William Murchison: What Texas Won’t TeachRoundup: Talking About History
tags: National Association of Scholars, history, American Conservative
William Murchison is a nationally syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on politics, religion, and society.
We know, axiomatically, how it is with victors in one cause and another—they claim the spoils and write the history; in the latter case, untangling heroism from villainy, assigning significance to the outcomes, defining challenges still to come.
Why wonder (to the extent anyone does these days) that from many a seat in the modern classroom, America seems strikingly different from the star-spangled nation generally on view during—oh, I don’t know, the early ‘60s might do as point of departure. That was the era in which I occupied my own seat in the history classrooms of the University of Texas (currently called, due to system expansion, the University of Texas-Austin).
A few years after my graduation, with a history B.A., followed by study at Stanford for the history Master of Arts, came the tempests and upheavals of the Vietnam war-counterculture era, whose victors were… guess who?
No point leaving readers in suspense. A study by the National Association of Scholars, an organization of counter-countercultural academics in various disciplines, dedicated to “the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate,” raises the timely question, “Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?,” meaning history as presently taught on college campuses. The verdict as rendered would appear to be yes; unquestionably; positively.
Race, class, and gender (formerly spelled “s-e-x”) appear to be undermining the narrative of America we once upon a time received as coherent and connected: the story of disparate colonies welding themselves into a nation of largely positive achievements, with a generally positive vision of itself and its place in the world. The newly emerging narrative concerns a nation of far more complex origins and ambitions than formerly taught, harder to understand and interpret, with darker corners, lacking the old teleology, the old sense of purpose and fulfillment.
I beg the reader: hold it right there. What’s wrong, from the standpoint of scholarship, with complexities and dark, or just darkish, corners? Is there no right or need to study and know about such? I plan to return to this matter. Meanwhile, what did the NAS report—titled “Recasting History”—actually do and say?...