“Dylann Roof Was No Lone Madman” | History News Network

The historian Randall Law explains why Dylann Roof’s crime was an act of terror: “Terrorism is an infection whose best disinfectant is bright sunlight. We – all Americans, left, right, white, black – need to face the painful truth of what happened in Charleston: Dylan Roof is the product of a long-established, widely-held American tradition of racial hatred. In other words, Roof is not alone. History shows us this quite clearly.”

Dylan Roof

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Why the Claim that the Obergefell Decision is Undemocratic is Wrong

Does the Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges violate the principle of democracy as those writing in dissent (Chief Justice John Roberts and the Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) have claimed? James Madison, the Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, would say no.

Bolstered by the legal arguments of the dissenting justices, those opposed to the Court’s decision will continue to campaign against same-sex marriages, even though they lost. It is therefore important that we examine the merits of the arguments from the dissenting justices. (1) One of the main charges brought against the majority is the claim is that this opinion is a threat to democracy and religious liberty. This allegation is based on a misunderstanding of the relationship between rights and majorities in a democracy. On this subject, James Madison had the greatest insights, and he is primarily responsible for our current understanding of how to best protect rights in a democracy.

first-amendment

In his fight against religious establishments in Virginia, James Madison learned many lessons, one of the most significant of these lessons was that bills of rights were “parchment barriers” when facing overbearing majorities. Acting through their representatives, majorities will inevitably push through legislation that will violate the rights of others, even when expressly prohibited by a bill of rights as happened in Virginia when an attempt was made to pass a general assessment for the support of teachers of the Christian religion. The general assessment bill failed but it prompted Madison to reconsider the assumption that legislatures are the best protectors of the rights of the people. In his Vices of the Political System of the United States (1787), which was written in response to the failures of the Articles of Confederation, Madison questioned “the fundamental principle of republican Government, that the majority who rule in such Governments, are the safest Guardians both of public Good and of private rights.” In exploring the root of this problem, he concluded that the cause lay “in the people themselves.” It was for this reason that Madison originally opposed adding a bill of rights to the Constitution, although he later changed his mind and became the primary author and mover of the amendments that became our Bill of Rights. Even though he changed his mind and pushed the amendments through, Madison never changed his mind about the relationship between majorities and violation of individual rights. Continue reading

“I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery.” – Vox

I shouldn’t be surprised, but this is shocking! Here’s one example of a comment on the plight of African-American slaves that Margaret Biser heard giving tours:  “Yeah, well, Egyptians enslaved the Israelites, so I guess what goes around comes around!” I think Biser correctly identified the source of the ignorance, indifference, and animosity toward the slaves: “The minimization of the unjustness and horror of slavery does more than simply keep the bad feelings of guilt, jealousy, or anger away: It liberates the denier from social responsibility to slaves’ descendants.”

Read all the other crazy questions and comments Biser heard:

I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery. – Vox.

 The Old Plantation (Slaves Dancing on a South Carolina Plantation), ca. 1785-1795. | Attributed to John Rose

The Old Plantation (Slaves Dancing on a South Carolina Plantation), ca. 1785-1795. | Attributed to John Rose

The Obergefell Ruling is a Victory for the LGBT Community, but it’s Also a Victory for James Madison and Religious Liberty

Does the Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges violate the principle of democracy as those writing in dissent (Chief Justice John Roberts and the Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) have claimed? James Madison, the Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, would say no.

Bolstered by the legal arguments of the dissenting justices, those opposed to the Court’s decision will continue to campaign against same-sex marriages, even though they lost. It is therefore important that we examine the merits of the arguments from the dissenting justices. (1) One of the main charges brought against the majority is the claim is that this opinion is a threat to democracy and religious liberty. This allegation is based on a misunderstanding of the relationship between rights and majorities in a democracy. On this subject, James Madison had the greatest insights, and he is primarily responsible for our current understanding of how to best protect rights in a democracy.

