Archive for the ‘Various Memories and Opinions’ Category

Speaking Out of One’s Ignorance   Leave a comment

I make an effort, whether I am speaking in public or in private, or writing on a weblog, to do so out of knowledge.  Toward this end I prefer to do homework and check facts.  In conversation I am not afraid to say something to the effect of

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know where I can find the answer,

with the intention of doing so and reporting back.  I would rather do that than be inaccurate.  Even better is to know the answer ahead of time.  At a weblog I strive for accuracy also.  If I can find the answer to a given question before publishing a post, I like to do so.  If my sources prove to be inaccurate, I accept factual correction.  Objective reality is what it is, after all.

I am also a fan of science fiction.  My inherent attention to detail, in combination with my fandom, has made me a person full of science fiction trivia, especially with regard to Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and other franchises.  Recently, when watched the entirety of Lost, I kept track of many details that my viewing partner had missed.  I kept reminding her of scenes from previous episodes or the same episode.

I also know that there is much I do not know, so I endeavor to learn.  Toward that end I consult a variety of sources., I have found, is a fine source of information about various science fiction franchises, especially Star Trek series, episode by episode.  For Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine the official series companion volume sets the standard for other volumes of that genre.  Certain reviewers who create and post video reviews are also fountains of knowledge.  Many podcasters and reviewers at YouTube, however, routinely speak out of their ignorance.  I have decided to stop listening to a number of podcasters and reviewers there because of this fact.  As I have listened to them profess their lack of knowledge or go off on tangents I know to be baseless in universe I have thought or uttered something to the effect of

I know more about this subject than you do.  Why do you have the podcast?

I have also caught myself correcting them audibly.

One can do homework of these matters easily enough.  I know of websites with detailed information about these series, including by episode and character.  Finding them is quite simple.  One can consult the special features on DVD or Blu-ray sets, if one has those.  I have found special features quite informative.  Commentary tracks have proven especially helpful.

So, those who analyze episodes, series, and movies online, do your homework first, please.




CBC/Paramount Versus Quality   Leave a comment


Above:  The Ares Class Starship from Prelude to Axanar

Image Source = link


The golden age of Star Trek fan films and series, available on YouTube, has ended; CBS/Paramount has exercised its rights under copyright law to neuter the Axanar project, intended to be a feature film.  Axanar will instead be two fifteen-minute-long episodes, consistent with the draconian rules the corporation has established for fan productions.  Prelude to Axanar has become a foretaste of a production that will never come into existence.  With substandard products such as Star Trek:  Voyager (1995-2001), Star Trek:  Enterprise (2001-2005), Star Trek:  Nemesis (2002), and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), many fan films, despite certain limitations regarding acting,  sets, uniforms, and special effects, are superior, given their better stories.  Star Trek:  New Voyages/Phase II  and Star Trek Continues have proven to be generally enjoyable and watchable series.  I have also enjoyed Starship Farragut and Starship Exeter, among others.  The overlapping Star Trek:  Hidden Frontier, Odyssey, The Helena Chronicles,  and Federation One series, which rely more heavily on green screens than on sets, have also proven fascinating.  I have also become a fan of Star Trek:  Intrepid. Furthermore, I would rather watch Star Trek:  Of Gods and Men than Star Trek (2009).

To the extent that fan productions constitute competition with official productions, that is the case because so many fan productions are superior and more interesting than the corporate productions, which frequently have less creativity than the fan films.  CBS/Paramount ought to learn from fans who make their own films, not impose draconian rules upon them and even sue them.  CBS/Paramount should even hire some of these fans and give them a large budget and creative control.

That will not happen, of course.






Above:  John Adams, President of the United States from 1797 to 1801

Image in the Public Domain


The administration is not the nation-state.  This is a simple fact that political dissidents keep having to repeat, even in my native land, the United States of America.  To oppose the presidential administration is not to be disloyal.  The Constitution of the United States even builds debate and dissent into the political system, complete with contested elections.

