Letters To The Editor
May 13, 2009 - MidWeek
A changed USA, sir
What country has Jerry Coffee been living in? If it’s America, he might have noticed that fundamental change from the previous eight years of Mr. Coffee’s Republican Party rule is exactly what most Americans want.
He gives us a nice history lesson in “Fundamentally, USA Is Sound,” but let’s deal with now: The Republicans ran up huge deficits (financial conservatism?) while lying their way into a war of choice that has weakened our military beyond belief. Bush’s use of torture has diminished America’s standing in the world, and his illegal spying on patriotic Americans has weakened our Constitution and threatened our freedoms. Meanwhile, America ranks far down comparative lists of math and science test scores, and our schools are no longer turning out those great scholars and inventors. And our economy is a mess because Republicans let their banker buddies rule the world.
Mr. Coffee consistently supported policies of George Bush in his MidWeek column, and he was as wrong then as he is wrong now. Open your eyes, sir. The world has fundamentally changed around you, and fundamental change to deal with that is exactly what this country needs.
As I recall, Jerry Coffee scolded people who opposed the policies of George Bush, along the lines of, “He’s the president, respect him, support him.” How different, then, is his scolding President Obama, “Just leave it alone!” The term, I believe, is double standard.
History alive, well
I grew up in Hawaii, and have often read and enjoyed Dan Boylan’s columns, so I was especially saddened by his “On the Sad State of History Today.”
Good historians, like good journalists, know they cannot rely on a single source. Historians must look at all the available evidence in order to make the best possible analysis. That’s one of the first lessons we teach students in history classes. Nonetheless, he drew conclusions about the entire historical profession based on a single conference paper at the Organization of American Historians meeting. Sure, some academics offer poor scholarship, but to say that university scholars produce nothing but trivia is just plain wrong.
Consider just two of the books that my colleagues at UC-Santa Barbara have published in the past year. Pekka Hamalainen’s The Comanche Empire completely changes our understanding of the American Southwest in the 19th century. Anthony Barbieri-Low’s Artisans in Early Imperial China provides an unprecedented look at the men and women who created the masterpieces of ancient Chinese art. Both books have won multiple national awards.
You can read more about these books here:
Comanche Empire: http://yalepress.yale.edu/yup-books/book.asp?isbn=0300126549
Artisans in Early Imperial China: ttp://www.washinhgton.edu/uwpre ss/search/books/BARARC.html
Across the country and around the world, many other historians continue to produce ground-breaking scholarship. The work of UH scholars Jerry Bentley and Herbert Ziegler in promoting the study of world history is particularly noteworthy.
Despite the current economic situation, history remains in demand on campus, and students flock to history classes. What better training could there be for grappling with the problems of the future than learning from the lessons of the past?
Mr. Boylan owes historians an apology, and I hope that he will consider presenting a more balanced view of the profession in his column.
John W.I. Lee
Flu and the media
I couldn’t believe Rick Hamada’s rant against the media for devoting much time/space to the swine flu.
As a former TV reporter, I believe the media is doing its job, especially if more public awareness limits the flu’s spread and prevents a pandemic.
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