James Madison

James Madison

In his fight against religious establishments in Virginia, James Madison learned many lessons, one of the most significant of these lessons was that bills of rights were “parchment barriers” when facing overbearing majorities. Acting through their representatives, majorities will inevitably push through legislation that will violate the rights of others, even when expressly prohibited by a bill of rights as happened in Virginia when an attempt was made to pass a general assessment for the support of teachers of the Christian religion. The general assessment bill failed but it prompted Madison to reconsider the assumption that legislatures are the best protectors of the rights of the people. In his Vices of the Political System of the United States (1787), which was written in response to the failures of the Articles of Confederation, Madison questioned “the fundamental principle of republican Government, that the majority who rule in such Governments, are the safest Guardians both of public Good and of private rights.” In exploring the root of this problem, he concluded that the cause lay “in the people themselves.” It was for this reason that Madison originally opposed adding a bill of rights to the Constitution, although he later changed his mind and became the primary author and mover of the amendments that became our Bill of Rights. Even though he changed his mind and pushed the amendments through, Madison never changed his mind about the relationship between majorities and violation of individual rights. Continue reading

“The Frenzy About High-Tech Talent by Andrew Hacker” | The New York Review of Books

In reviewing several books on the STEM craze, Andrew Hacker questions the underlying assumptions driving this fad. Such an evaluation is long overdue. I’m a fan of STEM, but I’ve been concerned for a long time about the adverse effects of putting these fields on a pedestal to the detriment of other areas of study. There are many reasons to question the STEM fad, but one of the most immediate concerns is the assumption that there will be jobs for students that go into those fields. Based on several studies, Hacker argues that there is little evidence to support this assumption.

Hacker concludes that “[t]he fervor over STEM goes beyond promoting a quartet of academic subjects. Rather, it’s about the kind of nation and people we are to be. Already in play are efforts to instill the metrics—and morality—of technology within ourselves as individuals and into the texture of society. Artists and poets may have to score high on tests of trinomial distributions if they want bachelors’ degrees. In viewing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as strategic weapons, we are constricting honored callings and narrowing national priorities, while the alleged needs for STEM workers are open to serious question, including whether the demand for them may be exaggerated and manipulated.”

Read the entire article here:

The Frenzy About High-Tech Talent by Andrew Hacker | The New York Review of Books.

engineering

The Obergefell Ruling is a Victory for the LGBT Community, but it’s Also a Victory for James Madison and Religious Liberty

Does the Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges violate the principle of democracy as those writing in dissent (Chief Justice John Roberts and the Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) have claimed? James Madison, the Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, would say no.

Bolstered by the legal arguments of the dissenting justices, those opposed to the Court’s decision will continue to campaign against same-sex marriages, even though they lost. It is therefore important that we examine the merits of the arguments from the dissenting justices. (1) One of the main charges brought against the majority is the claim is that this opinion is a threat to democracy and religious liberty. This allegation is based on a misunderstanding of the relationship between rights and majorities in a democracy. On this subject, James Madison had the greatest insights, and he is primarily responsible for our current understanding of how to best protect rights in a democracy.

James Madison

James Madison

In his fight against religious establishments in Virginia, James Madison learned many lessons, one of the most significant of these lessons was that bills of rights were “parchment barriers” when facing overbearing majorities. Acting through their representatives, majorities will inevitably push through legislation that will violate the rights of others, even when expressly prohibited by a bill of rights as happened in Virginia when an attempt was made to pass a general assessment for the support of teachers of the Christian religion. The general assessment bill failed but it prompted Madison to reconsider the assumption that legislatures are the best protectors of the rights of the people. In his Vices of the Political System of the United States (1787), which was written in response to the failures of the Articles of Confederation, Madison questioned “the fundamental principle of republican Government, that the majority who rule in such Governments, are the safest Guardians both of public Good and of private rights.” In exploring the root of this problem, he concluded that the cause lay “in the people themselves.” It was for this reason that Madison originally opposed adding a bill of rights to the Constitution, although he later changed his mind and became the primary author and mover of the amendments that became our Bill of Rights. Even though he changed his mind and pushed the amendments through, Madison never changed his mind about the relationship between majorities and violation of individual rights. Continue reading

“Athenian Wealth: Millions of Silver Coins Stored in Parthenon Attic” – Yahoo News

A reminder of the great wealth and power of the ancient Greeks. Modern Greece could really use a treasure like this about now!