The failure to acknowledge the fact that the administration is not the nation-state during the Quasi-War with France during the administration of President John Adams (1797-1801) contributed to the abomination that was the Sedition Act of 1798.

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That if any persons shall unlawfully combine or conspire together, with intent to oppose any measure or measures of the government of the United States, which are or shall be directed by proper authority, or to impede the operation of any law of the United States, or to intimidate or prevent any person holding a place or office in or under the government of the United States, from undertaking, performing or executing his trust or duty, and if any person or persons, with intent as aforesaid, shall counsel, advise or attempt to procure any insurrection, riot, unlawful assembly, or combination, whether such conspiracy, threatening, counsel, advice, or attempt shall have the proposed effect or not, he or they shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and on conviction, before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and by imprisonment during a term not less than six months nor exceeding five years; and further, at the discretion of the court may be ho]den to find sureties for his good behaviour in such sum, and for such time, as the said court may direct.

SEC. 2. And be it farther enacted, That if any person shall write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any person shall be prosecuted under this act, for the writing or publishing any libel aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the defendant, upon the trial of the cause, to give in evidence in his defence, the truth of the matter contained in Republication charged as a libel. And the jury who shall try the cause, shall have a right to determine the law and the fact, under the direction of the court, as in other cases.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That this act shall continue and be in force until the third day of March, one thousand eight hundred and one, and no longer: Provided, that the expiration of the act shall not prevent or defeat a prosecution and punishment of any offence against the law, during the time it shall be in force.

APPROVED, July 14, 1798.

Source = The Avalon Project, Yale University

Adjusting dollar amounts for inflation is crucial.  Know then, O reader, that $2000 (1798) is $39,800 (2015) and that $5000 (1798) is $99,400, according to

It was a partisan law applied to opposition newspaper editors and Representative Matthew Lyon of Vermont.  One might also notice that the law permitted (by omission) all manner of negative press and speech regarding the Vice President, who was Thomas Jefferson, a leader of the opposition party.  Newspaper editors went to prison, newspapers closed, and Lyon became a federal inmate.  Lyon was hardly the most polite of Congressmen, but all that he had uttered and published negatively regarding the Adams Administration fell within the bounds of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Federalists who supported the Sedition Act of 1798 mistook partisanship for treason and trampled upon the First Amendment.  Lyon had argued in a letter to Spooner’s Vermont Journal that the allegedly power-hungry president had “swallowed up” “every consideration of public welfare.”  He had written this letter prior to July 14, 1798, so the legal principle of ex post facto protected him prior to the date that Adams signed the Sedition Act into law.  After the law had gone into effect, however, Lyon repeated those charges repeatedly and added more criticisms of Adams and the Federalist majorities in Congress (such as that Adams fostered “ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice” and Congress should send the President to a mad house).  The federal indictment (October 5, 1798) accused Lyon of having “malicious intent to bring the President and the government of the United States into contempt.”  The verdict was guilty.  Lyon went on to win reelection from his prison cell.

Alas, Jefferson was not a paragon of virtue with regard to freedom of the press.  Although he, as Vice President, opposed the Sedition Act of 1798, which expired in 1801, he encouraged partisans to use similar state laws against Federalist critics of himself and of his administration.  There was, for example, People v. Croswell (1804), which targeted Harry Croswell (1778-1858), editor of The Wasp, a Federalist newspaper in Hudson, New York.  Croswell was openly critical of President Jefferson.  Croswell lost that case, in which the prosecution convicted him of having committed both libel and sedition.  The editor kept losing libel lawsuits.  In 1814 he left journalism for the Episcopal priesthood.

