and Appalachian folk — either arose directly from or flourished in the South.
And . . . 
“There were 14 Southerners who won Pulitzers in literature between 1933 and '77; that was 40 percent of all the awards given,” said Flynt, professor emeritus in the history department at Auburn University. Flynt will be performing Friday and Saturday with his former student, acclaimed singer-songwriter Kate Campbell, at Theatre Tuscaloosa, celebrating the interlocking threads among Southern literature, music, religion, politics and more. “So a region of the country that had one-fourth of the population, and one-third of its poverty, produced 40 percent of its most acclaimed writers. The South had a sort of headlock on that prize,” said Flynt, an Anniston native.

03 February 2015

What Is The Purpose Of A University Education?

The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible. ~ Woodrow Wilson
And Horace Mann, a leader in progressive reform of public education said:
We, then, who are engaged in the sacred cause of education, are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause; and, just as soon as we can make them see the true relation in which they and their children stand to this cause, they will become advocates for its advancement, more ardent and devoted than ourselves. 
Pretty much encapsulates much of the problem in the progressive, politically correct, indoctrination institutions doesn't it?

Upcoming posts:
  • A review of Kent Masterson Brown's documentary on Daniel Boone.
  • Yes, Virginia, Political Correctness is a Reality
  • All of My Role Models are College Dropouts

02 February 2015

Comparing Confederate Soldiers To Nazis?

It's a popular meme among some academic historians.
The greatest disservice on this count has been the attempt by these revisionist politicians and academics [is that redundant?] to defame the entire Confederate Army in a move that can only be termed the Nazification of the Confederacy. ~ James Webb, author of Born Fighting.
But I think these same academics are missing the Nazis right under their noses. Maybe they're projecting?
CBS Sacramento reported that AEPi members believe their fraternity [UC Davis] was attacked in retaliation for its support for Israel. The fraternity was attacked on the Jewish sabbath, shortly after the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Some activists claim AEPi staged the attack, the Times of Israel reports.Davis police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Could it be they're just applying what they've been taught by their leftist professors? Nah, of course not. We know (according to academics who used to comment here) that college professors don't bring their politics into the classroom. More here.

01 February 2015

The Man Who Would Not Be Washington

. . . no memorial in the constellation of federal parks bears more painful scars than Arlington House. That is little surprise, considering the vindictiveness and trenchant hatred that inspired government officials to begin burying the federal dead in the front yard of General Lee’s beloved home. ~ Charles Hurt
Do we really need another book about Robert E. Lee? I must admit, it sounds interesting. And Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer likes it:
For all the biographies written about Robert E. Lee, the South’s greatest hero and the North’s greatest threat remains something of an enigma—patriot or traitor, saint or sinner? In this beautifully written narrative, Jonathan Horn clears away the cobwebs of myth and gives us a Lee passionately committed to a specific vision of America and leadership, but endlessly tortured about how to deal with a divided Union. The Man Who Would Not Be Washington succeeds at offering soundly researched history, fresh perspective, and gripping prose. Even for those well acquainted with the story of Lee and the Civil War, this is a genuine page turner. ~  Harold Holzer
I'm intrigued enough, after reading the reviews, to put it on my wish list on Amazon. I'm curious as to how the author will treat Lee's desire to emulate Washington, as contrasted with Douglas Southall Freeman's position on that topic, as he wrote in his epic biography of Lee:
Lee, however, was conscious that he had traditions of honor, of loyalty, and of public service. He set himself to be worthy of them, precisely as he had made Washington his model, almost without being conscious of it.