Athenian Wealth: Millions of Silver Coins Stored in Parthenon Attic – Yahoo News.

"Millions of silver tetradrachms (like the example shown here at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon) may have been kept in the attic of the Parthenon. "

“Millions of silver tetradrachms (like the example shown here at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon) may have been kept in the attic of the Parthenon. “

“What We’ve Overlooked in the Debate About Charleston: The Connection between Guns and Racism” | History News Network

It is common knowledge that American’s have a short historical memory, but some of that forgetting is politically expedient as well. This is certainly the case when it comes the history of guns in the South. Therefore, it is significant that Robert McWhirter reminds us of this important history: “We associate the American south with guns and consider it the most anti-gun control part of the nation. In reality it was always the most gun controlled. From before the American Revolution until the well after the Civil War slaves couldn’t touch a gun without the master’s permission.  Laws prohibited even free blacks from having a gun, a situation that persisted throughout the Jim Crow south well into the twentieth century.  This was strict gun control.”

Read the entire piece here:

History News Network | What We’ve Overlooked in the Debate About Charleston: The Connection between Guns and Racism.

guns

“The Long Campaign by White Supremacists to ‘Take Our Country Back’” |History News Network

Roy E. Finkenbine gives a brief, but worthwhile, overview of the white supremacists’ efforts to “take our country back” (i.e. restore white supremacy). He writes, “The Civil War decided the questions of slavery and Confederate independence, but it didn’t quash hopes for a continuation of white nationalism.”
Read his summary of this history here:

History News Network | The Long Campaign by White Supremacists to “Take Our Country Back”.

KKK 1950s

“Essay on being accused of being an anti-Israel professor” | Inside Higher Ed

Jonathan Judaken is just the latest victim in a concerted effort by a well-organized group united in defense of Israel. I have written on this topic several times (Pro-Israeli Groups Continue their Assault on Academic Freedom and Conservatives go after UCLA’s historian James Gelvin). It is a troubling trend that threatens academic freedom and the progress that flows from it.

Judaken opens with an explanation of his situation: “Let me tell you how I ended up on Jihad Watch. This is a tale of the new red scare wending its way across college campuses. More than an account of my own travails, this is an anatomy of how critical thought about Islam and Judaism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism is today monitored in the academy with the goal of chilling reflection.”

I noticed a common theme in the comments section. (Of course, going to the comments section of any online forum is a bit like going to the Twilight Zone. You enter at your own risk.) Many of the commenters accused Judaken of being the McCarthyites, not the minions of Campus Watch. The strategy of flipping an argument on its head as a way of taking down your opponent is not new. It has proven to be an effective strategy on the right. Someone calls you a racist, you respond by claiming that they are the real racist. Someone calls you intolerant, you respond by calling them intolerant, and so on.

The problem with their argument is that they fail to make the appropriate distinction between McCarthyism and criticism. What McCarthy did was attempt to silence people that he disagreed with through intimidation and bullying tactics, not debate. Judaken was not trying to silence those associated with the Middle East Forum and Campus Watch, but expose what they were doing. And the analogy is appropriate because they use the tactics of intimidation to bully those in academia whose account of Middle East history does not agree with theirs (the Israeli government is always innocent and anyone who says otherwise is an anti-Semite).

What Caschetta did was not criticism for the purpose of advancing the debate, but an intentional distortion of Judaken’s lecture and intentions. The Middle East Forum was founded to promote a particular ideology. And the way they have chosen to further that ideology is through intimidation, not academic debate. The academic world is built on the principle of debate and criticism. This is what fuels progress in all academic fields of knowledge. If the real goal of Campus Watch was the advancement of knowledge, there are multiple avenues available to critique Judaken’s position in a constructive and professional manner. Every academic has to face criticism as they engage in their own field. This is not the kind of criticism that Caschetta engaged in. He intentionally distorted Judaken’s lecture as a way to intimidate him. This was the way of McCarthy, and therefore the label is apt in the case of Campus Watch, but not the other way around.

Essay on being accused of being an anti-Israel professor | InsideHigherEd.

 academic freedom