The unfortunate tendency to confuse the presidential administration for the nation-state has recurred frequently, drawing support from the “rally around the flag” mentality.  Resurgence of this confusion in the form of jingoism has been especially egregious during times of war, whether declared or otherwise.  During World War I, for example, the federal government sent some antiwar activists to prison not for inciting violence, but for inciting nonviolence.  Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., disappointingly, compared the rhetoric of nonviolence during time of war to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.  “My country, right or wrong” has never impressed me, for as the great Voltaire wrote,

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

And, as the moralist Samuel Johnson observed,

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Dissent is as American as the First Amendment.  That is a patriotic statement.  Those who enter public life should either have thick political skins already or grow them quickly.  President Harry Truman‘s maxim that those who want a friend in Washington, D.C., should bring a dog remains true much of the time.

I am convinced that another contributing factor to the identification of the administration with the nation-state is fear.  Out of fear individuals and institutions tend to trample people and ideals–even foundational principles.  A time of crisis, however, is properly a time to double down on acting in accordance with those foundational principles, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the fact that dissent is patriotic.  As Tom Dobbs, the character the late, great Robin Williams portrayed in Man of the Year (2006), said,

If dissent were unpatriotic, we would still be British.

I bristle whenever I read or hear someone accuse dissidents of being stupid at best or treasonous at worst.  One reason for my bristling is principled; I affirm that, in the words of The Use of Force in International Affairs (1961),

If what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

What I think of the content of that dissent is irrelevant with regard to my estimate of the patriotism of the dissident.  Another reason is personal; I know the feeling of hearing and reading people question either my intelligence or my patriotism or both because of a political difference.  Dissent, however, is as American as the First Amendment.

Administrations come and go, but the United States of America persists.  The administration is not the nation-state.

As Martin Luther probably did not say,

Here I stand; I can do no other.

I will do no other.




I derived much material for this post from Geoffrey R. Stone, Perilous Times:  Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (New York, NY:  W. W. Norton and Company, 2004).


O, For the Wisdom of the United Methodists!   Leave a comment

I spent much of my youth as a preacher’s kid in the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.  Thus I became familiar with the mechanics of church polity regarding the process of appointing ministers.  The one-year renewable terms ran from June to June; appointments (of less than a yea) that began in other months were rare.  On mornings in certain Junes my family and I awoke in one parsonage.  By midday we were settling into another one, as my father’s successor was settling into the one we had vacated.  The process was quick, with just a few hours separating pastoral terms.  The process was not without its flaws, though; the terms should have been longer than a year.  (I have concluded that a four-year term would have been better.)  Nevertheless, the appointment system has demonstrated its virtues.

Recent events in my Episcopal parish have caused me to deepen my appreciation for the United Methodist appointment system.  In August 2015 my rector suffered a stroke.  Supply priests filled in while she remained the rector, going on disability in June 2016.  Our third supply priest continued to serve until late 2016, when our interim rector began to serve the parish.  The search process, which will include a survey leading up to the writing of a parish profile, will take at least a year.  I have not seen a survey yet.

Had I been a United Methodist parishioner, the district superintendent would have moved immediately in August 2015 to change the appointment of the pastor who had suffered a stroke to disability leave.  The district superintendent would also have moved quicklty to appoint a new pastor, to serve until at least June 2016.  There would have been no ongoing saga, with its stresses for the parish.  I know this because, a few years ago, when my father, then a retired minister serving in Americus, Georgia, became unable to serve his congregation due to the regrettable progress of dementia, my mother called the district superintendent, who retired my father fully, appointed an interim pastor immediately, and, in short order, appointed a pastor to succeed the interim pastor.

O, for the wisdom of the United Methodists!








Spoilers!   Leave a comment


Above:  The Sled, Burning in Citizen Kane (1941)

A Screen Capture


The admonition to avoid spoilers is valid for only a brief period of time; it expires, as far as I am concerned, well before a decade after the release of the material in question.  I watch a weekly YouTube series covering Babylon 5 (1994-1998) episode by episode.  The host keeps stating that commenters ought to refrain from making comments about subsequent episodes.  I do not make comments on YouTube videos, but I do consider the admonition to be ridiculous.  The last filmed (yet not aired) episode of the series is nearly 20 years old!  Besides, one can read full details of all episodes on numerous websites and in a set of five books.  By the way, Jeffrey Sinclair is Valen.

