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« Seven blog years, a million hits | Main | Democrats in Congress get grief counseling »

November 08, 2010

Comments

blj

This incident represents just one of many projects funded by the NEH. To single out a single incident like this and act like it represents the rest of the work of the Endowment is unfair. The NEH has also funded many projects with more conservative agendas, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars. These include, but are not limited to, the American Constitution Center, the National World War Two Museum, James Madison's Montpelier, The Association for the Study of Free Institutions, the Museum of the Confederacy, and Colonial Williamsburg. NEH also regularly supports the documentaries of Ken Burns, and was a premier supporter of his very popular Civil War film. For years, it ran an initiative called the We The People (which is still active) that has placed millions of books in schools and public libraries celebrating the best of American history. Books granted to libraries have included Johnny Tremain, 1776, Little House on the Prairie, and The Red badge of Courage.

Perhaps everyone should take a breath and try to put things in perspective. Instead of immediately jumping on the bandwagon to "defund" NEH, perhaps we should all try to learn a bit more about the whole of what NEH does. NEH provides a valuable service to the citizens of this country and cannot control everything said by people and institutions it funds. It's ludicrous to expect that.

Frank Warner

No one expects the NEH to control what everyone says, but the NEH did something quite close to that when, for that Hawaiian conference, it funded speakers with an almost unanimous point of view in defense of Imperial Japan's repression and aggression. You at NEH knew what they were going to say, you paid them with my money and they said it.

But BLJ, you reveal the bigger problem in your comment here. You say the NEH also has funded projects "with more conservative agendas." You give the examples of the American Constitution Center, the National World War Two Museum, James Madison's Montpelier, The Association for the Study of Free Institutions, the Museum of the Confederacy, and Colonial Williamsburg.

So let me ask, how are these projects more conservative? Is it that they are not staffed by people arguing that we should have no Constitution, that the Nazis were best, that James Madison was wrong, that individual freedom is bad, that the Confederacy should have won, and that Colonial Williamsburg went too far with those ideas of independence and liberty?

These government-funded projects should not have liberal or conservative agendas at all, and when government funds a debate of philosophy or history, great care must be taken that the "expert" speakers represent a balance of views rooted in reality and sanity.

That even one NEH-funded conference subsidized the friends of totalitarianism makes me question all NEH-funded programs.

blj

True, Frank. It was a poor choice of words on my part. What I was trying to get at was that NEH funds all sorts of projects from all sorts of institutions, and that it's unfair to characterize it as funding only revisionist or "un-American" projects. It has funded some important organizations that I think celebrate what is best about our country: veterans, the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, etc.

I just did mote online research about the workshop in quesiton and this is what I learned. It seems that there is more to the story than what has been told by Professor Blake or some bloggers.

According to others who attended the Hawaii workshop, the workshop was not one-sided as has been portrayed. It even included a number of invited veterans. Another workshop attendee who posted as Texas Native at http://www.joannejacobs.com/2010/11/professor-neh-funds-anti-u-s-bias/comment-page-1/ characterized the event this way (these are quotes from an attendee--not my words):

[QUOTE] "I attended the workshop. The organizers attempted to cover too much material and look at the entire Asia Pacific War. Therefore there was an emphasis on the Asian theaters. As for American imperialism, panelists presented the argument the Japanese gave for invading China in the1930s was to protect China from American imperialism. This was the argument Japan used it was not a reinterpretation of our foreign policy.

There were several Pearl Harbor veterans there and they were cherished members of the group. They sat in on many sessions and did not appear to be offended in the least. They loved visiting with us and we with them. We thanked them for their sacrifice and service. I was honored and humbled to be able to meet them and hear their stories.

Professor Blake, I believe, has misconstrued the facts to the point that it made me question if we attended the same workshop. Sure, the workshop was not perfect, but it was not anti-American and it was not anti-veteran." [ENDQUOTE}

I also learned that the workshop in question was co-sponsored by the USS Arizona Memorial Museum Association (now called Pacific Historic Parks), the organization that supports and funds educational materials, museum exhibits, and interpretive programs for four National Parks throughout the Pacific, namely World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor (USS Arizona Memorial), Kalaupapa National Historical Park on the island of Molokai, American Memorial Park in Saipan and War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam. Workshop attendee also heard from the Chief Historian of the USS Arizona Memorial. It sounds to me like there was a balance of viewpoints and, along with the veterans who were present, many people who could and would have refuted claims that were not backed up by evidence. Indeed, the people who actually fought the war and were bombed at Pearl Harbor were there to refute such claims.

