Professor: NEH funds anti-U.S. bias

An extremist, anti-American agenda tainted History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific War,” a workshop for community college professors sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, complains Penelope Blake, a humanities professor at Rock Valley College in Illinois.  The workshop was held at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center in July.

Blake sent Power Line a Sept. 12 letter she wrote to Illinois Rep. Donald Manzullo, her congressman, asking him to vote against funding for future workshops until the NEH explains the violation of its objective to foster “a mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups.”

In my thirty years as a professor in upper education, 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.

Among other things, presenters want Japan to be seen as a victim of U.S. imperialism forced to attack Pearl Harbor. War memorials like the Arizona Memorial should be recast as “peace memorials,” with care taken not to offend visitors from Japan. They see veterans as old fogies with suspect memories who are going to die soon anyhow, letting the academics determine what really happened.

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  1. So, that would be the same Japan that was “forced” to kill 200,000 civilians in Nanking four years earlier?

    We’ve gotta do something about the academic class, they’ve become untethered from reality.

  2. I blame the whole publish or perish thing. It means that in order to keep your job/write a dissertation/etc. you have to write something new, and if you’re in the humanities, that means that you have to recast history or literature or whatever to follow the current band wagon even if it doesn’t make any sense. It’s a mess…in my rather biased opinion.

  3. Texas Native says:

    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.

  4. That’s sickening. Just sickening. U.S. “imperialism” “forced” Japan to attack Pearl Harbor? Attempts to rewrite history are what causes most of the world’s woes… Is sedition still a crime in this country?

    But it does help me understand why, in populist uprisings around the world (for example, think The French Revolution), after the monarchs and super-rich are sent to the guilloutines, the college professors are usually third in line, when they pull stunts like this.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Texas Native.
    Fill us in on how military cemeteries sanitize war or whatever it is. Was that a misconstruction of something, or was it something one of the attendees said before being shouted down by the kind of folks you describe?

  6. Texas Native says:

    In reference to the Arizona memorial being recasted as a “peace memorial,” it was brought to our attention many visitors to the Arizona memorial are Japanese. We wondered why would the Japanese visit such a site? In Japan, they build war memorials and refer to them as peace memorials – Hiroshima is a peace memorial. This is the Japanese interpretation of memorials. Therefore, many Japanese visit the Arizona to remember why war needs to be avoided. They did not visit out of guilt.

    There was an extensive discussion on the renaming of the Arizona park. It is now called World War II Valor in the Pacific National Park because it includes several of the Pacific parks. President Bush signed to change the name in the last years of his presidency.

  7. Texas Native says:

    I would like to add the World War II veterans were held in high regard. We were given ample time to visit with them, hear their stories, and the difficulty of surviving such a horrendous event.

    The Pearl Harbor Survivors group is heavily involved with this program. They may be older, but they were mentally sharp. If they felt they were being taken advantage of our minimized they would have said something. I had one veteran tell me a fact presented by the park ranger was wrong and he instructed me to listen to him because he would set me straight and he did!

  8. Texas Native says:

    @Math lovers –
    The US is not arguing imperialism, the Japanese government spun WWII and Pearl Harbor in that manner. The historians were not using this interpretation.

  9. Richard Aubrey says:

    So the Japanese see the Arizona Memorial as a peace memorial. Good for them. Reminds them not to attack the US again.
    Question is whether the conference, besides the Japanese, favorably entertained the idea of calling it a peace memorial.
    And about the cemeteries sanitizing war …?

  10. Texas Native says:

    @Richard Aubrey
    I do not remember anyone at the conference encouraging us to think of them as peace memorials. I do know the Arizona memorial and the National Parks Service ten years ago changed the visitors movie at the Park. The original movie shot in the late 1970s was more aggressive. The current movie focuses on the site as a memorial to remember fallen soldiers who died on December 7, 1941. The other movie focused more on the fighting whether as the new one as I mentioned focuses on the site as a memorial and remembrance. Again, this movie changed many years ago and the only thing the conference did was show us the two movies and talk about why they Parks service changed it.

    We visited Punchbowl Cemetery and they showed us the stone placed there by the U.S. and Japanese veterans of WWII who came together in an act of reconciliation several years ago. We talked about the roses that are placed at the Arizona memorial. This was a traditional began many years ago by the Japanese pilots who survived WWII as a gesture to honor the Americans who died at Pearl Harbor.

    I don’t remember sanitizing the cemeteries. Instead,they talked about the veterans who were reaching out to each other after the war was over to heal their wounds and find peace. By the way, the veterans told us this too.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    Not sanitizing the cemeteries. Try to keep up. Cemeteries sanitizing war.
    Veterans and conservatives have a lock on the memories and traditions of the war which must be opposed.
    Veterans’ memories are delusional.
    No great difference between the US as conquerors and the Japanese as conquerors.
    Rape of Nanking????? What? Never heard of it. The US is a hegemonic conqueror.
    Your problem, Texas Native, is that an attendee–Professor Blake–was on Hannity last night.
    You want to start over?

  12. How sad that the one person in this entire discussion who was present at the event is the one whose opinions are being thought of as suspect and treated with derision.

    And I think blogs like this would do well to cover actual events – more and more of them are being live-streamed these days – than the complaints of a crank who wrote to Power Line.

  13. Richard Aubrey says:

    You can find Prof. Blake and write to her. Find out the real scoop and let us know.
    She, too, was an attendee.
    Note that Texas did not actually address the assertion that memorial cemeteries are supposed to sanitize war. “sanitize the cemetery”?????

  14. 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 that celebrate the high points in American history, 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, and Colonial Williamsburg. NEH also regularly supports the documentaries of Ken Burns, and was a premier supporter of his very popular Civil War film.

    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.

  15. Richard Aubrey says:

    The NEH can decide not to fund one thing or another. It appears Leach isn’t interested in that tack wrt this particular case of nutjobbery.

  16. I believe people have been mischaracterizing the workshop, Leach, and the NEH. 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. Not only does it seem to me like the NEH indeed is interested in supporting significant non-revisionist projects in World War II history. Perhaps the nutjobbery comment goes too far? Calling on NEH to be defunded or something like it would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    In addition to what Texas Native has said above, let me share with you what I’ve learned from my own online research about NEH and the workshop in question..

    The workshop 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. It seems like Professor Blake and others wishing to kick up the most dust possible over this issue are keeping some of the story from us–not explaining that veterans were there, that there was a variety of speakers, etc.

    How do I know all of this? I requested the letter from Jim Leach to Penelope Blake that Power Line has been talking about but hasn;t posted. 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.

    Let’s get all the information before jumping to such rash conclusions.

    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.