Friday, March 31, 2006

Really Good Historians Should Be In Charge

Caleb McDaniel says:
if you want to protect a person's human rights, you had best argue, not for the irrelevance of national citizenship altogether, but rather for an expanded and flexible definition of the national community that finds a place for illegal immigrants under the legal umbrella of the United States.
He goes on to argue that the liberal abandonment of the "nation-state" concept has led to the current situation where nationalism and anti-liberalism are more or less synonymous and that liberals need to redefine and reclaim nationalism in such a way as to not only preclude the delegitimation of liberals by conservatives (that's more my interpolation than his, though he does have a bit of defensive language, too) but also to achieve what we want with regard to expanding human rights within the nation-state.

Tim Burke says, with regard to the Duke Lacrosse Rape story:
I would be willing to wager a good deal [ed: never bet against Tim Burke] that if the sick little punk who said those words ["Thank your grandpa for my cotton shirt"] was sitting in a course on American history at Duke and was asked to stand up and provide a narrative of the history of slavery, emancipation, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, he would profess ignorance, or provide a kind of respectable potted Cliff Notes version sufficient to pass the US History AP but no more. [ed: AP? I don't think so] Maybe his professed ignorance would be relatively genuine, or maybe it would be the suppression of the story he thinks he knows but also knows he cannot tell, because it’s not real or accurate history, only a shambles of racist tropes.
He goes on to point out that historians have a responsibility to deconstruct and reconstruct our ingrained memories, our unspoken shame, in such a way that it becomes visible and, if we have the good will, alterable.

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