- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001


One sector of academia which seems to be both lacking in intellectual honesty and immune to cultural change is the history profession's mainstream professoriat. With few exceptions, America's academic historians are the most fervid practitioners of political correctness, not only within the profession but outside it as well.
The evidence for my statements are to be found in the mainstream history view of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan, Stalin. But now a group of leading American historians have involved themselves in an issue which has nothing to do with history but has everything to do with politically-correct, left liberalism. It is their call for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal who was found guilty of first degree murder in 1982 by a racially mixed jury. Mumia had shot and killed on Dec. 9, 1981 a Philadelphia policeman, Daniel Faulkner.
Everything points to Mumia's guilt. The .38 caliber bullet that killed Faulkner came from Mumia's gun. Mysterious gunmen who allegedly did the shooting have not been found despite defense claims. And Mumia was found at the scene of the murder with the gun at his feet. Four eyewitnesses identified Mumia, who is under a death sentence, as the killer. Since 1982, 37 appellate judges right up to the U.S. Supreme Court have reviewed the conviction and rejected the appeals (For more on the case see www.danielfaulkner.com).
Last week a polemical article in FrontPage Magazine by Ronald Radosh, professor emeritus of history at City University of New York, discussed the case. Mr. Radosh analyzed the arguments for a new trial presented in a full-page ad in Perspectives, the magazine of the American Historical Association, one of the two major historical organizations. The signatories to the ad include senior scholars, among them 10 former presidents of the AHA and the Organization of American Historians.
Do they deal with the facts in the case? Oh, no, they're above such trifling matters. They want a new trial because the policeman's murder must be "viewed in the light of history." By that they mean, says Mr. Radosh, that "one has to take into account America's 'racist' past and show awareness of the crimes committed against black people in the heyday of the old segregationist South." Thus it could be argued that Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy employee who was convicted of spying for Israel, ought to be freed from jail because of the Holocaust.
The politicization of mainstream historians, of which the Mumia appeal is emblematic, is a leftover from the comradely days of Marxism-Leninism. In recent years they have concentrated on denigrating the achievements of Ronald Reagan's presidency.
Ronald Steel, a leading historian, has written this grudging verdict on democracy's bloodless victory over Soviet totalitarianism: "We have won a victory, of sorts." Of sorts! Would Mr. Steel describe our triumph over fascism as "a victory, of sorts"? Because we won the Cold War, we are the only superpower, he writes, "yet this is an ambiguous victory." What's ambiguous about it? The onetime "evil empire," as President Reagan called it to jeers from the liberal-left, is no more; the Soviet Union is a collection of some 15 nation-states; no more Gulag. Germany is united; Central Europe is free of Soviet domination; democracy flourishes where once dictators reigned. What's "ambiguous"?
Mr. Steel, like others of his liberal persuasion, seems to regret the end of the Cold War; he writes: "In its perverted way, the Cold War was a force for stability." Yes indeed bloodily-suppressed uprisings in East Germany and Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, trampling of human rights, Afghanistan, Soviet support for the Yom Kippur war of aggression against Israel, the KGB everywhere, Cuban missile crisis some force for stability. How can a historian write such nonsense?
There are other bits of garbage history: "Losing Our Souls: The American Experience in the Cold War" by Professor Edward Pessen; or an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by a Whitman College academic titled "The United States was the loser in the Cold War" containing this hallucinatory sentence: "Considering what might have been, the United States was the loser in the Cold War, not the winner."
A long time ago, during the French Revolution, the Jacobins coined a powerful slogan "There are no enemies on the left." The millions and millions of victims in Central Europe and in the USSR, in Asia and in Central America would tell you today that the only enemies are on the "left." But for America's mainstream historians, the left is still a sacred cause and Mumia Abu Jamal its guiltless cherub.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide