Ripping the USA: Revising History Dismally

It happened in July. A group of 25 selected professor historians met in Hawaii at a workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They were to present and hear scholarly papers on the history of these United States in World War II. It was to be a high-level intellectual rendering of that war receding now into history.

It turned out to be a largely left-liberal diatribe about our nation's sinful past. It was partisan as hell and, worst of all, an awkward attempt to rewrite history to make America out to be the world's worst villain and all-around Bad Guy. Some speaker/presenters, presumably sticklers for historical accuracy, even made the USA out to be the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Yes, you read that correctly.

The workshop was at the East-West Center at University of Hawaii. Its title sounded noble enough, and honest -- "History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War." Content, much of it at least, was neither noble nor honest, nor exclusively about the Pacific War. The scholars' gathering became a platform for anti-American, anti-military rants by suspect historians who should have known better.

One of the 25 scholars invited was Professor Penelope A. Blake of Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois. Daughter of two World War II veterans, she had looked forward to this conference owing to her deep interest and scholarship in World War II history. Instead, she left the scholars' conference incensed, ready to "do something" to remedy its patently absurd wrongs done to American history.

Instead of honest, fact-based analyses, Dr. Blake found a partisan howling, an agenda "driven by overt political bias and a blatant anti-American agenda," reports Scott Johnson of Powerline, the award-winning blog. Johnson shared with Powerline readers Blake's letter, dated September 12, to Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-IL), her northern Illinois congressman. Her letter recounts and documents God-forsaken misrepresentations of fact and crude misstatements of historical motives voiced by several speakers at the conference.

To Congressman Manzullo she wrote,

I am writing to ask you to vote against approval of 2011 funding for future workshops until the NEH can account for the violation of its stated objective to foster "a mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups" (NEH Budget Request, 2011).

What erupted in the scholars' workshop, she averred, was swaggering left-liberal, elitist revisionist history by some histrionic, far-out historians. Blake, a thirty-year college professor of history and the humanities, summed up her deeply-held discontent in this paragraph:

I have never witnessed nor participated in a more extremist, agenda-driven, revisionist conference, nearly devoid of rhetorical balance and historical context for the arguments presented.

Blake found the "overriding messages" of the workshop a sort of slam-bang America-hate-fest from the blame-America-first crowd. Verbatim excerpts of her letter to the congressman appear below. Read them and weep:

1. The U.S. military and its veterans constitute an imperialistic, oppressive force which has created and perpetuated its own mythology of liberation and heroism, insisting on a 'pristine collective memory' of the war. ...

2. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor should be seen from the perspective of Japan being a victim of western oppression (one speaker likened the attack to 9-11, saying that the U.S. could be seen as "both victim and aggressor" in both attacks); that American "imperial expansion" forced Japan's hand: "For the Japanese [according to one presenter], it was a war to defend their unique culture against Western Imperialism and the Pearl Harbor attack could be seen as a "pre-emptive strike."

3. War memorials, such as the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery [on hallowed ground in Hawaii] (where many WWII dead are buried, including those executed by the Japanese on Wake Island and the beloved American journalist Ernie Pyle), are symbols of military aggression and brutality 'that pacify death, sanitize war and enable future wars to be fought" ...

4. The U.S. military has repeatedly committed rapes and other violent crimes throughout its past through the present day. Cited here was the handful of cases of attacks by Marines in Okinawa... (Not cited were the mass-murders, rapes, mutilations of hundreds of thousands of Chinese at the hands of the Japanese throughout the 1930s and 40s) ...

5. Those misguided members of the WW II generation on islands [such as] Guam and Saipan who feel gratitude to the Americans for saving them from the Japanese, are blinded by propaganda supporting "the image of a compassionate America"...

6. It was 'the practice' of the U.S. military in WWII to desecrate and disrespect the bodies of dead Japanese. (Knowing this to be absolutely false, I challenged the speaker/author, who then admitted that this was not the 'practice' of our military) ...

7. Conservatives and veterans in the U.S. have had an undue and corrupt influence on how WWII is remembered, for example, successfully lobbying to remove from the Smithsonian Enola Gay exhibit, images of the destruction caused by the atom bomb ...  

8. Conservatives are reactionary nationalists (no distinction was made between nationalism and patriotism), pro-military 'tea baggers' who are incapable of 'critical thinking.' Comments were made about 'people who watch Fox News' not caring if the news 'is accurate or not...' ( The end result of this deprecation within the conference room was to discourage debate and create an atmosphere of intolerance to opposing views) ...

Get it? It gets sillier. Professor Blake writes:

[One presenter/speaker] claimed that electric and oil companies were at the root of WWII, and that the U.S. developed a naval base at Pearl Harbor to ensure that its own coasts would not be attacked. ...

Another author stated that segregation in place within our military and our "occupation" of Germany after the war was comparable to Nazism ("we were as capable of as much evil as the Germans[,]" [he claimed]) even though [he] admits, with some incredulity, that he "saw no genuine torture, despite all the [American] arrogance, xenophobia and insensitivity." He attributed American kindness towards conquered Germans to our "wealth and power" which allowed us to "forego the extreme kinds of barbarism..."

This revisionist historian is teaching our young? Pity them. Pity the truth.

Professor Blake came away "ashamed of my profession and my government for sponsoring this travesty."

She is "no blind patriot," she adds, but as a student and teacher of history, she knows:
... that despite all of its mistakes, this nation and its military have defended, protected and freed more people in [our] comparatively brief existence, than all the nations in Europe and Asia combined. ...

Allied efforts, however imperfect, [have] defended the world against two of the greatest forms of evil the world has ever known -- European Fascism and Japanese Imperialism. This perspective was never, not once, offered at this conference except as a concept that will be well-buried with the WWII generation. If nothing else, I have shown that any imminent celebration of the demise of these concepts may be premature ...

She points out that the NEH is requesting an operating budget of $161 million in taxpayer dollars for 2011, including $71 million to support conferences such as this travesty of historical injustice. She asks to delay such funding until " ... NEH reviews workshop proposals and supporting materials to eliminate any overt political agenda."

Fat chance? Maybe. An even longer shot, perhaps impossible considering pedagogic solidarity and its partisan bureaucratic political nature. She asks for the NEH to "commit itself to a fair and balanced view of our nation's history and humanities, acknowledging its mistakes but also honoring its achievements." (A bridge too far?)  

Speaking for her veteran parents and the Greatest Generation that won World War II, including an uncle she lost, Professor Blake writes, "I simply will not stand by and allow their history to be usurped and corrupted by a revisionist and iconoclastic political agenda within academe."

Well said! Readers would do a service to our nation and to unvarnished, non-PC historical truths by communicating with Congress and others in the bureaucracy about the sickening, cheap-shot revisionist history being pedaled at such taxpayer-sponsored events. Clearly, indisputably, such over-the-top slants about our nation's history are false, even hateful, demeaning our nation and our military. Will truth survive falsely speaking academicians' attacks? Let us devoutly hope so.

Gary Larson is a retired newspaper and business magazine editor in Minnesota. He is not the cartoonist of the same name.
It happened in July. A group of 25 selected professor historians met in Hawaii at a workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They were to present and hear scholarly papers on the history of these United States in World War II. It was to be a high-level intellectual rendering of that war receding now into history.

It turned out to be a largely left-liberal diatribe about our nation's sinful past. It was partisan as hell and, worst of all, an awkward attempt to rewrite history to make America out to be the world's worst villain and all-around Bad Guy. Some speaker/presenters, presumably sticklers for historical accuracy, even made the USA out to be the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Yes, you read that correctly.

The workshop was at the East-West Center at University of Hawaii. Its title sounded noble enough, and honest -- "History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War." Content, much of it at least, was neither noble nor honest, nor exclusively about the Pacific War. The scholars' gathering became a platform for anti-American, anti-military rants by suspect historians who should have known better.

One of the 25 scholars invited was Professor Penelope A. Blake of Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois. Daughter of two World War II veterans, she had looked forward to this conference owing to her deep interest and scholarship in World War II history. Instead, she left the scholars' conference incensed, ready to "do something" to remedy its patently absurd wrongs done to American history.

Instead of honest, fact-based analyses, Dr. Blake found a partisan howling, an agenda "driven by overt political bias and a blatant anti-American agenda," reports Scott Johnson of Powerline, the award-winning blog. Johnson shared with Powerline readers Blake's letter, dated September 12, to Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-IL), her northern Illinois congressman. Her letter recounts and documents God-forsaken misrepresentations of fact and crude misstatements of historical motives voiced by several speakers at the conference.

To Congressman Manzullo she wrote,

I am writing to ask you to vote against approval of 2011 funding for future workshops until the NEH can account for the violation of its stated objective to foster "a mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups" (NEH Budget Request, 2011).

What erupted in the scholars' workshop, she averred, was swaggering left-liberal, elitist revisionist history by some histrionic, far-out historians. Blake, a thirty-year college professor of history and the humanities, summed up her deeply-held discontent in this paragraph:

I have never witnessed nor participated in a more extremist, agenda-driven, revisionist conference, nearly devoid of rhetorical balance and historical context for the arguments presented.

Blake found the "overriding messages" of the workshop a sort of slam-bang America-hate-fest from the blame-America-first crowd. Verbatim excerpts of her letter to the congressman appear below. Read them and weep:

1. The U.S. military and its veterans constitute an imperialistic, oppressive force which has created and perpetuated its own mythology of liberation and heroism, insisting on a 'pristine collective memory' of the war. ...

2. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor should be seen from the perspective of Japan being a victim of western oppression (one speaker likened the attack to 9-11, saying that the U.S. could be seen as "both victim and aggressor" in both attacks); that American "imperial expansion" forced Japan's hand: "For the Japanese [according to one presenter], it was a war to defend their unique culture against Western Imperialism and the Pearl Harbor attack could be seen as a "pre-emptive strike."

3. War memorials, such as the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery [on hallowed ground in Hawaii] (where many WWII dead are buried, including those executed by the Japanese on Wake Island and the beloved American journalist Ernie Pyle), are symbols of military aggression and brutality 'that pacify death, sanitize war and enable future wars to be fought" ...

4. The U.S. military has repeatedly committed rapes and other violent crimes throughout its past through the present day. Cited here was the handful of cases of attacks by Marines in Okinawa... (Not cited were the mass-murders, rapes, mutilations of hundreds of thousands of Chinese at the hands of the Japanese throughout the 1930s and 40s) ...

5. Those misguided members of the WW II generation on islands [such as] Guam and Saipan who feel gratitude to the Americans for saving them from the Japanese, are blinded by propaganda supporting "the image of a compassionate America"...

6. It was 'the practice' of the U.S. military in WWII to desecrate and disrespect the bodies of dead Japanese. (Knowing this to be absolutely false, I challenged the speaker/author, who then admitted that this was not the 'practice' of our military) ...

7. Conservatives and veterans in the U.S. have had an undue and corrupt influence on how WWII is remembered, for example, successfully lobbying to remove from the Smithsonian Enola Gay exhibit, images of the destruction caused by the atom bomb ...  

8. Conservatives are reactionary nationalists (no distinction was made between nationalism and patriotism), pro-military 'tea baggers' who are incapable of 'critical thinking.' Comments were made about 'people who watch Fox News' not caring if the news 'is accurate or not...' ( The end result of this deprecation within the conference room was to discourage debate and create an atmosphere of intolerance to opposing views) ...

Get it? It gets sillier. Professor Blake writes:

[One presenter/speaker] claimed that electric and oil companies were at the root of WWII, and that the U.S. developed a naval base at Pearl Harbor to ensure that its own coasts would not be attacked. ...

Another author stated that segregation in place within our military and our "occupation" of Germany after the war was comparable to Nazism ("we were as capable of as much evil as the Germans[,]" [he claimed]) even though [he] admits, with some incredulity, that he "saw no genuine torture, despite all the [American] arrogance, xenophobia and insensitivity." He attributed American kindness towards conquered Germans to our "wealth and power" which allowed us to "forego the extreme kinds of barbarism..."

This revisionist historian is teaching our young? Pity them. Pity the truth.

Professor Blake came away "ashamed of my profession and my government for sponsoring this travesty."

She is "no blind patriot," she adds, but as a student and teacher of history, she knows:
... that despite all of its mistakes, this nation and its military have defended, protected and freed more people in [our] comparatively brief existence, than all the nations in Europe and Asia combined. ...

Allied efforts, however imperfect, [have] defended the world against two of the greatest forms of evil the world has ever known -- European Fascism and Japanese Imperialism. This perspective was never, not once, offered at this conference except as a concept that will be well-buried with the WWII generation. If nothing else, I have shown that any imminent celebration of the demise of these concepts may be premature ...

She points out that the NEH is requesting an operating budget of $161 million in taxpayer dollars for 2011, including $71 million to support conferences such as this travesty of historical injustice. She asks to delay such funding until " ... NEH reviews workshop proposals and supporting materials to eliminate any overt political agenda."

Fat chance? Maybe. An even longer shot, perhaps impossible considering pedagogic solidarity and its partisan bureaucratic political nature. She asks for the NEH to "commit itself to a fair and balanced view of our nation's history and humanities, acknowledging its mistakes but also honoring its achievements." (A bridge too far?)  

Speaking for her veteran parents and the Greatest Generation that won World War II, including an uncle she lost, Professor Blake writes, "I simply will not stand by and allow their history to be usurped and corrupted by a revisionist and iconoclastic political agenda within academe."

Well said! Readers would do a service to our nation and to unvarnished, non-PC historical truths by communicating with Congress and others in the bureaucracy about the sickening, cheap-shot revisionist history being pedaled at such taxpayer-sponsored events. Clearly, indisputably, such over-the-top slants about our nation's history are false, even hateful, demeaning our nation and our military. Will truth survive falsely speaking academicians' attacks? Let us devoutly hope so.

Gary Larson is a retired newspaper and business magazine editor in Minnesota. He is not the cartoonist of the same name.

RECENT VIDEOS