How do I know this? I requested the letter from Jim Leach to Penelope Blake that you characterize above as "dismissive" and that Power Line has spilled a lot of electronic ink over but has yet to post, despite the fact that they have it in their hands. You may wish to email Power Line yourself to get the letter along with a letter to Commander Kenny Hanson, Commander of the American Ex-Prisoners of War. Then draw your own conclusions about Professor Blake’s comments.

Another detail I learned from the letter: the NEH has funded the Dwight Eisenhower and George Marshall Papers (they were, of course, two of the greatest heroes of WWII), the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center, US Naval Special Warfare Records at the Navy UDT-Seal Museum in Florida, and the USS Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. It seems to me like the NEH is definitely doing its part to support significant non-revisionist projects in World War II history.

Thnaks for giving me a chance to respond to what was a poorly chosen set of claims above and refine my argument. As a son and nephew of veterans, I am protective of their legacy, but I also believe in being fair. It seems that no one has been interested in getting the NEH's viewpoint on the matter. I think it's only fair to do that before passing judgment.

Frank Warner

I hope to see that letter by Jim Leach. I also am listening closely for Leach's public comments on the Hawaii conference. For some reason, he is silent. We're all eager for the NEH's viewpoint, and for some explanation about how those particular speakers were subsidized with taxpayer dollars.

Professor Blake has told us of the veterans at the conference. Of course, most of them were at specific, limited events, and missed the speakers' lengthy comments blaming the United States for Pearl Harbor and blaming the veterans for their unhelpful memory of liberating the Pacific.

Those speakers can make all their World War II papers available to us online. I've looked for them on the NEH site, and they're not there. I'll be happy to read them and I'll be happy to quote all conference members who reminded their audience of the Japanese horrors of World War II, and how the United States not only defeated Imperial Japan and its Nazi ally in Germany, the United States also freed Japan and Germany from their own chains.

Let us see those papers and how they attracted NEH funding.

blj

Frank-

I haven't seen any reference from Profesor Blake about the presence of vets. Can you point me to that reference?

As for reading the letters from Jim Leach to Professor Blake and Commander Kenny Hanson, I'd suggest emailing Power Line for them. I think if Power Line or Professor Blake were honest enough with their readers and supporters, they'd share the letters they have received from NEH that speak precisely to the issue they claim they want NEH to do. According to the letter sent from Leach to Blake, which both she and Power Line have disingenuously kept from the public, NEH has promised to 1) revise its review process and make workshop attendees' evaluations available to grant reviewers when an applicant applies for a subsequent iteration of a grant project, 2) strengthen its grant guidelines to make NEH’s commitment to nonpartisanship clearer, 3) provide all project directors and workshop participants with a set of Rule of Civility that participants must abide by, and 4) exercise oversight as a funded workshop nears to make sure all project directors abide by the nonpartisan requirement that diverse points of view be respected.

As a son and nephew of vets who is concerned about how their legacy is characterized, I am trying to give Professor Blake the benefit of the doubt on this one, but I find her (or Power Line’s) unwillingness to come clean about what Leach’s letter actually said to be intellectually dishonest. What do they have to hide?

I appreciate the chance to debate this with you online.

Frank Warner

In her Sept. 12 letter to Congressman Manzulla, posted on Power Line, Professor Blake wrote:

As overwhelming and pervasive as these politically-correct and revisionist messages were, the conference did feature a few presentations and articles which represented truly excellent examples of balanced, well-researched scholarship. One highpoint of the conference was a panel of WWII veterans who shared with us their personal experiences of the war. But, given the overall anti-military bias present at this conference, I could not help but shudder to think how these amazing men would feel if they knew the true focus of the conference. I honestly felt ashamed of my profession and my government for sponsoring this travesty.

As far as Jim Leach's letter to Blake, my guess is she isn't releasing it because it's considered poor taste to release letters written by others without their permission. Certainly Leach can release it or hold a press conference answering questions. Is he in a hospital or something?

blj

Thanks for the reference.

Your explanation about not releasing the letter doesn't compute for me. Both Professor Blake and Power Line have had no compunction about lampooning Leach's reply and posting her response to it, weithout letting their readers see it for themselves. Why not release it? Is it because it is much more conciliatory and fair than they wish us to believe? They seem more than willing to email and comment on it. Why not let people draw their own conclusions about it? Are they afraid people will come to a conclusion different from theirs?

Frank Warner

Why can't Jim Leach speak for himself? I'd love to hear him explain how that conference was planned.

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