Tuesday, July 17, 2007

History Boys

After reading this critique of the late American historian Arthur Schlesinger I had intended to compare him unfavourably to another left wing historian A.J.P. Taylor whose political views were positively obnoxious, but whose personal politics did not drive his works. However it was an exceedingly dull post and had too many caveats and exceptions to be of any use to anyone. The article does offer get to the heart of what is wrong with Schlesinger's brand of liberalism that dominates the American left.
It's one thing to favor a bad policy, as liberals did in the controversy over busing in the 1970s. It's something else to castigate all opponents of busing as racists, and deny even the possibility that decent, intelligent people might have legitimate misgivings about that dubious policy. This "punitive, ram-it-down-their throats quality," in Nicholas Lemann's phrase, belonged to a politics that antagonized people on purpose, because they were deemed to have it coming.
The belief that your opponents aren't merely wrong but evil remains a core trait of the left to this day.

Onto A.J.P. Taylor, one of his political stances was an intense hostility to Germany. A claim in his Wikipedia entry, which I can't find else where, is that:
He held fierce Germanophobic views. In 1944, he was temporarily banned from the BBC following complaints about a series of lectures he gave on air in which he gave full vent to his anti-German feelings
The BBC banned someone for insulting Germany during World War 2? Whilst I could imagine the modern BBC being shocked at the thought of being judgmental I hadn't realised that this trend was so deep rooted. Actually given that the BBC was riddled with loyal Stalinists back then it suggests that Taylor's views must have been pretty wild to cause offence back then.

No comments: