Wednesday, July 24

You’ll Never Believe It

“I don’t read Reason magazine.”
-Mitch “Cut and Paste” Daniels

NO, that’s not Reason’s ad campaign for this fall, though the way things are going they might consider it; it’s former genius Mitch Daniels trying to extricate himself from the plagiarism scandal he started while trying to extricate himself from last week’s book burning scandal.

Evidently Daniels released a statement last week which seems to’ve borrowed copiously from two publications: yet another anti-Zinn obit from 2010 in Reason, and a  press release from Stanford concerning Professor Sam Wineburg critique of Zinn. The Wineburg quote was later excised from Daniels’ statement, after Wineburg complained, saying, “I have criticized Zinn but will defend to my death the right to teach him. Shame on Mitch Daniels,” on the Twitter thing.
Excerpt of Daniels’ first statement defending his criticism of history Howard Zinn, sent to reporters on July 17: 
“No one need take my word that my concerns were well-founded. Respected scholars and communicators of all ideologies agree that the work of Howard Zinn was irredeemably slanted and unsuited for teaching to schoolchildren. 
“Arthur M. Schlesinger said, ‘I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.’ Socialist historian Michael Kazin judged Zinn’s work as ‘bad history, albeit tilted with virtuous intentions’ and said the book was more suited to a ‘conspiracy monger’s website than to a work of scholarship.’ Reviewing the text in The American Scholar, Harvard University professor Oscar Handlin denounced ‘the deranged quality of his fairy tale, in which the incidents are made to fit the legend, no matter how intractable the evidence of American history.’ 
“Stanford history education expert Sam Wineburg cautioned that exposing children to a heavily filtered and weighted interpretation such as Zinn’s work is irresponsible when ‘we are talking about how we educate the young, those who do not yet get the interpretive game.’ 
“Many more such condemnations by persons of political viewpoints different from my own are available on request.” 
 
Excerpt of Michael Moynihan’s Reason magazine article 2010: 
“Much of the criticism of Zinn has come from dissenters on the left. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. once remarked that ‘I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.’ Last year, the liberal historian Sean Wilentz referred to the ‘balefully influential works of Howard Zinn.’ Reviewing A People’s History in The American Scholar, Harvard University professor Oscar Handlin denounced ‘the deranged quality of his fairy tale, in which the incidents are made to fit the legend, no matter how intractable the evidence of American history.’ Socialist historian Michael Kazin judged Zinn’s most famous work ‘bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions.’” 
Excerpt from 2012 Stanford University press release quoting Stanford education professor Sam Wineburg on Howard Zinn’s work: 
“Wineburg writes that a heavily filtered and weighted interpretation becomes dangerous when ‘we are talking about how we educate the young, those who do not yet get the interpretive game.’”  
Excerpt of Daniels’ statement, still dated July 17, as it appeared on Purdue University’s website Tuesday: 
“No one need take my word that my concerns were well founded. Respected scholars and communicators of all ideologies agree that the work of Howard Zinn was irredeemably slanted and unsuited for teaching to schoolchildren. Arthur M. Schlesinger said, “I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.” Many more such condemnations by persons of political viewpoints different from my own are available on request.”
Anyone who’s ever graded a paper recognizes the technique. It’s not even a question. It’s sloppy, at best, and it wasn’t at the service of convincing the paper-grader you’d read the assignment; this was the President of a major uni…, I mean, Purdue, trying to defend an idea he shouldn’t have had in the first place. (Not to mention one which, as we noted last week, he rather obviously didn’t have before he read Sneering Haberdashery Republican Roger Kimball’s Zinn obit in the National Review. That led Daniels to tell his henchmen that there were “errors on every page” of A People’s History.)

So we had Mitch Daniels trying to use the power of the state to censor teachers, and professors, over a book he’d only heard described, and which wasn’t in use anywhere among Indiana public schools, insisting, first, that he was only speaking of secondary schools even though the entire conversation revolved around changing standards for an education degree, then taking examples from two pieces in order to prove that Zinn had been criticized. By Even the Liberal Arthur Schlessinger, Jr. Of course he had to swipe examples. How was he supposed to sound like he knew what he was talking about?

By the way, this is the eight-year history of the state of Indiana under Daniels’ governorship. Except for the part where he gets called out for what he said and did.

6 comments:

Fearguth said...

Like his online statements, P. U. President Mitch Daniels grows shorter and shorter over time.

Fearguth said...

Seeing that South US 666 roadsign reminded me of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_491

I had travelled the 'Devil's Highway' more than once, usually en route to Canyonlands.

Josef said...

I think Mitch only took the Purdue job so he could practice hearing "President Daniels," and godamighty, doesn't the sound of that give you the willies. But since hypocritical, plagiarizing, anti-intellectual, contentless idiocy is a feature-not-a-bug in the Republican run for the roses, he should score some points. I wonder if the fact that smart people won't be sending their smart kids to Purdue and all our bridges will collapse when stupider engineers start graduating will make any of them rethink this decision. Actually, I don't really wonder that.

Weird Dave said...

You’ll Never Believe It

You're right. I don't.

Anonymous said...

I sure wish the AP could get to the emails on a whole range of debacles and asset sales but I'm not holding my breath. Come on AP. Ask for more!

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