Wednesday, 29 October 2008

QotD, embarrassing former APSA/US presidents edition

Radley Balko picks my least favorite American president for dishonor:

Woodrow Wilson. Jailed political dissenters, created the Federal Trade Commission, got us into World War I. He also enacted the first federal income tax, the first modern military draft, and the first federal drug prohibition. Wilson also re-segregated the federal government. When blacks protested, he told them to consider segregation a “benefit,” not a debasement. An all-around loathesome human being.

I agree with Balko’s assessment except on the World War I point, if only because I think U.S. involvement was inevitable based on rather boneheaded provocations by the Central Powers, most notably the Zimmerman telegram.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Why anonymity?

Jason Kuznicki ponders why historians, and by extension other academics, blog anonymously or pseudonymously:

I am driven to wonder, though, about why anonymity would be needed in the first place. The short, ugly answer is that the history profession can often afford to be a fairly exclusive clique, and any deviation from orthodoxy, whether in ideology or in one’s extracurriculars, can be grounds for exclusion. Yes, there are exceptions. The rule, though, is that if as a graduate student you stick out in any way, you aren’t likely to find a job. The massive oversupply of grad students — driven by the academy’s desire to cut costs by using cheap grad student labor — is a breeding ground for a discreet, clubby form of discrimination.

In my little corner of academe, the costs of sticking out aren’t quite so bad, in part because of supply issues (the oversupply of quantitatively-oriented Americanist political scientists is much smaller than the oversupply of historians of any stripe), and in part because there is a tad more intellectual diversity among political scientists—that said, one would sooner admit membership in the Libertarian Party than the Republican Party in most circles.

Of course, an oft-posited theory for my lack of progress in finding a tenure-track job is this blog. That theory discounts my relatively short publication record, the relative lack of placements from my program, and the choice I’ve made to focus on finding positions at schools (primarily liberal arts colleges) that are least likely to hire someone who lacks a “name” undergraduate or graduate degree to put in their catalog. It also discounts the fact that much of my social network of fellow political scientists stems from blogging for the past 4 ½ years, and that there’s no way in hell that I’d have gotten my second job without the blog (and the second had a good deal to do with me getting my third and probably my fourth too).

Thursday, 1 June 2006

Wilmington Race Riot commission issues recommendations

The AP has a story on the release of recommendations from the state commission investigating the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot, a chapter of the state’s political and social history reasonably well-known to those who study Southern politics but one that’s been rather obscure otherwise.

There is something of a strange passage in the story, however:

[State Rep. Thomas] Wright said the next step is to file a bill with the recommendations—which include that the parties responsible for the violence atone for their own involvement and that the true story of the incident be taught in North Carolina schools—in the Legislature. That won’t happen before 2007 because the deadline for filing new legislation has passed this session, he said.

My suspicion is that the “parties responsible for the violence” are, without exception, dead, so they probably won’t be doing a lot of atoning. I suppose the North Carolina Democratic Party could issue some resolution of apology, but I’m not sure it would reflect anything other than empty symbolism as the current party, other than organizational continuity, has nothing much in common with its century-old counterpart.