As baseball manager Ozzie Guillen serves out his five day suspension for saying nice things about Fidel Castro, I took a look today at what college history textbooks have to say about the Cuban dictator. One thing they don’t say about him is the word “dictator.” That word is reserved for the many Castro overthrew, Fulgencio Batista.
I’ve just been looking through the college freshman history textbooks that I critique in the Columns section of this website, and not one of them uses the “D” word in regard to Castro, while all of them use that word, often proceeded by “corrupt,” to describe Batista.
“Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, is one of this country’s most prominent historians.” Professor Eric Foner
The quote above is the first sentence on the homepage of Professor Eric Foner’s personal website. There is little doubt about who wrote this encomium, because footer of the homepage says “Copyright 2005 Eric Foner.”
Further down on the homepage the professor quotes another historian, who praises Foner in terms that would embarrass a more modest man. After praising Foner for his “voluminous scholarship,” Dr. Steven Hahn goes on to say that Foner “has had an enormous influence on how other historians, as well as a good cut of the general reading public, have come to think about American history.”
This statement is probably true, unfortunately. Dr Foner personifies everything that is wrong with academia in America, especially where history departments are concerned, and his influence is widely felt.
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Abraham Lincoln
The purpose of this website, as regular readers know, is to point out the liberal bias that permeates college history faculties and the textbooks they write. To that end I study and footnote seven of the most widely used freshman history textbooks. Every other week I post a new column about the biased way in which most of these textbooks cover some important topic in American History.
After doing this for over a year I’ve begun to notice patterns in the various books. While all of them reflect a left-leaning world view, some are certainly more biased, and less accurate, than others. In today’s column I will rate the three textbooks that show the least flagrant bias, starting with the one that comes closest to offering an even-handed representation of American history. Future columns will address the other four.
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Vladimir Lenin
America as a whole has a two party political system, with each party typically getting the support of about half the nation’s voters, but things are different on college campuses. University professors are an extremely partisan bunch; they vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, and do all they can to influence their students to vote the same way. The word “diversity” may be a popular catchword on campus, but there is very little diversity in evidence when it comes to political opinion.
History professors, and the textbooks they write, sometimes go to extremes to make their own party look good, and the hated Republican Party look bad. One of the more egregious examples of this partisan bias is the way mainstream history textbooks misrepresent the roles of the respective parties in the debate over the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“Slavery was not a sideshow in American History, it was the main event.” Dr. James Horton, George Mason University.
From the day the America was founded, her economic growth was the envy of the rest of the world. Academics and other liberals are pretty consistent in the explanation they offer for this rapid early growth. The nation’s prosperity, they tell us, was built on the backs of black slaves. American capitalism, they say, is so closely linked to slavery that its achievements should always be viewed with shame. This negative portrayal of American enterprise shows up in textbooks, in classrooms, and even in publicly-funded “educational” broadcasting.
There is another side to the story.