In other old news, Rosebud is Charles Foster Kane’s sled and a symbol of his lost childhood (Citizen Kane, 1941).  Also, Leonard Vole committed murder and ultimately got what he deserved (Witness for the Prosecution, 1957), Luke Skywalker blew up the first Death Star (Star Wars, 1977), and Darth Vader was Luke’s father (The Empire Strikes Back, 1980).  Furthermore, Captain Spock died (Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, 1982) and rose from the dead on the Genesis Planet (Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock, 1984).  If that were not enough, the Bruce Willis character did not know that he was dead in The Sixth Sense (1999).  Finally, water is wet.

Shall we relax regarding spoilers, especially regarding content more than a decade old?




“Alternative Facts”   Leave a comment

Look, alternative facts are not facts.  They’re falsehoods.

–Chuck Todd, January 22, 2017


If I wanted alternative facts, I would use a ouija board.

–Joe Scarborough, January 23, 2017


I respect objective reality.  In that sense I am a modernist in the Enlightenment sense of the term.  (I am also a modernist in the theological sense of the term, by the way.)  As John Adams famously argued,

Facts are stubborn things.

I cling to objective reality stubbornly.  As a teacher of history I cling to the objective reality of the past tenaciously.  Whenever I get a detail wrong  and realize it, I admit my error and strive never to repeat it.  I hold my students to the simple standard of being objectively accurate.  The penalty for inaccuracy is a grade lower than it would have been otherwise.

Facts are stubborn things.

With regard to certain current events I conclude that Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway are either postmodernists, easy liars, or people who have difficulty telling the difference between accurate and inaccurate statements.  I lack sufficient information to arrive at a definitive statement at this time.  I am certain, however, that, in the realm of mathematics, some numbers are of greater value than others. That is an accurate statement.

Facts are stubborn things.

I keep in mind the difference between a lie and an accidental falsehood.  A lie is an intentional deception; motivation marks the difference between a lie and a merely inaccurate statement.  Either way, an inaccurate statement, regardless of whether it is a lie or an accidental falsehood, is false.  And that is not an “alternative fact,” for there is no such thing as an “alternative fact.”

Facts are stubborn things.





In light of today’s development, in which Spicer expressed his willingness to “disagree with the facts” yet, oddly enough, not to lie (an oxymoron), I conclude that he is a liar.  As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the great empiricist noted, each person is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.



Honest to Clio? Society and the Teaching of History   Leave a comment

Artemisia Gentileschi / Артемизия Джентилески (1593-1653) - Clio, la Musa della Storia (La Fama) / Клио, муза Истории (Слава) (1632)

Above:  Clio, the Muse of History, by Artemisia Gentileschi

Image in the Public Domain


This is an edited version of the first chapter of my Master’s degree thesis.  I have altered the chapter to remove references to Clay County, Georgia.



Those who would repeat the past must control the teaching of history.

–Bene Gesserit Coda, quoted in Chapterhouse:  Dune[1]

Public school textbooks have long been political, for publishers have appeased state sensibilities in seeking lucrative contracts.  The resulting volumes have often been sanitized versions of the past.  As James W. Loewen wrote in Lies My Teacher Told Me, most pre-1960s American history textbooks sided with the South during Reconstruction.  One 1959 text, America:  Land of Freedom, reflected this attitude.  The authors, Gertrude Hartman and Hugh T. Lefler, called northern plans for the South “unwise,” and said that newly freed slaves were no longer under the protection of their masters.  The violent Ku Klux Klan resisted federal corruption, embodied by “unprincipled” carpetbaggers.  Hartman, who barely mentioned the civil rights movement, wrote that efforts to grant African Americans, “an important group in our society,” equal opportunities were underway.  Elsewhere, the author wrote that integration would come slowly and require “courage, patience, tolerance, and good faith on the part of both races.”  Hartman’s background is unknown; Lefler, however, taught history at the University of North Carolina.[2]

