Wednesday, April 27, 2005

SIUC History Department Attempts Purge of Republican Professor

According to FrontPage Magazine, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale professor Dr. Jonathan Bean took this article from their very right-leaning website (created by former Communist and Black Panther ally David Horowitz) and use it as optional reading for his history class "Civil Rights and Civil Disorder." The article alleged that a series of killings in San Francisco in the early 1970s called the Zebra Murders was perpetrated by a subgroup of the Nation of Islam. Considering the authors he had on his list of required reading, this looks to be a counterpoint article.

This didn't sit well the other history professors, who denounced him in an open letter to the Daily Egyptian, accusing him of using racist propaganda in teaching a class. What causes me trouble is that three of my professors were signatories to this letter. Dr. Kay J. Carr, Dr. Rachel Stocking, and Dr. Mary McGuire are all three professors who taught me at various points during my time at Southern Illinois. Dr. Carr taught my tech writing course, Dr. Stocking taught my classes on ancient civilizations and the history of Rome, and Dr. McGuire taught my US History from 1877 course. I also wrote my senior thesis in Dr. Stocking's History of Rome course on public spectacles as outlets for political expression during the mid-to-late Roman Empire.

Now, most of the courses I took with these professors didn't deal with modern history, much less a history of civil disorder in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. The article that was offered as OPTIONAL reading off of a *gasp* conservative website had a different viewpoint from that of the professors, and they seek to denounce it.

Dr. Carr, Dr. Stocking, Dr. McGuire: if you think it's racist to allege that more militant members of the already militant Nation of Islam killed white people in the 1970s, bring your proof. I would like for my professors to argue against Dr. Bean's position, not try to stifle it under a wave of personal attacks. Or maybe they just don't like Dr. Bean because he's a Republican? I hope this isn't the case.

If anything, this gives me more impetus to gain my advanced degrees. The art and science of history is becoming more and more lop-sided in regards to whose point of view should reign supreme. We're walking away from that blessed objectivity that I was taught should be the goal of a good historian. Yes, Dr. Carr, you taught me that. Your desire to shut down Dr. Bean's (and by extension, his students) access to articles that have an opinion different from your own makes me wonder if your talk of objectivity was given as empty boilerplate.

We are historians. We are the keepers of cultural memory, interpreters of things past. We must not summarily dismiss points of view because we disagree with them. We must discern what ideas of value are in those points of view, and be able to explain them to others. Even if the only value is pure contrariness, we must be able to provide an explanation. Instead, my former professors have deigned to abolish explanation and smear their colleague. For shame. You have made this alumnus wonder what happened to the teachers whose classes he enjoyed.

(Big hat tip and thanks to Powerline, who brought this to an SIU alumnus' attention.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam!

Welcome to the new pope, Benedict XVI. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he headed the Church's committee of doctrine as well as the College of Cardinals. He has the background needed to continue propagating the faith. We place our trust and faith in this Pope as we have done with his predecessors. I hope he will guide our Church through its troubles to find peace and salvation.

Best of luck to you, Holy Father.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Tribune Architecture Critic Pans Lincoln Presidential Library

I think subscription is required on this article.

The article reads like someone is mad that the presidential library was put in Springfield. From anger about the design to snarky comments about the displays, the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune really writes like someone who is jealous that the great and mighty City of Chicago didn't get the nod for the library.

Did Abraham Lincoln live in Chicago? No. Did he live in Springfield? Yes. Springfield's relationship to our former President is far more intimate than Chicago's. If you go through my hometown, you will see the effect that this one man had on the city. The iconography of Abraham Lincoln is intertwined with Springfield's character. The Presidential Library is a benefit to Springfield, whereas in Chicago it would be lost in the shuffle. So, to our erstwhile columnist: deal with it. Chicago lost out to Springfield. Go take your sour grapes elsewhere.

Monday, April 04, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

I want everyone to go out and celebrate my mother's birthday tonight. That's right, everyone! I want everyone who's reading this to go out and raise a toast to the greatest woman in the world, my mom. She is the definition of a great woman, yes indeed. She's always been a good wife to my dad, a good mother to me, a hard worker who goes past her duties to make things easier for others. She's done this all through life, whether it's been as a Den Mother for a boisterous pack of Cub Scouts, as a classroom mom even when she had to work, and when she's taken care of serious personal issues for others as a staffer for her local congressman. My mom has worked very hard to achieve what she has in life. That's why I want everyone to celebrate, to show appreciation of all she has done.

Mom, you gave me the very life I have today, a gift which I do my best not to squander or ruin. If I knew of a way to give something back to you that could equal all the love and support you've given me, I would do it. Someday I will be able to do that. Make sure that Dad takes you somewhere nice for dinner, ok? Either that or you could just have him cook a fancy dinner at home. But make sure to celebrate, ok? I love you, Mom, and I want you to have a very happy birthday.

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool or EU Stupidity?

See, this sounds too good to be true. The European Union is trying to force Scotland to change place names to reflect geneder and race neutrality. While this sounds like something a faceless European bureaucracy would do, the fact that it's being done on April Fools' Day makes me wonder if this is the real thing.

So, does anyone else know if it's a joke?