Welcome to the Sixth Edition of the Carnival of Bad History! I’m going to start with that most excellent material — that which is found and nominated by someone else — and then exercise my droit de rédacteur* and include some material I’ve gleaned over the last few months. The big news here is that after this last quarterly edition, we are going monthly! So don’t delay: get your posts in soon for the next one!
Sergey Romanov gets my heartfelt thanks both for nominating a passel of posts, but also for the intensely challenging and frankly distasteful work he and his co-bloggers do. A good starting post, typical of the great work they do, is Why the “diesel issue” is irrelevant, which highlights their mastery of sources, arguments and effective blogging. The oldest of the bunch from them is The Arolsen Archive Controversy: Cold Comfort for Deniers by Nick Terry, a typically detailed, informed and powerful post. Nick Terry also wrote a very strong call for historians to publicly engage (i.e. demolish) bad history in the public sphere. (Sharon Howard had some reservations about full-fledged engagement, mostly because of the time and professional standards to which we hold ourselves. Fair ’nuff: these carnivals cut into my sleep time, for sure) The Holocaust Controversies crew have been particularly hard on Carlos Mattogno this quarter, and it looks like he’s earned every bit of it.
For a complete change of pace, satirist Jon Swift presents another of his immodest proposals: Let’s Not Nuke Iran-Yet: “I believe it was the Grammy Award winning guitarist Santana who said, “Those who do not study history, are doomed to repeat the class.” By invading Vietnam, and doing it right this time, we could change history.” Or not.
Speaking of satire, the President went to Hungary to compare the 1956 uprising with the Iraq war…. No, I’m not kidding. Daniel Larison’s put that comparison in proper perspective. (Jonathan Wilson sent that in).
Joerg Wolf, member of a serious blogging team, submitted a review of a Franco-German textbook “that presents the US and the USSR as broadly equivalent in moral terms. One of the authors even admits that the textbook is largely Anti-American.” Great. Next, Texas will be demanding that textbooks say mean things about the French (Germans we’ve mostly got covered….).
Speaking of anti-American rants, Marc Comtois’ Morris Berman is Hung Up on America’s Impending “Dark Ages” was another Jonathan Wilson submission (yes, I’m linking to interesting posts of Jonathan’s: go read them!).
Joe Kissell submitted a cute little mystery but I think that his recent piece on Project Habakkuk is a far more interesting historical dead end: a WWII-era attempt to build aircraft carriers out of alternative materials….
Ahistoricality caught some highly fraught interpretive errors as well as some discordant advertising notes and tasteless vote-rigging jokes, not to mention a truly bizarre attempt to link the President with Aleister Crowley.
Finally, at the last minute, Bora/Coturnix got me a discussion of Nikola Tesla in fact and fiction and his commenters chime in with a few clarifications of their own!
Thanks very much to all who sent me stuff, via whatever method you found
“Every nation ridicules other nations, and all are right.”
“It sometimes seems as though we were trying to combine the ideal of no schools at all with the democratic ideal of schools for everybody by having schools without education.” — Robert Maynard Hutchins
Now here’s what your humble host has come across in the last few months and hours….
Miland Brown’s Rules for Separtists has been in other carnivals, but a satirical chronicle of the abuses of history this good deserves lots of mentions.
My former student, Grant Jones, is trying to figure out the last American executed for treason (because he’s got a little list) and what it would take for the government to speak the historical truth about a sensitive ally.
Dave Neiwert reposts a still-relevant refutation of a journalistic cliche.
Over at the new Revise & Dissent (a great bunch of bloggers, sharing some of their best work, and one of them has already volunteered to be a host later this year!), Alun Salt reviews the evidence about the “Bosnian Pyramid” and finds it “shonky.”
Also, David Davisson tones down some of the consternation over the Florida history teaching law, but can’t really say that it’s not a disaster, anyway. Also, in the usually calm HNN books section, Muir and Applebaum demolish some highly partisan archaeology.
Sometimes it’s just lousy reporting, as Another Damned Medievalist discovered. Historians take note: journalists rarely listen closely. Journalists note: Not all “noted” historians are worth listening to.
Orac (who should be hosting this carnival sometime soon if he’ll check his calendar and get back to me) is always on top of the Holocaust-related bad history, but the planned staging of Jesus Christ, Superstar at a former death camp certainly qualifies as one of the biggest gaffes of the quarter. Though Bill O’Reilly attributing a massacre to the wrong side of WWII is an easy choice for runner-up. (So is a proposed memorial to Japanese dead at Saipan) His post on countering the Holohoax slander is extraordinary, and the comments are great.
Finally, I would be deeply remiss if I didn’t note the historical brouhaha in which I had a small hand: the protests and controversy over Sino-Japanese War Art at MIT. Even within the confines of our own little blogfamily here, we had some sharp disagreements. While Alan Baumler and I (linked above) tended to side strongly with Dower/Miyagawa, Winnie Wong made a case that — from her perspective as an art historian — the exhibit was indeed flawed.
“The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.”
— Paul Valéry
“What’s more, it never was.” — Lee Hays
And that does it. Sorry for the delay, but in my defense: there’s still two minutes of Monday left, here in Hawai’i! Yeah, I’m an historian with no sense of time….