Comments on: Heather Wilson declaims “Our Superficial Scholars” History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:41:03 +0000 hourly 1 By: Two Things You Should Read (+ one fun video to watch) - Jessica W. Luther Sat, 17 Aug 2013 01:42:42 +0000 [...] from Historiann (I seriously want to make a lifelong commitment to this post, I love it that much): I’ve always [...]

By: cgeye Mon, 31 Jan 2011 22:07:59 +0000 Wow. The scattershot dominionism of self-professed EE grads with a technocratic bent never fails to disappoint….

By: Two Things You Should Read « Speaker's Corner Mon, 24 Jan 2011 18:32:59 +0000 [...] from Historiann (I seriously want to make a lifelong commitment to this post, I love it that much): I’ve always [...]

By: Historiann Mon, 24 Jan 2011 15:46:30 +0000 Perpetua, I’m glad you won your Fulbright anyway!

I’ve always wondered about the sports requirement for the Rhodes. It always seemed like a way of weeding out women and “sissies.” From what I understand, individual sports like running qualify, not just team sports, which seems a little more fair. But, still. Very few Rhodes Scholars end up being remembered for their athletic prowess rather than their intellectual or political brilliance.

By: Historiann Mon, 24 Jan 2011 15:43:37 +0000 Hyphenated American, here’s where you’re not getting at all how historians approach the past, especially historians like me, who write about the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries:

“What upsets me most is that liberals very often flat out refuse to debate the pros and cons of conservative ideology, and instead prefer to fight with the strawmen.
Instead of listening to honest critique of conservatism, we hear denouncements of wacky ideas of the past, which have no connection to conservatism.”

Slavery is no straw man, and it’s no “wacky idea of the past.” (In fact, to paraphrase Faulkner, it’s not even past.) You don’t get to pick and choose your personal history of conservativism. Slavery–and all of the traditional exploitative hierarchies that structured the early modern and modern worlds–was an idea with real-world consequences, and we still live with the consequences of it today. Read some Edmund Burke–most American conservatives claim him as one of their Founding Fathers, and what we now see as the fundamental unfairness of life for most people in the 17th and 18th centuries was perfectly OK and even desirable from Burke’s point of view.

I understand that my post and conversation with you are unsatisfying. I am not a modern U.S. intellectual historian–undoubtedly you’d have a different conversation with someone with that background instead. I am a social and cultural historian, so I’m uninterested in the history of ideas without examing their real-world consequences. The real-world consequences of ideas are what I write about. You seem more like a libertarian or a conservatarian, from the figures you discuss. They’re just in my view a very incomplete–or even eviscerated–vision of the history of conservativism.

By: Perpetua Mon, 24 Jan 2011 14:02:05 +0000 I don’t have any experience with Rhodes scholarships, but I remember lo those (somewhat) many years ago when I had a Fulbright under Bush II there were grumblings in the upper echelons of the Fulbright program that the whole thing should start incorporating more of a “service” element. It was unclear what any of that meant, but at the end result (most likely intentional) WAS clear: ie, a reduction of the intellectual and scholarly focus on the Fulbright. I don’t think any of this actually bore fruit, but it’s troubling that it was raised anyway. Every bit of government funding for intellectual pursuits and the arts is decimated by conservative governments. The amount of funding available to academics in Europe, for example, compared to the US is staggering. I hope that’s not too OT.

By: Hyphenated American Mon, 24 Jan 2011 06:12:37 +0000 Ann,

I guess our discussion is getting too long, and indeed it is your blog, and you can do whatever you want with it. Sorry for bothering you.

What upsets me most is that liberals very often flat out refuse to debate the pros and cons of conservative ideology, and instead prefer to fight with the strawmen.
Instead of listening to honest critique of conservatism, we hear denouncements of wacky ideas of the past, which have no connection to conservatism. Just as you called pro-slavery movement “conservatism”, I can say that naziism and communism and benladeism are part of the history of liberalism. I know world history pretty damn well to make whole lot of factual connections, and we can play this game non-stop. But then – does it REALLY help you to understand the ideas that I believe in? Does it REALLY make you confident that you are correct, and I am wrong (let alone dumb and evil and un-American)? And honestly, between you and me, I need to tell you that if you truly were convinced that American conservatism is wrong, you would have debated it head on, instead of indulging in critism of evil ideas of the past, ideas which have nothing, absolutely nothing in common with American conservatism. I don’t know if it is patriotic or not to abandon the strawmen (I am a bit idiosyncratic of the word “patriotic” for the reasons we don’t have to discuss now), but it surely is intellectually honest to do so. But then – who cares, really, we all will be dead in 3 million years.

Anyway, here is the rub. On what basis did you decide that Father Coughlin, a revolutionary socialist, was a conservative? On what basis did you conclude that pro-slavery was part of conservatism? On what basis would you NOT qualify the 21st century movement to abolish social security, welfare, medicaid and medicare as non-conservative? And what about Hitler-Mussolini-Lenin-Stalin-Mao – these 5 were clearly the revolutionaries – so are they conservatives or liberals? And if the popular point of view, a point of view which was dubbed “conservatism” some decades ago, is according to its very supporters, fundamentally, irreversably, standing in defense of individual liberty, small limited government and justice – then why are you are discussing ideas which run contrary to the essense of American conservatism – and assume these two are identical?!

I understand why you believe that this discussion may seem to be only tangentially tied to the issue of Rhode scholarship. But in reality it is not – about 40% of what you wrote was devoted to the rather bizzarre claim that conservatism is “brutally, coarsely self-interested, unfair, and un-American”. I assumed that you took some time to think it through, before accusing 30% of American population of being (let’s be honest here) dumb scumbags. Was I wrong?

By: Historiann Mon, 24 Jan 2011 05:31:14 +0000 Thanks for playing, Hyphenated American. I tried to engage in an honest exchange with you, but you clearly see this as some kind of cage match, when it’s actually my virtual living room. This was not a post about the views of Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek–it was a post about baseless complaints about recent applicants to the Rhodes Scholarship.

The history of American conservativism is not just a history of a few selected intellectuals. I understand that conservatives don’t like to be reminded of the fuller history of the consequences of conservative ideas, but I think that as patriotic Americans we owe it to ourselves and to the nation to confront that history, as disturbing and troubling as it frequently is.

By: Hyphenated American Mon, 24 Jan 2011 04:03:17 +0000 BTW, my opposition to labor laws makes me a radical, an you are a conservative in this equation. Correct?

By: Hyphenated American Mon, 24 Jan 2011 04:01:46 +0000 “Yes indeed, it all depends on how you define conservativism, and clearly you and I will never agree about how to understand the history of conservativism.”

But won’t it be easier if I tell you what I (and Hayek, Mises, Friedman, Thatcher, Reagan) believed in – and then you can mount your attack on these views? Cause you ain’t studying Hayek, when you are reading the views of supporters of slavery. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. And it’s illogical to claim that Hayek was wrong – based on your conclusion that slavery is immoral.

But let’s move a tad further – were Lenin\Stalin\Mao\Hitler conservatives or liberals? By all means these four were revolutionaries and enemies of the status quo…

“I’m so relieved to know that you support women’s suffrage, however reluctantly, and are resolutely against slavery.”

Well, you made it a point to claim that you were against slavery – as if it was some kind of radical point of view. But all in all, I am not sure you are as much against slavery as you think you are.

“What does it mean to be “against labor laws,” I wonder?”

That’s simple – I want to abolish all labor laws – except some laws that limit hiring of children. And yes, that includes ALL other laws.