The civil rights movement altered society beyond the frontiers of Clay County in the middle and late 1960s, for high school American history textbooks began to change.  Our American Republic (1965), written by David S. Muzzey, of Columbia University, and Arthur S. Link, a Virginia-born professor at Princeton University, sympathized with carpetbaggers during Reconstruction, for it noted that violent and reactionary whites sought to deprive freed slaves of their rights.  The book also devoted four favorable pages to the civil rights movement.  One page was a list of “Some Distinguished Negroes,” such as Phyllis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, Jackie Robinson, and George Washington Carver.  Conspicuously absent, however, were W. E. B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Satchel Paige, Marcus Garvey, and Martin Luther King, Jr., who were presumably “unacceptable” because their audiences were primarily African-American.  Another textbook, the third edition of This Is America’s Story (1966) was less progressive.  Although Howard B. Wilder, Robert D. Ludlum, and Harriett McCune Brown stated that post-Civil War whites were determined to deny freed slaves their rights, they also overlooked any altruistic motives the carpetbaggers might have followed.  The textbook devoted two sympathetic pages to the civil rights movement.  Wilder was a retired teacher from Melrose, Massachusetts, Ludlum was President of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, and Brown was a junior high school teacher in Los Angeles, California.[4]

Textbooks for younger grades also exhibited various attitudes toward civil rights in the 1860s and the 1960s.  In These United States and Canada, a 1965 text for middle grades students, included prose favorable to the freed slaves after the Civil War and to the civil rights movement.  Your Country and Mine—New Edition, a 1966 text for older elementary students, assumed the opposite position.  It sympathized with the defeated South, for it depicted all carpetbaggers and their allies as corrupt.  The book made no mention of the civil rights movement.  World Background for American History: An Interdisciplinary Approach, a 1968 elementary textbook, gave positive press to the civil rights movements of the 1860s and the 1960s.  Nevertheless, it referred to the War Between the States, not the Civil War.  This book was the product of three authors.  Harold H. Eibling was Superintendent of Schools in Columbus, Ohio, Fred M. King was Director of Instruction for the Rochester, Minnesota, Public Schools, and James Harlow was a history teacher from Oakland, California.[5]

Proudly We Hail, a 1968 text for elementary students, taught race pride.  The authors, Vashti and Jack Brown, public school teachers from New York, New York, divided the book into two sections, “THE PAST,” and “THE PRESENT.”  Past African Americans profiled included Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Matthew Henson.  Present African Americans profiled included Ralph Bunche, Marian Anderson, Thurgood Marshall, Sidney Poitier, Martin Luther King, Jr., Willie Mays, and General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.[6]

A 1971 older elementary textbook, Adventures in American History, reflected the mixed racial atmosphere of the time.  Its depiction of Reconstruction and the carpetbaggers was negative, for the text portrayed slaves as pawns of corrupt carpetbaggers.  Nevertheless, the author, Jay Glanzrock, a former New York City public school teacher, devoted four pages, all of them sympathetic, to the modern civil rights movement.  He supplemented the text of these four pages with two sidebars, a five paragraph treatment of Martin Luther King, Jr., and a list of “Recent Civil Rights Laws.”  The laws were the first Brown decision, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[7]

