Sunday, June 16, 2013

Neo-Confederate William Murchison leads attack on Texas universities for teaching about race, gender, and class.

In The American Conservative, a paleoconservative magazine, in their March/April 2013 issue there is an article on pages 24-27 by William Murchison titled, "What Texas Won't Teach: U.S. history takes a back seat to race, class, and gender." The article in summary complains that the Texas university professors are 60s radicals who are teaching too much about race, class and gender and neglecting U.S. history.

The article is part of a campaign by a reactionary group called the National Association of Scholars (NAS)  to change the teaching of history in the Texas universities and the article is about a report they issued titled, "Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?"

I won't go through all the failings of the Murchison article. One key point is that the article doesn't say whether the universities in question still offer the general survey classes on American history. I checked online the Texas A&M course catalog and they do offer a general U.S. history class. What appears to be happening is that additional courses are being offered on various topics that the NAS doesn't like.  There is a requirement in Texas that you have to take a certain amount of classes in American history and at the universities is can be satisfied by specialty classes. as well as general classes. Some of the classes that Murchison feels are not worthy of satisfying a general requirement in American history: "History of Mexican Americans in the U.S.," "Black Power Movement," "The United States and Africa."

To me this is a good thing. A lot of people's ideas of what a class in history is like is based on their unfortunate experiences in the teaching of history in high school, usually by a person who is also the coach of some sport. History is intertwined and to study any history is to lead to other historical topics. I think to require students to go to a class in which they feel before hand they aren't going to like could be a disincentive to learning. Though when I was in college many students commented that despite their expectations the American history classes was very interesting and not like their high school classes.

The topics of history are intertwined and teaching a specialty classes can be a door to other topics in history. Most importantly have students get into history and realize it can be interesting and that will hopefully lead to further study or just reading after they graduate.

Professors are classified into those who have high reading assignments in the topics of race, class, and gender with the acronym RCG. How much is high isn't defined. It seems to me this needs to be clarified. This is supposed to be a result because they are some type of 60s radicals.

The bio note for the article says that, "William Murchison is a nationally syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on politics, religion, and society."

What the bio note doesn't tell you is that William Murchison was a long time contributor to Southern Partisan, was once on the Texas board for the League of the South, and in the Southern Partisan was interviewed about the launch of a magazine titled Texas Republic, and is a contributor to Chronicles Magazine, another hot bed of paleoconservatives and neo-Confederates.

What Murchison's complaint is is that the Texas universities don't teach the history that was taught in Texas when he was in college in the "early '60s." This is of course  before the Modern Civil Rights Era and the subsequent re-examination of how history is taught.

Of course, Murchison, a person who supported Texas Republic magazine would not like any history classes on Mexican Americans. Of course, Murchison, a contributor to Chronicles Magazine and Southern Partisan magazine wouldn't like teaching on race, class and gender when you think the Confederacy was great and you are a neo-Confederate.

American Conservative knows who Murchison is and it is disingenuous of them not to mention his neo-Confederate origins. Then again American Conservative is full of individuals who are involved with the neo-Confederate movement or racist magazines like Chronicles Magazine.

The American Conservative is published by The American Ideas Institute, whose president is Wick Allison, who is the publisher of D Magazine for the city of Dallas. (How long will Dallas tolerate having reactionary crazies influence their city?)

The real agenda of many Texas conservatives is to attempt a roll back of civil rights in regards to race, women, and sexual orientation and this is their new attempt.

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