Bellesiles, again, for the Last Time

I am not sure how this escaped my notice (actually, I do know how it happened: I was hard at work dissertating and did not check all my regular reads). Columbia University has rescinded Michael Bellesiles’ Bancroft prize. I have stated before on this blog that I think the scholarly community’s response to Bellesiles’ sloppy scholarship was the proper one. The conclusions reached by the independent review committee were the correct ones. Now Bellesiles will depart Emory, prizeless, and hopefully fade into oblivion.

It just goes to show you that early americanists are capable of policing their own without input from the gun lobby, thank you very much.


Teflon Bush

Rob Kuttner has a great piece today about Bush’s disasters of the last few months, AND HOW NO ONE SEEMS TO NOTICE.

And I read this morning that Bush will build a missile defense system for 17.5 billion dollars. The system is still in tests and may not actually work. Yep, that’s right, the Bushies can spend billions on questionable technology, but they are incapable of spending a measly $34 million to help women in poor countries give birth safely. Nor could they manage to extend unemployment insurance in lean times. What a screwed up set of priorities.

In the coming weeks I’ll be adding a set of links at right to Howard Dean websites and blogs. If we want a change in 2004 we have to start now.

Hyperactive parents

There’s a trend in higher education, apparently, for parents to call professors to complain about their children’s poor grades.

According to this article, part of the rationale behind the complaints is the amount parents are paying for higher education. Despite the fact that one must pay for college (more or less depending on where one goes), a $25,000 price tag does not buy As. Only hard work will do that. I guess the parents of the me generation are unwilling to admit that.

The other rationale has been to complain about curriculum. I think this is a more insidious form of complaint that goes hand-in-hand with recent attempts by the right-wing to censor books at public universities and to use public funding to manipulate course requirements. (One example of this is the recent lawsuit by the Family Policy Network against the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for teaching an edited version of the Koran to incoming freshmen, which also led the FPN to sponsor legislation requiring that religion classes be offered at UNC only if ALL religions be given equal time. I’ve written elsewhere about this assault on academic freedom but unfortunately my archives are messed up and I can’t link to it.)

I haven’t received any complaints from the parents of my students…yet, although I have heard horror stories. College students are adults. Parents should stop the handholding (and the censoring!) and let their kids fend for themselves. There’s no better time to learn self-reliance and accountability.

Paul Krugman’s column today addresses Trent Lott’s comments at Strom Thurmond’s birthday celebration.

I’d like to take this opportunity to call for Lott’s resignation. His association with racist groups in Mississippi and comments like last week’s offensive remarks aren’t the actions of a man who didn’t know what the Council of Conservative Citizens stands for or who didn’t understand the single thing Strom Thurmond stood for in 1948. They are the actions of a man who is secretly nostalgic for the Jim Crow South, but who can’t admit it for fear of political censure. His true opinions leak out every now and then in ill-advised remarks like last Friday’s. I would think the Republican party would be embarrassed by its Majority Leader.

Me, patriotic? Absolutely.

There’s been an ongoing discussion between Armed Liberal and Jeff Cooper on the nature of Democratic patriotism. I don’t want to get involved in the nitty-gritty of the discussion, but today there was mention of Dukakis’s disastrous PR stunt in 1988 when he was photographed in a tank. Cooper seems to think this is one cause of the popular idea that Democrats are unpatriotic.

I barely remember the incident (I was ten years old) but I ask: why isn’t Bush’s consistent failure to show up for National Guard duty ever used to point to Republican lack of patriotism? After all, the facts of Bush’s frequent absences are well known, and there was evidence to suggest that he had records removed from Camp Mabry in Austin when he was Governor of Texas. I have never heard a Republican question Bush’s decidedly unpatriotic behavior, let alone condemn it. Yet my opposition to the administration’s policies in Iraq is considered unpatriotic.

I find the sanctimonious preaching coming from Republican circles about supporting the president and the war irritating at best and hypocritical at worst. Principled and informed opposition is patriotic in and of itself.