(I'm home sick today, so I'm finding all kinds of fun stuff!)
This article is about the controversy over Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. While he was Governor, Daniels had tried to get Indiana schools to stop using Zinn's best-selling but factually problematic book as a history text. Daniels is now president of Purdue university and the emails criticizing Zinn's book, popular with leftists, have surfaced. Weeping and gnashing of teeth has ensued.
92 Professors Go After Mitch Daniels
The vultures in academia are out to get Mitch Daniels Jr., the president of Purdue University and former governor of Indiana. Inside Higher Ed reported last week that in e-mails he sent out while Governor, Daniels tried to get Indiana universities to stop using the best-selling A People's History of the United States, written by the late uberleftist professor Howard Zinn. Now, the site reported on Monday, historians nationwide are demanding Daniels be called to task for his position...
Daniels quickly posted an explanation for his position on Purdue University's website. Daniels wrote:
My emails infringed on no one's academic freedom and proposed absolutely no censorship of any person or viewpoint. In fact, the question I asked on one day in 2010 had nothing to do with higher education at all. I merely wanted to make certain that Howard Zinn's textbook, which represents a falsified version of history, was not being foisted upon our young people in Indiana's public K-12 classrooms.
After establishing that serious historians think little of Zinn, he added: "I want to be equally clear that if Howard Zinn had been a professor at Purdue University, I would have vigorously defended his right to publish and teach what he wanted. Academic freedom, however, does not immunize a person from criticism and certainly does not confer entitlement to have one's work inflicted upon our young people in the K-12 public school system."
Daniels' statement was not sufficient for the historians, including 92 professors in various fields teaching at Purdue. Daniels got in touch with Inside Higher Ed's editors, and told them that he simply did not want his teachers exposed to "falsifications" of history, and that his position had no "implication for academic freedom." On that, as we learned last week from my PJ Media colleague Roger Kimball, Daniels is also correct.
The historians offer the following arguments. Prof. Robert J. Helfenbein, who teaches something called Urban and Multicultural Education--whatever that might be--says he tries to teach future social studies teachers in high schools "multiple perspectives," and that even those who disagree with Zinn "see a worth in reading a historian take on this very different perspective."
Let me pose a hypothetical question to Prof. Helfenbein. If he taught biology and evolution, would he assign a creationist textbook to his students, informing them that the perspective and theory had to be considered, alongside those authors who wrote from a Darwinian perspective? I think we all know the answer...
...Now, 92 of Daniel's own faculty have issued an open letter condemning their own University chief official. First, the professors start out with a statement which is easily proven to be completely false. They write: "Whatever their political stripe, most experts in the field of U.S. history do not take issue with Howard Zinn's facts, even when they do take issue with his conclusions."
Let me give one major example, which as readers know, I am most familiar with. In the latest edition of his A People's History, Zinn writes:
The Rosenbergs were charged with espionage. The major evidence was supplied by a few people who had already confessed to being spies, and were either in prison or under indictment.
He continues to challenge the credibility of key witness Harry Gold, whom he asks: "Did Gold cooperate in return for early release from prison?" As for Ethel Rosenberg's brother David Greenglass, the other major witness, Zinn writes: "Did Greenglass...also know that his life depended on his cooperation?" His implication is clear: the key witnesses lied in order to get themselves a good deal. He also repeats the canard that Greenglass was an "ordinary-level machinist" and "not a scientist" who therefore could not give the Soviets anything of value. He suggests, without evidence, that Gold and Greenglass coordinated their testimony while awaiting trial in New York City's Tombs prison.
First, the Rosenbergs were charged with "conspiracy to commit espionage," and not espionage. Second, it is clear that Zinn had not even read the book I co-authored, The Rosenberg File, or Allen Hornblum's The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb, or Steven Usdin's Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley. Had he been even slightly familiar with these books, he would have easily found that much of what he writes in his few pages on the Rosenberg case are factually wrong, as are his scenarios he so fancifully surmises about with any evidence. Indeed, the rest of his paragraphs read like the old Communist propaganda about the case he had learned in the years after the Rosenbergs' arrest when he was an active CP member. He does not even take into account any of the recent revelations available while he was still alive. His account, in simple terms, is a blatant lie.
...Reading the above, it is clear that Governor Daniels has very good reason to object to young students learning their "facts" and history from Howard Zinn....