Public school history textbooks of the late 1970s reflected both the past and present.  The fifth edition of the American Pageant: A History of the Republic (1975) was more sympathetic to the civil rights movement in the 1960s than to its predecessor in the 1860s.  Carpetbaggers were one-dimensional “damn Yankees” who participated in “unwise” Congressional plans for Reconstruction after the “War for Southern Independence.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. however, received a positive review.  Thomas A. Bailey, the author, was a professor at Stanford University.[9]  America! America!, a 1977 high school text, also straddled the fence.  It sided with the vanquished southerners, yet progressively stated that the carpetbaggers accomplished “much good.”  The authors explained that Southern whites were unsure how to treat former slaves because, “it is difficult to suddenly change (sic) the habits of a lifetime.”  The modern civil rights movement received the obligatory positive press.  All four authors worked outside of the South.  L. Joanne Buggey was an educational consultant in Stanford, California.  Gerald A. Danzer taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle.  Charles L. Mitsakos was the Social Studies Coordinator/Consultant for the Chelmsford, Massachustts, public schools.  C. Frederick Risinger was the Coordinator of School Social Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.[10]  The fourth edition of This Is America’s Story (1978) was virtually identical to the third edition.[11]  Our People, a fourth grade textbook from 1979, portrayed slaves as skilled laborers.  Its explanation of slavery concluded with the following sentences:

We must always remember that these workers had no freedom.  They had been free in Africa.  Now they were forced to be slaves.  Their children were slaves, too.[12]

A generational comparison of textbooks can demonstrate the shift of historical interpretation in secondary school classrooms.  The fifth edition of History of a Free People (1964), written by Henry W. Bragdon and Samuel P. McCutchen, became the basis for Donald A. Ritchie’s 1998 revision, History of a Free Nation.  Bragdon was a teacher at the Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire, McCutchen was a professor of education at New York University, and Ritchie was Associate Historian in the United States Senate Historical Office.  In 1964, John Brown was a “fanatic” who believed he was on a mission from God to free slaves and to punish their owners.  Thirty-four years later, Brown had become a “fiery abolitionist.”  In 1964, the conflict of 1861-1865 was the War Between the States.   A generation later, that unpleasantness was the Civil War.  In 1964, carpetbaggers were corrupt manipulators of freed slaves.  On the eve of the Twenty-First Century, most carpetbaggers were “respectable, honest, and sincerely devoted to the public interest,” although a corrupt minority created impressions that all carpetbaggers were disreputable.  Both editions gave favorable press to the civil rights movement, especially Martin Luther King, Jr., and federal legislation.[13]

Politics has long dictated what we, as a society, have told our children about the past.  Once upon a time, in a republic not so far away, people legally deprived their fellow human beings of civil rights on the basis of skin tone.  Many public school textbooks obscured and/or lied about history, for the past made many people uncomfortable.  Were all carpetbaggers corrupt, or did some actually believe in what they were doing?  Staunch segregationists preferred one answer, and integrationists taught the other.  Was John Brown a fanatic or a zealot?  The answer to that question has changed over time.  A textbook might mention Jackie Robinson as a “Distinguished Negro,” yet ignore the recently deceased W. E. B. Du Bois, a Socialist, because of Cold War tensions.  The intensely political nature of public school textbooks has long compromised their integrity, reflected societal biases, and corrupted many people’s understanding of history.

Perhaps the politics of the modern civil rights movement influenced the content of some high school history textbooks with regards to John Brown and the carpetbaggers.  Many white supremacist southerners, wary of northern civil rights workers, likened them to carpetbaggers and wished to maintain segregationist traditions without the “meddling” of outsiders.  Furthermore, John Brown must have reminded many racist whites of militant African Americans.  The legacy of John Brown, whose body, which, according to the Civil War song, lay “moldering in his grave,” continued to evoke fear in the South a century after his execution.  The textbook accounts of Brown and the carpetbaggers generally became more nuanced and favorable after the 1960s.

One should not ignore the influence of changing historical interpretations on the content of public school textbooks.  In 1907, William A. Dunning published Reconstruction:  Political and Economic, 1865-1877, which sympathized with the vanquished Southerners during Reconstruction.  The Dunning Thesis, exemplified by the Tragic Era, a 1929 book by Claude G. Bowers, influenced American thought about the 1860s and 1870s.  Gone with the Wind is a reflection of this interpretation.  Ulrich Bonnell (U. B.) Phillips, one of Dunning’s students, dominated the historiography of slavery for the first half of the Twentieth Century. Phillips, a Georgia native, believed that African Americans were inferior and that the peculiar institution was a necessary evil that maintained order, even if it retarded the antebellum southern economy.  He wrote two classic works, American Negro Slavery (1918) and Life and Labor in the Old South (1929).  Scholarship of the 1950s and 1960s overturned the Dunning and Phillips Schools.

Public school textbooks follow society.  They often represent the conservative version of political correctness.  These frequently lamentable tomes contain many crucial omissions, blatant lies, and misconceptions.  These obfuscations of past reality serve to bolster the status quo and to teach a nationalistic interpretation of our republic’s history.  Many state boards, which must approve textbooks, insist that history books teach a falsely positive view of the past.  Certain controversial issues and regrettable episodes become safe to discuss honestly only with the passage of much time.  Others, however, remain political hot potatoes, and therefore the subjects of lies.  Public school textbooks are barometers of society for these reasons.

The cult of the Lost Cause, with Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson as its demigods and the fallen dead as its angels and patron saints, found fertile soil throughout much of the country.  Prior to the 1970s and 1980s, many old public school textbooks sided with the South during and after the Civil War.  This academic environment, typical of its time, aided and abetted the propagation of the cult of the Lost Cause.  Many pro-segregation white Southerners have long cited this version of history to defend their point of view.

[1] Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse:  Dune (New York:  Ace Books, 1985), 1.

[2] James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me:  Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (New York:  New Press, 1995), 149; Gertrude Hartman and Hugh T. Lefler, AmericaLand of Freedom, 2d ed. (Lexington, MA:  D.C. Heath and Company, 1959), iv, 425-427, 520, 543.

[3] Hartman and Lefler, 402.

[4] David S. Muzzey and Arthur S. Link, Our American Republic, 3d ed. (Boston:  Ginn and Company, 1965), i-ii, 332-338, 681-684; Howard B. Wilder, Robert P. Ludlum, and Harriett McCune Brown, This Is America’s Story, 3d ed. (New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 1966), iv, 412-413, 692-694.

[5] Ralph C. Preston and John Tottle, In These United States and Canada—Teacher’s Edition (Boston:  D.C. Heath and Company, 1965), 191, 242-244; Gertrude Stephens Brown, Ernest W. Tiegs, and Fay Adams, Your Country and Mine, New Edition—Teacher’s Manual (Boston:  Ginn and Company, 1966), 173; Harold H. Eibling, Fred M. King, and James Harlow, World Background for American History (Atlanta:  Laidlaw Brothers, 1968), 3, 411-413.

[6] Vashti and Jack Brown, Proudly We Hail (Atlanta:  Houghton Mifflin, 1968), iv, vi-vii.

[7] Jay Glanzrock, Adventures in American History (Atlanta:  Silver Burdett, 1971), iii, 212-215, 326-331.

[8] Ibid., 328.

[9] Thomas A. Bailey, The American Pageant:  A History of the Republic, 5h ed.  (Lexington, MA:  D.C. Heath and Company, 1975), i, 441, 487-510, 988-990, 1014-1017.

[10] L. Joanne Buggey, et al., America! America!  (Glenview, IL:  Scott, Foresman and Company, 1977), 5, 404-405, 652-661.

[11] Harold B. Wilder, Robert P. Ludlum, and Harriett McCune Brown, This Is America’s Story, 4h ed. (Boston:  Houghton Mifflin, 1978), 414-420, 699-702.

[12] Nelle Dederick, et al.  Our People (Lexington, MA:  Ginn and Company, 1979), 88-91.

[13] Henry W. Bragdon and Samuel P. McCutchen, History of a Free People, 5h ed. (New York:  Macmillan, 1964), iv, 328, 334-357, 362-363, 675-678; Henry W. Bragdon, Samuel P. McCutchen, and Robert A. Ritchie, History of a Free Nation (New York:  Glencoe, 1998), iv, 403, 410-437, 450, 905-914.